September 4, 2020
Happy Labor Day! It’s a holiday that is not only observed by human workers – guide dogs can celebrate it as well! I get the day off work at Clovernook Center, just like my mom, Deanna. I am a 7-year-old guide dog named Mambo. I’m a male yellow lab and I have been working at Clovernook Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired since April 2015. Being a guide dog is a very important job, as I am responsible for keeping my mom and me safe as we explore the world around us. I alert my mom to any obstacles and dangers along our path.
In honor of Labor Day, I’d like to share some information with you about guide dogs and the work that we do.
My expert training has taught me to:
- Walk in a straight line, safely, while guiding my handler around obstacles that we may bump into, like trash cans, fire hydrants, lamp posts, and low hanging tree branches.
- Stop to show items that may be completely blocking our path, such as construction barricades or parked cars blocking the sidewalk.
- Stop for upcoming changes in elevation, such as curbs and stairs.
- Ignore things that many dogs would find distracting, such as squirrels, food lying on the ground, and people trying to get my attention.
- Finally, I am trained to do this really smart task called “Intelligent Disobedience.” When I receive a command to perform a task that I know is unsafe, I can disobey and not complete it. For example: while standing at the curb ready to cross the street and a car comes speeding through the red light or quickly turns in front of us, I ignore the command from my handler to move forward.
A couple of big things that I cannot do are:
- I can’t read traffic signals. My handler listens to the flow of traffic and then gives me the command to go “forward” when it’s safe.
- I can’t read street names, store signs, or read the bus number of that bus we are about to travel on.
- Finally, I am not an Uber driver. My handler doesn’t just tell me where to go and I take her there. She needs to know the route and direct me along the way of the turns we will take and the general location. When I am asked to do so, I love helping my mom find the entrances into buildings, elevator buttons, check-in desks, and an empty chair for her to sit in.
Although my job can be stressful at times, I absolutely love being a guide dog! I was born to do this job and I go above and beyond to keep us safe. I don’t have to constantly work like many people think, as I get several opportunities to take a little nap while we are out and about. I have my own bed at the office and get to sleep most of the day. When we get home from work, I can lounge around the house and play just like any other dog.
The best part of all is the paycheck! I get paid with lots of verbal praise, loving pats on the head, chin scratches, and sometimes food rewards (pieces of kibble that my mom keeps in her pocket).
I hope that you enjoyed a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to be a guide dog! Stay tuned this month as Clovernook Center celebrates National Guide Dog Month way to raise awareness, appreciation, and support for guide dogs in our community.
Mambo, the guide dogBack to News