Monday, July 26, 2010

Opening Doors


Contributed by Megan Miller

Please enjoy another great post by frequent No Bones About It contributor, GDB alumna Megan Miller.

Since I received Pasta from GDB in January 2008, my life has not been the same. She has expanded my world in so many ways I never dreamed possible. The confidence she gives me is overwhelming, and she never ceases to amaze me with the things she does. From the very first time she took me back to the dorms when I was lost, without me giving her any direction other than to say “Let’s go home,” I knew she was special and that we’d have a long, amazing partnership. Now, we have entered a new, exciting chapter of our lives together.
Almost two months ago, I moved out of the dorms and into my very first apartment. I was excited and nervous to be on my own, but I was so glad Pasta would be sharing the experience with me. With her, I’m never alone. Our neighbors here are great, and they all love Pasta, of course. Who wouldn’t love Pasta? One of my neighbors even taught us how to walk to the vet which is three and a half blocks away and pointed out a pet store next door, both of which we have traveled to independently since.
A little over a week after moving into our new apartment, we got an addition to the family. I adopted a then 10-month old, one-eyed kitten named Tofu, and he and Pasta have become fast friends. Tofu greets Pasta and I every day when we return from work, and Pasta happily wags her tail at him. They have even slept together. Pasta has been a great big sister to him.
Pasta and Tofu
Pasta and I have gone to many places independently, something I would have never felt comfortable doing with just a cane. Every day, we walk a little over five blocks to the bus stop and go to campus where I work and go to school. I never rode the bus alone before I got Pasta. She always gets me there safely, crosses the streets with ease, and she has markedly improved on dog distractions.
Besides walking to the bus, we have also walked to other places. In addition to my neighbor helping us, some friends walked around with us, and our field rep came out and showed us around the area, too. So far, Pasta and I have gone to five different places by ourselves, including my first time ever independently grocery shopping!
One day, I needed to go to the bank near my apartment after work. To make sure I got there on time, I took the local paratransit there. However, I decided to walk back to my apartment when I was finished. I had never been to this bank before, but knew what direction it was from my apartment. With my GPS and Pasta, we walked the mile plus back home. At least half of it, I’d say, was completely unchartered territory for us, but Pasta handled it like the pro she is, cruising across complicated intersections as if we’d been there every day. It was a very liberating journey.
Since, we have walked with my boyfriend, who is also blind, to a cafĂ© my field rep showed me and a nearby Thai restaurant I had only heard about, as well. We didn’t take the GPS with us to the Thai restaurant, just looked up where it was, and off we went. Once we got in, we got asked about Pasta, but once I pleasantly explained she was my guide-dog and was allowed everywhere I was since I couldn’t see, things were fine, and we were seated.
Megan and Pasta with Megan's boyfriend
I always knew Pasta was great and that my life would be remarkably better because of her, but the last two months have even further solidified this in my mind. The freedom, independence and confidence I feel because of her are beyond words, and I don’t feel I have even fully captured it here. So thank you GDB, and thank you puppy-raisers, for providing us with such amazing animals. We can never really thank you for what you have given us with these dogs, not just the ability to “see” the world but the honor of always having a best friend with whom to share our experiences.

4 comments:

  1. As each day comes closer to returning Dublin back to Guide Dogs for his formal training, it really helps to hear these stories from blind folks. It makes it that much easier to let them go back to be all they can be. Even though we will miss them tremendously.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

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  2. I have to agree wholeheartedly with Megan! After setting my goals and expectations very high before going to San Rafael for training; I found myself completely blown away by my dog! Instantly it felt as if we had been together for many moons! People do not see me as a blind guy, or that dude with the strange stick... They see me as the guy with the cool dog! Disabilities are a NORMAL part of life, and our guides force that normal thing on others whether they realize it or not.

    Reddunappy, thank you for being a puppy raiser! If your are getting this, I have a lifesaver story for you from last weekend. So Bamboo and I headed out for a nice long evening walk, and a stop at the grocery store Saturday evening. Not long after setting out I heard someone turning in front of us after we got a green light surge of traffic... After they passed (it seemed okay) I gave the forward command when suddenly another person decided to do the very same thing and my dog stopped immediately. The car decided to hit the brakes and stay still at that point until I waved them on with my hand and shouted GO!!! They were in front of us (probably waving us on???) so we had to wait for them to clear out of the way. After we got up on the sidewalk I told Bam to halt for trifecta of praise, hugs, and kibbles; her tail swirling in wags, crunch, crunch, crunch. As we started off again a lady said that she loved BLIND dogs (Ha-Ha), she has no idea of the love I feel for my dog! At the very next intersection we had another traffic check from another impatient driver turning right. The second one was not as close, but did require Bamboo to perform some evasive maneuvers!!! We had another praise party after clearing the intersection while I wondered where I would be without this dog. She always seems to take these events in stride, while helping me to do the same, like it is no big deal.

    Words do not come close to expressing the feelings I have for my dog and those who helped her find her way to be with me.

    Wags,

    Seth & Bamboo

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  3. How can Alumni contribute to this blog? I got my dog, Jim, in June, and would love to write about our experiences. Is there an email link?
    Thanks! Olivia

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  4. You can reach me at olivianorman@gmail.com I would like to be an alumni contributer, just as this person is. If you could tell me how to go about it, that would be awesome! Thanks!
    Olivia

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