The Guide Dog mobility instructors have reached the end of training their current dogs, and are awaiting the arrival of their clients any day now. In the interim, they want to start getting the Guide Dogs used to working with people other than the instructors.
To this end, members of staff were invited to accompany Guide Dog Services Manager, Mandla Nxumalo, Perci Thloloe and Hayley Cumming on a morning training session in Parkview. Five COM staff members, who are more at home around the long cane than around Guide Dogs, set out on Wednesday morning, to experience being led by highly-trained Guide Dogs.
Isaac and Meggie, two of the six students who have recently started their Orientation & Mobility diploma course, found it very difficult to place their complete trust in their dogs. Isaac and Rosemary found the movement of the dog, and therefore of the harness, very unsettling, and they had no idea of whether they were travelling in a straight line or turning right and left.
Dackley, an experienced O&M Practitioner, found it difficult to delegate responsibility for his safety from obstacles, like overhanging branches, to the dog. Salome, another seasoned O&M Practitioner found navigating the uneven pavement a challenge without the long cane to guide her.
Despite being out of their comfort zones, and experiencing discomfort at not being in control, all of the COM staff members had a great morning out. They could appreciate, in some small way, the challenges of those who are visually impaired, who need to be trained to rely on a Guide Dog for their mobility independence.
THANK YOU Mandla, Perci and Hayley – for sharing what it is that you do every day, and for the great work that you do for the visually impaired!