What if they didn’t “click”?
When we think about the challenges of vision loss, sometimes we don’t think about the emotional toll it takes. For Sai, your support for Guiding Eyes for the Blind meant a huge change in her independence and in her emotional wellbeing.
“I had been using a white cane for about five years when I began really stressing out,” Sai explains. She lost her sight at age 13 due to a noncancerous brain tumor that damaged her optic nerve. There was hope that after the surgery to remove the tumor, her sight might return over time. But it was not to be.
Sai says, “The day I returned home from the surgery, my limited sight was all gone. I’ve always struggled with asking for help. Once I lost my sight I had to ask for help a lot, and that was really hard. It was not a rapid transition psychologically.”
Heading off to college in a new state was exciting, but also added to Sai’s stress level. And then, “Over fall break, I visited a friend who had a dog. I played with him and felt it relieved my stress. That is when my wish for a guide dog began.”
There was just one problem. Sai had never had a dog before and knew nothing about them.
That didn’t matter to Luther, the male black Labrador retriever she met at Guiding Eyes. Thanks to your generosity, our training program for students like Sai goes way beyond learning to work with a dog. And our careful socialization process and pairing strategies mean we’re able to take all kinds of needs into account—even emotional ones.
“I worried that Luther would not like me,” Sai remembers, “but I was taught how to show him love—petting, scratching—and that’s how we began to bond. I think he will be a great companion because I am quiet and introverted, and he will force me out at least five times a day. Because I do need quiet time—I get exhausted in crowds—I can be by myself but still have him with me.”
Sai’s last worry is that she might bore Luther. But that seems unlikely, because he gets to hear her play piano, violin, Thai flute, and the ukulele. And she’s a lot less quiet when she’s belting out songs from her favorite musicals!
This fall, with Luther at her side, Sai will begin her senior year at college pursuing a degree in counseling and therapy. We know she’ll go on to touch a lot of lives, and by giving her the confidence and independence that come with a great guide dog, you’ve been an important part of her journey.
Thank you for your partnership with Guiding Eyes that is helping Sai and people like her receive the special dog they need, free of charge!