To the biker who hit my guide dog;
That faithful day when I took my daughter to go shopping after a big move to the city, and we decided to go for a treat at Starbucks. Little did we know that your impatience was going to cost us so much.
I am blind and have a guide dog, Rick was his name. He was amazing, sensitive, and great at what he did. He kept me safe and made it possible to move my family to the city, maintain my employment and feel confident enough to take my daughter to the mall and feel like I was being the parent and keeping her safe. You see when someone is blind they are capable of anything but in order to do that there are tools that we need in place to be successful. My guide dog was that for me. He turned my world around, opened doors that I never thought possible, and gave me the ability to live the most independent life I had ever wanted.
As I rounded the corner and said “Starbucks”, Rick confidently started on our path to our favourite coffee place. My daughter and I were chatting about what she was going to get and the great purchases we had just made. Then in an instant my world came crashing down……….
A man on a bike came behind Rick I didn’t know he was there and all of a sudden Rick jumped and yelped. He had been hit in the side as you tried to go between my guide dog and wall on the sidewalk, then as my dog tried to get me and him out of the way you ran over his front paw. “Sorry” is all you said as you kept on going.
My guide dog Rick would not work after this, I called a friend to come and pick me and my daughter up and go get Rick checked out.
Over the next 2 months I worked for hours with Rick trying to get his confidence back, wanting so badly for us to be able to work through this tragedy. The school he is from came out from California twice to help me work with Rick.
On Tuesday June 26th I hung up my amazing guides harness for the very last time. He left to head back to California on Thursday June 28th. My children and husband and were crying he was like family, he was more than a pet to even them. My world was torn down, as those four paws walked out of my front door for the last time, i felt like I could not breathe. My independence went out the door with him.
I have not had to rely on a white cane alone since I lost all my vision completely. I had Rick by my side making sure that we were going to get where we wanted to go safely. He made me feel like the world was not that scary when you couldn’t see it. Now I am trying to gain that same confidence with my white cane.
But the truth is, I need to rely more on my children and husband to help me out. It is harder to do things like go shopping, take the bus, get to work, travel for work, and just live my life the way I want to. It is harder because Rick is no longer by my side because you couldn’t wait 5 minutes for us to be out of your way.
The reality is that, service dogs are not just dogs they are a life line for so many. The chances of them having to retire if they have an accident, are attacked by another dog, or have a close call with traffic is likely. No one wants to talk about it but it is true, I am living it right now. Give service dogs their space, don’t take away someone’s independence for your impatience.
A lost woman and her retired guide dog.