Wiley – The Social Facilitator

When I started to lose my eyesight one of the hardest things I had to adjust to was how different (and at the time difficult) it was to communicate with people. A lot of communication is non verbal. Body language such as gestures and facial expressions often express more than what a person says.

As I can’t read body language I rely a lot more on a persons voice, their tone, inflections etc to try and help fill in the missing caps. But as with all skills it takes time, practice and experience to become proficient.

Because social interactions used to cause me a great deal of anxiety I became withdrawn unless I was with people I knew well. As well as feeling unsafe when I was outside I also had a fear about talking to people which made staying home safe but socially isolating.

Everything changed when I got my first Guide Dog, Khan. I started to want to go out and having a Guide Dog tends to makes people gravitate towards you. In fact it often took several hours to complete my shopping as so many people wanted to stop and chat. This gave me a no choice but to talk with people and therefore I was able to practice and improve my social skills.

Wiley, like his predecessor has created lots of social opportunities for me.

When we are out and about working, the public often stops us to ask questions or simply admire how beautiful Wiley is. I also find people tend to offer me more assistance when I am using a Guide dog than when I am using a long cane. I suspect part of the reason for this is that I appear more confident and approachable when working with a dog.

Even when we are not working and just out for a recreational walk people tend to be drawn to Wiley. Often they are other dog people and we stop and chat about each others dogs.

Since I have had Wiley I have made a couple of really good friends, particularly in my little development. All because a conversation was struck thanks to having Wiley with me. I have also meet some great people I now call friends via talks or promotional work for Guide Dogs.

Thanks Wiley for making my life richer and more fulfilled 🙂

Meanwhile what we have been up to ….

To be honest we have not done much this week. Wiley has had a slightly upset tummy. It is nothing serious and he is his normal bright, happy and hungry self but it has thrown his toileting schedule out the window and I don’t want to risk taking him out in public.

I have postponed a couple of coffee, shopping and lunch dates but thankfully there are no jobs on the books this week (taxi talk was cancelled). All going well we can get back into public access work as of tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Wiley – The Social Facilitator

  1. I totally agree! Makiko has opened up a lot of social doors for me. There are times, however, when I wish certain people would leave us be and let us work but a lot of the time I appreciate the interaction!

    • I agree that sometimes it would be nice to have time and space to just get on with whatever you need to be doing – but for the most part I enjoy talking to people about how wonderful Wiley is.

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