When I was looking into getting a guide dog, I wanted to know more about how guide dog handling from a college student’s perspective. A mutual friend introduced me to a really sweet friend. She got her guide December 2012 when I got mine in March 2013. Unfortunately, she started having several issues like the dog would just deadset stop and refused to me, frequently on every route. In any new situation, the dog would get super super distracted and pretty much stop guiding, the dog would take off a few times to go see things, etc. A guide dog instructor came out and told her she had to retire her guide early. At guide dog school we were told if anything happened during the first year, the puppy raiser had first dibs over keeping the dog because they technically had the dog longer. Luckily she made it to a year and the dog is going to go live with her family. She didn’t like having to use a cane again so was hoping to get into guide dog school over break. Luckily, everything moved really fast for her and they found what they thought was a good match and she’s in training right now.
This story had a relatively good ending but it’s still heartbreaking from her to be apart from her first guide. There is something about the bond between a guide dog and their handler that is indescribable.. but the bond with your first guide dog is something really special.
Of course, when Makiko and I have little hurdles this is a huge worry even though deep down I know that she is an excellent guide and we work really well together. I can’t even imagine having to retire her early.. nor do I want to.. nor will I have to. 🙂