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In Memory of Our Guide Dog Breeder Fame
In Honor of Guide Dogs for the Blind on Giving Tuesday 2020
In this time of great need in our country, it is difficult to try to choose just one benevolent organization to highlight today. So I thought it best to select the one that our family has volunteered for and supported for 30 years: Guide Dogs for the Blind. We have witnessed firsthand the miraculous work they do to provide people who have visual impairments with a working Guide Dog at no cost to them, allowing them to regain their independence. We have been to many graduations of the visually impaired people and their new guide dog partners who have completed the training program and can now resume their lives traveling the world, going to college or to work, or as in one case, open their own Bed and Breakfast. The things the dogs are trained to do astound us. Hearing the blind partners’ stories is amazing and moving. After our first graduation we remembered to bring extra tissues because there is never a dry eye in the house.
Our family has raised Guide Dog puppies, getting them ready for their formal training. We have fostered some puppies that were disabled and unable to proceed as a guide. But mostly we were a volunteer family who served as custodians for Guide Dogs for the Blind breeders. Custodian families are assigned a breeder at 18 months of age after training. The dog remains a part of the Guide Dogs for the Blind program and all the protocols, but as custodians we would keep her at home until it was time for her to be bred to produce future Guide Dogs for the Blind puppies. We loved the program. The dogs were always wonderful, and it taught our daughters a little bit of responsibility and sex ed all together.
And like most families with a dog we thought ours was the best dog, the most special dog. For the last 11 years we had a dog named Fame. Fame was a Lab Golden cross, half Labrador and half Golden Retriever. She came into our family in the fall of 2009, only months after I landed in the Hudson River. And no, we didn’t name her. She was named by Guide Dogs for the Blind a year before the famous flight. Our lives were still pretty upended, but with the usual Guide Dog temperament, she brought a calm presence into our home, and she was absolutely devoted to Lorrie. It turned out Fame was the driving force that inspired our older daughter to tough out eight years of organic chemistry and anatomy and many, many other tough courses to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Fame produced three litters of puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind that are now out serving in communities across North America.
Sadly, Fame lost her battle with cancer only days ago. Dr. Jeff Williams, a veterinarian who has treated our dogs, and for many years worked for Guide Dogs for the Blind, counseled us to, “Let her go, with joy.” She has left a hole in our hearts and home that we will try to fill. But we are heartened to know the legacy she has left will outlast her.
Guide Dogs for the Blind has been serving the needs of the visually impaired since 1942, when some of the first wounded servicemen from WWII came home.
On this Giving Tuesday, we encourage those with the means to consider donating to Guide Dogs for the Blind in Fame’s memory. A generous donor has stepped forward to match donations made through this link: www.guidedogs.com/GivingTuesdayFame