Spreckles and I finished our last training route this morning. We traveled to one of the local stores that carries my books. It’s a cute little Christian boutique a few blocks from my house, and Spreckles and I have gone there twice now with the trainer. I think I’ll be ready to find it on my own, maybe Friday or Saturday.
When we got home, the trainer said, “Nice job. Happy graduation. You’re a very supportive handler, and I think Spreckles will blossom in confidence during the next six months.”
Graduations on the Guide Dogs for the Blind campuses in California and Oregon tend to brim with pomp and circumstance–speeches, music, tears, applause, the whole bit. That can be overwhelming for dyed-in-the-wool introverts like me, so a few private words exchanged on my front walk felt refreshingly simple.
Yesterday evening on a Zoom call, I got to speak to the people from the club in Medford, Oregon, who had raised Spreckles. Their dedication to GDB and independent travel for the blind is nothing short of a calling. Two of the women have raised fifty puppies each! One of them started when she was ten years old and has continued throughout her adult life.
One of the raisers solved the mystery of how Spreckles got her unique name. She said a third grade class in San Rafael, California, decided to hold a fundraiser for the guide dog school. The teacher made arrangements with the school so that the child in the class who raised the most money got to choose the name of a guide dog puppy. Puppies are named alphabetically by litter, with the first litter born in the year all getting A names, the next B names, and so on, till the end of the alphabet is reached. (Sometimes the difficult letters such as X are skipped.) Then the names start over at A again. Really common names like Fido and Rover are avoided so that people don’t call out to guide dogs on the street and distract them–and yes, that does unfortunately happen now and then. The winning third grader chose Spreckles as the name for the guide dog puppy. The other dogs in the litter were Solo, Skywalker, Serenity, and Stella, who got matched with a friend of mine in the Denver area. Solo got the honor of becoming a breeder dog, which only happens to the brightest and best.
Overall, I was very pleased with in-home training. I’m glad to be finished, because it’s time for Spreckles and me to move on with our lives. We both celebrated with long, much-needed naps today. Tomorrow we’ll be going to the phone store to get the battery replaced in my daughter’s iPhone and to the Brighton City Barbecue to represent the Historical Commission at their annual booth. And the day after that? There’s no telling what adventures might await.
About the Author
Jo Elizabeth Pinto was among the first blind students to integrate the public schools in the 1970’s. In 1992, she received a degree in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado. While teaching students how to use adaptive technology, she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. She freelances as an editor and a braille proofreader and is a contributor of The Writer’s Grapevine Magazine where more such articles as this may be found.
As an author, Pinto entertains her readers while giving them food for thought. In her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, she draws on personal experience to illustrate that hope is always an action away.
Pinto lives in Colorado with her husband, her preteen daughter, and their pets.
Her website is: http://www.brightsideauthor.com.