A Dog’s Eye View

Sue, wearing a mask with Quan observing

the author, masked up, and her Seeing Eye dog, Quan.



In my 35 years of handling guide dogs, they’ve all seen some pretty bizarre things!

This is about how dogs react to seeing or hearing something unusual. The first time I noticed such a reaction was when I was training with my first dog. Seeing Eye employs security guards who patrol the school at night. These guards wear uniforms and badges. Many of the dogs had negative reactions when they saw a guard. This usually took the form of backing away or growling. Eventually, the guards learned that if they removed their peaked caps and covered their badges, the dogs didn’t react to them.

When I boarded the plane to bring home my first dog, the pilot came back to welcome me and make sure my dog and I were comfortable. Many first time teams fly out of Newark and they’re used to seeing newly minted teams on flights. Imagine my horror when the pilot approached and my dog began to growl at him. He just laughed it off, telling me it wasn’t unusual for the dogs to growl when they saw someone in a uniform.

Jim and I were married two days after I brought that dog home. We were married by an Episcopal minister and he would be fully vested. Alarmed by what had happened with the airline pilot, I called the school and asked for advice. They told me to have the minister vest in the dog’s presence. It must have worked as the dog slept with her head on the kneeler throughout the ceremony.

Two of my dogs have had adverse reactions to people who walked with an odd gait. One dog took me neatly off the sidewalk and along the curb until we had passed the person. The other dog grumbled softly until the person had passed.

And now everyone in the world is wearing a mask!

I’m told some of these masks are quite interesting and downright strange. For obvious reasons, I had some trepidation about venturing out into this world of masked people. Of course, Jim and I masked up before leaving home. And maybe that did the trick. Seeing us masked, and trusting us, Quan has, so far, had absolutely no reaction to the thundering herds of masked denizens of the world!


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