Explore is a philanthropic media organization

Cari and Dodger on a recent trip to Disneyland

Her Dog is a Guiding Light

Your stories of finding strength through your companionship with dogs have been truly inspiring. Today we’re featuring Cari and her dog Dodger. This is their story in her own words.

“Being blind or visually impaired can be debilitating for those of us who struggle on a daily basis. Being blind means we are not able to navigate the world as a sighted person would. We rely on others to alert us of obstacles in our path, tell us that there is a curb and to stop, and help us across busy streets. They drive us to appointments and they take us shopping. Now, imagine doing all of these things on your own independently as a blind person. This can be scary at first, but with the assistance of a Guide Dog these things are all possible.

Meet Dodger, my Guide Dog. Dodger was raised for 18 months by a volunteer puppy raiser and trained for another six months at Guide Dogs Of America in Sylmar, CA. After those six months we were matched as a team. Training with a guide dog takes 28 days and you live on campus with your dog and learn how to use him or her. The end result is a partnership like the one Dodger and I share. Dodger helps me to safely navigate around the obstacles in this world. He helps me to ride the bus independently and take a train independently and fly on an airplane independently. He helps me to safely cross busy streets as if I were sighted. He offers constant companionship and unconditional love. Since being paired with Dodger, the world is a much safer place for me. I no longer rely on people to tell me that there is a set of stairs coming or that there is a curb I am going to fall off. Dodger does it for me. When I go to cross the street, if it’s not safe you bet Dodger is going to let me know. He guides me safely through the train station and ensures that I will not walk too close to the edge and fall off into the tracks below. Dodger is my eyes, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I hope you can see what a special dog Dodger is to me, and what a difference a guide dog makes in the life of a visually impaired person.”

Thank you for sharing, Cari! Has your dog helped pull you through an illness or a difficult time? Email your stories to dogblessyou@explore.org – we will feature them here and send out special gifts to you and your best friend.