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Editor's Note: Kim Kilpatrick is a music therapist in Ottawa, where she is Vice President of the NFB:AE's Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter.
I can't believe what happened to my guide dog and me the other day. Here is the story:
Gia and I were strolling down the sidewalk when she suddenly stopped. I heard people talking ahead. A man and woman were conversing, and the man said, "Oh, the dog is smart. He will figure it out."
At first, I was gratified by that. No one reaching out to grab a harness handle! No one giving me useless directions like "You can't walk that way!" No one coming to lay hands on me and take me somewhere! How refreshing!
So I encourage Gia to walk forward. She creeps forward a little and stops, and I realize we have a very narrow space on our hands/paws. The man says, "My truck is parked partially across the sidewalk."
Okay! One of my pet peeves is drivers parking on the sidewalk. When I was a cane user, I used to whack their cars as I trailed around them to let them know my displeasure! But I haven't trained Gia to pee on the tires as some people have suggested.
So I happily encourage Gia forward and she creeps a little more and stops. I bring my hand up and there before my face is a parking metre. There is no way for us to get through. Truck parked on one side on the sidewalk and a parking metre at head level! Yes, I said head level! And yes, I am, shall I say, vertically challenged! But how can this guy expect us to get past? We can't go out in the street to get around the truck, as the street is so busy with cars. So I stand there and praise Gia for not cracking my skull into the parking metre. I have hit parking metres before and they are not fun!
The man and woman are still talking as if nothing is going on. So I smile sweetly and say, "Here is an odd request. Could you please move your truck?"
I guess the man was expecting the super blind woman to sprout wings, her dog sprout wings and with a cry of glee, leap over the offending truck and land neatly on the sidewalk on the other side?
He says, as if this is the strangest thing he has ever heard, "Oh, you want me to move my truck?"
"Yes, please," I say, smiling sweetly. "And I don't think a sidewalk is the best place to park a truck."
"Okay," he says reluctantly.
Gia and I back up, and I hug her tight and whisper in her ear that, if all people were as smart and considerate as her, we would have a better world. Wag, wag, wag of the golden tail!
He gets in his truck and says good-bye to the woman and off he goes. Now we have a clear sidewalk.
But this is not the end of it!
As I am puzzling as to how this guy could think my dog and I could work out how to get past his truck, I decide to get out of there. I pick up the harness handle and tell Gia "Forward".
As we pass the woman who is still standing there, she says, "Oh, what a smart, good dog."
I say, "Thank you."
No, I don't say I wish people were half as smart and considerate. But I think it as we carry on up the street.
Life is never dull around here. It is so strange! People are so odd sometimes!
Hugs and wags.