Paralympic swimmer Sophie Soon often shares her adventures with her guide dog Orinda on her TikTok account.
Born with an eye condition that makes it hard for her to see objects right in front of her, she relies a lot on Orinda, a golden retriever lab mix, to commute safely and independently.
The swimmer shared her recent encounter going to a Candlelight Concert – a popular concert series featuring themed live performances by classical musicians illuminated by candlelight.
Sophie and Orinda were stopped at the door as they thought the guide dog was a “pet”. In the background Sophie can be heard explaining to the security, “I’m visually impaired, I’m blind – so she’s here for my mobility, she’s not a pet.”
She also added in the caption that this happens more often than it should.
@sophsoon Join us as we go on our first Candlelight Concert!!
After her explanation, she was met with momentarily silence before being asked, “Sorry you’re watching the show is it? How you see? You cannot see right?”
You can almost feel her frustration when she replies with a curt ‘yes’.
Despite the hold-up, she was eventually allowed to enter the concert and went on to explain that she sees better in dim light so the concert setting was perfect for her.
Concert organizers Candlelight Concert Singapore has also apologized regarding the incident and extended an invitation to another one of their events.
Guide Dogs Awareness Club
Sophie is also a guide dog advocate and pushes for more awareness, understanding and kindness towards guide dogs in the community.
In a post, Sophie says, “Be it educating the public in our access rights, showing off how intelligent and highly trained our dogs are, or reminding everyone that they’re still dogs at the end of the day, that make mistakes and have their own quirky behaviours and habits.
“But amongst all of that, they’re our loyal companions we love so much, and trust with our lives.”
Although Sophie mentions that the incident at the concert happens more often than it should, she chooses to focus on the positive things in Orinda’s Instagram account like her recent trip to Australia, being papped on the train for being a good doggo, and even being the first dog to attend a Parliament session.
Orinda only came into Sophie’s life in 2019. Before having a guide dog, Sophie used a cane to get around but it was also challenging for her.
She also shared that when her eye condition deteriorated in 2018, she developed a mild social anxiety and was apprehensive about going out. However, with Orinda, she feels a lot more confident.
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