Paws on the Street Part Twelve – Accepting and Walking the Journey of a Committed Guide Dog Handler
By Patty L Fletcher
November 21, 2021
Moon Phase Waning Gibbous
Hello, everyone, I hope you’re all doing well on this Sublime Sunday.
Today, is forecast to be cloudy and a bit rainy but as I say, the sun is always shining behind the clouds.
Anyhow, this afternoon, I’m Pleased and Privileged to be going out with a friend for another birthday celebration. This makes two friends who have taken me out this year, which is kind of a new thing for me. It’s been many years since I had real friends. Let alone friends who wanted to be part of my life in such a way as to go out with me and my guide dogs. You cannot imagine how hurtful it is for me when people say, “Can we just leave the dog at home, you know, go out and just sit and talk?” I’ve never quite been able to understand how it is that my having my guide dogs along hinders hanging out and talking. So, it is a treasured gift when people are OK with including my dog.
There are times, when I feel people don’t understand exactly what being a guide dog owner is all about. It is said that a guide dog is a person’s independence. This is true but to me blue is so much more. Though we’re still learning one another’s habits and moods, he is an extension of me. Blue is my strength. He is my company. He and I sleep together, travel together, read books and listen to music together and even enjoy our mealtimes together.
We share everything. He is my absolute best friend and more. I am his human mother, and he is my son.
Blue and I have already been through a lot together. As most of you reading know, we were paired together in late July, then shortly after returning home in august we moved. We’d barely begun establishing a daily routine when a space opened in a senior/disability community so though The Seeing Eye® doesn’t recommend making momentous changes soon after one brings their new dog home, Blue and I uprooted ourselves and started all over in a new place.
We’re just now truly regaining our rhythm so to me there’s nothing more important during this time in my life than firming the bond Blue and I share.
There are those who don’t understand when I tell them I cannot leave Blue at home for extended periods of time. There are others who feel I shouldn’t put Blue’s needs above even my own at times. But it is imperative that I connect with him in such a way that he feels he is the most important thing in my life and that he feels likewise about me.
You see, when we go out together on the bus to shop, for walks in our community or over to the senior center for lunch, Blue is in charge of my safety. He must guide me around obstacles, watch for up and down curbs, make street crossings in traffic and watch for cars on the move in parking lots as we enter and exit buildings, we visit during our travels each day.
If our focus is on anything else but one another during these times it could mean the difference between life and death. So yes, the needs of my guide come before anything else.
In 2017, I found myself gravely ill and other than Campbell, my then guide dog, I was alone. Had I not put the needs of my guide dog above all else I’d have found myself in a dire situation.
As it was, Campbell was able to not only handle well the situation we found ourselves in, but he enabled me to overcome the illness, and rehabilitate back to a place where I could once again live on my own.
Now, here I am with a brand-new dog in a living situation such as I’ve never been in before in my life so once again, I must focus all my time and energy onto my dog.
Soon, I hope to travel to visit my daughter and her family, which includes six grandkids, three adults, as well as a boxer, and cats.
If Blue and I aren’t well-used to working together this trip could be a disaster. So, over the next few weeks I’ll be working hard to put Blue into as much social activity as is possible.
I must tell you there may be times when going out with me and my guide dog will be more complicated than when going out with a friend would normally be. Though few and far between, there are those who will stop us at the door and request I not bring the dog inside. This will require me to take the time to explain that it is against the law for them to refuse me access with my guide dog. It will mean if I am unable to meet you out for the day that Blue will need to ride in your car. It may mean that as we walk through the store, I’ll have to say to those who insist upon touching the dog that they may not pet and there are times when people ignore such requests at which point, I must become firm.
It is not easy being the friend or family member of someone who is a committed guide dog handler. To those who choose to accept and walk along this journey with me I say thank you and may you truly be blessed. For there is nothing which means more to me than making Blue a part of my daily life in every way possible.
I’m currently offering free coupon codes for both Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye® and Pathway to Freedom Broken and Healed: Book One How a Seeing Eye® Dog Retrieved My Life Second Edition in exchange for a review on the Smashwords.com site from where they come.
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Visually Challenged or Totally Blind readers be aware these books come in various accessible formats.
Updated – October 2021
Patty Fletcher is a single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom she is enormously proud. She has a great son-in-law and six beautiful grandchildren. From April 2011 through September 2020, she owned and handled a black Labrador from The Seeing Eye® named King Campbell Lee Fletcher A.K.A. Bubba. Sadly, after a long battle with illness on September 24, 2020, King Campbell went to the Rainbow Bridge where all is peace and love. In July 2021, she returned to The Seeing Eye® and was paired with a Black Labrador Golden Retriever cross named Blue.
Patty was born one and a half months premature. Her blindness was caused by her being given too much oxygen in the incubator. She was partially sighted until 1991, at which time she lost her sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. She used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.
WHERE SHE LIVES AND WORKS…
Currently, Patty lives and works in Kingsport, Tenn.
She’s the creator and owner of Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing (Author, Blogger, Business Assist), The Writer’s Grapevine Online Magazine and the creator and host of the Talk to Tell-It-To-The-World Marketing Podcast.
Patty writes with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disabled from the non-disabled.
Patty’s hobbies include reading, music, and attending book clubs via Zoom.
Some of her favorite types of tunes are classic rock, rhythm and blues, and classic country.
Patty enjoys fantasy, science fiction, and books about the supernatural. She loves books by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Norah Roberts, and many more. Some favorite books include Norah Roberts’ Hide Away, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series.
Patty describes herself as a spiritual Walker. She says she knows both Mother Goddess and Father God and embraces all they have to offer.
AUTHOR PAGES AND SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS…
Patty & Pals
Bob Cat & Friends
A most excellent interview
My Anthology Links
December Awethology Light https://www.books2read.com/u/3yPZvB
A Treasure Chest of Children’s Tales https://www.books2read.com/u/bzaAML
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Seeing Eye, Inc: www.SeeingEye.org