Guide dogs are incredible creatures, aren’t they? They’re responsible for the welfare of the human being on the other side of their harness: crossing busy roads, assessing situations that many of us would struggle with, and providing the freedom that most of us take for granted.
But when 22-year-old Megan Taylor stepped on the bus on Monday with her guide dog, Rowley, she did not expect what was to come next – she was told to ‘get her fucking dog off’.
Why, you ask? Because a fellow passenger didn’t believe that black labrador Rowley could possibly be a guide dog, arguing that they are in fact ‘yellow’. Wow.
Megan, from St Helens, Merseyside, said that the unnamed woman approached her and said: “Why is there a fucking dog on the bus? Get it off.”
According to the Liverpool Echo, Megan attempted to ‘politely’ explain that Rowley was an assistance dog, but claims the woman called her a ‘liar’ because ‘guide dogs are yellow Labradors and your dog is black’.
Megan Taylor with Ruby and Rowley who are Disability Assistance Dogs. Credit: Liverpool Echo
Megan told the publication: “I tried to explain to her that guide and assistance dogs can been any colour and don’t have to be Labradors, although Rowley is. She told me I was wrong.
“I decided at this point there was nothing I could say to educate this woman and that it wasn’t worth my time. I instead chose to ignore her while she continued to talk nonsense.”
Megan suffers from ‘episodic blindness’, which has been a part of her life ever since a serious head injury aged 15. This has also resulted in several other medical problems, including hearing loss, impaired balance, frequent fainting attacks and vertigo.
She added: “I suffered multiple fractures to my skull in the incident which left me with multiple disabilities. I can temporarily lose my sight without warning at any time, which is truly terrifying.
“Even when I can see I become so dizzy and disoriented when walking that I bump into obstacles and trip over things.”
Rowley helps Megan with many daily tasks including emptying the washing machine and phone for help when she loses consciousness. Credit: Liverpool Echo
The labrador is Megan’s second assistance dog after her first, Ruby, retired following an attack. Now Rowley helps with many of her daily tasks, from emptying the washing machine to helping her get undressed and even untie her shoes.
The two-year-old pup even phones for help when she loses consciousness. She says that the dogs have enabled her to be independent, confident and safe.
Adding: “People should know assistance dogs come in many shapes and sizes and are trained to support people with a range of disabilities.
“Just like a wheelchair, walking stick, or pair of glasses, they are important and vital auxiliary aids and as such are legally permitted to accompany their disabled owner in all public places.
Two-year-old Rowley gives Megan independence and confidence. Credit: Liverpool Echo
Surprisingly, this isn‘t the first time Megan has experienced something like this on public transport – in fact, she says she has been left ‘anxious’ about going on the bus again.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, she said: “I don’t think I’ve ever had a stress-free trip on public transport, that’s why I’m so nervous when using it now.
“On other occasions I have been spat at, stepped over, pushed out of the way and accused of being ‘another drunk youth’ when losing consciousness due to my heart condition and neurological disorder.
“I try to stay positive and not let incidents such as what happened get me down because I am not ashamed of my disability. Despite having so many negative experiences, I know that these people are the minority. Most people are good and kind.”
Here’s to Megan and Rowley – we hope you guys keep doing your thing.
Featured Image Credit: Liverpool Echo