No matter how much I try to convince myself it will be a good idea, trying to sight see with little sight and blurry blobs surrounding me has not always been my idea of heaven. Going new places is far more about sensory overload and less about embracing the apparent sights that are supposedly around me. Munch on the other hand, would love to explore a new place each day, possibly five. Finding the middle ground for a happy him and a happy me can sometimes be a battle of wills.
Some guide dogs take a while to learn a route whereas Munch knows the route inside out and back to front as soon as he has finished walking it for the first time. Munch loves exploring and sniffing a urine-soaked lamp post or two as his paws hit unchartered territory. His huge angel winged tail attached to his sashaying derriere that thuds against my leg, tells me that he is one happy chappy in the unknown. He wears his harness as a suit of armour as he sightsees with his not so sighted maid trailing behind him. He is the reason my unsteady feet become steady.
New places to me are like entering a rotating assault course whilst blindfolded and hoping for the best. Where are the steps? Where are the doors? Which are the female toilets? Which is the right route, and which leads to a dead end? Guide dogs are amazing, but they need instructions on where to take us too and unfortunately cannot read so there are limits to their capabilities. Without the strong partnership that we have that is built on trust, such outings would not be possible as Munch could not go where non guide dogs could go and I would not trust my white cane as much as I trust my hairy soul mate.
In the weird labyrinth of memories in my mind, I know how many steps are on familiar routes and when to take bends. I can dance around my house without bumping into things as I know each space deeply. I can hear when a wall by the side of me ends and the open space expands. I know the potholes and cracks that lead up to a flight of steps and where the parked cars that are always obstructing the pavements live. The intensity of aromas wafting from air vents lets me know how close we are to Munch’s favourite food shops. It is through these sensory cues that my memory assures me that these assault courses are more stationary and more inviting than the rotating ones.
I love the inspiring blind individuals that climb mountains and travel the world with just their trusty cane. I am in awe of the sightless heroes that forget they are blind as they take on challenges that many sighted would fear. The blind chefs who use their senses alone to create perfectly presented masterpieces could teach the most experiences in the field a thing or two. Vision Loss alone does not create barriers, but limited belief does.
Munch is the gap that links my belief that turns into trust. Together, he can see the sights and I can embrace the senses of the sights safe in the knowledge that I am safe. Having my own excited tour guide, taking me to new places has made sightseeing far more exciting that it used to be. Most of the time I havn’t got a clue what he is seeing in the distance to make him so happy but a happy Munch is a happy me. The gift of a guide dog changes us in ways we never thought possible. Let’s keep exploring as much as we can in whatever way possible ❤