Good Evening, my Readers!!
I have always loved dogs and ever since my diagnosis, I have kind of wanted a guide dog. Mom says she always knew that one day I would get a guide dog. Well, once I became declared legally blind, I started the research. I can’t tell you how many times I have been to almost each and every page of Guide Dog for the Blind’s website. I have watched nearly every YouTube video on Guide Dogs, no matter what the school, etc. I have done a lot of research on the different guide dog schools. So after talking to people and doing my own research, I have decided to apply to three. I live in an apartment but we do have animals here. There are plenty of areas to relieve and let the dog exercise so I’m not worried about that. It will be an additional responsibility but I am prepared for that especially since I know it will be a great companion and working dog.
Misty is one of my really close friends. She is blind because of RP as well and has a Guide Dog. Her brother, who also has RP, also has a Guide Dog. They both got their Guide Dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind. So that was one of the places I applied. I’m very impressed with their information, their outreach, their staff, and their dogs. They have been the most responsive and helpful.
The Seeing Eye is the second Guide Dog school I applied to. They seemed to work generally with a more wide range of vision loss, from what I read in their literature. However, once I talked to a representative there, they tend to want you to have 10 degrees of peripheral vision or less, whereas I have about 13-19. However, their school seems great and I was very impressed with what I’ve heard and seen, so I did decide to apply there.
Last is Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I hadn’t heard much about them until recently. My aunt’s neighbor in Colorado is blind and has a Guide Dog from there and talked to me for quite sometime (Thanks Nicole!) about the school and she provided pro’s and con’s, as well as informed me of what she knew about the other schools. It was a great conversation and afterwards I decided to apply.
So those are the three schools. Each school’s application process is a little different but there are many similarities. I had to get references for each one of them. They all required a Physician’s report, an Ophthalmologist’s report, an O&M report, and then sometimes my Rehabilitation Counselor’s report. Some of them required three personal references. For some, I had to write about how I use my remaining vision. And then of course, there is the standard application. It is quite the extensive process, let me tell you. I joke that it may be harder to get a Guide Dog than it was to get into my Masters program. However, the decision to get a Guide Dog is HUGE especially since you entrust them with your safety and they are a companion for sometimes up to ten years. The school needs to make sure that you are a good fit for a dog, that you don’t have too much vision to get a guide dog, and that you can take care of a dog. I really didn’t like the part where they had to make sure I didn’t have too much vision, but after talking to more Guide Dog representatives an talking to Guide Dog users it makes more sense.
If I were to go down a path with a Guide Dog, and I thought I saw something in the way, and then Guide Dog still continued to go to that something, I would have to trust her. Because she is the eyes in the relationship. But the same thing applies in reverse. If we were walking and I thought the path was clear, but for some reason the Guide Dog took me around it, I would have to trust her and follow that path. It may not be the quickest route, but it is the route that she feels is safe and wants to take so I would have to abide by that.
Guide Dogs for the Blind has called me for a phone interview and I passed. They think based on our interview that I would be a good candidate for a Guide Dog. I’m waiting for them to come out to the apartment which should be within several weeks, hopefully, and do a home interview. I’m still waiting to hear back from The Seeing Eye and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I’ve been waiting for them to process all my paperwork. I’ll check up on them this week!