My name is Sarah Clark and my new Guiding Eyes dog is Vantage. I was diagnosed at 17 with Retinitis Pigmentosa and was already legally blind at that point. This is my second Guiding Eyes dog, and I have to admit that when I retired my first, I honestly didn’t think that I would ever be as comfortable with a new one.
However, the instructors do really know what they are doing. From the moment they matched me with Vantage, it just clicked. He was a perfect fit – it was exactly right. Vantage also has this endless sense of fun. Everything we do is his new favorite game. Even when the instructors were forcing him to pull me backwards to avoid getting run over by a shopping cart, his tail never stopped wagging. His love of the work was contagious and I have enjoyed every moment.
I am sure that each graduate has spoken of the independence that they have gained from their new guide, the confidence that they feel in their ability to travel safely and the incomparable companionship that these dogs provide. Those things cannot be overstated – that’s what this is all about.
But the one thing that all of these graduates also have is hope. Every single person that comes to this program has fear or anxiety about something: how am I going to handle being in this new place on my own for 3 weeks, am I going to get a dog that I like, will I be good enough, can I do this… the list goes on and on. But each one of us decided to let hope win out over all of our fears. Tomorrow we all will be going back to our homes, with a much brighter future and a world of possibilities ahead of us. My time here has been better than I had ever hoped. It has opened doors for me that I hadn’t even realized were closed.
I will be forever grateful to each and every person that made this possible.