Don’t let the cuteness of the animal fool you: the way scientists have managed to train dogs to be able to assist blind people in their daily lives is nothing short of a miracle. If you happen to live in a big city, you’ve probably noticed impeccably-trained dogs assisting the blind with navigating roads, train stations and many an urban hazard, while you’re probably struggling to teach your dog not to attack the vacuum cleaner.
That being said, there are some people in this world less impressed with the feats of guide dogs and blind people in general, and so, the average blind person receives a disproportionate degree of aggro from passers-by that leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth. One such blind person, Amit Patel, had had enough of getting abuse from London commuters, and strapped a GoPro to his furry companion Kika to give us an idea of what it’s like to go through the daily London commute with no sight and only a dog to help out. Turn to the next page to see the London commute from the eyes of a guide dog. A lot of people glamourise London to an unrealistic degree, and one way in which the UK capital is somewhat less than pleasant is its rush hour commute on the way to work. Sure, it’s similar to a lot of big cities, but that doesn’t make it any easier for the blind who have to travel through it every day, as Amit’s guide dog Kika will demonstrate.
The video above shows us what it’s like to travel in London, thanks to Kika. The footage was taken from a GoPro around the London Bridge train station, which is exceptionally busy around peak times. Here, we see Kika standing patiently, waiting for someone to make a space for herself and Amit, but sadly, nobody notices the blind man and his guide dog until towards the end of the video, where Amit himself has to call out for a member of staff, and it’s only then that he’s able to be helped on his way by the member of staff. The sad part, Amit says, is that this isn’t even the worst of it.
“Sometimes I get a train with my four-month old son and I say quite loudly: ‘Kika, find me a seat,’ but no-one budges.”
Amit also says that people sometimes hit him or his guide dog with bags or umbrellas in order to move him out of the way, and in general, he hasn’t got many kind words to say about the commuters in London.
“The worst part is the tutting and negative comments behind me. People are so rude and arrogant and assume they can do whatever they want.One lady even said I should apologise to the people behind her for holding them up. I asked her if I should apologise for being blind and she said, ‘yes’.Sometimes I wonder who is the blind person when there are people glued to their mobile phones.
It really scares Kika sometimes, I can feel how upset she gets and when I get upset she senses it and she won’t go on the escalators for a few days.”
Getting to work in London is a stressful activity at the best of times, but regardless of how pressed you are on your morning commute (I can’t believe I’m having to say this), try not to be terrible person to blind people. Or a terrible person in general. At least so you can avoid having to explain how you got into an argument with a blind person when you’re late for work.