When you have a guide dog, you sometimes feel like a famous person getting stopped frequently to sign autographs, minus the actual signatures and paparazzi. When I first got Roja last year, I loved it when people stopped me to ask questions. I didn’t mind if it turned into a longer conversation, as long as I was able to share all about Roja and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
This lasted for about 3 weeks, and then it got a little tiresome. Some of my regular errands were taking 2 or 3 times as long as they did before having Roja. All the time I was “saving” from walking at my fast, new pace with my furry friend was quickly being spent answering questions about guide dogs. One woman followed me down the frozen food aisle at Trader Joe’s, telling me about how she wants a service dog for possible seizures caused by these strange rashes she was getting all over her body. I certainly felt bad for this woman and her rashes, but I just wanted to find the party meatballs and move on. Another woman found me among the soups and lentils and asked if I’d been to the Wheaton Eye Clinic and, if so, had I tried the giant magnifiers?
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy connecting with new, interesting people, and I wish I had the time nd energy to do it all day long. But at some point my kids have to eat and I need to get the house cleaned up.
I was mulling over this conundrum one day when I remembered the little cards that Guide Dogs for the Blind gave us right before graduation. I remembered one of the admissions counselors telling us that these were great cards to hand to people who have questions about guide dogs, especially during those times that you’re in a hurry but don’t want to be rude. So I started handing them out, and it was working well. But I was noticing that most people were really interested in hearing specifically about Roja since she was the guide dog standing near them. “What’s her name? How old is she? How long have you had her?” These questions couldn’t be answered by the GDB cards, but I also still didn’have enough time to share about Roja in the detail that I wished to with each person I met at the pharmacy.
“I wish I could just show people I meet the blogs I’ve written about Roja,” I remarked to my husband.
“Put a sign on her harness linking to your blog!” he laughed.
Hmmm…… Not a bad idea.
But I didn’t want to cover us the GDB logo on her harness. Plus, how would people remember the web address? And what if they really didn’t want to read about me and my twin and Retinitis Pigmentosa? It’s Roja they care about.
That’s when I came up with the idea to have a specific section dedicated to stories written about (and by!) Roja. My friend Tammy sent me a super-cute pic her son took of Roja, and I posted it on her dog blog. Then I thought about printing her picture to paste on the GDB cards.
Or better yet, I decided, why not design Roja her very own cards?
My husband helped me design a card with Roja’s sweet yellow face with the big brown eyes on the front and her name, birthdate, blog address and GDB address on the back. I really wanted to have the information printed in Braille as well, but I couldn’t find any companies to do it for a price I could afford, so I decided to save that for a later date.
For now, I have these perfect little linen cards to hand out to any inquiring minds. I have also been handing them out at the schools I’ve been giving presentations at, which the kids seem to really like.
I’m not sure how many people actually go home and look up Roja’s blog, although I did get my first comment from someone who I met at Trader Joe’s last week, and that made me smile. It made Roja smile too, because she didn’t have to stand next to me while I yapped with a stranger for 15 minutes. Instead, she got to go home and play tug with me for a few minutes while Curious Customer got to enjoy reading Roja’s most recent tales from the comfort of their home, not in the frozen food aisle.