Contributed by Michael Stout
I first applied to Guide Dogs for the Blind in October of 2008. I was evaluated and there was concern about my stamina and my ability to keep up with a dog. What the school didn't realize about me was my great determination to have a Guide Dog. I immediately began walking every day and within 4 months I went from walking less then 1/2 mile to walking over 4 miles. After reevaluation, I was finally approved to participate in the accelerated program at the Oregon campus.
In August of 2009, I was matched with a dog named Arrow. I instantly fell in love with him. Since our introduction and training he has become my left hand. He and I are dedicated to one another. He has provided me not only the ability to become more independent but has also motivated me to become more active and continue on a path of wellness. Now, three years after I first lost my eye sight to diabetes I feel complete again. They told me with time my Guide Dog and I would become one. I have patiently watched for that connection to develop and today Arrow and I have become one. He provides me the comfort of not being alone and we now get lost and find our way together.
When the harness comes off he is my buddy. He runs and plays in the back yard with the energy of a puppy. When the harness is on, so is he. He becomes all business and never falters from his duties. His guide skills are incredible and I couldn't be happier. I no longer find the need to correct where he is going. I just say the word and he knows.
I wanted to thank you for helping me through the process and although it was a long journey it was well worth it. I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for Guide Dogs for the Blind.