It is a sight guaranteed to cause excitement and joy in any Ithaca College student: seeing dogs on campus. Many dogs can be seen on campus grounds, oftentimes with their owner following closely behind.
Many of these dogs are training to become seeing-eye guides and are affiliated with the organization Guiding Eyes for the Blind at the college. Guiding Eyes for the Blind is an organization that educates students on how to train a dog to become a seeing-eye dog for others in the future.
Of course, the natural reaction to seeing these dogs on campus, with their silky fur and round, wide eyes, is to pet them. But students should caution against this impulse, as seeing-eye dogs are not simply domestic pets. More so than this, they are training to be able to provide services to blind people. This purpose should become more recognized by students across campus, as it would help students better understand the work and training these dogs must undergo. The necessary action to take, should that impulse arise, is to ask the owner whether it is all right to pet the dog — it’s impossible to know whether petting the dog would be detrimental to its phase of training without asking first. Even an overzealous emotional reaction in front of the dog and its owner could distract the dog from its training.
What students must recognize is that seeing–eye dogs, which are very easily identifiable by the specific vest they wear, are not just animals that exist to fulfill their love of furry creatures. In the case of seeing-eye dogs, the work and training they complete daily often trumps students’ desire to walk up to these animals and pet them.
Having the Guiding Eyes for the Blind program is one of several aspects of the college that never fails to make students smile, and the growing organization provides a great service to the broader community. But while black labradors are undeniably adorable, students must placate their love of these dogs, at least momentarily, to recognize the hard work they do.