My Guide Dog was forced to retire after being hit by a cyclist. I have been without a guide dog since June 28, 2018 and it has been a challenge for me. I was a cane user for a long time I remember getting my first white cane in High School and hating it and thinking about getting a guide dog and then decided not too. When I lost all of my vision there was no way I could be as independent as I wanted with a white cane, it did not suit my life and how I wanted to live.
I made the decision to get a guide dog in 2013 and was matched with my amazing first guide Rick in September 2014. This was a life changing thing for me and I was really able to live the life that I wanted despite doing it totally blind.
The last 4 months have been hard I found myself avoiding places because of anxiety and just not feeling confident enough to go alone. I was too proud to ask for someone to go with me so I would just not go, I have worked hard and gained some of my confidence back and have done things that I never thought I would do with a cane and it has not held me back but it has reminded me that there is a part of me missing.
I am happy (more like over the moon) and excited to let everyone know that I am getting a new guide dog!! I have been so extremely lucky to have been chosen to be a part of the CNIB Guide Dog program. I will be heading into class in the near future. This time has been a very exciting one but it has also been a time of emotions I was not expecting.
When I went to get Rick there was a lot of emotions like fear, anxiousness, happiness, and so many other things. I thought when I went to get my second guide I would not feel those same feelings to the same extent but I have been taken back by all those feelings coming back.
I have been feeling scared and overwhelmed with the thought of trusting a new guide dog with my life. I think after the incident that happened with Rick my first guide dog it has actually made that worse because I am terrified to be in that position again. But I also know that there is a part of me missing and that part is a harness in my hand and a guide dog by my side.
I have also felt guilty for getting a new guide dog, almost like I am cheating on Rick. I feel guilty for moving on and heading into a class without him. I always knew that Rick was going to have to retire at some point, I never thought it would be so early and I was heart broken. I don’t think there are any words to describe the bond that I had with Rick and still to this day do. I find myself with tears in my eyes just thinking about him, knowing he is not with me anymore. The only saving grace for me is that he is loved by his family just as much as I love him. They handed the leash over to me 4 years ago and I have handed it back to them because they are an amazing family and his forever home. He will always hold a special place in my heart and life.
My personal choice is to have a guide dog; that is when I feel like I am the most confident and unstoppable. I love the feeling of flying down the sidewalk with my adorable doggie wagging his tail on a mission to where ever we want to go, no questions asked.
I will be documenting my journey and how it all plays out, stay tuned for an update on my new guide dog and my training process. As well as the name and picture of the amazing guide I will be matched with.
Until Next Time,
Ashley and future guide dog