Faces have always been a mystery to me as I have never been able to see them unless close up in pictures. This is only possible if I can inspect the detail in the picture at a nose length away. Recognising people has always come from other clues. From hearing their distinct voice to hearing their unique footsteps and every imaginable sensory subtlety in between, seeing people has always been possible through ingrained memory as apposed to ease. When my four children were babies, I could see their general appearance when I held them in my arms but as soon as they became to big to hold, they became too far away to see. This is the only time that it ever really mattered to me.
Having four children under the age of six meant that at various times they all became similar heights so recognising them became harder as time went on and I had to be vigilant in the clothes that they wore to help distinguish them from one another. As my eyesight deteriorated even more, I began wondering how I was going to use my methods of deductions to distinguish between masses of similar looking blurs. My solution came in the form of a nosey, fan seeking, intelligent face recognising device a.k.a. my Guide Dog, Minster Munch. He only needs to see a face once to be able to memorize, categorize and prioritize that face into his elephant like memory system.
The memorizing is probably the easiest part of the process for him. He has this ability to leave an impression on the people he meets and therefore he memorizes the reactions that he initially receives. He memorizes the exact location that these people can usually be found, whether it be in certain shops or houses. Next comes the categorization of these new found faces. Categories include the easily manipulated ones, the dog treat carriers, the eager doggy kiss receivers, the chin stokers, the non-fussed and his fun time walkers. The prioritizing of these faces then depends on the mood that he is in on that day. If he is after a free run with one of the fun time walkers then he may bypass an easily manipulated one to meet his need on that given day. This Face Recognition talent works wonders for both him and I.
As he begins to quicken his pace towards an oncoming blur, I know that it is someone we know. The pace of his quicken strides gives me an indication of how well known they are to us. If it is someone that is close family or a friend, he may also begin to get a little bit excited, whining to alert me that the loved one is near. I love this about him as although he may be more interested in what he can gain from his oncoming friend, he is linking me to the sighted world which has always been impossible for me to do alone. Without him, the faceless blurs I love living amongst, remain a mystery to me. He has now become my eyes that I have never properly seen through. This Face Recognizing Device will always be one of my favourite gifts that I have been given, and he only requires treats, fuss and love to run on. How amazing is that?