Sign In

Can Guide Dogs Social-Distance

May 28, 2020

Guide dog Leo, a 2-year-old black Lab, helps his visually impaired owner, Samantha Ambrico-Custer, get around and navigate daily life.

He performs extraordinary tasks for her every day. But one thing Leo and other guide dogs can’t do: judge 6 feet between other humans.

Amid the pandemic, owners say their guide dogs have had trouble finding the end of a spaced-out line of people at stores, and obviously, they don’t understand the meaning of designated arrows on the floor.

“They are not trained to stand 6 feet apart from people and cross the street if someone is coming at me,” Ambrico-Custer said. “The situations I’ve been running into since the pandemic kind of set in are more related to people kind of getting frustrated that I can’t see. … My dog knows to avoid the person, but doesn’t know how to stay 6 feet apart.”

Ambrico-Custer is asking the public to be patient and understanding to the blind and visually impaired and their guide dogs.

“You can just say, ‘Hey, you’re coming at me and we are not 6 feet apart,’ or really anything to that matter, just to let me know that you are there and I’m not going the right way,” the Havertown resident advised. “I would prefer you letting me know than me continue on and continuously walk toward people when I should be going in the opposite direction.”

She said speaking up is the best way to keep everyone safe. However, never grab onto the person without asking if they need help, and don’t pet, feed or distract the animal in any way.

“Especially in this (COVID-19) situation,” Ambrico-Custer added, “where I don’t know where your hands have been and you don’t know where my dog has been. I think it is just really important to remember that if you see a service dog, they are working and they shouldn’t be distracted in any way, but specifically, don’t touch them.”

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more