03 September 2011

Venting on Attitudes

As long as I have trained my dogs, I have tried hard to surround myself with those who have positive attitudes about owner training as well as those who get how different working a dog from a wheelchair actually can be.

This has not been easy at all because that limits my exposure to the guide community substantially. Its only been of recent years that the view that the blind can not train their own guide dogs has begun to be trampled down by some of us who do it and do it well.

There's always been an issue I have had with advice from ambulatory disabled people- be they blind, deaf, or mobility impaired. After years of having to explain over and over again why their ideas won't work with a wheelchair team or that their ideas are unsafe, I've pretty much given up with explanations any more.

I'm on a couple of guide dog specific lists. Though I am a part of the lists, I always feel this attitude from some of the members- the attitude that because I owner train, I am missing a big part of what the programs can provide and therefore can't be certain that my approaches I chose are really the best. There's also that attitude that I am not really a part of the whole community not just because I don't go through programs but because I clicker train and God forbid I should offer someone some advice that just might be contrary to what their corrective based program would want.

Usually I just back away when the attitudes start coming. People offering advice about how they believe what I do is dangerous when its not (gotta be there to see how its done to judge that) and then offering me advice that is more of the same nonsense I've been fed for over a decade. I just get so sick of unrequested advice.

No matter what anyone wants to believe, just like I can't realistically know how much different my work with a guide is than how an ambulatory person works or trains their dogs other than knowing some of the differences in the approach to guiding, neither can the ambulatory really comprehend the ins and outs and dangers that the approaches they might take could present for someone working their dog from a wheelchair.

Offering true beneficial advice on the actual aspect that one is asking for input on is one thing, but where things go blurry is that the vast majority of those who think they know what's better for me and my dog are not even owner trainers or people who further their dogs training.

I just get so fed up

Right now I am going through a tough time. I don't have much patience for anyone or anything let alone busy bodies who think they know it all. I will admit that maybe these people think I could be more tactful but when you've been dealing with the same-ol, same-ol for over a decade, wouldn't you get tired of being all sweet and supportive in your responses. Its sorta like telling someone day in and day out why they can't pet or distract your dog.

I probably should have ignored the post altogether that claimed something I do to be dangerous since the person did not have all the facts to begin with, but alas I did not. In hindsite stupid really

I go through this kind of crap way too much on lists that are not multi-disciplined meaning lists that have one type of service animal as the focus and not ones that involve wheelchair users.

So for now, I'm taking a step back. I won't be reading posts on the list. I won't be replying to posts on the list. And above all I certainly won't post about any of the problems I am having for any sort of advice.

Some may feel I need to get a thicker skin, but honestly I think others need to open their eyes and think or consider asking more questions before judging whether I have enough experience or people with that experience at my disposal to ascertain what is safe or not (which btw I do)

Most of my ambulatory guide dog  friends are awesome. They are folks from around the world who just get owner training. They get operant conditioning or at least that I am not going to use corrective measures as my focus with Thane. They freely admit that they don't have all the answers when offering suggestions which they know may or may not be something I can do either because of my disabilities themselves or because of safety concerns between the wheelchair and work with Thane.

For now, these are the kind of people I need to surround myself by. If others take offense because I just can't handle the slaps I get for speaking how I feel- then so be it. Its their problem really.


  1. Wonderfully written!

    I am, as I think you know, starting out with my first puppy that I hope to raise and train myself. I made the decision to do this back in the fall of 2010 and already I'm getting questions about how will you do this or do that. I also get questions about why it wouldn't be easier to train using corrections. Maybe it would be easier, but it's not the way I want to train, so I'm taking my time in teaching Rogue what she needs to know. I will admit that it is taking longer to teach her the basics, but this is the way we trained Canyon and the difference in how he sees life and how he has bonded with us, is all the proof we need to know it is the way we need to do things with Rogue. I think this is hard for others to understand. I think some people are just so attached to how their dogs work for them, that they feel it's only possible for this sort of bond and working ability to come from training in the same way they did or their program did. I will admit that before I got Cessna, I was one of these people, but Cessna taught me that not always does a certain method of training turn out well. She forced me to look outside the box and to learn new ways of working with her because working with corrections and force was not going to end well.

    Sorry for the long winded comment. Hopefully I got my thoughts across okay :)

  2. Thanks Brooke I wish you well with little Rogue. I'm not sure I'm ready to start that young but I have a lot of respect for the folks who do it. Its also not just about training methods, but about approaches I use to carry out various ways we have to do things- gear or function based choices.
    One thing I am clear on is I should not ahve to defend a different approach just because I owner train or just because I am not ambulatory or am approaching it different (and yes safer) than many programs teach the clients in wheelchairs to approach the task that opened up this wound once more.

  3. Sigh, people; I don't understand why people would be against clicker or operant when it is nicer for the dog; plus it's your dog and your business; if you didn't ask for advice or comments, people should leave you alone.

  4. Thanks Martha, the issue stemmed more from the gear and approach I take for something but the mentality seems to be that of if you owner trained and never went to a program then you can't really know what the best option is. Its the stupid kid mentality
    Its an environment where I sadly have learned to keep my mouth shut often times

  5. Karen,I sympathize with you on this matter. I have also met with the same challenges you have as I am also an owner trainer and in a wheelchair as you know.I am legally blind an hearing impaired but I am not totally deaf.I found the Nagdu list and there are other owner trainers that are well respected. Julie J and Rox'e are members of this list. I know that you would be respected and not critisized. Every one that owner trains on this list has there own way of doing things and it's what works for them.If you are interested try it at I really like this list a lot. Mardi and Shaman