Here’s a better answer than I wrote before for those of you who wondered how it’s possible to emotionally handle giving up a wonderful dog like Spice, after raising her for a year in preparation to train as a guide dog. This is excerpted from a letter we recently received from the new owner of one of our graduates, a black lab named Camille. The “GDB” he refers to is Guide Dogs for the Blind, the organization Mary and I volunteer with.
Just wanted to let you both know of an interesting journey that Camille and I took last Saturday.
I had taken the subway in Toronto in the past but always with some one else. I wanted to try taking it myself and I wondered if Camille would remember all the subway teaching. I decided that I would take the challenge, and our son (Nathan) gave me the directions to get to his place… the subway line to take, where to change to the next subway, which station to get off…
Camille and I took the bus from Kingston to Toronto, a 2.5 hr ride, then made our way to the subway station. I just gave Camille the directions that Nathan had given me and away we went. I feel myself getting emotional as I write this. I just can’t believe that little girl Camille…what a dog! I want to tell you that she didn’t forget one thing that she was taught… the thousands of people, the noise of the subway trains… and she is just as cool as can be. The subway train comes to a stop, and it is so noisy and there are so many people. I just bend down to her ear and with great enthusiasm say to Camille, “inside” and she leads me on the subway car as if we did it every day. “Find a chair”, and she takes me to a seat… O! I so wanted to shout, “FREEDOM! This is my dog, and she is from GDB!”
I guess if I had to, I could have done that trip with the cane but it would have to be a life and death situation. A doorway, a set of stairs, a counter… all can be so close, yet so far away when you can’t see it. The only time using a cane brought me to tears is when I ran into something. I just can’t describe the thrill of holding that harness handle.
Camille and I want to send you both a big thank you, and to let you know that you are so appreciated.”
That’s how we are able to give them up. Others need them more.