Like many people, I'd always assumed that Guide Dogs were for those who were or are completely blind. Something I would never think about as I had been told that I would always have some vision!
I couldn't but feel a bit confused when a lady I've befriended on Facebook, with the same Ushers as me and who as far as I knew had some sight, had a Guide Dog!
So I got in touch with her and was basically very nosey! Asking her what field of vision she has, at what point she was entitled to a dog, how she found having a dog, why she had decided to get one etc!!
She was really kind and answered all my questions and told me that in fact there are no criteria for getting a dog, (you have to have a visual impairment obviously!), and that she had found a new lease of life when she first got her dog!
She encouraged me to at least looking into getting a dog, and said it would change my life!!
So I spent the next few days reading the Guide Dog UK website, talking to various friends and family about it and ringing the number to make an appointment but hanging up before it had even rung! As far as I was, and am concerned, this is a MASSIVE decision. It's me saying to myself, 'right Usherchic2, you need some sort of help.' And for me..... Admitting this does NOT come easily!!
Eventually I rang, let the phone ring, let the other end answer and said while shaking like a leaf.......
'Hello, I'm calling about applying for a Guide Dog.......'
An appointment was made for someone to come out and see me, and now the ball was well and truly rolling!!!!!
I asked my brother to come along, for both moral support, and to have someone there to hear the bits I might not hear or just plain forget!
Me, my brother, the lady doing the assessment (Dee), her trainee (Dave) and his guide dog! My brother and I instantly fell in love with the dog, he came in with his big brown eyes, waited for his owner to tell him to sit down and just sat down with a massive sigh, as if to say 'thank god for that!!'
For the next three hours, we talked, about when I was diagnosed, how my life had been effected, why I felt a dog would benefit me, what a guide dog actually does, about my road, how I felt my world had become smaller, and god knows what else. Dave also spoke about his experiences, how having a dog had improved his life.
After all this they told me that I seemed like an ideal person for a dog! (EEEK!!!!!) We made a further appointment to go for a walk, so they can get an idea of the way I walk, and what kind of dog would be most suited to me.
I really like/d both of these people who came into my home and spoke to me about the life changing experience I am about to embark on.
Dee is someone who can chat for England, she obviously REALLY knows her stuff, she's sympathetic and empathises without a hint of patronisation, (I'm not sure if that's actually a word, but you get the gist!).
Dave is a man who it seems can chat for Wales! A huge presence, and bucket loads of dignity. He told me never to lose mine, as it's something no one can ever take away from me. It really struck me and I hope that I will keep hold of those words.
After they left, David and I sat on the settee, had a fag, chatted about all that had been said, and then went to get some chips!!