Thursday, July 26, 2012

Marly: Gone But Not Forgotten

By Juliet Cody
(Note: Guide Dog Merl, known as Marly)

Marly is gone but not forgotten. She will be in every fragment of my memory, because from the first day we met at GDB, she changed my life. Our adventures started three days after graduation when we took off to an NFB National convention across the country in Philadelphia. While there, I touched the liberty bell, and my own liberty bell began to toll for Marly and me, proclaiming our new horizons.

The convention taught me many ways to adapt, and being blessed with a Guide Dog like Marly, blindness seemed to have disappeared. The ultimate flavor was when I tasted freedom jogging on the beach without worrying about tripping or falling because Marley’s beautiful eyes were seeing for me. Now marly has left, and blindness has returned. We had eleven miraculous years filled with adventures, trials, love and dedication for one another. SHE left me a legacy that I have written about in my upcoming book, "Building More than Sand Castles." She has also left me knowing that blindness is not devastating; rather, it is what you make of it. Therefore she is compelling me to get another Guide Dog in the near future.

The emptiness, the aching heart, and the tears are not yet healed. Nevertheless, on a warm summer sunset as the waves were breaking, I swam into the ocean with a handful of marly's ashes and rose petals. The wave broke along with my heart when I let my precious guide go. I heard myself saying, "Marly, I will be back to surf with you every Sunday." When I reached the shore, my GDB alumni family was waiting with tears, rose petals and love.

I want to thank the staff at GDB with my deepest appreciation for giving me Marly, my GDB family, and all of the support that anyone could ask for.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

One of the Greatest Guide Dog Retirement Jobs Ever!

Rebekah and her Guide Dog Leslie

By Rebekah Brod 

Leslie was my first Guide Dog who gave me the freedom of moving safely, gracefully, and quickly in my environment without the stress that accompanies vision loss. Leslie had an incredible sense of adventure. When we traveled abroad, her guidework was perfect, never missing a beat. We had an incredible partnership for nine and a half years.

Rebekah with Leslie and Duke
When I came home with my second Guide Dog, Duke, it was a difficult transition for all of us. Leslie would run to the door with Duke to try to get into the harness. It was hard leaving her at home. I needed to find her something to do because she still wanted to be working in some capacity. I found her the ideal job at Santa Monica College (SMC). My husband, Garry, who was Leslie's driver, said, "Leslie was as excited as a puppy with a new toy when we went to SMC."

Leslie with Rebekah and Garry in the carAs soon as the automatic sliding glass door opened, Leslie was there to greet each student as they entered the SMC Center for Students with Disabilities office. Her job was to provide comfort and support in exchange for love, hugs, kisses, and treats. During crisis situations Leslie worked wonders by having a calming effect on both students and staff.

After working a year at SMC Leslie struggled with glaucoma, resulting in surgery and the loss of her right eye. The students related to her in a new way, by identifying with her disability and observing that it did not effect her job in any way. She will be greatly missed. October 14, 1997—May 24, 2012

Thank you so much for the greatest gift in my life, my Guide Dog Leslie. I am so grateful to Guide Dogs for the Blind for their dedication to excellence.

See the SMC Center for Students with Disabilities tribute video to Leslie here:

SMC Center for Students with Disabilities Staff with Leslie

SMC Center for Students with Disabilities Photo (Above)

  • Front row, left to right: Jo An Joseph-Peters, Nathalie Laille, Kennisha Green, Leslie, MaryJane Weil, Judy Schwartz, Colin O’Brien
  • Second Row, left to right: Andrea Kremer, Ingrid Carlson, Steven Zucker, Elena Throckmorten, Georgia Farber, Billie Puyear, Lisette Rabinow-Palley, Lynn Fugua
  • Not shown: Ellen Cutler, Tom Peters, & Ava Gawranski