Shit, I am now thinking about that throwaway line from The Serpent's Pass of Avatar: the Last Airbender when Toph told the ticket lady that Momo was her seeing-eye lemur. Which canonizes some form of guide-animals in atla's cultural history.
If I had to guess, I would bet there were a few historical cases of blind people training animals to perform tasks such as bringing things and stopping them from bumping into objects, maybe full-on guiding. I bet a writer would have been inspired by this and made it into some kind of mythology, poem, book, or play that made the idea popularized.
We never see another blind character in the show, and therefore never see any non-earth bending forms of orientation and mobility. So it's impossible to say if this is just a thing in atla's pop-culture that Toph expected anyone would just know, or if there are known contemporary people with service animals.
It puts the behavior of her parents into question, because it is easy to dismiss a lot of their coddling as ignorance. Lao Beifong seems like the kind of man to utilize his money and power if he thought it would make his daughter safer, but he also doesn't believe in the possibility of her being independent.
Though I doubt Toph would want a guide animal if one was offered.
One, she is fully capable of her own navigation. When she leaves with Aang, she does encounter situations in which she feels her disability (flying, in the air, on metal floors, wood, sand, water) but she does learn how to navigate those with the tools she has available.
Two, she has that mentality of "I pull my own weight" and not wanting help from anyone that she has to unlearn throughout the show.
Then there is the aspect of how much responsibility goes into taking care of a pet. There's a reason that blind children are expected to wait until they are teens or over the age of eighteen before they can apply to get a guide dog. By our modern standards, Toph would be too young to get a guide dog.
Anyway, those are my thoughts, all stemming from one throw-away line. Toss me a question about world-building if you have it.
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