Guide dogs receive specialized training before being matched with their human partners, exposing them to a variety of social situations and desensitization to loud noises. Even with this intense training, it is our responsibility as guide dog users to make good decisions before including our partners in any Independence Day activities. While picnics, fireworks and parades can be fun July 4th traditions, some of these festivities offer dangerous situations for our canine companions.
It is important to take the necessary precautions to keep your guide dog safe both during and after your July 4th plans. Here are “13” tips for keeping your guide dog safe this 4th of July weekend!
“13” Tips for Keeping Your Guide Dog Safe This July 4th:
- Identification Tags: Make sure your guide dog is always wearing their identification tags, with up to date contact information.
- Microchip Information: Most guide dog schools microchip their dogs, linking either directly back to the school of origin or to the animal’s owner. Check with your school or the microchipping company to ensure they both have your most up to date contact information, including your correct phone number.
- Guide Dog School Contact: Who is your contact person from your guide dog school? Is it the person who trained both you and your dog? Does the school have a 24 hour 1-800 number? Make sure you know who to call in the event your dog becomes lost or experiences a medical emergency. Store that number in your cell phone, having it accessible to you at all times.
- Take A Photo: Snap a pic of your pooch! In the event your dog does become lost, your guide dog school and your local area may need a photo to circulate on social media alerting friends and neighbors to search for your dog.
- Consider Your Cane: Give your dog the night off if you do wish to attend a 4th of July activity and take your cane instead. While no one doubts your ability to work with your canine partner, in some instances the risk may outweigh the reward. Loud fireworks, sparklers/fire, hot grills and huge crowds can pose a hazardous working environment for both you and your guide dog.
- Crates: Consider crating your guide dog during parties and fireworks. Crates provide a safe, often relaxing environment, for your dog to get their rest.
- Make Guests Aware of Your Dog: If you are inviting friends over your home for an Independence Day event, please advise them to watch out for your guide dog. Place notes on exit doors and gates to help your guests remain vigilant and prevent a possible escape.
- Grills: Keep guide dogs away from grilling areas when cooking or if they are still hot. This will prevent potential burns for both you and your pooch.
- Kabob Skewers: If kabobs are on your BBQ menu, be extra aware! Wooden skewers can puncture your guide dog in a variety of areas (mouth, paws) and can cause choking or even death if ingested.
- Alcoholic Drinks: Alcoholic drinks can be poisonous to pets, causing coma or even death. Make sure all alcoholic beverages are kept away from your guide dog and instruct guests to be responsible with their drinks during Independence day celebrations.
- Don’t Stray from The Normal Diet: While it may be tempting to share your hot dog or hamburger with your pooch, resist the temptation. Even the slightest change in your guide dog’s diet can initiate a nasty bout of indigestion or diarrhea. Foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to animals. If you don’t’ want to interrupt your dog’s ability to work as your partner, don’t deviate from brand of dog food and biscuits they usually enjoy.
- Don’t Put Luminescent Jewelry on Your Pets: While your guide dog may look adorable wearing a red, white and blue glow necklace this holiday, the luminescent substance contained in these products is highly toxic. If ingested, it may cause excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation. Don’t take any chances, keep luminescent party favors and jewelry away from your dog!
- Check Your Yard: On July 5th, be sure to walk your yard in a grid formation, investigating for fireworks debris before allowing your guide dog outside to play or relax. Remember, even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard. If you hosted guests, check both your yard and home for food scraps that could be dangerous to your guide dog, such as the food skewers mentioned earlier.
In the Event of an Emergency:
In the event of an emergency, follow your guide dog school’s recommended procedures.
Know your veterinarian’s hours of operation. As a back-up, look for any 24-hour veterinary clinics in your area should you require assistance during weekends, holidays, or nighttime hours. Keep a copy of your guide dog’s medical records in a designated spot within your home to grab and go if needed.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.
Happy 4th from Blind Motherhood:
As Frances and I prepare to spend our first July 4th together with my family, we wish all Blind Motherhood’s followers a happy, safe Independence Day! To our fellow guide dog users, we hope both you and your canine partners enjoy this summertime tradition, making many memories together that last a lifetime! God Bless America!