My mind's eye

October 22, 2016 • Posted in blindness, guide dogs, questions kids ask, Seeing Eye dogs, Uncategorized, visiting schools, Whitney by

Last week was “Disability Awareness Week” at Wilmot Elementary School, so yesterday Whitney and I took a commuter train to Deerfield, Illinois, to talk with third graders there about what it’s like to be blind and get around with a Seeing Eye dog.

Whit's always up for a class visit.

Whit’s always up for a class visit.

The train ride to Deerfield was a long one. Whitney was so frisky when we arrived at Wilmot that she wouldn’t sit still in front of the kids. What to do?

I usually end talks with Whitney guiding me out of the classroom so the kids can see how she follows commands. Maybe this time I’d start my presentation showing the eight-and-nine-year-olds how Whitney works.

I stood up, lifted the harness, and commanded a stern “Outside!”

The kids were all sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the library rug, and Whitney threaded me safely past them to the hallway door. “Good girl, Whitney!”

The children were wowed.

Once I turned around and had Whitney lead me back to the front of the classroom, the valiant Seeing Eye dog was back to her stoic self. Guess she just needed to establish who was really the star of this show. Some of the questions the third-graders had afterwards:

  • How do you eat if you can’t see?
  • How do you drive?
  • I know your dog knows left from right, but how do you know?
  • Dogs, you know, kind of, like jump when they go up stairs, so how do you get up the stairs with your dog?
  • Do you ever even get into a car?

When all my talks at Wilmot were over yesterday, I took Whitney’s harness off and let any of the interested kids come by and pet her. As Whitney flipped over and over again for belly rubs, one bashful eight-year-old approached with a question she’d been reluctant to ask in front of the entire class. “Can you see in your mind?”

If I could see to find her little hand, I would have patted it. Instead, I did my best to reassure her with words. “Oh, yes,” I smiled, picturing this wistful little waif cocking her head with wonder. “I do it all the time.”

Sheila A. Donovan On October 22, 2016 at 11:25 am

I know you’re a Sox fan, but in your mind’s eye, can you see the Cubs winning tonight?

bethfinke On October 22, 2016 at 11:54 am

Yes, I can see them winning tonight. I think they are determined to get Clayton Kershaw this time around.

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monna ray On October 22, 2016 at 11:45 am

Beth, You answered just right. We all see in our mind if we think about it. That is if we’ve ever been able to see and maybe we see in our mind if we haven’t been able to see. Do we, Beth? Monna

Sent from my iPad

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bethfinke On October 22, 2016 at 11:56 am

That’s always a hard one to answer. I think people who have never seen have a hard time answering this one, too.

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Mary Kate On October 22, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Those of us who know you well know that you see with your brain… and that you understand, challenge, remember, and encourage with that marvelous brain of yours. We are so lucky!

Annelore On October 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Aahhh Beth, I feel like hugging that little shy one! Goes to show you that those ‘quiet ones’ have more time to think and listen.

bethfinke On October 22, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Here’s to the bashful!

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