Some people have dogs as pets, but for some of us dogs provide so much more! Hopefully through these two experiences with service dogs, readers can learn just how important dogs can be in someone's life.
There is no stronger bond of admiration and influence than the one a little sister holds for a big brother. Growing up, I wanted to do everything like my three older brothers. I even persisted in the pursuit of teaching myself how to pee standing up, much to my mother's dismay.
When Brad was in an accident in Kandahar, Afghanistan, it affected me intensely.
We got that phone call telling us Brad had been hurt by an IED explosion, but they couldn’t give us too much information. We didn’t know how bad it was, if he had all of his limbs, if he’d be able to speak or walk. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to trade places with him.
Fortunately, blindness is the extent of the long term effects Brad’s injury. While he had to relearn how to do everything from putting toothpaste on a toothbrush to walking, I had to relearn how to trust the world around him. This world had stripped something from him that I had always taken for granted. Now, everything in it seemed so dangerous, I was petrified of every tree branch that he might walk into, every cupboard door that might be left open, and every careless driver that doesn't use caution around pedestrians.
When we talked about Brad getting a guide dog, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of an animal navigating Brad around this dangerous world that I didn't trust. However, after meeting Gizzy and watching how well they work together, I found it was much easier to trust her than I anticipated. Not only is Brad safe in her paws, he has freedom- he doesn't have to ask for help if he wants to venture out on his own.
As a younger sister, it takes a while for me to give the stamp of approval to any women in my brother's lives. Gizzy, however, was a member of our family the moment Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation decided she was a good match for Brad.
As a full-time college student, I get anxiety and stress from events such as finals week, and that’s exactly what happened this past week. On the first official day of finals, I had obtained very little sleep the night before, and I had gotten very nervous for one of my exams. It was one of those tests that really could make or break receiving either one letter or the other for my final grade.
Now before I go further, my former experiences have been very positive with dogs. I find that petting or playing with them have really eased any anxiety I have tremendously because I have anxiety. With that in mind, there was a dog that was brought to our school’s library on the first day of finals. This dog was so sweet, and he was also a registered therapy dog. After I had finished my finals for the day, I could go find him, and I loved every moment!
It was so calming to end my school day with a little love. I went to go see the dog, and the owner was very sweet to all the students. She didn’t mind telling us about her dog and talking to us about anything. It was a very joyous experience to just chat for a couple of minutes while giving the puppy a good scratch and stroke. The dog even seemed to be so kind and respectful to all of us as well! I will never forget my experience with a service dog, and I hope that everyone learns the importance of service animals for their owners.