TESTIMONY BY ED & GUIDE DOG ANNIE
I have been blind since birth. I was born 6 weeks prematurely and put into an incubator with oxygen-rich air which impacted my optic nerves. My mother never accepted my blindness as an excuse, and I learned to survive in a sighted world. I only received long cane training in 2015, and it took another 2 years before I put my name on the wait list for a Guide Dog.
I arrived from Prince Rupert and met Annie. The first week-and-a-half of training took place in the Lower Mainland and it was hard. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But, Nick Toni was an extremely knowledgeable instructor and was very thorough. After Annie and I flew back to Prince Rupert, Nick flew up and finished our training.
Annie has given me more freedom than I have ever experienced. I have explored more of my hometown in the past 2 months than in the previous two years! I used to walk around using my long cane and felt that people didn’t want to talk to me. Now that Annie is taking me places, people are coming up to talk to me and to meet Annie. She is a great conversation starter.
Annie is an amazing dog. She has learned my routes extremely well and her memory is incredible. When we travel, she remembers which hotel room is ours, and takes me directly to my room after only going there once or twice. This wonderful dog has gotten me from my house to the local hospital in icy conditions!
I can’t believe the difference that Annie has made in my life – I wish I had applied for a Guide Dog years ago. I can’t thank BC & Alberta Guide Dogs enough for this opportunity and the training Annie went through before me, and the training we had together. Annie has given me a new ‘leash’ on life.