Ernie Jones' constant companion, Randy.
‘I can sure tell whose dog he is,” the field trainer said, smiling, as he watched Randy. “That dog has eyes only for you; he is your dog for sure.”
After a rather frustrating day, halfway through my training at the guide dog school, I lay resting on my bed, feeling very lonely. I felt a little nudge on the bed and, reaching over, found my new guide, his head on the bed, looking right at me. I knew he was for me.
On a training walk the next day, a car cut across in front of us. Not only did Randy brake to a stop, but he started backing up, taking me with him.
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When I got home from the training school, I followed the school’s suggestion and kept Randy “tied” to me 24/7. That is, he was either right with me or on a short tie-down where he could watch me. This strengthened his bond with me and helped him to adapt to his new house while teaching him his restrictions. During this first month I was the only one to care for him, and very few were even allowed to pet him while our bond strengthened.
With this early training we have never worried about Randy chewing on furniture and clothing, or getting into the garbage. We can leave the table covered with fresh-baked bread or cookies and know he will not bother them. I am the only one to feed him and I am the one who takes him out for relieving. He gets no table food and he doesn’t beg for any, either. Usually if I am sitting on the love seat, Randy will be between my legs, sitting on one of my feet or lying on my feet. All Dorothy has to say is, “Good boy Randy,” and he will find me and press so close to me I can’t move without feeling him.
He loves everyone and is ever seeking attention from others. He is a pet when in our house and out of his harness. His tail starts wagging when he sees me get his harness and he will usually thrust his head into it and be ready to give me a doggie kiss as I bend over to snap the chest belt in place.
When we are out walking I don’t worry about running into some object or ditch, as Randy will stop. One day I walked a new route with him and my grandson. Turning off the sidewalk to follow a street with no sidewalks, Randy kept me near the curb but suddenly he stopped. I reached out my arm but could not find anything so I gave him the command to move forward. He took only a couple short steps and again stopped.
As I reached out, trying to find out why Randy had stopped, my grandson said, “raise your hand up a little higher.”
I raised my hand up higher and it struck the end of a 2x4 that was sticking out of a truck bed right at my head level. Had Randy not stopped me, I’d have struck that plank right over my eyes.
Later, during a walk near our home Randy stopped me as a car zoomed out of a driveway only a few feet in front of us.
Randy’s bed is on the floor on my side of our bed. Often when lying down for an afternoon rest I will find him pressed up tight to my bed. When I swing my legs over, my feet will be either on him or at least touching him, alerting him to the fact I am leaving and he must be ready to follow.
After I spent a week in the hospital he would not allow me out of sight when I got home. One day I lay on the other side of the bed where it would be easy for me to reach the phone. Randy went to his bed but then walked around the foot of our bed to stare up at me. He walked back to his bed, but he soon returned. As he looked up at me, he gave a great audible sigh and lay on the floor, as near to me as possible, refusing to go to his own sleeping pad.
Randy has to know where I am at all times and will come looking for me if I leave the room. He might be playing with others, apparently with no care of where I am, but if I don’t return soon he will come to find me.
Ernie Jones, a registered nurse who retired due to vision loss, can be reached at 529-9252 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.