Stealing Hearts Every Day

 In News & Events

Grad Christine Szostak and Guiding Eyes dog ArmandBy Guiding Eyes grad Christine Szostak

On a spring day in 2010, a Guiding Eyes instructor named Gary arrived at my apartment complex to begin training me with my new guide dog.  Due to a very busy grad school schedule, there was no way for me to leave home for multiple weeks to attend class in New York.

As Gary walked through the front door of my apartment building he said “meet Armand.” As I bent down to greet my new two-year-old guide dog for the first time, my heart was instantly stolen by the most gentle, friendly and calm male yellow Lab I had ever met.  From the moment the leash was placed in my hand, Armand seemed to be most content when he was right at my side!

As I put on Armand’s harness for our first official walk, I anxiously wondered whether the characteristics I was looking for in my guide’s work – such as fast walking and good focus – would be traits that Armand would have.  I picked up the harness and said “Armand, forward.” The moment the words were out of my mouth, Armand began to jog at a wonderful pace down the side walk. I can recall Gary laughing with delight and commenting on the fact that I was probably going to become a marathon runner with this dog. At that moment, I knew that choosing Guiding Eyes had been the perfect decision.

Since that day in 2010, my wonderful little Lab has been at my side as we’ve traveled around my university campus and to conferences around the country.  He’s also been with me during my move from Ohio to the Carolinas and he’s continued to steal the hearts of everyone we’ve met along the way.

He continues to be one of the most gentle and friendly dogs I have ever met. When just hanging out at home, he enjoys carrying and squeaking his two favorite toys – his stuffed Rabbit Rory and his stuffed Monkey Mort.

Three years after meeting Armand, his work is still wonderful and his pace remains delightfully fast.  And, of course, he still manages to steal my heart every single day!

Christine Szostak is the founder of Finding the Vision Consulting, services for educational, professional and personal adjustment to vision loss, visual impairment and total blindness.  You can learn more about her work on Finding the Vision’s website.