Krumwiede on IPCR, Saying Hello to a Guide Dog Team

By Purnell T. Cropper | September 24, 2010

By Marykate Torley ’11

Mary Krumwiede ’12 and her dog guide, SaraJane, are two of the newest additions to Arcadia’s campus. A first-year graduate student studying International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Krumwiede chose Arcadia for the reputation of its IPCR program and its study abroad opportunities.

Both she and SaraJane, a 2 1/2-year-old black Lab, are adjusting to the big change of a new campus. When SaraJane is working, she takes directional commands from Krumwiede, leads Krumwiede from place to place, and indicates where doorways, stairs, and other obstacles are by using her body. It is best to leave SaraJane alone when they are working, though as Krumwiede says, “SaraJane has a different personality when she isn’t working; she is more rambunctious, and she thinks my roommate is also a dog!”

When asked about how Arcadia staff members have accommodated her needs, Krumwiede was impressed by how members of facilities quickly moved her into her Oak Summit apartment.  She even declares it “the fastest move I’ve ever experienced,” because it was completed in a half hour.

Thus far Krumwiede’s experience at Arcadia has been enjoyable. She is considering a dual master’s degree option and is looking forward to going deeper into her studies. The mediation class she is taking is particularly enjoyable as she is learning how to manage conflict and turn negative issues into positive ones. She also is excited about the IPCR trip to Ireland in October.

The biggest challenge Krumwiede faces now is learning the layout of the campus.  As she puts it best, “SaraJane and I are still learning the campus, so if we look confused, we are.” Don’t be too shy to say “hi” and help them out. Read below for tips on saying hello to a guide dog team from Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Saying Hello to a Guide Dog Team

  • As tempting as it may be to pet a guide dog, remember that this dog is responsible for leading someone who can’t see. The dog should never be distracted from that duty. The person’s safety depends on their dog’s alertness and concentration.
  • Although it is okay to ask someone if you can pet their guide and many people enjoy introducing their guide when time permits, the dog’s primary duty is to its blind handler and is working while in harness. It is important that the dog not become too solicitous.
  • A guide dog should never be offered food or other distracting treats. Guide dogs are fed on a schedule and follow a specific diet in order to keep them in optimum condition. Even slight deviations from their regular eating pattern can disrupt their regular feeding and relieving routine, which can seriously inconvenience their handler. Guide dogs are trained to resist food, so they can visit restaurants without begging. Feeding treats to a guide dog can weaken this training.
  • Although guide dogs can’t read traffic signals, they are responsible for helping their handler safely cross streets. Calling out to a guide dog or intentionally obstructing its path is dangerous as it can break the dog’s concentration on its work.
  • Listening to traffic signals has become increasingly more difficult for guide dog handlers due to quieter engines and an increased number of cars out on the road. Please don’t honk your horn or call out from your car to signal when it is safe to cross. This can be distracting or confusing. Be especially careful of pedestrians on crosswalks when turning at lights.
  • It is not all work and no play for a guide dog. When they are not in harness, they are treated in much the same way as pets. However, for their safety, they are only allowed to play with specific toys. Please ask their handler if it is okay for them to play with a toy. The handler must always be present during play time and should be the only one interacting with the dog. This is to help maintain the close bond between the dog and handler.
  • In some situations, working with a guide dog may not be appropriate. Instead, the handler may prefer to take your arm just above the elbow and allow their dog to heel. Others may prefer to have their dog follow you. In either case, be sure to talk to the handler and not the dog when giving directions for turns.
  • A guide dog can make mistakes and must be corrected in order to maintain its training. This correction usually involves a verbal admonishment coupled with a leash correction, followed by praise when the guide dog regains focus and follows a command. Guide dog handlers have been taught the appropriate methods to use with their dogs.
  • Access laws, including the United States’ Americans With Disabilities Act and Canada’s Blind Persons’ Rights Act, permit a person who is blind to be accompanied by a guide dog anywhere the general public is allowed, including taxis and buses, restaurants, theaters, stores, schools, hotels, apartments and office buildings.
  • Before asking a question of a person handling a guide dog, allow them to complete the task at hand.
  • Never tease a dog.