‘Foolhardy’ act prompts plea by blind woman

Gladys Taylor and her guide dog Vicki, who are highlighting the dangers of trying to distract guide dogs following an incident in the town centre.
Gladys Taylor and her guide dog Vicki, who are highlighting the dangers of trying to distract guide dogs following an incident in the town centre.

A blind Cupar woman is appealing to others not to distract guide dogs after a worrying incident in the busy town centre.

Gladys Taylor (75) was negotiating the Bonnygate with her trusted dog Vicki when a man approached the dog and tried to tempt her with some meat.

He told Gladys, who is totally blind, that he was ‘testing’ the dog - a move which she described as ‘foolhardy and potentially dangerous’.

“It was lunchtime and the Bonnygate was very busy,” said Gladys.

“The pavement is quite narrow and I rely 100 per cent on Vicki to keep me safe.

“This man said he did it because he was testing her to see how good she was at her work, which is completely irresponsible.

“She was even wearing an official Guide Dogs for the Blind harness safety sleeve, which clearly says ‘please don’t distract me when I’m working’.

“But despite the extra stress he deliberately loaded on her, my wonderful dog ignored his foolhardy and potentially dangerous action and refused to lose focus.”

Nine-year-old Vicki is the fifth guide dog Gladys has had since she lost her sight at the age of just 29 due to retinitus pigmentosa.

She’s been accompanied by guide dogs in Cupar since 1979, and said most people are helpful and understanding, although occasionally she has to take people to task for trying to give the dogs treats.

Gladys said that Vicki is her lifeline and she wouldn’t be able to go out by herself at all if it weren’t for her.

Getting into town and back from her home in Lorraine Drive involves no fewer than 18 crossings - and Gladys totally depends on Vicki for her safety.

“It’s crucial for a guide dog to be alert at all times,” she said.

“Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has a very important safety rule, which is that guide dog puppies or guide dogs must never be offered or given extra food, whether training, working, at play or at rest.

“On this occasion, my well-trained dog was able to resist temptation and keep me safe, but I would ask people never to try to distract guide dogs or feed them titbits. If they were to lose concentration, the results could be disastrous.”