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We Dixie Land Guide Dog Users are the South Carolina affiliate of Guide Dog Users, Inc. Scroll down to learn more about us and find out how you, too, can join the team!

Contact the Dixie Land Guide Team!

Contact the Dixie Land Guide Team!
Dixie Land GDU, Inc., 1608 Acacia St., Charleston, SC 29407 (843) 571-0737

We provide education for the sighted community and peer mentoring with advocacy for the blindness community (guide dog, cane and sighted guide users alike), while promoting one community at large.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Ruff Justice" Part 1

Jesse the Guide Dog



Hi, everyone!

It's me, Jesse-Zack's little brother and I'm trying my pawmanship at this writing stuff, just like my big brother!

For those of you who have not yet met me, I'm a handsome yellow boy, too; but a little longer in the legs and thinner in the body than Zack. Aunt Laurel says I'm Mom's basketball player and Zack is her football player!

Oh, I'm every bit as smart as Zack-maybe even a little bit smarter than he is and I really, really love to take my mom places.

Today we began our first day on Jury Duty. Mom got the summons about 3 weeks ago and scheduled our paratransit bus system to come pick us up this morning at 8am. We got up around 6am and by the time Mom took Zack, Smokey and me out to "busy", got herself dressed and ready, fed us all and took us all back out for our morning constitutional, it was time for me to get ready, too.

"Oh, boy! Mom's got the "furminator"! It feels so good when Mom runs that fine-toothed steel comb throughout my fur and remove all the dead stuff! As always, she's reaching for the baby-wipes now! I'm gonna smell gooood!"

Well, the bus got here around 7:45am and, after we let out a lady in Northwoods Mall and picked up 2 others on James Island, we finally arrived at the courthouse. Our driver was really nice and very sorry for not getting us there earlier. Mom just smiled and thanked her as we exited the bus. Like Mom always says, "God puts us where He wants us when He wants us there, regardless of what we may think our schedules are."

When we got off the bus I guided Mom down a long walkway to an iron gate and then made a right turn, just like she directed me. Immediately I began to search for the door and found one of those funny revolving doors. Mom and I were inside the revolving door when Mom felt some resistance and the door began to push us backwards. On the other side of the glass door was an elderly gentleman, frantically telling us that we had to use another door.

"What's up with this, Mom? We were almost in the building when he made us turn around and go back out."

A nice lady met us at the other door and offered to escort us through security. When she grabbed Mom's arm and began pulling on her, Mom just told her to pat her leg and she'd give me the command to follow her.

A bit confused and a whole lot impressed, we were soon at the security gates. As Mom handed over her purse, she told the officers that both she and I would set off the alarm.

"Hey! You all be careful with Mom's bag! That has my cookies in there!"

In no time we were through the security gates and had retrieved Mom's purse when another nice lady offered to take us to room 279 or, The Jury Assembly Room. Obviously not familiar how to be a sighted guide, she grabbed Mom by the arm and began to pull. Once again Mom smiled and told the lady to simply pat her leg and that I would follow her. This lady was really cool about it and kept looking down to watch me work.

We got off the elevator and went down a long hallway to a big room full of people. Everyone had to stand up as their names were called and tell their occupations, ages and the occupations of their spouses. Boring! That took forever; but, I took advantage of the "down time" and grabbed a couple of winks.

Later, a man in a robe came out and had folks line up against the wall. We were included in that group. As we were trying to follow them to where ever we needed to go, another nice lady grabbed Mom by the elbow and insisted we go with her on the elevator.

We caught up with the rest of our group and were herded into a very, very little room where another man in a robe started talking about exemptions. There weren't enough chairs for all of us, so one of the deputies brought one in for Mom to sit in. I immediately took my place underneath her.

We stayed in there for about an hour and, when Mom's name was called as a potential juror, the defense attorneys politely asked for her to be excused. Mom said it was because it was a criminal case and the defense attorneys were afraid that Mom would be more inclined to take the side of the prosecution, since Mom's brother, Uncle Bill, is a law enforcement officer.

When they filled all the juror's seats and that of an alternate, we were excused for lunch. Since we were in the back of the room, we were the first to leave, but the others must have really been in a hurry because they began shoving and pushing Mom out of the way.

A nice lady came over and directed us to another elevator. Mom asked her where their relief area was and the nice lady was stymied. She admitted that she didn't know what a relief area was.

Mom smiled and said that she needed to take me to use the bathroom. The lady's confusion quickly turned into disbelief as she said, "Oh, he has to go outside!"

"Yes, I know," Mom replied. Can you direct me to a grassy area outside?"

"Oh, that would have to be downstairs," the nice lady answered proudly.

I led Mom off the elevator and back down that long ramp, where the security gates were.

"Come on, Mom! I can find the door out!"

Soon we were outside and walking down a long walkway when I spotted a nice patch of grass.

"Boy! Was that ever a long time coming!"

Mom told me that she wasn't hungry, but wanted to give me a little snack and a cool drink of water. Somehow, our bottle of water never made it through security so we had to find another restroom for Mom to get me a cool drink (out of the sink, of course).

Once again we headed through the revolving doors and actually made it inside when a uniformed officer ran over to help us.

"Where do you want to go, ma'am?" the lady asked.

"I need to find a restroom so I can give my little boy a drink, " Mom answered.

Obviously very confused, the lady said, "You mean the dog?"

"Yes ma'am," Mom replied. "Just tell me how to get to the restroom, please."

The lady began to point as she said, "just go right over there."

"I don't see," Mom said, "so if you're pointing you're going to have to point really loud for me to see you!"

"Just go right there by that man in the gray suit!"

"Ma'am, if you can, please put your hands in your pockets and verbally direct me to the restroom.:

Thoroughly confused and disgusted, the lady told Mom that she didn't think she could and we'd have to just follow her. Thankfully, another more understanding lady came over and led us to the restroom, where Mom gave me a much needed and greatly appreciated drink of cool water from the sink in my travel bowl, followed by a nice peanut butter cookie.

As we exited the restroom, another one of those uniformed ladies offered assistance. Mom thanked her and told her that she wanted to go back to room 279 and wait until everyone returned from lunch.

Now, I'm not sure what that lady thought she heard or how she processed Mom's request, but instead of going upstairs on the elevator; we were soon outside again, headed for the snack bar. When Mom questioned our location, a couple of deputy sheriffs came to our rescue and instructed the lady to take us to room 279.

Back through the security gates, on the elevator and down the hall, we finally reached the Jury Assembly Room. We waited there for about 2 hours and were finally dismissed for the day, with instructions to call a special number after 6pm to find out if we needed to return tomorrow.

We were standing out under the portico on Broad Street, waiting for the paratransit bus, when Uncle Bill walked up and offered to take us home.

"Finally! Someone with good sense!"

Mom recanted our day's experience on the way home. Uncle Bill couldn't figure out why the lady took us to the snack bar when we'd asked to go upstairs. Mom told him it was obvious that very few blind folks had ever been called to report for jury duty.

Uncle Bill said he couldn't remember seeing any blind jurors, but that the manager of the snack bar was blind.

"That's it!" Mom shouted. "The lady realized that I am blind and knew the snack bar manager was blind, also. Typical of some sighted folks' intellect regarding the blindness community, she figured she needed to keep us blind folks together."

Uncle Bill wasn't convinced, but Mom was sure that had to be her reasoning.

We finally got back home and I got a much needed nap and a few moments to play. Mom called that special number and found out we have to go back again tomorrow. I can't wait to see what happens then!

I'll keep you guys updated! Until then, stay safe and God bless you all!

Jesse's Pawdograph

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Charleston, SC, United States
Dixie Land Guide Dog Users is the South Carolina Affiliate of Guide Dog Users, Inc., the largest guide dog-related organization In the United States.