“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” said the bard in Romeo and Juliet So what’s in a name?
And of course, guide dogs.
I love my guide dog. She is great at her job. I love walking, and she provides me with a far more relaxed and faster means of travel. On familiar routes she is almost perfect.
She’s also a great addition to the family. She provides support and safety to my teenage daughter. She is an excellent foot-warmer for my wife. Her friendly lick on my leg in the morning is a great start to my day. And her leaps of excitement when I get out her harness so she can work just give me a warm inner glow.
But why is her name so important? “What’s your dog’s name?” is the most common question I am ever asked.
My standard answer is – “I don’t use her name unless I’m giving her a command”. I answer this way both because it is true (she responds very well to her name and I don’t want to lose that), and because if I tell people her name it will encourage them to pat her, or interact with her when she is working. These things make it harder for her to work, and puts my safety at risk.
During the time we have worked together (about eight years) I have been asked this question about six thousand one hundred and forty five times. That’s more times than most test cricketers score runs in their careers. It’s not quite as many times as my dog and I have had hot dinners, but its close to podium.
I understand that people are evincing a genuine interest, and I get why they want to know. But I am well and truly over answering this question. I find it a little unnecessary and intrusive, but much less so than a lot of other questions people with disabilities are asked. But you can only repeat the same answer so many times before you start seriously contemplating the more extreme alternatives – which could involve physical harm to the questioner or the answerer.
I don’t want to be rude when I answer, saying things like “mind your own business” or “I’m not telling you.” That’s not the best way to oil the wheels of human interaction.
I don’t want to keep saying what I have said for years – not because its not true, but because I’m downright bored with saying it.
Perhaps I should attach a small speaker to her harness, so that I can play a message saying “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t tell you that.”
What do you think? Please give me some ideas? I’m getting desperate! All suggestions will be seriously considered, and I will tweet the ones I choose.
(Graeme Innes has come to the end of his repetitive tether, and is desperate not to be dogged by the same request).