GUIDE DOG LIFE | FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Kids Ask Questions Everyone Else is Only Thinking

They just blurt out their questions without worrying they’ll hurt my feelings…

Patricia Timmermans
2 min readOct 23, 2023

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Made using Bing AI Image creator

My guide dog Cooper, and I, visit schools to raise awareness about vision loss and guide dogs, in conjunction with the CNIB in Alberta, Canada.

When I introduce Cooper and myself to a classroom of children, I’ll tell the kids to ask me anything, and not to worry, they won’t hurt my feelings.

That’s when I know the wheels are turning, and they’ll come up with questions that most people are only thinking.

I get asked this question a lot, it’s not the most frequently asked, I’ll get to that one in a sec, but first …

Are you ever stressed when you’re out with your guide dog?

A few things cause me anxiety when we’re out during an average workday.

A big one for me, and likely for most handlers, is dog distractions.

Resisting other dogs while he’s on duty is probably Cooper’s most stressful thing as well.

He loves other dogs and even though he knows from training to look away while he’s working, it can be difficult.

If we walk past a dog who is relaxed and seems to be disinterested in Cooper, he’s good about ignoring the other dog.

But if the passing dog is straining at the end of its leash and barking, Cooper can easily lose his focus.

How do I keep him focused?

I need to be a step ahead so that I’m ready for it.

When another dog has got Cooper’s attention, I’ll say, Leave it, and when he looks at me, he gets a treat.

I usually have emergency treats in my pocket, something like bacon for example, which is nearly impossible for most dogs to resist.

A passing dog might get his attention, but he knows I have bacon-flavored treats in my pocket, and is pretty good about not straining toward a passing dog. In fact…

being the clever boy that he is,

when he sees another dog walking toward us, he’ll nudge my pocket and look at me like he’s thinking… ok, just hand it over.

Image by author – Cooper’s ‘hand-it-over’ look

This is the one question I get asked most:

Who picks up the poo?

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Patricia Timmermans

My guide dog and I visit schools to raise awareness for sight loss; the kids’ questions make great stories! Plus, I love books and writing book reviews. 🇨🇦