Guide Dogs for the Blind's
Oregon campus a year and a half ago today. It's hard to believe how many changes I've gone through since them. I'll say this: that experience opened my eyes to a lot of things. I had to learn that the hardest things in life are worth it. I had to learn that I could indeed be a good handler. I had to learn a lot about trust and mistrust. Would I say that I'm a more trusting person? In some ways, yes, in some ways no. I saw so many things that just didn't match up with the world as I pictured it, but you know what? My picture changed. Getting Julio challenged me in so many ways and opened my eyes to so many new ideas that it's hard to even put it all into words.
He opened my eyes to the joys of independence. For the first time, I walked to Cafe Delearium and got a vanilla latte. I didn't need help, I didn't worry about getting killed by a car, I didn't even have to have someone drive me. I was safe and protected and independent. I still get a thrill from picking up that harness and making it somewhere safely. I hope I never lose that.
As difficult as having him is, it's so worth it. He's such a great boy. We have our struggles, but I'm slowly learning how to handle them. Julio has adapted to the fact that I walk slowly and different from the way I used to. At the end of the day when all I want to do is go to bed and never get up, Julio gives me a reason to get up whether it be his funny antics with the cong or his need to go to the bathroom. He displays a trusting love that I can't understand. We have a bad route and half an hour later, he wants to play with me. If I'm gone, he waits eagerly for my return (at least that's what I'm told). He's not afraid to tell me how it is (on bad pain days, he has been known to refuse to walk the stairs). Julio gives the biggest, best kisses and the longest, most pain-free hugs. Even when we have awful routes when I'm ready to put down the harness, Julio stays with me and doesn't hold a grudge. It's hard to believe it because I know I'm not worthy of the love this puppy puts into me.
Julio, I love you!
Hugs from both of us.