For the past year, it has been my privilege to coordinate the K9 Buddy Program placements here at Guide Dogs for the Blind. This unique program was established more than a decade ago to partner youth who are visually impaired with a career change dog as a pet companion. I get to spend time with wonderful dogs and match them up with a recipient that may live as far away as Colorado. Unless it’s a local placement, one of our Community Field Representatives (CFRs) will do the home visit and bring the dog to the family when the time arrives. I live vicariously through photographs, emails, and phone calls pre and post adoption. All of our K9 Buddy families are so grateful to the puppy raisers for allowing them the gift of a career change dog with the capacity to enrich the life of their child, their family, and their communities. Katie, whose daughter received K9 Buddy Widget said, “This whole experience with Guide Dogs for the Blind has given us so much joy and hope. When we went to a Puppy Raising class we were overwhelmed at the care and willingness other people had in raising a guide dog puppy. We could not believe the K9 Buddy program was available to us at no cost. The gift of Widget is one that we will never be able to repay all of you for. Just know that whatever part you had in providing this dog for our family, you have made an incredible impact on our lives. We do not take it for granted for one moment and see this as a blessing we will cherish for a long time.”
Here are a few K9 Buddy families who wanted to share their story with all of us:
Bluebell, a four year-old retired guide dog is a calm, sweet natured female black Lab. She was matched with Claire, a young girl in Colorado and her family, consisting of older sister Stella and parents. As mom Marlo explains: “In April of 2014, we met Bluebell for the first time. We felt like we had waited forever for her to arrive. Bluebell makes our family so happy. Claire’s favorite thing about Bluebell is that she is soft, cuddly, cute, and sweet. Claire loves snuggling next to her to read books. Older sister Stella’s favorite thing about Bluebell is that she is playful and always happy. We love that Bluebell greets everyone in the morning. Bluebell walks with us to the bus stop every weekday morning and afternoon; our bus driver always gives her a treat. We love taking her on walks and watching her play in the snow. Even though we don’t think she has ever lived in a snowy place, she just can’t get enough of the snow! Bluebell sleeps calmly every night, well maybe not calmly because she snores. We are so happy that Bluebell is in our lives.”
|Claire and Bluebell|
|Sarah and Ella|
|Annabelle and Gia|
|Hallie and Widget|
“Didn’t God make Widget with so much love inside her!?”
“Widget’s heart beams love into mine.”
“When she greets me with her tail wagging it’s like she’s putting fairy sparkles everywhere.”
To Hallie, Widget has filled our home with magic.
Thank you to everyone who contributed some “magic” into these families lives!
To learn more about our K9 Buddy program, please visit: www.guidedogs.com/site/PageServer?pagename=programs_youth_k9buddy