Having got home from holiday on Saturday evening, one of the very first things I did was watch episode 3 of this season of Come Dine with Me.  It’s not my usual Saturday night viewing, but this episode was special as my colleague from the Enhance team, Gary Mazin, was on the show with his guide dog Gibson (who has since sadly passed away).  Gary is a unique character – one which we love, and I was interested to see how he would come across on the show.  The horror stories of television editing kept coming to mind…

I won’t spoil the show and tell you too much.  If you haven’t watched it, you can watch it on catch up here.

What I will say is the show really highlighted how Deaf and disabled people can often be ignored, and the focus instead remains on their assistance dog.  This is something that I myself am familiar with.  Having Ivy (a gorgeous Yorkiepoo) has many benefits, and she’s certainly a conversation starter – a positive thing as I am not the best at initiating conversations in busy environments.  But, although I hate to sound grumpy, walking through the streets to a chorus of ‘ahhhhh’s’ and ‘how cute’ with people pointing at her can at times wear a little thin.  As can people coming up to me and asking lots of questions when I am trying to have a cuppa in peace – especially if it’s my first cup of tea of the day – anyone who knows me well would know I should be approached with extreme caution before I have had at least two cups in the mornings!! I try and be polite and answer questions and I understand that people are just interested, but sometimes, quite frankly, I just want to be left alone.

Even worse is when I catch up with old colleagues or people I have met before in passing and the first thing they want to discuss is how Ivy is, it’s seriously like I don’t matter.  I fully understand that I can’t compete with her level of cuteness, but it’s enough at times to put a little chip on my shoulder.  I am not suggesting that everyone should ignore Ivy at all – she’s too lovely for that, but remember that there’s more to me than my dog, it would be nice if I could be shown some interest too!

Apologies if this article sounded whingey, that certainly wasn’t my intention, but next time you meet someone with an assistance dog please make sure you focus on them and not just their dog.

About The Author

Claire has worked with Deaf children for a number of years, initially as an Educational Communicator and then as a teacher. She recently moved into working in the community to support Deaf adults as a Community Support Worker. She is chairperson of Bedfordshire Deaf Children’s Society and secretary for Luton Deaf Football Club. She has also provided Deaf Awareness training to various organisations. Claire has her level 2 British Sign Language Certificate although she has been signing from a young age as she is deaf herself. Initially Claire was a hearing aid user but after losing her residual hearing several years ago she has had a Cochlear Implant. Claire is often accompanied to work by her hearing dog Ivy.

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