Visiting France with a Guide Dog for the Blind, Episode 55

Richard Wadwell and Ralph the Guide Dog
Richard Wadwell and his guide dog Ralph walking across the Champ de Juillet with the Gare Limoges Bénédictins in the background

Visiting France with a Guide Dog for the Blind

Today on Join Us in France we take a side trip into the wonderful world of guide dogs for the blind with Richard Wadwell, an Englishman and guide dog owner and who comes to France many times each year with his guide dog Ralph. Richard talks about what it’s like having a guide dog and shares wonderful tips on visiting France with or without a guide dog, in particular the Limoges area and Aix-en-Provence. And if you’re like me and you have great admiration for guide dogs and the work they do, this conversation will give you a glimpse into this amazing world. You can read more about Richard on his blog or follow him on Twitter @wadwellington. But if you need a laugh, you must follow @RalphGuideDog. And to follow Annie’s guide dog in training Igor follow  @EleveChienGuide on Twitter or Élève Chien Guide on Facebook. Enjoy!


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Igor the guide dog in training
Igor the labradoodle guide dog in training

Here are some of the questions we discuss on the show:

How long have you had a guide dog?
Do you speak French? Do you find that it’s a problem if you don’t?
Can you describe Ralph and tell us about his personality?
What is it like to work with a guide dog?
Are guide dogs always saints?
In France I’ve had people tell me that being a guide dog is a sad life. What you have to say to that?
In what ways has Ralph made your life better?
Do you meet more women because Ralph is with you?
How did you get around before you had Ralph?
Has Ralph led you astray or into funny situations?
Do you just tell Ralph “take me to the grocery store” and he takes you?
How do you know Ralph isn’t going to cross the road when a bus is coming?
How do you get to France?
Why do you come to France so often (other than the food and wine is better here)?
What touristy things have you done in France?
Do you have a favorite place in France?
Where else would you like to visit in France?
Do blind people visit places and museums? Why? What’s the draw if you can’t see the place?
Is getting around France with a guide dog any different from getting around the UK with a guide dog?
French people famously park just about anywhere. Is it harder not to bump into unexpected obstacles in France?
Are French people as accepting of your guide dogs as British people?
What are some things people need to know about France that surprised you?
What advice do you have for blind people who might want to come visit France?
What about advice for regular Brits who might want to come visit France with or without a guide dog?

 

Places Richard mentions: Oradour-sur-Glane, Limoges, Aix-en-Provence

4 thoughts on “Visiting France with a Guide Dog for the Blind, Episode 55”

  1. I am in Paris on a holiday, today my husband and I saw the most dreadful avent, a partially blind man in a suit, he looked as if he was on his way home from work, was kicking and scolding his guide dog, he was walking on the road with cars parked along the road next to the footpath, the dog was pulling him towards the footpath trying to get him off the road, he was going crazy kicking and yelling at the dog, the dog was cowing down and looking at his master with this confused look on his face, I started to follow him but he went down to the Metro. It has made me feel so sad, his man doesn’t have the right to have this wonderful companion, I hate to think how this dog is treated when out of sight of people, when he treats it so badly in public.

    1. That’s dreadful indeed. You didn’t happen to snap a picture? Just looking at the dog’s harness I could see what school this dog belongs to and I could give them a call to ask them to check on this team. It seems to me the human needs an official assessment and probably training. This sort of behavior does not necessarily mean that the dog is always mistreated because a blind person is under tremendous stress when they’re not sure where they are, don’t know what to do about it, and don’t trust the dog (why oh why would you not trust a guide dog??? But when stressed out we all get stupid) All I can tell you is that even if you didn’t take a picture (I hope you did!) this man is not going to go on kicking his guide dog without someone reporting him. France is full of dog lovers with cameras, if this was not an isolated incident it will happen again and he’ll get reported. Thank you for letting me know!

      1. I think he was in a hurry to catch his train, he was rushing up the road between the parked cars on his left and cars moving on his right and the dog pulling to the left trying to get to the footpath. It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to get my iPad out. My husband said he was not holding the dog by the harness, he was pulling the dog by the strap, the harness was loose on the dogs back, my husband said the harness was a burgundy colour, the dog was a black Labrador, looked a young one lean build, the man was a business man, wearing a business suit, late 40s to 50 years with dark hair. We will go back tomorrow about the same time and see if we can take a snap, how close would I have to snap the harness?

        1. Yes, I’d love a photo of dog, the harness and the human too. If it was burgundy it may have been one that he bought “after market” not the one supplied by the school (that one is generally leather with the school logo on the side). Get a picture of the human, it’s a small world, I can find out who it is with a little research. Thank you!

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