By GDB Graduate Laurel Wheeler
Dear Puppy Raisers,
I wrote a letter to my Guide Dog’s puppy raisers describing how much Stockard has impacted my life. The change in my life has been incredible and I tried sharing my feelings of gratitude with them. I realize many of my fellow Guide Dog users share the same feelings and thoughts I do regarding the sacrifices you have made to raise and prepare our wonderful dogs for us so I wanted to share part of this letter with you.
Many things have changed for me since I came home with my Guide Dog. Before training with her I used a cane. I was able to travel independently, but I couldn't totally relax and enjoy going places because I always had to pay attention to what I encountered with the cane. I also had to watch carefully to make sure I didn't run into anything. I could never relax and enjoy the process of getting from point A to point B. It was always stressful, and as you can imagine, I didn't go many places because of it.
Working with my Guide Dog means I have total freedom now. I have the freedom to enjoy the process of going places. I don't need to worry anymore about obstacles in my way because Stockard takes me right around them. I don't have to worry about people on foot or bicyclists because she moves me out of the way. I can even take leisure walks now because I don't feel stressed about going out anymore.
Stockard has also given me much more freedom and confidence in public. When I used a cane and was in public or in large crowds, it was awkward for me because I felt invisible. I didn't really know what was going on around me and nobody even noticed me.
Now, as soon as people notice me, they don't say "blind girl with a cane, oh my goodness!" They say something like "Oh! Look at the dog! Wow!" or "Wow! I love your dog! Tell me about her!" Stockard is a conversation starter and I'm able to get assistance, or feel part of the group. I don't feel invisible anymore. It's nice to be noticed for your dog first and not your disability.
Stockard has not only impacted my physical well-being, but also my emotional well-being. She has become my best friend. I'm never lonely anymore because of her. She's always by my side, working for me, playing with me and loving me. Having her at my side 24-7 truly makes me happy inside. I haven't always had many friends, or been very involved with my peers. Stockard has helped me go many more places and make many more friends. Words will never describe how much she has affected every aspect of my life.
I don't think we can ever totally express in words our gratitude to you for raising such amazing animals. You put so much work into raising our dogs and helping them get ready for their lives with us. You did a great job and we couldn't possibly ask for better dogs. By raising them, loving them, socializing them, giving them everything you could and then giving them up, you have changed our lives. We can never totally thank you for all you have done. It's truly amazing.
Laurel and Stockard