Guide Dogs are prevalent around the world. You know from our podcast that there are several American schools, one in Ireland and one in Britain. There are, of course, many others and we hope to explore some schools from across the world.
We are lucky to have been invited to follow a young blind woman, who has been a cane user for most of her life and is now hoping to apply for her first guide dog. We will, hopefully with her permission, follow her in her journey to explore her options and application and assessment process. I’m posting this on her behalf so welcome to the blogging team, Crystal.
[Written below is what Crystal sent to me].
A Journey of A Lifetime Having a guide dog is a huge responsibility as I have learned, but it can also be a very rewarding experience. Follow me thru my journey as I take you thru my first time owning a furry and wonderful friend.
I can remember from a young age my aunt asking me when was I going to get a guide dog? I can remember clearly telling her no that I don’t need a guide dog because then I’d feel really blind. Then 1 day when I first started high school was the 1st time I encountered a guide dog and quickly fell in love. His name was Zeric and he was a yellow lab. I had a DARS (Department of Rehab Surfaces) back then it was known as commission for the Blind which in short is a program that blind students who are in mainstream courses can apply to and they help with things such as cooking, cleaning , ETC. My counsellor at the time was Marvin who was also completely blind. Back then I was a little arrogant because I thought that I didn’t need a guide dog or want one because I thought it would make me blinder then what I already am, but little did I know as I observed the both of them working together, he was a lot faster then I was being a cane user. So I asked questions like where did he get the dog, what kind of training did he need, and that was when he told me about a school in Nuork New Jersey called Guiding Eyes and I immediately tried to picture myself with a guide dog, but couldn’t do it. All I know was I wanted one.
Then I met a man who was apart of the Lions Club and my aunt told him that I was interested in getting a guide dog. I wish she’d never told him that because the next thing I new my grandmother, sister, and I were being hauled into a meeting with another blind man and his wife. He showed me how to interact with the dog, so I had my heart set on Guiding Eyes for a long time. Then in 2005 I moved to the lovely city of Austin and roomed with someone who wasn’t taking care of their dog and once again, I was hooked. Sadly, this beautiful puppy was taken away and I cried.
Then I met a friend who lives in California and she told me about her school which is called Guide Dogs of America so I did my research and found that I liked the school, but I did wish that they were more like the British because my best friend has a wonderful guide dog named Bailey and their system is amazing.
Then finally just this year, my best friend told me about someone who is currently attending Guide Dogs of Texas so I decided to check it out. Boy, did I get excited about everything that I found out. Personally I believe when you get a guide dog it should be 1 on 1 not 10 to 20 different students in a class and 6 different trainers every day stressing you out. Then there’s the thought of what if your beautiful furry friend gets sick? The way I look at it is if I were a dog or if I were sick, I wouldn’t want to get on a plane. Those are some of the reasons why I would love to go to this school. I recently found out that I’m going to take a tour of the school on my birthday. What a birthday present!
So we welcome Crystal’s experiences as she journeys to hopefully get her first guide dog. Admin