Your Impatience Cost Me My INDEPENDENCE

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.

Sincerely,

A lost woman and her retired guide dog.

22 thoughts on “Your Impatience Cost Me My INDEPENDENCE

  1. Oh, my, Sandy and I are so truly sorry. I feel like crying, too, knowing how this must feel. I feel badly for Rick, as well. His confidence shaken and taken from his family. I’d best fall silent before I say much more. 😢

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  2. Gini Lamb

    This just made me cry. SO much work, emotion, and love invested-just gone in a flash. I am so terribly sorry this happened to you and RIck. Such thoughtless and insensitive people in our world today.

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  3. I just read your story. You really have to get another Guide Dog. Seriously. You must not give up. I am on my third Newfoundland Medical Alert Service Dog whose name is HunterHill Whispering Sands (SANDY for short) and she is a Brownie with silver facial masking and hennas throughout her coat. I have CMD, DDD and MD and she handles my mobility and vision loss like a pro. I don’t know what I would do without her by my side. Our hearts go out to you, but please do get another Guide Dog as soon as you can. They are our mentors, our best buds and our LIFE. Val Frost and SANDY in Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lisa ...Indian Head

    Awe so sorry for your loss of Rick! I feel for you & your family….it’s sad that someone just couldn’t be patient & wait…..just a question? Can you not keep him for a pet rather than a service dog?

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    1. Hi Lisa,
      We had the option to keep him, but I travel a lot for work and there is no one home for a good chunk of the day. I will also be getting another guide at some point so we do not have the space to have 2 big dogs in the house. He went back to live with the people who raised him as a puppy so he will be very happy.

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      1. Hi Lisa – Great news that he’s back with folks he knows. He gets a well-deserved “happy ending” after such a disturbing experience. ALSO, please let SANDY and I know when you get your new Guide Dog with pictures. Val and SANDY (Val Frost on Facebook (Ottawa)

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  5. Pingback: Your Impatience Cost Me My INDEPENDENCE | myliferunningblog

  6. Lynne Nicholson UK

    Oh my heart goes out to you.
    My pet dog helped my transition from shortsighted to visually impaired because my immune system can’t tell the difference between me and germs. Without her the first six months after diagnosis would have been much more difficult. Unfortunately she crossed the rainbow bridge and for the next three months I went out only when absolutely necessary then I finally got my cane training. The next nine months I gradually gained confidence that got several knocks as I met the odd asshat that thought jumping a red light and chicaning around the cars that had stopped (why yes a cyclist how did you guess?) and “whooshing” behind me making me feel panicked, or blurs I saw coming towards me so I’d stop as I couldn’t work out a way round them that asked angrily (looking up from their phones) “Are you blind?” The reply I gave holding my cane up “Yes I am. Sorry I did not realise you were” finally around 4 months ago I went out for a “pleasure” walk (no destination, no appointment) I haven’t looked back…. I still absolutely miss my pet dog Tippy but I finally feel like I can do this. I was only diagnosed 21 months ago, only been using a cane for a year. I hope you will eventually get another guide dog but you will never forget Rick.

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  7. Melanie Roth

    I am so sorry that this happened to you. Rick was an amazing dog and you are amazing for what you do. I hope he can be rid of his fears.

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  8. Susan L'Hommedieu

    I am so so sorry this happened to you. I’m a puppy raiser for guide dogs. I know how much training and time and love and bonding is involved. My heart goes out to you, your family and to Rick.

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  9. Karen Horsman

    Ashley I am so sorry about what happened to your dear guide dog Rick. I remember meeting him at church and thinking what a sweetheart he was. Wishing you well as you go on without him.

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  10. Cody Hutchinson

    Very sorry about Rick! Hard to believe such strong dogs can lose their confidence, but I have also seen it after being around dogs virtually my whole life. When I see a service dog I always give them a wide berth and the guy on the bike should have known better! I am also hoping to get one for my PTSD, they are such wonderful companions and very hard working! I am sorry poor Rick had to retire and sorry your family went through such a rough time as well.

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  11. Von Rugg

    I raise puppies for an East coast Guide dog school. I know the enormous preparation guide dogs receive, and the tremendous responsibility they carry in order to do their jobs well. Praying you will one day soon, again know the freedom of working with another guide and thank you for sharing your experience. We all need to stop rushing, be aware of others and have compassion for each other.

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  12. eagander

    So sorry for your profound loss! I can’t believe that ass didn’t at least stop and see if Rick was okay. I hope you’re able to get a new dog and regain your independence (though, of course, there is no replacing Rick in your heart).

    Like

  13. Bari Schlesinger

    I am so very sorry for youare having to endure someone else stupidity. I have a service dog, and I know how dependent I would be with out him. Sending you hugs from me and my sweet boy!

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  14. Aliza

    So sorry you had to lose your beloved friend who gave you your independence. It must have been terrifying for Rick to realize he couldn’t protect you. No wonder he was traumatized. So glad you are both ok physically, and he is back with his first family. I hope you have another wonderful guide dog in your life soon.

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  15. there is a bicycle advocacy group that want to push for cyclists to ride on the footpath. thie enraged many including visionaustralia because it puts not just people who are blind at risk of being run down by cyclists but also puts people at risk who are wheeling prams or the elderly. \It’s not just people who use guide dogs who could be at risk of their independence being compromised but cane users too. somebody could easily run over and snap the end of a cane or trip over it and break the cane in half which is why I always stress to make sure I have a spair cane in reserve for emergencies but people don’t always understand what benefits service dogs have in people’s lives regardless of whether it’s a guide dog or other service dog.

    Liked by 1 person

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