In just over one month I will be headed to Guiding Eyes for the Blind to receive and train with my second guide dog. I am looking forward to sharing this exciting journey with you, but I can’t begin until I tell you about my first guide dog Duncan.
In 2006 I took my first trip to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, NY and there I received my first guide Duncan. Duncan was a 70ish pound Black Labrador with a gentle and goofy personality. I brought him home and soon we couldn’t imagine life without him!
Our boys were 2 and 4 when I received Duncan. He was a life saver! My husband was quite often overwhelmed trying to keep up the the 2 little ones while trying to keep me safe. Once we had Duncan I could move along with the family and my husband didn’t have to worry about me. Duncan also realized that those 2 little boys were very important to me and he helped me keep tabs on them when we were out and about. If one started to take a different direction or wander off, Duncan would alert me. This isn’t something I taught him, he just caught on to a need that I had.
Home life with Duncan started off with lots of excitement. His puppy raisers were 2 college girls, that is why we often compared him to a freshman without adult supervision for the first time. After we had been home for several days adapting to our new routine, one morning I let Duncan off the leash and allowed him to go downstairs before me. When I caught up with him, he was in the middle of, all four paws on my dining room table! We joke that he just needed a lamp shade to complete his frat boy personality.
In the beginning counter surfing was his favorite! Nothing edible was safe if Duncan was around. He was a master at opening any package, not tearing or chewing, but opening the package and then consuming all the contents!
My husband was fearful about taking this very happy and hyper dog out in public. Duncan surprised everyone! When you placed the harness on him, he became very serious……well, as serious as Duncan could be. He did his job and did it well. He gave me back some of the independence blindness had taken from me. I could take a walk through my neighborhood, wander through the mall or a shopping center or stroll through the park with my family. Because I had Duncan to guide me I could walk to my kids school and enjoy lunch with them and their friends.
Duncan and I walked daily in our neighborhood. One day the route that we always walked was interrupted by some construction. I decided to turn down, what i thought was a parallel road. This road did not run parallel so I found myself completely lost. I began to tell Duncan to get us home. This was not a command he was trained to know, but somehow he worked it out and got me home. He was very smart and I could tell you these types of stories all day long! He was my guide for almost 10 years and his ability to think through things and make decisions on my behalf amazed me every time!
Duncan retired in the fall of 2014. He continued to live with us and enjoy a life of leisure. Duncan passed away unexpectedly in the early morning of January 1, 2017. We were heartbroken and continue to miss his sweet face and those puppy dog eyes!