Thank you, Guiding Eyes

Back in 1998 a book reviewer at The Boston Globe suggested that I am a shill for the guide dog schools. What he meant is that my first book of nonfiction is richly devoted to sharing the experience of training with my first guide dog “Corky”—a life changing event for me and the glue that holds together my book.
I didn’t mind being called a shill. I’ve been called worse.

Today as I was walking in the Iowa snow with my third dog from Guiding Eyes I remembered that old Steve Martin joke where he says to his audience “I want to thank each and every one of you” Then he proceeds to say over and over: “Thank you thank you thank you thank you” etc.

Occupied in this way it dawned on me that Guiding Eyes for the Blind is worthy of every thank you I could pronounce. Guide dogs are expensive creatures to breed, raise, train, and then pair with a blind person. Despite the fact that each dog and person team costs well over 40,000 dollars to create, Guiding Eyes absorbs all the costs through its non-profit program of charitable donations.

I am a comparatively lucky blind person. I have a good job and a wonderful wife and family. Yet I can assure you that if I had to pony up 40K for my street mobility would be very hard pressed indeed. This in turn gets me to my point. Some will doubtless think of me as being too sentimental. Thanking those who have helped you is perhaps, in the minds of some “too old fashioned” or “too caught up in the charity model of disability”.

I believe that as I walk safely and in most cases euphorically that I have a big team behind me. Donors, puppy raisers, puppy breeders, veterinarians, fund raisers, construction and buildings and grounds personnel, volunteers, guide dog trainers, orientation and mobility specialists, dietitians, nurses, folks who work in the kennels, and the blind men and women who have trained alongside me with their new dogs.

Today, walking in the snow I heard in memory the voice of Steve Martin thanking everybody.


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “Thank you, Guiding Eyes”

  1. Such a nice post.. Thank you for sharing with us….
    I had a lot of problems with one of my dogs and I had no idea how to deal with it. My dog would bark constantly, break everything that she would get her mouth around, steal food from the table, run after cars. She even tried to bite the neighbor’s kid. I was so frustrated with all her annoying behaviors that were driving me crazy. I got sick and tired of not being able to control her. I couldn’t stand the idea that I was going to spend years to come with this mad dog.


  2. I don’t find such a “thank you” sentimental in the least. I’m quite grateful to GEB as well for my sweet Dolly. There’s a lot that changed in my life from that stems from all the hard work they do.
    I do, however, think it’s short-sighted to neglect to mention that they aren’t the only school that does the same. Nor were they even the first.


  3. A local puppy raiser sent me pictures of Guiding Eyes’ January graduates. You and Nira are clearly having a case of puppy love.
    Steve, you and Connie are such incredible gifts in my life. I know I have Guiding Eyes to thank for them.


  4. I second that. I got my guide dog, Garnet in 1996. She is retired now, but is still healthy and smart and bringing as much joy as ever to my life.


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