Patty L. Fletcher
THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The Seeing Eye, Inc.
If you’ve not read my book, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life this writing might not make much since to you. I would suggest reading the book before reading this post. For those who have read the book, this writing is designed to answer some of the questions that have been put to me since the book was published in 2014. I hope that it will help to better explain some of the behavior that I displayed a bit later on. I am finally really and truly beginning to come back into the sun after a very long stretch in a dark and cloudy place.
Now, as you Campbell’s Rambles Readers know, I had been home with Campbell for about six months. I was working and had a desire to learn the route from my house to my work place, but was having trouble finding a safe way to go that was doable for Campbell and me. I’d had other Seeing Eye instructors down to evaluate the situation but had not as of yet found a way. I’d just about given up when Drew answered my last ditch email request for help with a phone call one early Monday morning in July. After much back and forth discussion between he went to John Keane and requested permission to come and give it one more shot.
Some of the things you readers have asked about have been…
- What did Donnie go to prison for?
- What really happened that night after Drew left?
- What did you do that was so horrible that makes you think that The Seeing Eye wouldn’t let you come back?
I hope, with this writing I can answer at least some of your questions.
We open on the scene of Drew and I returning from our having visited Phyllis, stopping by the Harley shop, and having lunch together.
Once inside the house, I took Campbell out of harness and sat down a moment to catch my breath. I’d parked Campbell before coming upstairs, and I wanted to have a cup of coffee before we started. I’d taken my midday medication when I’d gone to the bathroom to wash my hands at lunch, and even though I’d had a short nap on the way home, I was still a bit sleepy and felt somewhat disoriented. Drew said he wanted me alert for this, because he didn’t have as much time with it as he would like, and he wanted to make sure that if I saw any troublesome places, I’d be sure to mention them to him.
Finally we were ready. As we started down the walk, he asked if I thought the GPS would distract me if he had it set to talk. I told him I didn’t know if it would or not, and to go ahead and give it a try. Soon I was following the directions spoken by the GPS, and Drew was describing things to me as needed. I have to say it was working well for me, but I wouldn’t ever want to depend on one all the time. I’d be afraid I’d lose my skill for remembering things. I can see how it would be easy to become lazy and let the GPS do all the work. While I think technology has done a lot to help blind people become more independent, I also find that it has done horrible things to some skills we once held very dear.
Even though I find I must rely on technology a bit more now because of the the short term memory loss I suffer due to the things Donnie did to me when being abusive, I still try whenever possible to do things on my own.
As we got close to my office building, Campbell and I began to recognize where we were, and we began to take more control of the trip.
“Very nice job, guys,” Drew said as we walked up to the door. As we were going up in the elevator, Campbell’s tail was wagging a mile a minute. He was banging it on the wall of the elevator, and as usual, I was scratching his back and telling him what a fantastic job he had done.
“He really does seem happy to be here,” Drew said.
“Ha! Wait till you see what happens when this door opens!” I said as the buzzer for our floor sounded. The door opened and Campbell shot forward as I lifted my hand to signal him out. Those things literally happened simultaneously. Drew chuckled to himself as Campbell and I went quick as lightening to the office door, with Campbell wigging and wagging all the way. I punched in the key code for the door and explained the reason for it to Drew as we went through.
“You have to understand that some of our callers aren’t—how shall I say—stable, and we sometimes have people pissed at us. We don’t want anyone to be able to come inside our office unless we’ve invited them in, or unless we’ve given them the code. By the way, if I didn’t tell you already, you cannot tell people where this place is. Of course, to make sure you don’t, I could just kill you and leave you in the woods,” I laughed.
My coworker Dawn was sitting at her desk as we came inside, and she heard the last part of what I said. “Patty, how horrible! You’re not supposed to warn people first!” I laughed and introduced Drew to her. Campbell, of course, had to say hello to her. Dawn explained, “He has to lick the lotion off my hands.”
I took Drew around to meet everyone and was disappointed to see that Lynn, my supervisor, was not there. I’d really wanted the two of them to meet. Soon we were in the phone room, and Campbell took me straight to my desk. He sat beside my feet and looked up at me expectantly. I knew what he was waiting for, and I didn’t hesitate to get it for him. I opened the bottom drawer of my desk, reached in, and got out a small treat. I made Campbell go through a round of obedience, as was our way, and then gave him his treat.
“I’ve done this since we first started coming here,” I explained to Drew. “Jimmy buys him a box of these every month when he buys snacks for the office. It’s pretty much the only time he gets treats like this. I don’t keep them at home.”
Soon Drew and one of the volunteers were deep in conversation. I was sitting at my desk answering phone calls, handing out information and referrals from memory. I didn’t have my computer and just went with it.
As we started for home a few minutes later, Drew said, “That’s some memory you’ve got there, lady!”
“Oh, I didn’t think you were paying attention back there.”
“Well, I was, and I was impressed. How do you remember all that?”
“It’s no different than your being able to spot problems with dogs a mile and a half away. We’ve all got our talents, I suppose. Mine is phone numbers, and yours is dogs and directions.”
I had to laugh at my own next thought. “Drew! I didn’t know you were into D&D!”
He laughed and said, “Shush and walk, young lady.”
“Aw, Yankee, did I embarrass you?”
The trip back home was great, and we even made it home more quickly than we’d gotten to work. Once back upstairs on the deck, I asked, “So, you still gonna stay for dinner?”
“Sure, how could I refuse? I wouldn’t do you that way. If you guys want to share your home and a meal with me, I’m all for it. I think it’s nice.” I was glad he felt that way, but still felt horrible for lying to him. As we sat on the porch swing, talking and waiting for Donnie, Drew asked me why Rocky stayed in the garage so much.
I sighed. “Because that’s the way Donnie wants it, not because I like it.” I didn’t want Drew thinking I agreed with any of Donnie’s dog–handling methods. However, I was glad he didn’t know what I had to endure when I went against them.
Soon Donnie was there, and he and Drew got into a discussion about the trip to and from my office building and some things Drew had seen along the way. I slipped away to feed Campbell and Celine and to try to calm down a bit. I was glad Drew was staying for dinner, but I was also a nervous wreck about it. I didn’t want Drew to mention to Donnie anything about dog–handling habits or the lack thereof. I didn’t want there to be any kind of problem. I just wanted Drew to keep thinking what he was thinking, that we were a reasonably happy couple with no more problems than anyone else. I didn’t want him to know about any of Donnie’s legal troubles or any of our personal ones. I just wanted things to keep going as smoothly as they had been so far.
We decided we needed a few things from the store, so we all piled into the rental car and started off.
On the way, I said, “Wow! I sure would like a beer with dinner.”
“Well, we don’t have the money for it, and you don’t need it, anyhow,” Donnie said.
I didn’t mention it again.
Once in the store, Drew and I went to look around and work together just a bit more, while Donnie went off by himself to shop.
Once we’d separated, Drew asked, “So you want beer with dinner, do you?”
“Yeah, but…” I dropped my head, and worried my bottom lip with my teeth.
“That’s okay, honey; it’s my contribution to dinner.”
I started to say something, but instead I just said, lifting my head, “Thanks.” I was thinking to myself, What can Donnie do about it, anyhow? I have to admit there was a little part of me that absolutely loved the fact that Drew was buying beer to go with dinner. I couldn’t help it. Donnie had been kind of a jerk about it, and he hadn’t needed to be so rude. I hoped Drew had noticed it and that that was the main reason he was doing it. Once we’d picked out the beer, we made our way back to the front of the store and met up with Donnie.
“I see you got your way,” Donnie said when he saw the beer in Drew’s hand.
“My contribution to dinner,” Drew said matter–of–factly. “She didn’t ask.”
Donnie said no more about it, and we went through the line and out to the parking lot. Suddenly I remembered the red light there that gave me absolute fits. I asked if we might take a look at it, and Drew agreed with no hesitation. We worked the light a couple of times, and then Drew told me he didn’t like the driveways that ran in and out of the businesses along the way to the store. He explained that people came in and out of those so quickly that he worried that Campbell would not have enough time to react should he need to stop me.
He said, “I really wish you wouldn’t walk through there without someone with you.”
I have to say that I’ve had to disobey his wishes on several occasions since then. But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. I’m always careful, but I can just hear Drew’s reaction, should I get creamed by a car going through there one of these days. He’s standing over my hospital bed and saying, “Damn it, young lady, I told you not to do that!” Then again the way things have gone since, he might be relieved if I were wiped out.
Soon we were back home and starting dinner. As the evening got underway, Drew brought me a beer. I sat down in my recliner with Campbel lying at my feet. Rocky was running around, and he took to Drew right away. I loved it when Donnie told Drew he couldn’t get Rocky to sit for more than 30 seconds, and then Drew went over and had Rocky sit. Next, he held up his hand and said, “Rest!” in a soft but firm voice. Donnie said that as Drew stood there, holding up his hand, Rocky sat perfectly still, looking up at him, waiting to see what he’d do next. He didn’t move so much as the tip of his tail. Again, there was this little part of me that was enjoying watching Drew have things go his way. I was not ashamed of it—and come to think of it, I’m still not.
Before I knew it, Donnie was telling me that dinner would be ready soon and sending me to the dining room to clear the junk off his table. As I started to work at that, Drew walked over to help. When we were done, Donnie began to bring the food in. Drew got me a second beer, and we all sat down to eat. Soon we were deep in conversation. Drew was telling Donnie his version of my time in class. Well, I guess most of it matched mine. You know, that’s the funny thing about people and their perceptions. We all see things and events just a bit differently, and at times our minds can be manipulated to believe things not in existence. It wasn’t that I lied about anything or that Drew did; it was just that each of us had perceived things a little differently from the other.
Soon dinner was over, and we were clearing the dishes and putting them in the sink to soak. As I started to put my hands in the water, Donnie called back over his shoulder as he started toward the living room, “Let those wait; come and visit.” I dried my hands and followed the two of them to the living room, where we sat around talking and watching TV. As we talked, the conversation somehow got back around to training.
Donnie said, “Sometimes I think Patty makes entirely too much out of what she experienced up there. I mean, it couldn’t have been as hard as all that. She just goes on and on about it.”
Suddenly Drew was on his feet, and again, there was a part of me that was enjoying this a bit too much. I knew all too well what Drew’s having gotten on his feet meant. It meant that he had something to say, and he was going to be heard. I sat back, finishing my second beer, and let Drew talk.
He started by saying, “Well, I will admit that she does have a bit of an imagination, but this time, I seriously doubt that she exaggerated a thing. Training can be quite difficult. We’ve got everyone up and outside by 5:30. That means that if you sleep till we make the call over the sound system to feed your dogs and bring them to the park area, you might or might not have time to even pee before you – 1. If you intend to have any time to yourself before that call, you’d best be up earlier. Then things get going from there.”
He continued, “Breakfast is at 7:00, and then the day begins. Normally, since Patty has low blood sugar, I had her out by 7:45, so her energy would stay high enough for the morning’s work. We would usually not return till about 10:00 or so. Then there was usually some sort of lecture or other activity in the morning. If not, then usually Patty took that time to groom Campbell or do laundry or clean her room, which I was always getting on her about.”
He kind of paused. As he paced past me, he reached out and squeezed one of my toes. I don’t think he realized how reassuring that small gesture was to me. Even though that little nasty part of me was enjoying him collect Donnie’s ass, I knew without a doubt what Donnie’s pay back for all I was instigating would be like, yet still at that moment I simply did not care.
He continued, “Then we had lunch, and again, since she has low blood sugar, we would be back out and on our way again by 12:45. Sometimes we would be out until 3:00, and occasionally later. Once my retrain students went home, it was just her and one other student for me, and the two of them worked their asses off for me. So, no sir; I doubt she exaggerated a thing.”
Drew started toward the kitchen to throw his bottle away, and asked me if I wanted another beer. I told him yes. Donnie wasn’t drinking. Drew asked him if he wanted one. He declined, saying, “No, thanks”— not much more. Drew came back and placed the icy cold bottle in my hand. As I took a drink, I asked Drew what time it was. He told me it was a bit after 8:00, and I got up.
“Where are you going?” Donnie asked.
“To park Campbell.”
“I think he can wait a little while.”
“No, it’s his park time; you know how I am about his schedule.”
Suddenly I did not care what Donnie thought. It was stupidity in a bottle, I suppose, but I spoke up anyway and said, “You know, Donnie, I just don’t care what you think. Campbell is on a schedule, and I happen to want to keep it that way. Drew, don’t you think routine and consistency are important to a dog’s world?”
“Oh, here we go,” Donnie said. “Little dog training expert’s gonna talk.”
He tried to make it sound as though he was teasing me, but I knew he meant it. At the moment, I didn’t care. Maybe it was the beer; maybe it was Drew’s being there; maybe, as I said, it was just stupidity. But I was sick of him.
Drew spoke up then. “Yes,” he said, “as a matter of fact, I do think that routine and consistency are important, and not just for guide dogs.” I took that moment to reach for my dog’s leash.
I left them and went outside. I was glad for the fresh, cool air, and I walked around in the yard for a few minutes to clear my head. I’d brought my cigarettes with me. Now I took one from the pack and lit it, breathing deeply and letting the smoke out very, very slowly. I walked around till the cigarette was gone, just letting Campbell sniff and snuff around in the yard. When I returned, the conversation had changed to something on TV. I had no idea how the rest of it had gone, and I really didn’t care about that, either.
“Everything come out all right out there?” Drew laughed.
“Yes, it sure did.”
We talked for a while longer, and then Drew’s phone rang. He hit ignore on it, and Donnie told him he could step into the bedroom in the back if he wanted privacy to talk. But Drew said, “It’s getting late. I probably ought to get going. Early day tomorrow. I’ll be here by 7:30, Patty, so don’t stay up late tonight. We still need to go over that drugstore route you wanted me to look at, okay?”
I got up and walked Drew out.
As we stood on the porch, for one crazy moment, I wanted to grab Campbell, run and jump in the car, and beg Drew to take me with him. Suddenly I didn’t want to walk back into that house alone. I knew already what was in store for me, and doubted very seriously I could stop it now. However, I knew I couldn’t just go upstairs to my apartment; I had to wash the dishes. But I absolutely wanted to be away from there. The moment passed as quickly as it had come, but once again, Drew did not miss the look that had obviously crossed my face when the thought of escape had crossed my mind.
“Yes, just feeling the beer, I suppose.”
“Well, if it’s going to upset you like that, we won’t have you drink any more of it.”
I smiled at him. “I’m okay; don’t worry.”
He wished me goodnight, and then he was gone.
As I stepped back inside, Donnie stepped from behind the curtain. He had been watching us, and hiding to do so. Before I could speak, he said, “Do you have this out of your system, now?”
“What?” My head was starting to spin from exhaustion and the beer. “Donnie, what are you talking about?”
“Well, all you’ve done is talk about going to get Campbell and what it was like and all about Drew. So I just want to know if now that he’s been here and you’ve shown yourself off at home to him, do you now have this out of your system?”
He turned and started to the kitchen, and suddenly, I was simply pissed. I stalked in and demanded, “What the fuck is your problem? Drew didn’t do a damned thing to cause you to be acting this way, and quite frankly, neither did I, so what the fuck?”
Donnie suddenly grabbed me. “What are you gonna do? Fuck him?!!!” I shrank back. “See? I knew it! You fucking little whore!” He slapped me! He grabbed my left arm and twisted it up behind my back saying. “I’ll break it or worse. I’ll fix it so you never work a dog again.” I was terrified. “What do you want? Tell me I’ll give it to you.” I begged, “Please? He bent it further back. “I want you to go upstairs and call that bastard and tell him not to come back. You tell him you’re done, you don’t need him anymore. Tell him you’ve an emergency at work. I don’t give a fuck but he’d better not come back here. I’m tired of it. You’re so called friend Mike is always teasing me about how you’re a bad girl, I’ll whip your ass till you’re bloody if you don’t get rid of him!” I tried to pull free, but he held me tight. “Say it. You’ll go upstairs and call him. Say Yes sir!” I refused, and he had continued until I had nearly passed out from the pain.
It wasn’t until I was able to catch a breath and say, “And if I do that, he’ll just come to my office. If I start trying to get rid of him he’ll wonder what’s wrong. Drew will ask questions. He could make trouble for you. Donnie, you’re already under investigation for child sexual abuse. If Drew even suspects that you’re hurting me he’ll ask me about it. You don’t need that on top of everything else. Please Donnie stop? Please? Honestly, you’re going to break the arm.”
That he even began to show signs of stopping.
I know one thing for sure. If Drew had forgotten something and had come back to the house, he’d have learned all my secrets, and to this day, I don’t know what might have happened if he had. I am very glad he did not return that night, because I wouldn’t have wanted him to walk in on that. It was a horribly violent argument, and it didn’t end very well, either.
Finally I had the kitchen cleaned up and was on my way to my part of the house with Campbell. As usual, Donnie was apologizing and crying, and as usual, I was telling him it was okay, that I understood he was under an awful lot of stress—the whole thing. But there was a part of me that wanted to run upstairs to my place, call Drew’s cell, and beg him to come back, to come and get me. I wanted him to know everything, and I wanted him to get me the hell out of there. In the end, of course, I did not. In the end, I went upstairs and picked out a different sweater formthe next day, then settled Campbell and myself into bed for the night.
### That ladies and gentlemen is the ‘Raw Truth’ of what happened that long ago October evening after Drew Gibbon was here in our home. That horrifying event was the beginning of a very long and horrible cycle of abuse kneaded out by Donnie on a regular bases until he went to prison in March of 2013.
From October of 2011 to March of 2013 He abused me on a regular bases and because Drew and I chose to remain in touch and he knew of it he constantly accused me of having inappropriate feelings for him, and beat me while doing so.
This caused me to go into a different type of bipolar episode than ever before. I began at times to disassociate and at some point my contact with Drew changed from completely innocent and with no more meaning than a friendly relationship to OCD texting and emailing on an abnormal bases until it got so bad that Drew had no choice but to cut off all communication with me. The only question I have ever had that still to this day remains a mystery to me is why Drew never asked me about the change in my behavior. I really have no idea how long it went on. I only know that one day I received a reply to an email which read, “You’re wasting your time. I no longer read these.”
The most horrible thing about that? It was the email that would have explained it all. I’d finally come to the realization that Donnie was guilty, and I wanted to tell him everything, but to my knowledge he never saw it, and although I’ve tried on more than one occasion to speak to him, I have been denied.
I do not know, and may never know what he thinks about it all, and have been told to never, under any circumstances try to reach him again.
Now, even though I know the writing of this could cause me much trouble I have chosen to do so.
It is my absolute deepest wish that he somehow be shown this writing and that he know I am working the hardest I ever did in my entire life to be as well as is possible and to never make such mistakes with another again, and to be the very very best guide dog handler I can be just as he taught me to be.
On that long ago day when we talked on the phone before he came here and he told me “Honey you could never be a disappointment to me.” I know he meant it, but now, I know I am to him the biggest disappointment of his entire career, and it absolutely haunts my entire existence in ways I am still not recovered from.
I began a ‘Journey To Be Well’ last year, and have gotten pretty far with it. You can read about that by reading, ‘The Truth Really Is Raw’ posted here on this blog.
For now, this ends my tale.
I am going back to happier things.
My work on Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life was for a time lost. My intent when writing it had been to raise awareness of blindness, mental illness, and other disabilities, and to raise funding for The Seeing Eye. I hope someday to be successful with that and have started the Bubba Tails series in the hopes of dispelling some of the darkness, raise the Vibe, and hopefully raise some money for a school that helped to save my life. Without Campbell to pull me through those dark and frightening time I would have surely died.
Thank you for reading, and until next time this is Patty and Campbell saying, “May harmony find you, and Blessid Be.”