My Guide Dog’s Name is Lucy, Mindy, Rex, Georgie…

Here’s your tip for the day: Do not ask that blind person on the bus or in the supermarket this question: “What’s your Guide dog’s name?”.  Why not?  Chances are, you will be getting an alias.  One of the bits of information I gleaned in Guide dog training, is to answer this question with a phony name.  The rationale behind it is, many people will parrot the name back….”Ooo you’re a pretty dog Mindy!!! Mindy, you are such a smart dog! Hey Mindy!!!”…This can be a huge distraction for the dog. I think the pat fake name given to me at the guide dog school one day in training was, ‘Georgie’.   When I returned home with Opal, and hit MY streets, I soon understood how important it was to have a ‘stage name’ for my dog. Trouble was, I had forgotten the pat answer (‘Georgie’) by the time I took that first solo walk with Opal.  We were on a bus going to the ferry terminal, when I  was suddenly faced with this question for the first time.  When a  woman asked,  my brain went numb. What was that name they told us to use, I asked myself.  I drew a blank.  She sounds like a nice person,  I thought.  What difference does it make, I  reasoned.  So, I  proudly announced, “Opal”. The nice lady promptly went ultrasonic in pitch, saying, “Opal, Opal, Opal” over and over using maximum voice output. Opal sprang up like a jack-in-the-box. Needless to say, I decided to come up with an alias for Opal that I would remember for all time.  What easier name to remember than, ‘Lucy’?  Lucy is our cat.  I am certain that Opal wonders why on earth I am always talking about the cat when we are out and about. It may seem unusual, but it is for our own safety.  People we see regularly (neighbours, friends, relatives, committee members) all know her real name.    I  consider that I am entitled to a certain amount of privacy. Therefore, please do not be offended if you later learn that you have been deceived by me or anyone who gives you a fake name when you ask the Guide dog’s name.  Remember, that in public places, there might be others taking notice,  (like kids) who will remember the Guide dog’s name  and one day, start shouting it when they spot the dog working across an intersection where total concentration is required by both dog and handler. 

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6 responses to “My Guide Dog’s Name is Lucy, Mindy, Rex, Georgie…

  1. I, too, use an alias for my owner-trained guide/service dog. I’ve had bad experiences when not doing so… So, I’d rather be safe than sorry! People just can’t be trusted, ya know?

  2. Hi there, Irish guy! I knew it was a universal trend. Better safe than sorry with these valuable dogs.

  3. Hey There,

    People always seem to ask me all the time what is my service dogs name. I too use mostly a stage name however my experience was worse doing so with two people. Unfortunately they learned my dogs real name and started screaming at me for lying. Which really was stupid as they were using that name calling my dog.

    Though I found out each of my dogs were different. My first 1 and 3 actually would not pay any mind unless I released them from what they were doing. The second she would just turn her head all the time but my big boy today he is quite different from them all. If somebody would call his name for that split second he may forget what he was doing.

    I actually came up with a new plan that works great for both him and people a like. I added a special cue.. Ignore People! And found out that not only will he quickly become focused on me and the task at hand but it clearly tells people that they must back off. And they do! As so many people will talk to the dogs more so then actually pet. So saying Ignore People I would get an apology for distracting my boy. Great way to educate them without going into all the do’s and don’ts. lol.

  4. Thank You! I will add “ignore people” to Opal’s vocabulary.

  5. You are so welcome.

  6. I have always used my guide dogs real name. She knows to ignore people unless I tell her it’s ok not to. This has worked great for me in the 8 years we have been working together. I have never had a problem with it at all and I have lived all over Canada and the US and have traveled a lot.

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