Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

A Man Who Is Blind and His Dog: A True, Old Story

In the heart of Burlington, Vermont, on College St., a chunk of road is missing. The perimeter is posted, taped, fenced, and dotted with orange cones letting foot and car traffic know this section of road is closed. Within the construction zone, heavy equipment operators are digging and maneuvering cement structures and pipes, while men with bright yellow hardhats and orange reflective vests flank their territory.

In the distance, a man, who is blind, with his guide dog cross the street and head toward the work zone. His dog, an older German Shepherd, sits down and refuses to move forward, clearly trying to cue his partner about the danger. But the man refuses to listen and instead begins pulling the dog along in his harness, in little awkward lifts and tugs. Whenever the dog’s body hits the ground sufficiently, it attempts to sit, refusing to go in the direction of the construction zone and still the man pulls and prods the dog forward. On the very edge of the tape, they draw the attention of three construction workers who approach the man and dog to intervene and thankfully redirect them to a safe crossing.

It sounds like an old, bad joke opener. Why did the seeing-eye dog refuse to cross the road?

Or is the story an allegory for some long-term marriages? The ones in which couples no longer listen for viable communication, but simply pull each other along on the daily paths of their lives, taking turns tugging and shoving, companionship reduced to proximity and struggle.

I’m only clear about this: I felt bad for the dog.

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