By Alma Rodick
February 7th was a very special day. My son, Zack, is in the gifted program at school and I had previously arranged to do a presentation about guide dogs to his class. I spent several days preparing for it but felt very nervous as I entered the school, since this was my first ever such talk.
When the time came, I showed the students the slide show that is shown at graduation, and they really enjoyed it. After that, Shimmer and I did an obstacle course through the classroom, which was interesting, since I hadn't been in the classroom before.
Then, I made a spontaneous decision to treat the kids to some playtime with Shimmer, after overhearing one of the students commenting that 'Shimmer works 24/7'. So I took off her harness and let the children come up one by one and pet her while she was seated, then I removed her leash and let her walk around for a bit to show the students how differently she acts when her leash and harness are removed, and they got the message pretty quickly. When it was time for her to go back to work, I called her to me, and she came quickly and got right into heel position. What a good girl!
Next, I had time for questions and answers, and the students seemed particularly interested in learning more about the training involved when teaching guide dogs guidework. There were only 11 students, with two absentees, so it was a small group, which meant everyone who had questions was able to get them answered.
I left there feeling like I really made a difference and now feel as though I have purpose. I just recently got approved to be on the GDB Speakers' Bureau, and it's truly an honor to be able to give back to an organization and to people who have given me so much. I would encourage all of you to take advantage of opportunities to give such presentations in your communities. It is a very uplifting experience!