Dave and I have just finished reading and listening to ‘A Dog called DEZ’ and as it’s #NationalShareaStoryMonth, we thought it would be a good time to share our thoughts.
The book is the true life story (to date) of John Tovey, from his difficult childhood, adolescence and early years, through to him losing his sight as a result of diabetic retinopathy and to getting his guide dog, Dez.
Obviously this is just one person’s story and as always we’d like to remind people that not every person with a vision impairment wants or is entitled to, a guide dog. However, the book has some useful insights into the training of guide dogs and the commitment required by anyone considering having one, as well as recounting some of Dez’s misdemeanours and his eye for the ladies (if food’s not in the way 😊)
The early parts of the book are not an easy read, as the book states, “Life before Dez had been pretty bleak and I’d not been a very good person at all.”, however, John makes a commitment to himself and Dez when he applies to become a guide dog owner and the highlights of the book for me all relate to the bond they develop with each other.
There are some very funny moments (when Dez manages to grab a child’s lollipop and steals some chocolate cake – yes Dez is a Labrador 😊) but there is also a lot of information that will deepen people’s awareness about being blind (John feeling self-conscious when he first used his white cane and then realising the benefits to him and others is just one example) and also the responsibility of owning a guide dog (after Dez had stolen the lollipop, John invited a friend, who had a young child, round to his so they could teach Dez to ignore sweets, even if they were being waved at dog eye level by a young child). The book also talks about the training a dog receives, the support the person gets with the training and also the essential fundraising activities John and other people undertake in order to raise money for Guide Dogs.
There were also a few moments when John relates something about Dez that reminded me of Dave’s lovely guide dog Errol who sadly died last year. One such moment was when John first got Dez and then went outside to put out the rubbish:
“Dez sat back down and sighed as if in a huff. I closed the door behind me and nipped out to the bin. I must’ve been gone for a total of ten seconds, but as soon as I walked in through the door he bounced around like Tigger on Red Bull.”
Errol also didn’t appreciate being left behind either and used to look quite miffed if Dave had the nerve to leave him behind at any time. Unlike Dez though, Errol would maintain his aloofness for a while even after Dave returned home!
The other was when John describes Dez being so different with his harness on:
“When his harness was on Dez was the ultimate professional, always watching and waiting. He wasn’t reckless to impassive, instead he’d err on the side of caution, anything to keep me safe. However, as soon as the harness was removed he was off duty and back to being a regular dog and a bouncing ball of fun and energy.”
We definitely used to say that Errol held himself differently when his harness was on, more alert and ready to fulfil his important role!!
If you’ve read this book, please share your highlights with us or, if you have other books you’d like to recommend we read, please let us know. As always, we’re also interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
Interested to learn more about VIDA Training? Read about our Training and Consultancy packages, specialising in Vision Impairment and Disability Awareness, Communication and Team Building or contact us for further information.
Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.