I've dreamed of having a Guide Dog ever since I was 8 years old. I always longed to be just like other kids: I wanted to travel independently.
I used a cane as my primary navigation aid for my first three years in high school. My cane brought me to my weekly radio show, to meetings with administrative committees, and to events that I covered in our high school's yearbook. Even though I'm a confident cane traveler, a high school of over 4,500 students presented challenges of traffic in the hallways. My cane would help me discover where people were in the halls, but at the expense of those people tripping or being hit with my cane.
Senior year, my Guide Dog Phoenix made my dream of confident, independent travel a reality. We go everywhere together. Now I can concentrate on the big picture when traveling. I'm not concerning myself with every hole or obstacle in the sidewalk. Instead, I can focus on my destination or enjoy the Chicago summer.
I did a lot of research before I chose this school, and I haven't been disappointed. I came away from my training at Guide Dogs for the Blind amazed by the dedication of the staff and volunteers. They worked so hard to make Phoenix and me a working team. When I walk with Phoenix, I put my full trust in him to do his job which he does well. He keeps me safe and secure. It's now more fun to go where I want with even more confidence. Now, for example, I can walk at my usual walking pace at night. With a cane, I still traveled at night, but I didn't feel as confident as I did during the day. Now, confidence comes naturally walking with Phoenix.
Traveling with Phoenix is everything I ever thought it would be. I'm no longer finding obstacles. As far as we're concerned, there are no obstacles! But Phoenix is more than just a mobility dog. He's my best friend. We depend on each other. Plus, a cute dog provides a great starting point for conversation!
Now, I have the freedom to fulfill my next dream. I'm pursuing a degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University in Washington, DC.