“I would not wish any companion in the world but you.” William Shakespeare’s quote from The Tempest about love and companionship is the perfect description of K9 Buddy, Shakespeare.
In November 2022, GDB’s K9 Buddy Program expanded beyond kids and teens to include adults who may benefit from the companionship and increased confidence of having a GDB K9 Buddy by their side. This program matches specially selected dogs, who were not suited to become guide dogs, as wonderful pets and buddies to people who are blind or visually impaired across the United States
At 81 years of age, Paul Robertson is a recent recipient of a K9 Buddy. Paul beams when he talks about his beloved Shakespeare, and how he couldn’t imagine life without his black Lab that has already changed his life.
Born with congenital cataracts, Paul spent his first two years of formal education at a school for the blind in Vancouver, Washington. However, by the time he turned 6 years old, there was a new procedure available that removed cataracts, allowing him to see well enough to attend public school.
Paul’s resilience and hard-working attitude have enabled him to live an active, productive life. When Paul’s sight began to decline several years ago, he reached out to Guide Dogs for the Blind. After a consultation, GDB encouraged Paul to apply for a K9 Buddy. GDB matched him with Shakespeare and the two have been inseparable since.
“It’s like having a friend. In the two months that we’ve had him, I’ve become very attached to him and he to me.” With their daily walks, Shakespeare keeps Paul motivated and active, increasing his confidence. Paul also joins Shakespeare in a daily downward dog exercise, helping them both stay flexible.
Now, Shakespeare is a part of the family and frequently makes his appearance at Paul’s local church, where Paul teaches. The church leadership has been very welcoming and has allowed Shakespeare to accompany Paul during classes and services (K9 Buddy dogs are not service animals covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act or other laws). Whenever Shakespeare is not around, the people in Paul’s class miss him. “He is extremely good with people. He has a very sweet and friendly personality that everyone really loves.”
Paul encourages others who have a visual impairment to find out and learn more about the program. “Guide Dogs for the Blind is doing a wonderful service,” said Paul. “I’m sure the K9 Buddy Program would bring pure joy into many other people’s lives.”