My name is Krista Anderson. I am a 45-year-old mother of two from Michigan, and am employed full-time as a clinical psychologist. I love to read, hike and spend time with my kids. I also happen to be blind. I am honored to share with you my story of blindness and my incredible relationship with Guiding Eyes, as I am here being matched with my third dog, Beauty.
I was born with congenital cataracts and developed glaucoma, such that I was totally blind in my right eye and legally blind in my left by the time I was five years old. Although I looked different and felt different from other kids, my parents worked very hard to treat me “normally” and encourage my independence. I went to public schools and never backed down from things that I wanted to do, such as running and gymnastics. As a child I used large print and magnifiers, stubbornly refusing to use any form of assistance to get around. I went to college on my own, and then to graduate school.
In my early twenties, the retina in my only usable eye detached. It was at that time I lost more vision and had to start using a cane. I am a very active person and walk quickly, so the cane was very cumbersome to me. It became difficult for me to walk at the pace I wanted. Being a dog lover from the time I was very young, I already knew about guide dogs and decided that as soon as I was more stable, I would pursue working with a dog. While completing my postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, my mentor was a huge dog lover and supporter of me getting a guide dog.
At the age of 29 and newly married, I was matched with my first guide, Anders. I will never forget the feeling of first walking with Anders. After the clunkiness of the cane, I felt like I was flying. I could hold my head high and feel proud and confident walking with this beautiful dog guiding me. I could walk comfortably at my speedy pace.
Three years later I was blessed with the birth of my twins. Anders retired when my twins were four, and I then went through the Action program at Guiding Eyes and was matched with my smart, spunky Eli. Eli helped me maintain my active lifestyle, attending my children’s soccer games, cross country events, horse shows and tae kwon do testing. We also did a lot of hiking along the Lake Michigan shoreline. He walked me safely to work every day and provided comfort to my clients during very difficult times in their lives.
My kids are now 13, and Eli is no longer able to maintain our active lifestyle. He will, however, remain our family pet in his retirement years. I am so honored to introduce you to my new guide, Beauty. I can’t tell you what a perfect match she is for me. With my fast pace, I again wanted Guiding Eyes to be clear about my need for a fast dog, but I had nothing to worry about. Beauty is incredibly intelligent, sweet and super speedy. I’m thrilled to start the next chapter in my life with her. She will help me survive my children’s teenage years, their learning to drive, and I’m sure she will have several stories to tell after sitting in my office listening to people share their struggles and providing them with comfort through her presence. She will offer me independence with walking to work, hiking, and attending numerous sporting events, conferences and activities.
Losing vision is rough, but we all are forever blessed. Not only do these dogs offer us an intelligent, confident partner we can trust to guide us and foster our independence, but they also bless us with their unconditional love and companionship. Guiding Eyes dogs have truly changed my life forever, and I know I speak for all my classmates when I say thank you from the bottom of our hearts Guiding Eyes staff, puppy raisers, volunteers, and donors.