Why Do You Use a Cane Rather Than a Dog?
Even though both a Chevy and a Ford will get you where you want to go, many people still have a strong preference as to what they drive. It’s not much different for people whose vision has deteriorated to the point that they must either use a cane or a dog. Preferences are sometimes held with the same intensity as those of the Chevy and Ford owners. In the next two posts, I’ll look at the reasons for preferring a cane or a dog.
Since the large majority of people who are blind prefer a cane, there are clearly compelling reasons for that choice.
- Easier to learn. While there is definitely a learning curve for both a cane as well as a dog and there is a real skill to being a good cane traveler, I’ve done both and found it much easier to learn to use a cane. After thirty-five years of working with dogs (I’m now on my fifth), there are still new things to learn. While you’re always refining cane skills, the basics are learned fairly quickly.
- Some situations are not appropriate for a dog. Even the schools that train guide dogs willingly acknowledge that there are some occasions that aren’t suitable for using a dog. What they are is open to question, but it is the rare handler that would debate that they exist. I wouldn’t, for example, take a dog to visit someone in the hospital or go to a football game. I know more than one attorney who uses a cane because they’ve found that a dog, regardless how well-behaved, is too much of a distraction in the courtroom.
- Low maintenance. Canes don’t have to be fed, groomed, walked, etc. This is not a small consideration.
If you’re a cane traveler, you can roll over and go back to sleep on those cold January mornings and stay inside and dry on those days that it’s raining buckets. . With a dog, part of your schedule every day is absolutely tied to your dog’s biological needs.
- No clean-up. Speaking of the biological, you must clean-up after a dog, something that many people just find too distasteful.
- Some of your friends, family, or co-workers may just not be animal people. They may be allergic to dogs, which is not common, but may happen. Even if a dog is immaculately cared for, there will always be people who simply don’t want it in their car, home, or office.
- Virtually no on-going cost. The only expense you have for a cane is the original purchase price; that’s it. With a dog, you will be paying for food, vet visits, and, as they age, increasingly large medical bills. While these expenses are a tax deductible item for guide dogs; don’t kid yourself, a cane is much cheaper. (Some, but by no means all, guide dogs schools assist with some of this expense, but you’ll still have out-of-pocket costs yourself.)
- No emotional attachment. The bond that is formed with a guide dog is significantly more intense than that with a pet. The dog will age, likely develop chronic medical problems, and die. Using a cane avoids this emotionally wrenching experience. I no more than one person who, while they loved working with a dog, are cane users because the aging and death of a dog was just too traumatic to go through again.
- Suitable for children. Young children can be taught to use a cane at a time when they are too young and immature to handle a dog.
All of this being said, you may wonder while anyone would choose to use a dog. There are a number of reasons that many people find persuasive, and I’ll look at those in the next post.
Why Do You Use a Dog?