Give Back the Guide Dog?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hi. I wrote to you over a year ago about my loneliness, and being stuck by myself due to not having a driver’s license because of a vision impairment. At the same time I let you know I did ride a bike around Sarasota for independence and to get places. I told you I had a septic knee at the time and could not ride my bike, could not get anywhere, and had no friends. I also had brain surgery for an AVM bleed many years ago, which resulted in the visual impairment and other learning disabilities. I have never felt “normal” since then. Your advice was good, and led me to a Guide Dog School. I have been here for four weeks training with a great dog named Jimbo. He loves me, and I him.

My new problem is getting past the feeling that I am not blind enough (like the other 8 students here now) to have this dog. During the first week I was challenged about why it took me so long to decide to get a dog. Instead of saying that I chose not to talk about it, I went on and tried to explain that no one had any rehab 50 years ago for vision, that my vision loss is cortical, not optical. I stammered and felt awful after the incident. Making it worse was the person who asked me this is a totally blind vet who had a grenade explode near his face. He is, of course, the star of the class as far as trainers helping him, etc.

I do not wish to be more blind than I am in any way, but I am feeling less deserving of this dog since graduation is this Thursday, and going home is the same day. I have this crazy idea the school will be checking up on me. I am almost to the point of abandoning the idea and letting a blind person have the dog who “really” needs him. I also am scared of going back to my apartment with a guide dog who does wear a harness when working, and then still wanting to ride my bike. I was honest with everyone involved about the bike riding, and I am legally blind. The bike still gives me so much happiness, but I am afraid of looking like a “fake” with a guide dog one day, and getting on a bike the next day. I am almost 62, and it is my exercise, also.

Please help me sort out these feelings, if you get some time this week.

A. Who is to judge your worthiness? In this situation, it is the guide dog agency.

You were evaluated for a guide dog and found to be worthy. You met the requirements as determined by those whose job it is to make such a determination. If the evaluators did not believe that you were worthy, then you would have been turned down. In their eyes, you are deserving of your new companion, Jimbo.

It is their job to make that determination. You must accept their judgment. They judged you as being worthy of having a guide dog. By suggesting that you are unworthy, or not as worthy as someone else, you are in essence questioning their judgment.

Recognize that your judgment is biased. By suggesting that you are not worthy enough, you are devaluing yourself. Some people overvalue themselves and some undervalue themselves. Based on the tone and content of your letter, you seem to have a tendency to undervalue yourself. It is important to appropriately value yourself in all situations. In this situation, the agency has deemed you as worthy and as such you should accept their judgment.

The reality is you have been deemed worthy. That judgment should extend to all areas of your life. If you struggle with valuing yourself appropriately, then it would be beneficial to seek counseling. Individuals who consistently devalue themselves often struggle with self-esteem issues.

Thank you for updating me on your situation. I hope that you can see the wisdom of accepting reality, can appreciate your worthiness and will thoroughly enjoy your new companion. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Feb 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Give Back the Guide Dog?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/02/12/give-back-the-guide-dog/