Tag Archives: guide dog

The Chain

23 Nov

by Reja-e-Busailah

My Seeing Eye dog senses we are bent

on a long journey, long enough to keep us for a full day

chained to one seat on one plane.


She goes out of her mind with zeal,

like a child in the act of opening

the long-awaited present,

dream being realized,

and before I know it,

before we set out,

she has thrown all temperance to the dogs

and emptied to the drains

a bowl of water bubbling to the brim:

She knows

as though trafficking with powers

far above and beyond my ken;

and that’s the full extent of her innocence

and that’s the full limit of her association.


Then in despair I tear my hair,

or what is left of it,

less over what has passed

than over what is to come:


My vision,

my guide through the world’s pitfalls and snares

the only guardian to whose care

I would commit my whole being,

she who empowers me to make myself at home

in the mightiest of cities

most awe-inspiring,

she who enables me to relish

the Big Apple to the fullest,

frees me of fear when at its beaches,

its parks, its avenues, and squares,

at its stations grand, small, and modest,

in office, store, restaurant, and classroom,

she who fills me with fearlessness

when down deep in its big belly,

among the terrible snakes of B.M.T.s and I.R.T.s lying still or running,

not far from the treacherous serpent

disguised as the Third Rail.

She knows all,

and yet this angel,

this guardian angel,

can see no farther after all


than those who designed the feathered arrow

and took time off to rest,

and watched a dream the fall of albatross,

or than those who engender,

just to gaze spellbound,

that device, wondrous and beastly,

which travels far and fast

to bust the kidneys and bladders of continence.


Both she and they are cause-conscious,

both consequence-blind

in their calculations and traffickings

except when the shrewd inventors

are in the custody of cup or bottle:


Then in all fairness they do hold an edge,

a decisive edge over her,

for they can tell, she can’t I think,

the compelling if serpentine link

between first blush and crucial kiss,

between, pardon the impropriety, guzzle and piss—

the kind of chain least on a Seeing Eye’s mind.

Reja-e Busailah was born in Jerusalem and now lives in Indiana, U.S. He has been totally blind since infancy, from before the end of his first year. He has published poems in a variety of little magazines on different subjects. This poem is from a collection of poems, Poems Out of Sight, which he hopes to publish in the near future. Reja-e also in the process of having a memoir about his childhood published within the next few months.


Street Corner Religion

10 Feb

by Jenny Jones

I was walking from the bus to my office one cold morning. I was standing at the corner of an intersection waiting for the light to change and cupping my one free hand over my nose and mouth to stay warm. A man walked up and said, “Hi doggie, what’s your name?” I said, “Please don’t talk to him because he is working.” The man then starts talking to me and says he used to be on oxygen, but then God healed him. “Oh that’s nice,” I said.

My ears perk up and I realize that the light has changed, and we are so close to getting to my warm office. I give Racer the hand gesture for forward, and don’t have to say anything; he just starts leading me across. The man stays put, but I hear him calling after us, “I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.”

His words just hung in the chilly air echoing on and on. It’s weird but I felt like my dog was in agreement with me that this guy was a quack. Maybe what he had to share with me was meaningful but his delivery was lacking. I couldn’t help but wonder why he had decided to share that bit of information with me. Was he indicating that his illness was similar to my blindness and he wanted to offer praying as a solution? Would he have shared this information with just anyone at the corner? I can’t help but feel that it had something to do with my disability.

Multiple times I’ve been approached by other strangers who try to tell me that there are doctors who can fix my blindness. They are certain that they have read somewhere about a procedure that will help me. I assure them that I visit a specialist every year who would inform me of any cutting edge remedies. I’ve come to terms with my blindness, but apparently people I sometimes encounter have not. If I were to tell that man my true feelings about praying to be healed, I would say that it would feel too arrogant to ask God to heal me. I would rather God spend his energy on more pressing issues, like granting food to the starving children around the world. Blindness, I can deal with. Going without food, now that’s a problem.


Jenny Jones lives with her guide dog Racer in Utah. She was born with cataracts. Retinal detachments took the rest of her sight when she was in her 20s. She loves to read but writing is new to Jenny. She finds it helpful and hopes to continue.  Jenny has a blog at: Jennysjourney464.blogspot.com


Got It Maid

29 Oct

by Jenny Jones

It’s probably been over two years since I decided to hire Myrna. It felt so frivolous to hire someone to clean my place but I figured it was important to me, and if I managed my money carefully, I could handle the expense. Besides I don’t have a car payment. My condo was so beautiful and new when I bought it, I didn’t want it to lose its shine. I know there are plenty of blind people who do a great job cleaning, but it just is too much for me when I work full time. I just don’t have the energy to stay on top of the dust. Sometimes when you have a disability it makes sense to spend extra money to make your life easier and more enjoyable. I know a guy who is blind and he likes to splurge on pedicures once a month.

I decided to try a house cleaner and hired Myrna. If it started to feel like a waste of money, I could just tell her I changed my mind. She cleaned the first time and I never looked back. I was delighted with how the place was transformed. My toes would sink into the plush carpet, which had felt thread bare the day before. It seemed like I was in a hotel. She even washes my windows. Every time she does her magic I am once again singing her praises. In books and articles I’ve read there is sometimes a story of an elderly person who dies and leaves a chunk of money to the maid. It never made any sense to me until I met Myrna! My quality of life has been enriched. Now with Racer, my guide dog in the house it can get pretty hairy. I bought a Dyson and when I first vacuumed after my dog had been with me a few weeks, I couldn’t believe the amount of furriness that was emptied from the vacuum. It was like a mini Racer was compacted inside the Dyson.

In between Myrna’s visits I venture to take out the vacuum. Racer watches me like he doesn’t trust me with the contraption. I expect him to run when he sees me with the noisy machine but instead he acts like he needs to supervise or protect me from myself. He stares as I push several levers and buttons and pull out all the extensions. Once I’m finished, I scratch my head about how to put it all back together. Accomplishment washes over me when the endeavor is over. Racer and I, feeling very relieved and worn out from our duties, trot to our respective spots in the living room and take a nap.

Jenny Jones lives with her guide dog Racer in Utah. She was born with cataracs. Retinal detachments took the rest of her sight when she was in her 20s. She loves to read but writing is new to Jenny. She finds it helpful and hopes to continue.  Jenny has a blog at: Jennysjourney464.blogspot.com

A Cane and a Guide Dog

5 Oct

by Jenny Marie

I swing my cane back and forth, next to me my friend with less vision than I, moves more smoothly. There is a difference in us that everyone can see. His quick clip is hard to keep up with. I know he doesn’t mean to leave me in his dust, but he does. If I wasn’t with him as we walk through the city I know someone would try to offer to help me. Is it the presence of his German shepherd guide? Or is it the beauty of a man and dog moving together as one? I don’t honestly know; I am just grateful for no one feeling the need to “help me”.

We both stop at the curb. This one I can tell easily because of the way it feels under my cane. Zeus (the guide) stopped before me though. “Wait for it”, I tell my friend. I am more fearful of stepping out into the street then he. We both listen to traffic the pattern changes, and we both step off. We both almost jog across, you see this isn’t a good area to cross because of how the drivers are.

I end up off to the right, he I know ended up at the right place. He calls for me to come over. My cane taps the pole next to me. I walk back over to him swinging it along the way, and I know he is holding in a laugh. “So how are the applications going?” he asks cheerfully.

“We can talk at the café” I tell him.

Once we reach the café I fold up my cane, and set it next to me. Zeus lays under the small table, and I assume his head sticks out at the sound our waitress makes. He is a beautiful dog sir’’, her voice chirps. I roll my eyes behind my sunglasses. As I know what is coming next.

‘’Please don’t pet him, Miss’’.

We order I can tell by his tone he wants her to go away.

I look at him and ask ‘’is it worth it?’’

“Yes,” he states, “very much so.”

‘’Even with all of that?’’

‘’The freedom Zeus gives me is worth, so much more than the drama his presence creates’’.

‘’Think you have a point, which is why I am talking to schools about getting a guide in the near future.’’

He leans closer, so I can see his bright smile, he reaches for arm, and tells me how happy he is. I know now my future involves fast pace walking, talking as I do so, less worry, but people wanting to pet the “puppy’’. Will it be worth when it is all said and done part of me doesn’t know…..

“I am Jenny, blogger, writer, reader and friend. As result of a horse accident, I have CVI cordial visual impairment, which mostly effects children.” See Jenny’s blog is https://blindhorsegirl.wordpress.com/

Hello God

30 May

by Pamela Berman

Hello G-d! My name is Pamela Berman, but of course, you know that (smile). I appreciate you taking the time to hear me out today. You know this blindness thing you’ve bestowed on me is really quite an irritant. I know I was diagnosed at 7 years old but why has it taken me pretty much the past 40+ years to adjust? You know, I feel I have to ask you but in another way, I feel I know the answers. So, I guess you can call that a rhetorical question. I don’t like being blind, that you know, but it’s only because I so want to experience all of the beauty & greatness you’ve created in this world or am I just nosey & a busy body needing to see everything…grin !

That said I must say thank you so very much for the greatest gift of all—my children! My boys are the most amazing people I’ve ever known & to think that I gave birth to them just awes me every time. Maybe sometime if you have an opportunity, you could give me a sneak peek at my boys? Shh…I wouldn’t have to tell anyone (smile). No!  Who am I kidding? I’d want to tell everyone! I don’t really need to see my boys, for I don’t need eyesight to see what they are really about. You gave me the perfect partner in Mary to raise children. Our boys are the perfect parts of both of us. That is so incredible I don’t know how you did that but Thank You! It’s just like how you’ve matched me to the perfect guide dog. I don’t know how that’s done either but it is magical…just like Excel or Disney World! There is so much badness in the world & it’s so easy to go there & feel sadness & depression. I know that in the past, that could be an easy task for me, but not who I am & not how I want to be thought of.

I just want to tell you thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for the life you’ve bestowed on me & the journey you’ve allowed me to take. Some of it wouldn’t be my choice if I had one, but the lessons I’ve been learning & the knowledge I’ve come away with is so incredibly rewarding. I’d have to say that my most favorite thing you’ve given me is the wonderful people that I get to meet; from my parents & grandparents all the way to the homeless man on the street who helps me find my way. Your job must be such a difficult one & one I would never want to undertake. I want you to know I’m appreciative & think you’re doing an amazing job…Thank you!!

Pamela Berman has had retinitis pigmentosa since childhood.  She is active in the blind and sighted community and loves children.  She lives with loving her partner, Mary of 20 years + and 2 awesome sons.  Pam’s essay comes from the 2nd writing workshop she attended at Second Sense blind service organization.

Opening Doors

17 Jan

by Kathy Austin

Every day, I travel to and from work, shopping, meetings – the normal stops we all make.  I feel fairly competent traveling with my guide dog but sometimes do depend on the kindness of strangers for assistance.  lots of great people out there will go out of their way to help me and I am very grateful for their help.

One area where people are providing assistance is to open the door for me.  While I know this is a very courteous act to do for anyone, I’m beginning to question people’s intelligence.

Let’s think about these situations:

Scenario 1: I have arrived at my destination and am reaching for the door handle.  I know I am at the door because my dog has taken me to this location many times before.  I am reaching out and my hand is grabbling into thin air – there’s nothing there. Has someone just walked in before me and the door is now closing?  Or is someone holding the door open for me and thinks that I can see him doing that but doesn’t want to tell me?  Is he thinking “Blind woman approaching, I’ll hold the door but not tell her” Is that a cruel joke?  Let’s trick the blind woman?!”

Scenario 2: I am approaching the door with my guide dog and all of a sudden, the door pops open and someone exclaims “I’ve got the door for you” as she almost knocks us over with the oncoming door.  Please watch my guide dog’s toes – please!

In guide dog school, we and the dogs are trained on how to approach doorways, whether open or not.  If the door is open, our guide will still stop so that e can make sure it is safe to enter to prevent injury in situation like these.   Sometimes this can be uncomfortable for sighted folks to watch, but lots of ways we adapt to traveling make sighted people uncomfortable.

I don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable and want them to feel good about helping someone and doing the Courteous  Gesture.  All I’m asking is that you think before you act and make sure you are not putting anyone in danger of injury.  And most of all, talk to us!

Kathy Austin is the Community Engagement Specialist at Second Sense and joined the Words Wide Open writing workshop to explore new ways to get a message across.  “Writing is a powerful tool and doing it well takes practice.”   She wants to do the best she can to move people to realization and action.


4 Jan

by Pamela Berman

I feel so frustrated sometimes. Why can’t I just do what I need to do and not feel this awful stress breathing down my neck, my shoulders or is it in my legs today?  I know where I need to go, I know how to get there and for some gnawing reason, the stress is there.  O and M, check, I got it down. I know where I’m going and I know exactly how to get there. It’s simple, I just walk out the east side door of my building and just walk to the corner, stop, turn left, cross the street and walk down the block to the alley to relieve my guide dog. Hmm…What if he doesn’t stop at the corner?  Oh, that’s ok, I’ll know when I’m there. What if he crosses me on an angle and we’re not walking east on the north side of the street?  Will I know?  I will pay really close attention so we won’t veer, so we’ll stay on target, but there’s that stress again! Why does she have to come with us?  Today she’s in my head, just throbbing, as if all the sounds of the city weren’t enough, now I’ve got to have this pounding sensation going on in my head.  Don’t I have enough going on?!  I’ve got to safely cross the street, find a safe relieving area for my sweet boy and then find my way to the bus stop. Oh my God! Is the bus there now?  Who cares, I can’t board without first giving my sweet little boy an opportunity to go to the bathroom.  I owe it to him to keep him comfortable and safe.  I’m the one stressed here and I don’t want to put any stress on him, not if I can help it. Forget finding the alley, who knows if there even is an alley.  I’ll just give him an opportunity to go here, near where there should be an alley, or maybe where there is an alley.  My poor boy, is he comfortable?  Is he happy or is he stressing too?  I’m fretting over trying to figure out if I’ll be able to tell when a bus arrives at the bus stop and did mydog go, or does he have to go?  Well, I’ve given him enough time, I think, and we don’t want to miss our bus. So, now it’s time to conquer the bus stop.  Where is it?! We’re on the north-east corner, just west of Wabash, check, but are we in the bus stop?  Are we a little to the right or a little to the left or are we more than a little off our target?  Then we hear it, it’s a bus and we hurry around some obstacles, think it was a trash can, but maybe it was a planter, who knows, ‘cause I sure don’t want to be touching anything foreign outside here.  We hurry to the bus door only to find there were a bunch of other people waiting to get on the bus too.  Part of me is relieved, the other part is hoping that we didn’t just barge our way to the front of the line. This is when I love having my boy with me.  He never minds if I blame him for barging to the front of the line.  He’s such a good boy and at least 3 of the people waiting to board the bus are in awe of him, so all is good for right now.  We’ve made it onto the right bus and even to a seat without any upsets…but will the driver really remember to let me know when we’re at my stop?!

Pamela Berman has had retinitis pigmentosa since childhood.  She is active in the blind and sighted community and loves children.  She has a supportive partner of 20 years, two great sons and works at Blind Service Association as coordinator of youth activities and scholarships. Pam’s essay comes from the writing workshop she attended at Second Sense: beyond vision loss.