'My dog isn't trained to social distance' Visually impaired woman on 'frightening' encounters while out in public

A visually impaired woman has spoken about the "frightening" encounters she has faced while walking with her guide dog.

Angie Heywood and her black labrador guide dog Spirit have found it difficult to maintain social distancing - as Spirit is trained to interact with human surroundings.

"When you live in a world when you are visually impaired, touch and sound is so important", Angie said.

"All the sounds have changed. Spirit's taken to the more restricted lifestyle better than I have."

Spirit is trained to interact with human surroundings

Angie was taken aback when she and Spirit walked to pick up a prescription for a friend - when Spirit got too close to one person in the queue, who challenged her for not keeping her distance.

That encounter was caught on camera.

Angie was wearing a camera when she was challenged in a queue at her local pharmacy

Angie explained that her dog is not trained to social distance to which he responded, "Ah, well, he doesn't need to, does he?"

"She doesn't know what social distancing means - she takes a route, takes me from A to B avoiding obstacles and anything else in the way safely", Angie explained.

She said the experiences she and others have faced has made them feel the opposite of what having a guide dog is meant to make you feel.

"I have now heard of a couple of guide dog owners who are frightened of going out because of encounters like I've had - which is totally against what a guide dog's meant to give you - the freedom and the independence."

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