When I prepared to go off to college I had no idea that I would be using a dog instead of the white cane I had used all of my life. On June 30th, 2002, I set off to Boring, OR for guide dog training. On July 3rd I received my guide and best friend — a 62 pound yellow Labrador named Ruthie. Independence Day that year began my world of seeing the world through my guide's eyes. It took me a bit longer to bond with her than it did for my classmates to bond with their dogs; however, it didn't take Ruthie any time to bond with me. She trotted right up to me and gave me a sweet gentle kiss on the cheek as if to say, here I am, ready to work and to be a friend.
Ruthie has had some health problems in the four and a half years I've had her, but we keep making it through. She's the sweetest dog I've ever met and boy, does she ever have a personality of her own. She had stopped lectures many times with her groan at the most opportune moments. Ruthie can be quite stubborn at times, but she steps up when needed. She has been such a good guide during my undergraduate years and now that I'm almost done, we have both made life-long friends in social work. She will be walking at graduation along side me — she earned it. People know Ruthie's name. She has traveled to many destinations with me, one of which was a plane ride from Washington State to Washington D.C. Four days later, we took Amtrak from D.C. to New York. Coming home the last day was so difficult. We had been up and traveling for a total of about 22 hours, yet she did amazing.
Ruthie has also made the local newspaper. My boss and I were at a coffee shop one morning and were asked to be interviewed and photographed for a new coffee shop in town. We were very excited about it; the next day we grabbed a copy of the newspaper to see that Ruthie had made the front page. To this day we laugh about it.
Thanks to my friends, fellow social workers, family, my veterinarian and Guide Dogs for all of your support. Thank you to my puppy raiser Heidi and her family, we love you very much and are truly sorry that we have lost touch with you. Thanks to Polly Dugan for being such a wonderful instructor and inspiration in my life.