Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Guide dogs for the blind and my shameful past

I have struggled to find a topic for discussion today. I didn’t want to write about the public sector strike – it’s just too depressing. Insults are being traded, distorted facts and biased opinions spouted by both sides, and even Prime Ministers question time in parliament today was described as ‘silly comments flying about, lots of noise, just childish’  by Tory MP Andrew Percy on Twitter.

So instead I shall write about one of my favourite charities, Guide Dogs for the Blind. A story featured in the Sunday Times recently warned that this 80 year old Charity may be forced to stop offering dogs to the newly blind because of a £15.6m deficit. This would be a tragedy and I truly hope that fundraising campaigns will reap sufficient rewards to save this amazing organisation, which enables thousands of blind and partially sighted individuals to lead independent lives.

The reason I list this charity among my beneficiaries is because of a very embarrassing incident that occurred a few years ago. I was waiting at a traffic light controlled crossing, and noticed a lady with a guide dog standing next to me, also waiting to cross. Being one who is quick to interfere, often when not needed, but always with good intentions, I decided to ‘help’. When the little man turned green, alerting us to the fact that it was safe to cross, I took it upon myself to grab the harness of the dog and lead him and his owner safely to the other side. Except I didn’t. I ended up half way across the road, with a confused looking dog - without his owner who was left stranded, looking bemused, at the side of the road. I panicked and really didn’t know what to do next especially as the little man started flashing warning me that it would no longer be safe to cross very soon. I somehow ended up on the pavement, plus dog, minus owner, on the other side of the road. Acutely embarrassed, especially as several of my work colleagues witnessed the whole incident, I had to wait, red-faced until it was safe for me and my four legged companion to return to the original side of the road and back to his owner.

The woman was now clearly angry and as I blurted out my apologies I realised she was looking straight at me. ‘You stupid woman’ she shrieked ‘I’m not blind, I’m a trainer and your actions have probably set the progress of this dog back by weeks!’

At this point, my colleagues were in paroxysms of laughter and mirth at my total humiliation and the ludicracy of the situation! Needless to say, I went straight back to my office and made a donation to this worthy cause.

Moral of this story? Not all dumb animals have four legs..

Please give generously.


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