38-year-old Amit Patel was embarking on his daily commute on the London Underground when he was left in tears.
Patel had been an A&E doctor when kerocontus left him completely blind. He now navigates the world with the help with the help of his trusted guide dog, Kika.
Trying to live as independent a life as possible, Patel regularly takes public transport, but often finds the task overwhelming and distressing.
To illustrate how anxiety-inducing the experience is for both him and Kika, he regularly attaches a GoPro to Kika. In disturbing footage he shared, we can see people barging past, ignoring or refusing to move for the duo.
If you ever wondered why dad is so concerned about my wellbeing when out & about, maybe this video will give you a glimpse of just how much focus I need to navigate a busy environment. I’m expected to do this day in & day out!@BlindDad_Uk #KikaCam #TheKikaEffect @guidedogs pic.twitter.com/dp6DPtsMhr— Kika (@Kika_GuideDog) 29 March 2018
Recently, one train journey was particularly difficult, as Kika's Twitter explained.
We walked to the end of the platform in the pouring rain so that we can board the designated disabled section on the @Se_Railway train & even with dad giving me the command “find a seat” not one passenger gave up their seat! @GuidedogsLondon @guidedogs @transportforall pic.twitter.com/MHl0xtw6fU— Kika (@Kika_GuideDog) 27 March 2018
Dad had to stand with his back against the doors whilst trying not to slip & I was sliding all over the place as the floor was wet. Have some humanity people! @GuidedogsLondon @GuidedogsLondon @Se_Railway @transportforall pic.twitter.com/aXZ8wQbFi2— Kika (@Kika_GuideDog) 27 March 2018
"We walked to the end of the platform in the pouring rain so that we can board the designated disabled section on the train and even with Dad giving me the command 'find a seat' not one passenger gave up their seat!
"Dad had to stand with with his back again the doors whilst trying not to slip and I was sliding all over the place as he floor was wet. Have some humanity people!"
People can be so selfish, they pretend they can’t see or hear when I ask if there’s a seat available. Its so humiliating when I struggle to find something to hold onto & keep Kika safe at the same time, this is when you’ll see a tear running down my face. Life is difficult enough https://t.co/HMqGeJqRmh— Amit Patel (@BlindDad_Uk) 28 March 2018
Tweeting after the incident Patel said that one small act of kindness could have prevented great distress to both him and his dog.
"People can be so selfish," he said. "They pretend they can’t see or hear when I ask if there’s a seat available. Its so humiliating when I struggle to find something to hold onto & keep Kika safe at the same time, this is when you’ll see a tear running down my face. Life is difficult enough."
Kika is one of only 5% of guidedogs that is trained to go on escalators. Speaking to Metro after an incident on an escalator last year, Patel said that Kika can get upset when he is verbally abused in public.
"It really scares Kika sometimes. I can feel how upset she gets, and when I get upset she senses it as well – and she won’t go on the escalators for a few days."
Speaking after the recent incident where he received many messages of sympathy and outrage, Patel said that he feels "useless":
Thank you all for you kind messages unfortunately being ignored when asking for a seat is a daily occurrence for us. I was very upset yesterday as the floor on the train was slippery, Kika kept sliding & she was obviously distressed. She looks after me everyday & I felt useless.— Amit Patel (@BlindDad_Uk) 28 March 2018
"I was very upset yesterday as the floor on the train was slippery, Kika kept sliding and she was obviously distressed.
"She looks after me everyday and I felt useless."
Absolutely heartbreaking, we hope that Kika's brave struggles will inspire people to be kinder on public transport.