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Vernon man touts ‘remarkable’ guide dog after taxi misunderstanding

Six-year-old black Labrador named Dodger helped guide Rolland Croteau home after a late night

A Vernon man is effusive with praise for his guide dog, after a misunderstanding with a Vernon taxi.

Rolland Croteau, who is legally blind, was out for his weekly trip to the Army and Navy Air Force on Jan. 26, when he called Vernon Taxi for a ride home, a company he has been using for decades.

“It was at 10 p.m. and the cab came,” Croteau told The Morning Star. “He put the GPS in for Pottery Road (where I live).”

Croteau told the driver where to drop him off, as his house had a carport with a boat, but the driver struggled to find his house.

Eventually, Croteau was dropped off in a carport. But it wasn’t his home, as there was no boat in the driveway.

“It was coming to 11 p.m. and once I got out I realized it was the wrong house.”

Unfortunately, the driver of the cab had driven away and Croteau, without a cell phone, was stuck.

Luckily, his six-year-old Labrador named Dodger came to the rescue.

“When he (the cab) took off, I took the harness back on Dodger and I told him to find the way home.”

Dodger, ever the adventurer, dutifully helped his owner back to his home, which was an estimated three block journey.

“I wasn’t sure that Dodger could guide me back because we had never walked in the dark before. He is good at guiding during the day but I wasn’t sure at night, but he’s not too bad at night too,” he laughed.

On walks, Dodger has been able to nudge Croteau to proper directions, never jaywalks, and even watches for wayward branches or slippery portions on sidewalks.

“He’s just been incredible,” Croteau said. “He’s changed my life since I got him and I’m not afraid to go anywhere in this town with him.”

As for the incident with the taxi, the manager for Vernon Taxi, David Kassam, profusely apologizes for the error.

“We have been driving him around for years, we all felt horrible that it happened,” he said. “It was a mistake and a misunderstanding. He got dropped off at the wrong house. I feel terrible about it. But, it wasn’t malicious. It was a mistake.”

Croteau has since resumed using the company, including last weekend, on Feb. 2 for his typical trip to Army and Navy.

Kassam explained that he took the problem “on the chin,” and is offering Croteau $100 worth of gift cards to his company or for a pet store, and is personally reaching out for the mistake.

The driver who dropped Croteau off had only been with the company for “six or seven shifts,” and has since been off work for medical reasons.

However, It’s been a tough couple of days for Kassam’s business and drivers, as they have dealt with a litany of profanity-laced emails and phone calls from people all across the province, since a viral Facebook post and media report hit the internet.

“I got yelled at. I got phone calls from all across the province on Monday (Feb. 5) calling me every single name in the book,” Kassam explained. “Every single one of my staff got screamed at, saying how terrible we all are. I got 45 emails, 15 phone calls, all basically calling me every name you can think of. I had people calling asking for our drivers name and addresses.

“We screwed up. It was an honest mistake,” he said. “But, we got 30 negative Google reviews from people who just heard about this on social media and had never used us before. I haven’t had much sleep since.”

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Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
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