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Meet One Of Edgewater’s Finest, Guide Dog Cameo

cameoIt is no secret that Edgeville is a dog friendly community. We have dog walkers galore, water bowls in front of businesses and even establishments which allow our four legged companions to remain with us when we dine.

But in this, my first contribution to Edgeville Buzz, I would like to introduce you to a very special four legged lady. Perhaps you have seen us on the streets, stores, busses or trains. Meet Cameo, a 4-1/2 year old Black Labrador Retriever who was bred and trained at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, New York.

Guide dogs for the blind were probably the first in a class of dog that we now think of as “service dogs.” Our particular school has been in existence for more than 50 years. Guiding Eyes breeds its own puppies and begins the selection process as young as only a few weeks of age, considering even then whether a tiny puppy has the intelligence, confidence and other skills needed to work as a guide dog. As for us handlers (as we are called), working a guide dog is a choice we make in order to walk independently. Over the last two plus years, Cameo and I have formed a bond of love and trust.

You can recognize a guide dog by his/her harness and leash. The harness bears the name of the school and allows the dog access to anywhere that I can go.   And if you wonder, yes, there are still places that do not understand the laws governing admission of guide dogs to public places.

Cameo cannot see street lights or read signs. I must rely on my own learned skills to listen for traffic patterns before directing her to cross a street. If she thinks it is not safe or finds an obstacle in our path, she stops or walks around it. I must trust her judgment; after all, she can see and I cannot. If I am unsure of a crossing or location, I ask for help from the public which I have done for many years. In short, I have to know where we’re going; her job is to get us there, and I go along for the walk. 

People say it is hard to resist petting a dog like Cameo, but this is very strongly discouraged as it causes the dog to lose focus, and that can endanger both of us. Similarly, it is my job to direct and correct her.  You can tell me if you see her scavenging, for example, but it is my job to correct her.  Rest assured that at home, she is out of harness where she can play and relax like any other dog. And if you are walking your pet dog, please try to keep it away from a guide dog. Some dogs are very distracted by other dogs. Some guides have even been attacked by other dogs. So please keep your dog in check when you see us or any guide dog/handler team. 

I personally welcome questions from the public. How else would you know about Cameo, how she was trained, what she can do or what happened to my first dog Mary Jane when she retired.  We thank Edgeville Buzz for allowing you to get to know us and welcome your hellos. 

   


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