As a "partially sighted" / "low vision" woman living in a world that values what is seen by the eye above all else, I can honestly say that embracing my identity as a blind person and learning the skills of blindness have freed me to experience life on my own terms.
Learning to use a long white cane empowered me to carry my head high without worrying about the ground, because my cane would tell me what my eyes could not.
The second revolution in my life as a blind person was making the decision to travel with a guide dog. This provided even more freedom, because I could miss that crack in the sidewalk entirely and get to the back of a line with ease.
Both of my guide dogs, Thunder and Molly, not only helped me, but they also had their own sacred missions and touched countless lives. Both were Joy Dogs who, in vastly different ways, opened hearts.
When It was time for that horrible but necessary decision to say farewell to Molly, I thought I might not get another guide dog.
Then the reality of life without a trusted guide set in. While I still get around well with a cane, my life is so empty without a dog. While it's nice not having to walk a dog in the pouring rain or bitter cold, there's also no companion to help me deal with crowds and miss all those obstacles my cane finds that a dog helped me avoid.
So 18 dogless months later, I decided to apply for a guide dog from Leader Dogs for the Blind. It took 26 days to complete the application, which included a vide, 6 references, a doctor visit (which was a big deal because I don't do doctors), a vision evaluation (pointless as I'm no less blind than I was when I had an official letter from a previous eye doc), and a form so detailed I expected it to come with a cheek swab for DNA.
May 13th, I got word that I am accepted for a dog and will go to Michigan sometime, maybe July or August, to get my dog! It will be a whole new adventure for me as well as the dog.
Whereas I chose and trained my first 2 dog from puppyhood onward, this time a trainer will select the perfect dog for me. I don't know what breed or gender.
I am thrilled to surrender to this new adventure, and I love my dog with all my heart, even though I have not met him or her yet. Here is my love letter to my future Leader Dog.
Love Letter to My Future Leader Dog
I can hardly wait to meet you, my dear Leader Dog!
The day they bring you to me is a big moment for both of us. You’ve left a family who raised you for a year or more to train for your new life with someone new. It’s a big change. I understand.
Don’t worry. I promise to take good care of you, with plenty of activities, snuggles and fresh air. We’ll live in the country and visit towns and cities. We’ll sit out on the deck at night and listen to the symphony of creatures giving their performance.
You’ll keep me safe, and I’ll give you lots of walks, games and fun adventures to keep your tail wagging and spirits high. I honor what you do for me and never take you for granted.
Whether you’ll be a boy or girl, a shepherd, golden, lab or goldador, my home and heart are ready to receive you.
How wonderful it will feel to touch your silky head for the first time and to feel the breeze of your wagging tail. For weeks I have imagined feeling your warmth beside me.
This new life of ours will be an adventure full of discoveries as we become acquainted. I will tune into you and you into me as we learn each other’s ways. You’ll find I’m NOT perky in the morning and that I love rain.
I want to know every inch of you from nose to tail.
So many things I wonder.
Did they let you keep the toy you love most to bring home with us? Do you prefer squeakies? Plushies? Tugs? I’m coming prepared with one you’ll love so we can play together right away. And I can hardly wait to take you toy shopping to let you choose what you want for yourself! That will be so much fun.
Does food or affection motivate you? Are vegetables poison or tempting treat?
Where do you most love to be rubbed? Belly? Chest? Tummy? Ears? I shall find your favorite spots and rub them daily.
You, my magnificent Leader Dog, are destined to touch lives everywhere you go,bringing smiles, love, and all that only a dog can give.
Although we haven’t met, I love you with all my heart. From the moment we meet for the rest of your life, you’ll have all the love a life can hold.
Your soon-to-be New Mommy
To learn more about Leader Dogs for the Blind and/or make a donation, visit LeaderDog.org,
Ronda Del Boccio is a best selling, award-winning author of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Most of her tales take you on adventures that deepen your understanding of what it means to be alive. She also helps people turn your stories and expertise into best selling books. Start now at WriteOnPurpose.comSHARE!