Just under seven years ago I lost my sight and was registered BLIND.
It was assumed by many that I would be default be issued with a guide dog or would in some magical way “acquire” one
I opted at that time for long cane training, having never owned a dog in my life. knowing I had some wonderful mind maps / plans to navigate by and in the belief that a younger person would ahve more need of such a scarce resources as a Guide Gog
For over 5 years this went well as a plan and I was i thought active and skilled, but as cities changed, methods of transport with them, I felt increasingly under pressure, found it more difficult to be engaged and involved within the disabled community I now inhabited and even less so in the local community where I have lived for almost 45 years.
My wife seeing my difficulty and distress during and after a difficult day in Birmingham city center, calmly informed me that I now had no choice I must get a Guide Dog! and this from some one who has an innate fear of dogs irrespective of their shape, size or breed.
I went through an application process that was thorough, yet simple ,ensuring that not only was I but my lifestyle and world would benefit from a guide dogs involvement.
On Easter Tuesday (21st April 2014) after being “matched” with a suitable dog a few weeks earlier Tilly came into my life, as a pure golden Labrador she was and is special, she was also the 100th sponsored puppy from the http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/, she was quickly christened Miss Tilly as she clearly had attitude and presence.
Miss Tilly had an impact on my life that was both dramatic and immediate, even whilst undergoing my training which I was able to do whilst based at home, although there was an opportunity some take to be hotel based away from home and the distractions of family life etc.
Once certified ( passed the course) I resumed my hectic life, with rounds of meetings and travel around the UK.
Miss Tilly adapted to my life, her new home and the people I meet on a daily basis, some are guide dog owners, some are chair users, but nothing seems to phase her.
On the 10th June 2014 Miss Tilly took my wife and I up to London, for one of the most exciting days of our lives.
We had been invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. and upon entering the grounds an official of the Royal Household approached us, and after a short conversation asked if we would “like to meet and be presented to Her Majesty the Queen”
This duly happened and made a memorable day into an exceptionally special day.
Miss Tilly and I are planning our next adventure a journey via Eurostar train and the french TGV system which will offer us, Breakfast in Birmingham, lunch in Paris and dinner in Bordeaux, where we plan to stay for 4 days.
Thus is the power of a guide dog, so my question is
Where will your guide dog take you?