Monday, January 31, 2011

Bristol's Bad Day

It is days like today that helps to remind me that retiring Bristol is the right thing for both of us. He has had a really bad day in which he has barely been able to be a guide dog for me. Instead of relying on Bristol to get me back to the dorm safely after a class today, I had to rely on someone else. I did not feel comfortable enough allowing Bristol to do it alone. I needed the added security of another person.

Usually my lack of trust in Bristol is not this bad. But on these rare days when he can not seem to focus at all, it is better to ask others for help. Forcing him to work while he is having such a bad day can be more harmful than good. All it does is add unnecessary stress to him which does not help either one of us. If anything, it put’s us both in danger. Our day did not end here. A few hours after this occurred, I walked over to the campus cafeteria to get something to eat. Bristol had other plans for us. He took a few detours while going there and on our way back to the dorm. Even though I was alone with him, I never felt unsafe. It was just a frustrating situation for me because I could not get him to take the path that we usually take. We did make it to the cafeteria and back to the dorm, but it took a lot of patience on my part.

Being stressed is one reason why Bristol is retiring in May. Another reason is that he is becoming more skittish around some things, living and nonliving, that use to not phase him at all. His severe thunderstorm fear is another factor in the decision to retire him. At times, his fear is so strong that he can not do his job of being a guide dog for me. All he wants to do is either climb in my lap or hide under the bed.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Journeying through life

In the last few weeks, I have been encouraged to tell my story. I am totally blind and am in college. In this blog, I hope to tell how I got to this point in my life. It has not been an easy journey so far, but those hardships have shaped the person I am today. I am looking forward to the future and will also be sharing that in this blog.

I am now in an exciting time in my life. I have overcome a lot to get to where I am at now. In the next few months a big change will occur in my life. I have a guide dog named Bristol. He has been my faithful companion for nearly five years. It is time to retire him and to start a new and exciting journey with a new one. I am looking forward to getting the new one, but at the same time I am dreading the day I have to walk away from Bristol. I feel like I'm in some way betraying Bristol's trust by retiring him and replacing him with another dog that will be with me constantly. At first, Bristol will struggle with the presence of the new dog. I am not looking forward to that part. Even though Bristol will be spending the rest of his life with my parents who adore him, it will not be the same for him. For me,no dog will ever take over the spot in my heart that I have for him. He was my first guide dog. Bristol gave me the greatest gift of independence. Through Bristol, I have discovered that there are many things that I can do that I thought was out of my reach. I am able to walk independently without holding on to another person. My next dog will be a continuation of that freedom, but it was Bristol who first showed me that it is possible to live independently.