Blind World Magazine

Leave those hard-working dogs alone!

January 20, 2006.
Opinion By: Erin McNamee,
Western Courier (subscription) - Macomb,IL,USA.

Imagine for a moment you went to bed tonight and when you woke up you saw nothing but darkness. For some students at Western Illinois University that is how they live life everyday. Unfortunately, many students on campus aren't making their lives any easier.

The American Foundation for the Blind estimates approximately 10 million blind and visually impaired people live in the United States alone. Of those 10 million, seven thousand use guide dogs. The first Seeing Eye dog was put to work after World War I and it was a German Shepherd. At Western, we have legally blind students using guide dogs everyday. The dogs help people find their way around, get through crosswalks and complete daily tasks that come so naturally to people who can see.

You can often see blind students on the GoWEST bus with their guide dogs.

I have noticed many students teasing the guide dogs by stepping on their tails, calling out to the dogs and confusing them; behavior you would see from an eight-year-old, not a college student. It is immature and rude.

It is hard enough for a blind person to depend on a dog to get around. It makes it worse when you have students trying to make life more difficult for those who are blind.

Guide dogs are working and while they may look cute and friendly they are on the job and shouldn't be disturbed. Walking up and petting a guide dog can confuse the animal and only make the visually impaired student's life more difficult. Let the animals do the job they are there to do.

It takes a lot of hard work to be a blind person and make their way through life having to rely on others to find their way around. Reach out and help a blind person when you see them in trouble but don't make their life any harder than it already is.

Being blind and trying to make your way around in life takes a lot of courage and determination. The challenges they must face everyday are those most of you can't even imagine; yet some people still have the nerve to cause them more trouble.

The next time you're on the bus be a friend to a blind person. They may not see you but they can still hear you and may be able to open your eyes to a world they cannot see. The least you can do is respect blind students for who they are.

Sometime this semester don't open your eyes when you get up to start your day. Instead, do everything you do in the morning with your eyes shut and then see if you can find your way to your first class. Then you will understand what a blind person experiences every day.

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