Boomer picHello Humans! This is Boomer, the resident Seeing Eye dog here at Disability Rights Arkansas! Like most of you, social distancing is affecting my regular work routine. So, I have decided this is the perfect time for me to try my “paw” at blog writing.

As a guide dog, I am responsible for keeping my human, who is blind, safe as she navigates and travels throughout her daily life activities. I’m a lucky dog to get to go everywhere my human goes! In the past few months alone, I have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in California, played in the snow in the mountains of Colorado, and watched Roger Federer (among many other great tennis stars) play some tennis in Ohio. My regular days see me working at the DRA office, running errands around town, and going for long neighborhood walks. No matter where I’m working, one thing is always guaranteed: I am going to attract attention. Let’s face it… I’m a great looking guy! I love to be admired, but it needs to be from a distance. My work requires a lot of focus and when humans call out to me, whistle, or try to pet me, it can distract me. If I’m distracted, then I could be putting my human and myself in danger. Even when it looks like I am not working, for instance, I often rest quietly at my human’s feet in restaurants and waiting rooms, I am still working while I’m being a good boy. Believe it or not making eye contact and staring at me can make me anxious and cause me to lose focus. It is always best to ignore a working dog when you see one in harness or vest.

It is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic not to try and pet me or otherwise ignore social distancing recommendations. Although animals CANNOT contract COVID-19, if you pet me or touch my harness, you could potentially leave behind germs for my human and her family. Also, while I am trained for many things, I am not trained to maintain a social distance perimeter of six feet. you can help by announcing yourself to my human and she will adjust our positioning accordingly. Please understand that while you may have the best intentions, it is never okay to touch a person who has a disability or their service animal without their express permission. If you would like to offer assistance to a person who is blind or has a different disability, simply ask if you may help in some way. Especially to a person who is blind, it can be scary to be grabbed by a stranger! I love people, but it makes me uncomfortable for this to happen to me or my person! I have dog friends, but when I am working I cannot play with your pet. Even if your pet is on a leash, it prevents me from working safely if I am distracted.  A long leash is not a solution for trying to social distance. This can get us all tangled up together!

Human friends, please take care of yourselves in the days and weeks ahead. If you are fortunate to have a furry family member, enjoy the extra time with them! Do your part to “flatten the curve.” If you see a service animal, allow them to do their job. Some of these special animals have partners with underlying health conditions. As cute as we are, your distancing could save our humans!

Much Love,

Boomer

P.S. If you are interested in learning more about Seeing Eye dogs, check out seeingeye.org

Boomer is a dog and therefore doesn’t have email. However, you can email his human with any questions at mhernandez@disabilityrightsar.org.