I received Robin my German Shepard Seeing-Eye dog in July of 2009. It was a day that changed my life for the better. Robin and I didn’t bond at first. I remember I used to sit down on the floor beside her and she would crawl as far away from me as she could. I remember the third morning with her staying at the Seeing-Eye she woke me up and kept kissing my arms.
One of are walks I remember thinking to myself she’s veering off track, so I ignored her movement and ran in to a tree. That began my trusting in her. When you use a cane for 22 years of your life it’s hard to have nothing in your hand and trust the dog. That was the hardest thing for me to grasp was that the dog will avoid objects. With a cane I’d hit a trash cans, benches, parking meters, and other things, but the dog just takes you around them. The cane wasn’t horrible it was just a different way of traveling. I knew landmarks more with it with Robin I just zoom past.
I remember coming home from New Jersey for the first time with Robin. My home area where I spent tons of time was different. I was gliding down the sidewalk feeling more a part of the campus than I did with my cane. The first few times I felt lost because I couldn’t see the landmarks but I eventually got the hang of it. Robin was good for me, because she gave me responsibility. I stopped going in to a lot of bars, and we exercised a lot.
After I graduated I got a job with Apple. I was so excited I remember the interview process taking robin in I could follow the guide, and I still say this it was the closest to sighted I will ever feel. The freedom of being able to follow someone without holding an elbow was just amazing to me. The job with Apple didn’t work out I was going in for my first day, and they called me 2 miles from work saying that the software would not be accessible. It really broke my heart to feel like I had a job but then it was yanked away. Robin helped me stay focused when I was applying for more jobs she’d give me something to get up for. Depression really set in during my year off looking for jobs, but Robin kept me out in the community.
I remember my first trip with her we went to Denver for a job interview. I had all of my rides set up on the bus system, and a hotel about 3 miles from my job interview. People in Denver were real friendly and approachable which was not the case in Indiana. I walked from my hotel to a BBQ restaurant which someone told me was in the parking lot, but ended up being across the street. That is something to note whenever you ask someone for directions be sure to be precise. People will make things seem like it’s the easiest place to get to, but for this BBQ place I had to climb over a knee-high gate, and go through some sort of patio, but it was in the parking lot according to the hotel worker. It can be an adventure just trying to get places.
Now that Robin is nearing 8 years old I find myself being worried about what will happen as she gets older. She is such a big part of my life, and I can’t imagine not being able to see her anymore. My parents want me to give her to them, but they live 6 hours away, so I would never be able to see her. I work during the day so I don’t want to leave her in a cage all day. It stresses me out worrying about it, because she’s given me so much she deserves a good retirement. I just can’t see her so far away from me. I moved to Louisville about 3 years ago, and I knew no one. Every night when I’d come home it would just be Robin and I. I’m not saying she’s my best friend, but she’s never let me down or not been there, so it would be an adjustment.
I will get another dog, but with Robin being my first I know it will be hard. Every dog is different just like children, so it’s going to do things differently than Robin, so I will have to adjust. I still think she has about 3 years left, but I’m starting to think about it. I’ve thought about going back to a cane for a while and might I think it depends on the circumstances.
Robin and I kind of have a relationship in a way. It’s funny I’ll watch TV and she’ll go rest in my bedroom. At night she walks around a lot patrolling the house. When I lived in Indiana one night around Christmas someone tried breaking in to my house. Robin jumped up on my bed and scratched my shoulder with her pawl. I woke up and felt a cold breeze on my face. I slammed the window down and the guy jumped off and left. I think because I had no lights on or hadn’t they thought I was gone on break. I lost a sense of my security for a while. For honestly like the next year I’d wake up in the night thinking I heard something and nothing would be there. I’d call Robins name and she’d walk in and put her head on my bed. I eventually got over it, but it did take a while.
I got robbed in Louisville one night. The bus let me out at the wrong stop, and I was lost. I found a cross street that I knew with my IPhone and GPS and started to feel better. I started working towards my apartment and a few people came up from behind me and hit me with a pipe in the back of the head. I don’t remember much but when I woke up I had lost my IPhone and $40. A guy woke me up and called 911 for me. My first thought was what happened? My second thought was what happened to Robin? Her leash wasn’t in my hand, and for the first time in my life I panicked. I asked the guy if he had seen a dog around. he said yes she was about 5 feet from me. I called her and she came running to me. I rubbed her ribs and she cried a bit, so I’m pretty sure she was hurt. Thankfully the vet didn’t see anything wrong with her.
That story has really messed with my walking. I moved out of downtown, but still when I’m out I’m skittish. In December I was taking trash to the dumpster, and I didn’t hear a guy walk up from behind me, and he said hi and my response was to hit him. I don’t know what made me respond like that I guess it was not hearing him walk up.
In my first post I commented about how having a dog can be annoying, but the good out weighs the bad. While I don’t want to hear everyones dog stories especially when I’m just trying to get a gallon of milk, I do think it allows for some people who wouldn’t otherwise approach me to come up and start a conversation.