By: Megan Minkiewicz
What are the odds that a guide dog puppy raised in Bend, Oregon, matched with a graduate from College Station, Texas would reunite two kids who had grown up together in Kent, Washington? Slim to none I would say. But, if you’ve been around the Guide Dogs for the Blind family long enough you start to experience the overlaps and extensions of family and friends in this tight knit world.
In February I dropped of our eighth puppy Dyson for formal training on the Oregon campus and in early May we were notified that he was matched with his partner and set to graduate! As graduation approached I had the opportunity to talk to Dyson’s handler Laura Ann. She is Dyson’s soul mate, they are made for one another and in an instant we were thick as thieves too. In our conversations she casually mentioned a friend from Washington would be attending graduation. I really didn’t give it much thought; graduation is always full of new friendly faces. After the emotional reunion and graduation ceremony, chatting up with friends and staff, Laura Ann said she wanted me to meet her friend Cathy. They had been classmates nearly 10 years ago when Cathy received her first guide dog Bombay and Laura Ann was matched with Dasher, her third guide.
As Cathy reached out to shake my hand she mentioned we had a mutual friend on Facebook. After a few rounds of attempting to try to put the pieces together she mentioned her maiden name and I blurted out “your sister was our 6th grade volleyball coach!” Cathy and I had grown up in the same community outside of Seattle, attending elementary through high school together. Cathy lost 95% of her vision in her late 20s due to diabetic eye retinopathy and has the lovely Bombay as her guide dog. The last time I saw Cathy was nearly 20 years ago at our high school graduation. Neither of us have kept up much with our classmates or attended reunions, but leave it to Guide Dogs for the Blind to reconnect us!
Funny how these connections are made and we reconnect in various stages of life. It truly is a small world after all! One common love for a little yellow Labrador named Dyson was all it took to bring us together.