people who know me well would probably say I am generally not a vengeful person, and I know revenge isn’t exactly a Christian virtue. I read a story circulating on guide dog related lists which has made me so mad! I’ll provide the direct link at the bottom of this post and will paraphrase here. A female customer was scared of a Yellow Lab guide dog in a grocery store who had its “work clothes” (harness etc.) on and was helping a blind woman. The scared customer demanded the woman with the dog leave the store, and when that didn’t happen, she picked up a bottle of bleach and sprayed this dog in the eyes and back. Later the customer said it was a mistake and attributed to a mental health condition for which she takes medication.
Before getting my Seeing Eye Dogs, I was afraid of dogs, and I cringe when remembering a particular incident in my past. I was staying at the home of a college friend with a loose dog who jumped on me, and this scared me severely! Finally, they gave me a squeaky toy the dog didn’t like in order to keep it away from me, and I used it liberally to make sure. I learned later that it put the dog under so much stress that it was ill for a few days, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been able to tell that person how sorry I was. Its full impact never hit me before getting over my fear and loving dogs of my own.
However, even I who was very afraid of dogs still respected the roll of controlled, working dogs. I just asked their handlers not to let them get near me, and handlers were very compassionate about my request. I try to extend the same courtesy to people who are truly afraid of my dogs. The only exception to this is cab drivers who ask very unreasonable things which would make the dog uncomfortable throughout our trip.
I can only assume this grocery store had multiple aisles, and if this woman was so afraid, she could have vacated to another aisle to avoid the dog. I made an effort to avoid dogs if and when I could when I was afraid. I really do understand the irrational behavior of being fearful, because — before having dogs of my own — I cried and even screamed when loose dogs jumped on me. I don’t buy for a moment that the spraying was an irrational behavior brought on by a fear. The customer asked the woman to take the dog out first and then sprayed. She also admitted later she didn’t think dogs should be in grocery stores. I may have had more compassion if the spray had come out of the clear blue. We’ve all heard of the fight of flight response, and some people fight.
I am appalled at attributing such onerous behavior to a mental illness. Please keep in mind that I have a master’s in Community Counseling, so I know a few things about mental illness and the stigma which goes along with it. I also take medication for depression, have friends with other mental illnesses, and understand all too well how even well-educated people discount mental illness as hogwash or at least not as important / viable / urgent as physical illness. I believe this customer is acting far more cowardly by trying to hide behind a mental illness to rationalize this hideous act than her fear of dogs.
The good news is that the Lab appeared uninjured, and I hope that’s true. Something like that can not only physically injure a working dog but can mentally traumatize him/her — in extreme cases preventing their work from continuing in the same or similar environments.
My dad and I rarely agree on anything politically. I’m liberal, and he’s conservative. I don’t like the death penalty and remember us discussing a case in which he said he would be glad to be on the firing squad which killed the guilty man. I believe I’m incapable of killing, but I find we have something in common. I believe the punishment should fit the grocery customer’s crime. a just sentence would be for this woman to have bleach sprayed in her eyes. I’d never do this outside the law, but not only would I be happy to be on a firing squad of spray bottles, I’d be happy to personally administer this punishment. I’d make damn sure this woman would have a good education on why blind people need guide dogs and what it’s like to be blind … like for the rest of her life. I don’t generally feel this way very often, but this makes my blood boil enough to imagine being gleeful while spritzing bleach in her eyes and taking her vision.
Link to story: