Meet MyFriends!: My name is Luther

‘Guide Dog’, a term that many years ago would’ve been such a foreign concept in Thailand.  Is it a term that refers to a dog with GPS that could take us anywhere? Up until three years ago, many people in Thailand might’ve been puzzled by the idea of a ‘Guide Dog’, but luckily a Facebook fan page called “ผมชื่อลูเต้อร์ – My Name is Luther” was created to spread knowledge on guide dogs and its importance to visually impaired people. 

Today, we would like to introduce you to Kirin Techawongtham (Sai), the owner of “My Name is Luther”, a Facebook Fan Page. It’s been three years since Sai and Luther started raising awareness on a very important issue – disability rights and access for people with disabilities. We can’t wait to share what an inspiration she is!

First of all, please introduce yourself.

Hi! I’m Sai, Kirin Techawongtham. Currently, I’m studying for a master’s degree in counseling psychology at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. 

Is Luther here today too?

Yes, he’s under this table. We’re at home now.

How long have you been traveling together? Is there anywhere in particular that really made an impact on you?

I’ve been with Luther for five years now. The most impressive trip with Luther was when I was in my junior year of college. I was an exchange student in London for one semester. The city really made an impact on me because they have all these good facilities for the people with disabilities, it was very accessible.

There was a time when I went to a musical and they had a special round that facilitates disabled viewers, especially the visually impaired. For instance, they will have an audio description that tells us what is happening on stage. They gave us these headphones that I would wear during the show. Before the show started, I had a chance to go backstage and touch some clothes, props, and backdrops, so I would know what they look like. These are just some examples of what kind of facilities and accessibilities they have in London, for people with disabilities. 

Luther was there too, right?

Yes, he was. He’s always with me.

What was it like being with Luther every day? Are you guys together 24/7? Does he have some time off?

Yes, we are together, all the time, 24 hours a day. For now, I’m staying at home most of the time. Many classes are taught online. If there are some on-site classes, I will go with Luther. When we’re at home, he’s more chill. He’ll have his free time to relax and do whatever when he’s not on the job. 

When he’s off duty, do you consider him your pet?

He’s a normal dog when he’s off. However, I won’t use the word ‘pet’ too much because Thai society is still not so familiar with the concept of ‘guide dogs’. I would like to differentiate guide dogs and pets so that more people here will understand. Guide dogs were trained to help people with disabilities. I didn’t take him in as my pet, but rather to assist me in my everyday life.

When Luther is off duty, is there any activity you love to do together?

Even though he has a job, he still needs his relaxation or playtime, right? If we’re at home, we will play tug-of-war and play with his toys. What he enjoys the most is ball fetching at a park. I try to walk him to the public park every other day. He usually likes to run around there, it’s a pet-friendly park.

Luther seems like a cool and calm dog. Has he ever been naughty or refused to work?

Luther will be at his calmest when he wears a guide dog harness. He knows that it’s work time. Sometimes he would get distracted, like, if there’s food on the ground, he might be interested in that. Although if there are any other dogs around, he usually just walks past them.

There was this one incident last year (2021), around September or October, he just stopped walking when I had to go to school. I didn’t understand why, so I asked his trainer to come to see him. The trainer guessed that Luther was just being stubborn. He was testing me to see if I would give up. He kind of learned that if he stopped walking I would stop as well to follow his lead, and then he wouldn’t have to walk.

If you could go anywhere in the world with Luther, where would that be?

I think it would be Europe. Just like I mentioned before, I’ve been to the United Kingdom but I mainly stayed in London. I didn’t get to go to other countries in Europe. If there is an opportunity, I would like to go to Europe because of its long and rich history and culture.

Any last words of advice for our pet lover audience out there? 

I just want everyone to keep in mind that pets also have hearts and souls, kind of like us humans. I would like everyone to look after their pets as if they are their babies or their children. Especially when taking care of them, making sure they get enough exercise, walking outside, and taking care of their health, like regular health checkups.  Make sure to provide them with complete and balanced diets.

I was thinking about how some people never take their dogs out of the house. Some families love their dogs so much that they overfeed them to the point that they weigh too much and put their health at risk. It would be best to consider their physical and mental health too, in the long run.

Today, we’ve learned so much, we would like to say thank you to Sai and Luther (who is laying down under the table) for talking to us all the way from the other side of the world. Thank you for pointing out that a dog can do more than what people may think. Thank you also for good notes on how to take good care of dogs, with or without their “Guide dog” title.

Glad that we have the opportunity to talk 🐾

Need to know facts about guide animals

  • When they are in uniform like a rein or a harness, they are on duty. Don’t call out to them or try to pet or play with them. They’ll get distracted.
  • Guide animals are well-trained. They have access to all areas. They know not to cause trouble or make a mess.
  • In the guide dog school, they have to go through many tests. If they pass all of them it means they really want to do this job, not because some hooman forces them to do it.

💙 Meet MyFriends! is here to take you all to get to know new friends! Whether it’s fellow parents, business owners, or professionals in the field, pet lovers get to hear all the wholesome stories they have to offer!

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