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Being guided by Dogs

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on one very particular form of human-nonhuman relating: the guide dog partnership. The challenge: how best articulate this relationship as an achievement between two very different beings, two very different bodies, which nevertheless succeed in living and working together. Guide dogs are mobility aids, 'designed' to help people regain their independence. However, this independence is dependent on the dogs themselves, and as such is intrinsically an inter-dependence. Guide Dogs for the Blind have had a breeding and socialisation programme (puppy walking scheme) since the late 1960's, prior to which they were reliant on donated dogs whose success as guides was fairly low. The chapter advocates a passionately interested approach to articulating and understanding human-animal relations as complex social phenomenon. It outlines an ethnographic and participatory methodology that focuses on particular human and canine subjects in-the-making, tracking flows of affect and skill as they emerge.

Keywords:blind; guide dog partnership; human-animal relations;



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