Enjoying Freedom

tom-baldwinMy name is Tom Babinszki and I graduated from Guiding Eyes with yellow Lab Baldwin in November, 2014.  I used a cane confidently for the last twenty years – I grew up in Hungary and have visited more than 20 countries in my lifetime. I was always thinking about getting a guide dog, but it was only last year that I decided to make the change.  First it seemed impossible to give it the cane, but now I would never go back to it.

I recently moved to the Cleveland suburbs with my family.  The area is relatively accessible, but because of the long distances and infrequent public transportation, it takes a long time to get places. Baldwin helps me travel the area with considerable speed, and I can take out the kids more safely.

My guide dog opened a brand new perspective to life. I was always ready to venture out and explore something new with the cane but with Baldwin, I took it to a new level.  When going to a new place with a cane, I always had to be careful and expect the unknown. Baldwin helps me navigate so I can enjoy the walk. I either put a location into my phone or just start walking to random places. When we turn, I mark the spot on the phone.

Once I am ready to get back, I just trace the marks backwards and get back to where I started from. This way, I can enjoy my time in a new town without having to ask for much help. Just last week we were in San Diego, and we walked around the shore for hours. We stopped at places that sounded or smelled interesting, tracing our way with the GPS.

With Baldwin, we were able to explore our town in a way that was unimaginable before.  It has always been possible for me to get to any place I wanted, mostly for practical reasons. Now, I go out for enjoyment, for exploration, sometimes without a purpose, just to enjoy the freedom I have never had.