Bedtime Stories

Hello again everyone. I don’t recall anything significant happening one year ago today, so today I thought I would talk about stories I read as a child that I now realize were subconsciously forming a longing deep inside me to one day have a guide dog.
     When I was a child, I enjoyed reading anything that had to do with animals including the usual childhood classics like Arthur, and Clifford. But I especially loved guide dog stories.
     One night when I was five or six years old, my mom read me “Buddy, The Story of the First Seeing Eye Dog” before bed. This was a children’s book that told the story of Morris Frank, a blind man who heard about a school in Europe that trained dogs to guide the blind. He went to this school and trained with a German Shepherd, whom he named Buddy, and became the first person in the United States to use a guide dog. He established the first guide dog training school in the United States, The Seeing Eye, in 1929. Even at my young age, I remember thinking, “That is really cool that dogs can be trained to guide blind people.” Even though I knew that people usually didn’t receive a guide dog until they were at least eighteen, an age that seemed centuries away at the time, I think this story sparked the first subconscious thoughts that I might one day have a guide dog.
     Later, I think it was when I was in fourth grade, I checked out “Greff, The Story of a Guide Dog” in Braille from the school library. This story was written from the point of view of a dog, and told the story of his life, from the breeding center, to his puppy raiser, to the Seeing Eye school where he was trained, and then matched with a blind person. Once again, I was captivated and inspired with how well dogs could be trained, and by the difference this dog had made in the life of a blind person. Even though the prospect of having a guide dog was still way off in the distant future, I think my longing for a guide dog grew even stronger.
     I think that the story that officially sealed the deal for me, and made me realize that a guide dog was for me was “Hello, Goodbye. I Love You”. I read this story when I was a junior in high school, and even though it was written for children, it was such a sweet, well-told story that I couldn’t put it down. When I finished it, I remember wishing I could throw my cane in the trash right then and there. This story was told from the point of view of a puppy raiser about how raising a guide dog puppy brought joy and purpose to his life, and even though he was sad that he had to return the dog to the school, seeing how the dog he raised changed the life of an elderly woman who was left blind after a car accident was wonderful.
     Having a guide dog has definitely changed my life too. I can walk across my college campus with dignity and confidence, without inadvertently tripping someone, not to mention the fact that a dog makes for an excellent ice breaker. The public is often uncomfortable approaching people with canes, but everyone loves dogs! In fact, it is not uncommon for people to say hi to my dog first, and then talk to me (smile). Looking back on how much a guide dog has changed my life, I am still amazed that it all started with a bedtime story.


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