Monday, November 14, 2011

Why we love what we do...

Posted by Greg:

Those of you that follow this blog, know by now that Melissa is the photographer in the family.  I just can't seem to get the right things in that little viewfinder screen of the camera.  It looks okay when I snap the photo, but not so much when it comes out.  I have taken too many pictures of my foot, or the sky as I was trying to get the camera to my face.  So this blog article will use the works of others. 

Puppy raisers are constantly asked why we decided to take on this task.  We all have a few different takes, but it all boils down to a HOPE that someday our efforts will help a person with a visual impairment gain freedom. Or maybe our work will allow a veteran to gain the confidence needed to leave his or her house again.  I have attached 3 links below that illustrate the importance that the guide dog handlers put on their freedom and independence. They are all inspirational stories, and I hope you take the time to read them.

The first link shown below is the from the Bradenton Patch, a newspaper near Southeastern Guide Dog School.  They have done many feature articles on the school.  This article contains bio's of the graduates of a recent class at the school.  The thing that I noticed about this was the diversity of the graduates.  There are some first time guide dog handlers, and some that are on their second or third guide.  They comprise various walks of life --  such as housewives or company CEO's that travel with their guide dog.  There are folks that have been blind since birth and folks that have recently been declared legally blind and are losing the rest of their sight day by day.  The commonality is the drive to use these dogs to gain independence and freedom.  I don't know any of these folks, but I am very impressed with their drive to be independent. It is also obvious they do not want to be seen as a burden to their friends or family.

The next link is a video about another recent graduate of Southeastern, a young man named Cody and his guide dog Bingo.  Cody is a college student, and with Bingo he has the ability to get around campus.  When ask what he would be doing if he didn't have the available technology or a guide dog his answer was: "Sitting at home getting checks from the government."  This is particularly significant since Southeastern Guide Dogs doesn't get any government subsidies, and Bingo (and obviously Cody's drive) allows him to attend college and live independently.  This particular video gives Melissa and I hope.  Take note of Bingo's action when she is playing with her toy in the dorm room - see that look in her eye and her scooting around doing the circular bunny hop?  Smokey has those same tendencies.  We call them TPC (The Puppy CRAZYS).  Here is the link.  Enjoy Cody and Bingo and watch for TPC.,0,2802798.story

The last link is an article from a newspaper in Pennsylvania about a guide helping a high school student do what she loves - run Cross Country competitively.  Another example of the power of these dogs to break the bonds of blindness and give these folks the freedom and independence to do what they want or need to do.

These three links all hit home with me for different reasons.  For Melissa and I, raising and training a puppy is fun and has definitely brought joy and variety to our days. To think it MIGHT help someone less fortunate is just icing on the cake.


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