Reviews & Thoughts

Reviews & Thoughts

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Campbell’s rambles: how a seeing eye dog retrieved my life DB83921

Fletcher, Patty L. Reading time: 6 hours, 16 minutes.

Read by Suzanne Toren.

Disability

A woman recounts her experiences working with a guide dog after using a cane for thirty-one years. Describes the training process, finding a connection with her dog, and the impact on her life after returning home from training. Discusses the effect of her increased independence on personal relationships.

2014

Download Campbell’s rambles: how a seeing eye dog retrieved my life

### Review

Campbell’s rambles: how a seeing eye dog retrieved my life DB83921

I downloaded and read this book pretty much in one big gulp last night and enjoyed it very much. I’m a Seeing Eye grad and am about to go back for a successor dog, so I was delighted to see some familiar names and read about training. I also could identify with the difficulties the author faced when she came home with the new dog. This book is an unflinching discussion of one of the possible challenges resulting from guide dog training, and that is the relationship with one’s instructor. It’s clear that Ms. Fletcher had an exemplary instructor, and a kind man, in Drew Gibbon, and it’s also clear that he came into her life at a vulnerable spot for her. Guide dog training is a very emotional experience, whether it’s the first time or the fourth, and with Fletcher’s other challenges, it must have been terrible and wonderful all at once, and all in the same hour (smile). The discussion of how her increased independence changed her primary personal relationship is familiar to a lot of people who’ve “been there” and was at times heart-breaking but always honest..

The author’s candor is moving, her experiences are unique, but anyone who has been through guide dog training can relate. I look forward to the second installment in this story.

4 out of 5 stars

### My Thoughts

It has been said by some that my reviews have moved them to read things that they’d not normally have read, and so I’m going to review my own book. Not as the author but as the reader, who experienced what they’re reading.

This way you can experience all these horrible wonderful awesome frightening things for yourselves.

 There are 26 chapters in all so this is an easy read.

First off the book is not just “Another Guide Dog Book”  It is much much more. It speaks of the trials that someone who is not only blind but mentally ill with Bipolar Disorder

Goes through on a daily  bases when experiencing something as stressful as going through this type of training.

 Let’s face it folks it’s not fun and games all the time. Yes I had lots of fun, Chapter 8 is one of my favorite chapters. Why? Because I got to experience a mall in a whole new way, but before I talk to you about all that let me talk to you about Chapter 3. Dog Day the Most Wonderful Day Ever!

On Monday April 4 2011 my life changed for absolutely ever without doubt. When Drew Gibbon Senior Instructor of The Seeing Eye  walked in to my dorm room with Campbell walking proudly by his side, introduced him to me and placed that leash in my hand it was a life  changing moment from which there will never be a road back.

As I began to explore Campbell’s  body and get to know this magnificent beast that now walks proudly by my side, I knew right away that things for me would never ever again be as they were before that day, and I was right they haven’t.

Then there was Chapter 4 The Connection and That First Walk.

Taking that first walk with Campbell was the most horrible  awful wonderful awesome frightening  experience I ever had in my life. I was disoriented, off balance terrified and totally thrilled all at the same moment, and as I am writing this I am taken back in time to that day as Campbell and I took our first baby steps together. Yes, ladies and gentlemen that was about what it was like, a child  learning to walk. At first I simply couldn’t get in to the rhythm of walking with Campbell at all. I don’t know if it was because of the way it felt being led by something with four legs and his walking felt different, if it was because I was just scared silly, or what exactly the trouble was but for a few minutes my feet just did not seem to be at all connected to my body. Then as I began to get the hang of it it felt like flying, it felt free, and I began to realize life in a whole new way.

Then there was Chapter 5 Hell Week. Let me tell you folks, that was not an over statement by a long shot. We handlers experienced things that week that there have not yet been words   written to describe.

 When you read the portion of that chapter where I took the fall that just about sent me home you will feel just exactly what I felt that day. I was exhausted hurting in places I did not even know belonged in a human body and simply about done, but because of one thing that Drew Gibbon said to me I found the courage to go on, and thank the Goddess I did.

Then there’s Chapter 6 Learning the Hard Way. (Slight Spoiler!)

 Well, folks, what can I say? I learned the hard way. Drinking and training well, sometimes they just don’t mix. Somehow I got through it but if you’re fortunate enough to get Drew Gibbon as an instructor and you manage to get drunk and wake up with a hangover from hell the next day, do not expect any sympathy from him, because his give a damn will be busted for sure.

Finally there’s chapter 7. In this chapter begins one of the other important lessons to be learned in the book, and that is the importance of boundaries, by staff and students alike. You absolutely one-hundred percent have to remember at all times before, during, and after your time at the school, or in any setting such as what I describe in my book that boundaries must be set from the onset and not after. Making rules late in the game only serves to break hearts. Believe me. I know.

~~~~

### Hi, back with part two of this review. When I left off we were discussing Chapter 7 and the need for boundaries. As I went back and continued to read, I totally enjoyed reading about our trip to the mall, and how I experienced the mall in a whole new way, and it dawned on me how that experience written of in Chapter 8 had readied me for things that have come to be in my life. For example, I now occasionally keep time with a man who likes to go walking in the mall, and so the lessons I learned while walking through that mall on that long ago April day have truly come in handy, but as I read I also remembered the first time I worked my Campbell with my nephew Aaron after our not having seen one another for so long. When Aaron last saw me before that day, I was a cane traveler, and would’ve never walked alongside him in a mall. Whenever he and I went out anywhere together I always took his arm and he was my guide, but that day he just came scooped me and Campbell up and off we went, to the mall, visiting friends, and having a great day. All because of the very things written in this book.

Some are going to say after reading this, “So is this a review, or another journal post?” Well, folks there’s no way for me to review as simply a reader, I wrote the book. The experiences I write of in it have shaped and reshaped my life so many times I can’t begin to possibly describe it and do it any sort of justice.

Let us talk about Chapter 10 New York. First off, who would’ve ever thought that I would’ve ever found myself in New York? I certainly didn’t think something like that could ever happen to me. Tonight as I read that chapter I could hear the sounds of the city, smell the smells of the food, the cars, the people, and all. I could feel the energy I wrote of, that thrum ever present just beneath the surface. I remember standing on the street corner getting ready to cross and being amazed at the amount of people standing around us, and as I read I was there. Right there in New York. Do I think that you could have that experience when reading my book? Yes, absolutely. Have you ever been on a subway train? If so you’ll know the whoosh of air I speak of as the train pulls in to the station and stops at the platform to let folks off and on.

If you have ever heard the sounds of the traffic you’ll understand what I say when I describe the difference in the traffic there  than anything we here in my neck of the woods ever experience. Do you need to have ever gone to New York and heard that sound to experience the feeling of it when you read my book? No. If you can read that and not feel at least part of what I felt when I experienced that, then I want to know it, because this means I didn’t do my job as an author.

How about the chapters toward the end of the book? The ones that discuss the secrets  I was trying to hide from everyone? Do you need to have experienced this to feel the hurt, embarrassment and fear? No, it is there, written and real and raw.

When I wrote of my dad and his near miss with death,  the fear was in those pages, and the relief as well when he was there after his procedure.

If you can read my book, and have no reaction please? I want you to write me. I want hell! I need to know, but it is my belief that if you give this book a chance you will come away with a truly awesome understanding of absolutely everything I experienced.

I want to close with this.

When I wrote this book, it was my wish to write it so that I could raise awareness of blindness, guide dogs, and multiple disabilities. It was and still is my mission to do so. It was and is still my mission to use the sales of this book for the good of The Seeing Eye, and to be able to go back to making monthly donations to them would be wonderful. So Please? Read, and Enjoy this book, if you’re reading via BARD or Other digital source  Order one for a friend in print.

The info is all there on my website.

If you’ve read the book via Book Share and would like to help The Seeing Eye, you can donate to them directly, and you can donate in Campbell’s name.

Most of all I want to hear from readers. I want to know your feelings.

I am asked often what the folks at The Seeing Eye think of my book. Well guys I can’t tell you. I’ve gotten little response from anyone, and I suppose I understand that. There are lots of books written by many graduates out there, and I’m quite sure some better than mine.

Am I bothered a bit by it? I’d be lying if I said no, but that is okay.

If my book helps one person, does one good thing, encourages someone to take that leap of faith and go to The Seeing Eye and get a dog, then my work is done.

If a great donation is made to The Seeing Eye and helps them to continue to help others, then my work is done.

If you have read it and you came away having a better understanding of folks who are mentally ill, or are at the very least willing to learn and grow with it, my work is done.

If one person leaves an abuser and renews their own lease on life, then my work did as I wished.

 I used to think I’d lost all the hard work I did by my bad behavior, but that is not correct, it was only delayed, or? Was it? Everything happens in Goddess’s time, not mine, and so there-for it is quite possible when all that was happening to delay my intended work, it was happening just as it was meant to, and that now is the time for it to bloom.

It is my deepest wish that with the rereading of this book, this review, and some prayer from me that things gone amiss can be set straight. Until then Campbell and I have accomplished what was expected of us. We’re a fine dog and human team and I couldn’t be more pleased.

As I reread this book I was transported back there to that very time.

 I laughed, I cried, and I even got angry all over.

It literally transformed me right back to that place I’d gone before.

It also opened my heart to some reality checks. I made a promise in Chapter 26 “On Campbell’s Honor” Since that time for various reasons, some of which I couldn’t help, I have broken that promise, and it hurt me when I read that. I also realized something else when rereading this book, we surely do attract just what we think, fear, and believe. I feared I’d never see Drew again, even though he talked of hoping to be able to come back on vacation in the area with his wife, and now, that is not to be. I feared my relationship with Donnie would only grow more dangerous, and it did, and I feared I’d not own my beloved home, and I don’t. I do still live in it, and  you know what? I’m still alive, and my awesome guide is by my side, and so here I am after all doing just what I set out to do in the beginning. Being a Guide Dog handler.

Reading the book via BARD and hearing it read by a human was a true joy. The narrator they chose did a fabulous job. Her voice was just absolutely perfect for it. She knew just the correct way to do the voices, and I almost rolled out of the bed every time I heard her read Drew’s Character I laughed so hard. Campbell at one point reacted to a command,  she read so well, and I just truly was able to gain a whole new prospective. A fellow writer explained it to me this way when I expressed the wonder of it to him. He said, “It is because you read audio books so much, and you relate to them. So when you read this way you are transformed to the book, into it and the memory of it.” He was right, and I feel I’ll be able to now do a better job of writing my second book.

I truly do want and desire all your feedback.

To you who use a cane. I did not leave you out, and in fact in the epilogue I spoke to you directly. I paid attention. I remember the days of being a cane traveler and feeling like some authors who wrote of their guides were saying my chosen form of mobility tools was wrong. Just want you to know I believe that is the furthers thing from the truth ever, and like I say this book deals with so many other things, well? There’s something for all here.

If you would like to know the opinion of Mr. Gibbon and others at the school, or have any questions for them, I have been advised that you should write to: info@seeingeye.org and address your email to the person in question, and that it will be passed along. I simply cannot speak for another.

Thanks so very much for reading, and blessid be.

To buy my book, see my blog, back issues of The Neighborhood News, and guest blogger articles as well go to http://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/

 

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