I travel a lot on airplanes for work. On a recent Sunday afternoon flight, the person sitting next to me was legally blind. His service dog was a female German shepherd named Yanni. As we flew to the East Coast, I had plenty of time to meet Yanni, and to reflect on how Yanni might teach us all some important things about technology, people, and the businesses we serve.
Training for a service dog can take as long as two years. For Yanni, this included several relatively complex tasks to be able to assist her blind owner. Yanni is smart, capable, alert, and highly trained. Despite Yanni’s training across a wide variety of situations and conditions, when the plane started moving towards the runway Yanni came a bit undone. She whined and fidgeted, and it was clearly a struggle to keep her cool. She did not like not being able to see and understand and see where she was going. It unnerved her.