International Guide Dogs Day
As my of way commemorating #InternationalGuideDogsDay, I volunteered to be blindfolded and put my trust in guide-dog, Emmet the Labrador and his longtime SA Guide Dogs trainer and instructor, Percival Tlholoe. As I put on the blindfold on a Rosebank street I asked myself, ‘Masego, what did you get yourself into?’.
With a bit of doubt and fear, I felt a pull as I took my first step and realised that I could no longer trust my own eyes, but had to put faith in the eyes of the gentle yet confident, Emmet. I began to ‘picture’ Rosebank like I had never pictured it before.
I could hear the sound of the buses and taxis and pedestrian footsteps
passing by. Having been instructed by Percival beforehand on how to react to Emmet’s guidance, I slowly started gaining confidence in him as I realised how smart he really was as he guided me away from bumping into trees, sidewalks and cars. Crossing the heavy Rosebank traffic was quite a challenge as I had to rely on my sense of hearing, but Percival was there to make sure I got across safely.
I could imagine myself passing by tall buildings and trees as I made my way into Rosebank Mall. By simply relying on my sense of smell, I was able to identify the different stores in the mall. Being told by Percival, ‘We are going to climb on the escalator now my heart raced a bit but I knew I had a trusted friend to guide me through it. We managed to pass through The Zone without incident and then with more confidence than I had before, made our way back to our starting point. As I reached the end of the journey, I took off my blindfold and burst into tears. It was then that I really appreciated the gift of sight and the very important job that SA Guide Dogs does on a daily basis. I am happy I went through that experience and would like to thank Emmet and Percival for the wonderful job that they do in helping visually impaired people make their lives much easier.
Written by: Journalist Masego Seemela (Fourways Review)