“How Do You Know Your Service Dog is Sitting?”

Photo of Beth and Whitney in front of fifth graders.

The fifth graders at Glen Grove school.

Early last month we published a post I wrote about a trip my Seeing Eye dog and I were taking to a school in the Chicago suburbs. The fifth graders we were visiting that day at Glen Grove Elementary are working with the Nora Project. They’ve already been paired with a student who has special needs, and now these ten and eleven-year olds seem excited – yet understandably nervous – to start interviewing their buddy’s family members and others who spend time with their buddy outside of school. As a writer/journalist who has conducted hundreds of interviews, I was there to answer their questions and quell their nerves.

These students will be using iPads to record video of the interviews they do. Soon they’ll combine footage from the interviews with video of their own interactions with their buddies. The documentaries they create from all this footage will be presented at an assembly towards the end of the school year.

The only way I know to explain how their curiosity about my blindness intertwined with their concerns about the upcoming interviews is to look over some of the questions they asked during the Q&A part of my presentation:

  • You say in your Safe & Sound book that you take your dog’s harness off when you get home. How do you get around your house by yourself?
  • What would be the best questions to ask to get the best answers from the Nora Project parents?
  • You can’t see, so what sense do you rely on the most?
  • If you tell your dog to sit, and you can’t see the dog, how do you know it’s sitting?
  • What did it feel like when you found out you were blind?
  • You and your husband were both working when you found out you were blind, and then they fired you, so what was that like with money?
  • How do you know what you’re wearing?
  • How can we ask questions to get long answers?
  • Do you remember what your childhood was like?
  • What do you do if someone answers your question wrong?
  • If you were never blinded, which would you rather be: a cat person, or a dog person?
  • When you’re asking somebody something, how can you tell if the question is a rude question or a curious question?
  • You look great in that shirt!

That last one was a statement, not a question, but I didn’t correct the student who said it. I just thanked him…and blushed. I absolutely love this Nora Project. Playing a very small part of it during that visit earlier this month was an honor.

To learn more about the Nora Project, visit thenoraproject.ngo. Documentaries produced by students from previous years are available there under the Nora Friends tab.


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