Not long after a guide dog enters your life you see how little the public knows both about service dogs and disability in general. The two discoveries are what’s called “a paratactic reading” in literature—it means two pages have been placed side by side for comparison.
I was on a cross town Manhattan bus when a man smelling of incense and marijuana sat next to me. Instantly I remembered how I loved both those fragrances when I was in high school. When I was 17 I surrounded myself with cheap pot and sugary incense. The man’s odor threw me into memories of solitude and it didn’t feel good. Everyone knows the sensation. It happens anyplace. Old perfumes on the street…
The man (who said his name was John) asked if I ever gave drugs to Corky. It was actually more an assertion than a question. He said: “Man I bet you can really get that dog stoned!” Both love and loss always reveal their furies and I then made a relational mistake, assuming I could parlez vous with King John the Medicine Man. You don’t need a guide dog to make this mistake but I was discovering it helps.
“No, John, I’d never give weed to my dog,” I said. “She’s my eyes,” I said.
“She’s not your eyes,” he said.
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“I’m talking about your inner eye, man!” Then he said: “What kind of a blind guy are you?”
“You blind have inner sight,” he said.
“Your dog has inner sight too,” he said.
“You two need to get together man!”
“We ARE together,” I said. “We go everywhere side by side.”
“You’ve got to know your dog’s inner sight,” he said.
“Here,” he said, and he put a reefer in my hand.
“Smoke that with your dog,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said. What else could I say? I pocketed the joint. I knew I wouldn’t smoke it. I was beyond that sort of thing. Maybe I could “gift” it to someone. Maybe I’d just throw it away.
“Look,” I said. “my dog needs her wits. We have a good relationship without weed.”
“No, no!” he said. “You have a big moon inside the two of you, you’re both walking it, you need to go there.”