Pet Tips 'n' Tales©

Seeing Eye Dogs
- Paying it Forward -
Courtesy Photo by Amy Neal-Liberty Tribune©
Alma with Shimmer her 2-year-old golden Labrador Guide Dog. Shimmer creates a bond between two families, in two states, and has given Alma a new outlook on life.


"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
- Mark Twain -

Guide Dog Shimmer's story was featured in last week's column.

Readers asked, "Who received Shimmer?" Amazingly, the puppy, raised in Oregon by Marsha and Pat, has connected them to Alma, in Liberty, Missouri.  Alma is 28, has been blind since birth, runs her home, and raises her 8-year-old son, Zack, alone. She explored the world with her white cane until Shimmer's arrival.

"I contacted Guide Dogs for The Blind, (GD4TB) after a friend shared how her new guide dog changed her life," explains Alma.  "Things moved fast! I was interviewed in February, accepted in March, took their two week training, and was presented with Shimmer in July.

The dedication of GD4TB staff and their volunteers is as overwhelming as their love for what they do. This is a job of the heart for them.

GD4TB does not receive federal funding, everything is based on public donations. Amazingly, they paid for my air fare, the three meals a day to attend classes, and the dog. They also support you once you get home. They were my miracle, a moment in time that changed my life.

Receiving Shimmer was one of the happiest days of my life. I was hoping for a female dog.

An Instructor arrived and told me Shimmer's name, I was thrilled to learn my dog was a female. I love her name! What I didn't know was that I would love everything about her.

I was instructed to attach my leash to Shimmer and the Instructor left the room. I asked Shimmer to sit, and she complied. I told her to lay down, and she again complied. We had an instant bond. It was as though she knew I needed her and she knew what her job was. She knew how to guide me and how quickly to walk.

I can't express  the freedom and self-confidence Shimmer has given me from that day forward. She knows me in a way no one else can. We're soul mates, read each others minds, are best friends--and will be for life!

When you are blind; dropping something and then trying to find it is next to impossible. You might have kicked it with your foot, and have no clue in which direction to search.

Recently, I dropped a sock and Shimmer searched the room, found it, and brought it right to me.

Shimmer is a blessing, even for little things to a sighted person, but monumental to me.

A blind person crossing a street, with a white cane, might veer into the intersection. Shimmer sees where we are going and makes getting around much easier. Canes get stuck under things, but now Shimmer smoothly leads me around things. I walk quicker with more confidence knowing she is watching for traffic and objects in the road.

Living with only a cane before, and now a dog, I can't imagine going back to just a cane. In snowy weather, Shimmer sees where we are going, but with a cane I couldn't tell if I was in snow or grass.

Thank you to the puppy raisers Marsha and Pat, who gave their time and love to raise a puppy, to change the life of someone they don't know. My whole life has changed--no words can explain my gratitude for their selflessness.

They socialized Shimmer in public. Now, when I enter a restaurant, Shimmer can handle the noise. Talk about "Paying It Forward"! I understand their pain at letting Shimmer go-and it moves me to tears. Shimmer is what and who I needed in my life. I can't imagine my life without Shimmer and I thank God for them every day.

Marsha & Pat went into this adventure knowing Shimmer was  going to do a job. We stay in contact so they can hear how wonderful she is doing. The link in the universe that brought us together from so far away is amazing. We never know what is in store for us. I knew my life would change with a dog, but I had no idea how much. I am a better person, and my level of confidence has soared. Thank you to all the volunteers, staff, and donors who have remade my life in so many wonderful new ways with the gift of Shimmer."

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.
- Helen Keller -

- "Our animal friends are a link to a universal kind of love that transcends all boundaries."
Marie, a Tips n Tales reader in Live Oaks California.

- Know someone who can benefit from a Guide Dog?  Want to donate to a great cause? Want to  pay a blessing in your life forward by raising a puppy?  Contact: Guide Dogs For the Blind 1-800-295-4050

-Volunteer, apply or donate towards a Guide Dog.  Guide Dogs For the Blind receives no government funding.

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