An Amazing Night At Guiding Eyes For the Blind

Last night Nash and I gave a speech at Guiding Eyes For the Blind. Yeah, I know, I always say this, but I did all the speaking. I just feel the need to include Nash as he is the real star. Like most Guiding Eyes graduates, I am so eternally grateful to them for giving me Nash and more of my independence back, that I like to give back as much as I can, and I have more time than money, so speaking about our experiences is the least I can do. Last night’s audience was the puppy raisers, and what an amazing group of people they are. I have become close with Nash’s puppy raisers, Lorraine and Richard, and several of the good folks that helped raise and puppy sat Nash. We were picked up by another great family of puppy raisers who live here in the city Ron and his daughter Audrey. It was great to speak with them on the ride up to GEB, and find out that they live so close to us. We are already planning a puppy play date between Nash and the puppy they are raising, Poppy. Should be nice, as the only play date Nash has ever had has been with my cousin Erica’s golden Brinkley.

We got up to Guiding Eyes, and Nash’s GEB trainer Susan came in to help me with a little retraining. I think it never hurts to have an expert trainer do a little retrain, especially since I have lost so much vision since Nash and I were originally introduced 17 months ago. We worked mainly on obedience commands, and working on getting Nash to sit more when I am talking to people, as we are in a lot of social atmosphere’s and I have gotten a little lax in letting Nash wander a bit. We also did a couple of runs on the obstacle course, and Susan thought we worked fantastically together. It wasn’t all work and no play, and GEB has a new puppy playground that they didn’t have when Nash and I were at the school. With Nash being a city dog, he doesn’t get to run around as much as I would like him to, so he got to unwind and run around the playground for a little. We threw a football to him, but Nash is not a big fetcher. In fact, Nash normally likes it for me to find the toys that he hides and get them for him for him to play with. I guess Nash has me trained well. HA!

Susan and I then had dinner, as they kept us speaking a secret for those who know Nash and me. In fact, Lorraine did not know that we would be speaking. The puppy raisers had their desert while blind folded to give them a little bit of an experience of what it is like for us. I know these dining in the dark things are real big now, and its the best they can do, but trust me, it doesn’t give you half the real experience, as you don’t have any of the psychological aspect, as you know eventually it is going to be over, but like I said, I guess something is better than nothing.

They showed the puppy raisers some videos which unfortunately we missed, and I know I was interviewed in one of them so hopefully I will eventrually see it. Then they had some speakers, and we made our way down towards alumni hall, as it was getting close for us to speak. The surprose was ruined, as Lorraine saw us in the hallway, but I guess it was a nice surprise. We then took the podium, and gave our speech. It was very well received, as I went into the details of my story, and some humorous experiences the Nashster and I have had. After speaking, Susan was so kind to give Nash a bath.

Then the emotional time came, as GEB put on an amazing power point presentation about their absolutely fantastic Healing Autism program, and how amazing these dogs are and what an affect they have on the families of children with autism. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. One of the father’s of the families that have been blessed to have been accepted into the program spoke, and his moving words and story just tore at your heart. I know what I am going through and what my demons are, and how tough life is, but was completely moved to hear his story and how trying autism can be on an entire family. I am so proud of Guiding Eyes For the Blind to have installed the Healing Autism program, and hopefully they will be able to expand it in the future.

After the speeches we spoke with a bunch of the raisers, and then it was time to head home. Afterall, there was a Yankee playoff game. Amazing how your priorities in life can change, as two or three years ago, there would have been no way I would have agreed to speak on a night when the Yankees were playing a playoff game, and now, I didn’t even give missing the game a second thought. Well, I ended up getting the best of both world’s, as when I got home, the Yanks were getting clobbered 5-0, so I didn’t even turn the game on as I had some emails I had to return and phone calls to make. I eventually turned the game on while on the phone and wasn’t paying attention, and thought Texas had expanded their lead, then I told the person I was talking to to hold on, turned the volume on the game up, and was shocked to find out the Yanks were only losing by one run. Well, sure enough the Yanks came back to win, and I got to catch the entire comeback, so like I said, I guess last night, I got the best of both worlds!

9 Responses to “An Amazing Night At Guiding Eyes For the Blind”

  1. Barbara Fischler Says:

    amazing what Guiding Eyes is doing for the blind and for Children with Autism. Thanks for blogging about a great organization and of course, about you and Nash.

  2. blindgator Says:

    Actually Nash did all the blogging.. HA, or at least is the inspiration for the blogging.

  3. Lorraine Says:

    It was so great to see you and Nash. Sorry I spoiled the surprise. I probably would have screamed when you were introduced if I hadn’t seen you first. The audience really loved your mini-set as did I. Aren’t you glad you were on before the Heeling Autism program? How could anyone follow that?!

    I’m sorry Richard didn’t get to see you. He was home with Gerard our huge GEB German Shepherd and Marcus, Karen’s current GEB German Shepherd.

    Good luck with LFS California and Florida. We look forward to hearing how they go.

    Lorraine

  4. blindgator Says:

    Hey Lorraine, I didn’t know you were going to be there either, so maybe the surprise was for Nash and me. I have had to follow some great and awful comic’s, but following the presentation by Healing Autism would have been awfully hard to do, and probably take the cake.

  5. Linda Says:

    I had the honor of being at the Guiding Eyes for the Blind conference. At the end of your speech you wondered why no
    one ever paid attention to you when you had a white cane.
    I think it was because you did not teach it to wag it’s tail
    and give kisses!!!!!!!!

  6. Kim Says:

    I am a puppy raiser in the same region as Lorraine, and I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog! I never knew Nash, he was before my time, but thanks to your words I feel as if I do! I hope my puppy gets to work with someone half as fun as you!!

  7. blindgator Says:

    Hey Kim, thanks for the kind words. Good thing you didn’t shoot to high, as no one is as fun as me, but you may get lucky and get someone who is half as fun as me. LOL! Good luck with the raising.

  8. victoria Says:

    Dogs, as well as horses, are miraculous with autistic kids. I know someone whose ex-wife works with horses and autistic kids, full-time as a volunteer and it’s absolutely inspirational work!

  9. blindgator Says:

    People who work with animals to help other people do seem to be the most selfless kindness down to earth people I have ever met. A lot different than a lot of the people I just spent a month dealing with in LA LA land. Almost a different species of people.

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