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Morgan Watkins, board member, pictured with his Guide Dog.The beautiful red Golden Retriever, asleep at my feet, earned his retirement. His face, paws, and the tip of his tail are white with age. For nine years, this gentle beast, this loving creature, kept me safe and gave me freedom. I've been through the mountains with this dog, through snow and ice and hot Texas summers. Fantom, my dear Guide Dog, has unselfishly shared his life with me.

I learned that I would lose my vision at the age of 11, and hung up my car keys in 1978. I've been able to enjoy walking with ease and confidence again—thanks to my wonderful guide Fantom. From the first moment we met, he captured my heart and we've been best friends ever since. Having a Guide Dog is about so much more than mobility.

And having a dog from Guide Dogs meant that I would have access to support services throughout our lives together. So when the time came to let my dear friend Fantom retire, I knew I would be in good hands. As I now listen to Fantom's contented snores, music to my soul, I know that he is enjoying his golden years after a lifetime of loyal service.

Giving up Fantom as my guide did not mean losing my new vision, because Guide Dogs for the Blind would help me forge a partnership with another very special dog. And so, on a day that will be etched forever in my memory, I received a bouncing, happy, and very bright Golden Retriever named Will. When we were first introduced, this dear pup, calm and gentle by nature, let his own excitement show. I sat on the floor and he threw himself into my lap, lavishing me with instant affection. I put Will into his new harness and we took off. He was so smooth, so careful, so attentive. The greatest hymns, sung in the largest cathedrals, only approximate the music felt within when we began to fly.

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