Meet Brittany and guide dog Fred
Brittany Romano was a lifelong athlete who mastered cheerleading, dancing, swimming, diving, gymnastics, and running. But in October 2013, the 20-year-old suddenly lost her vision to a rare disease called neuromyelitis optica (NMO).
“In just two weeks I went from 20/20 vision to legally blind,” Brittany says. She had to abandon college, her nanny job, and her dream of becoming an athletic trainer.
In spite of the painful and debilitating symptoms of her recurring illness, Brittany manages to stay upbeat and positive. Brittany believes NMO has brought a lot of joy into her life, and one of those joys is Fred, a black and tan Labrador with a “sweet and silly” personality.
“When I was a YMCA lifeguard in high school, I was awarded the Fred Award for the ‘Fred Factor.’ The award was based on a book about a man who moved to a new neighborhood and traveled a lot for his job. He had a mailman named Fred who went above and beyond to make sure his home was safe and his mail was delivered safely while he was gone. The man wrote this book because he wanted more ‘Freds’ in the world. ‘Freds’ provide exceptional service to please others and do not expect anything in return. That’s my guide dog, Fred. That’s the first thing that came to my mind. He goes above and beyond to protect me and just be an exceptional dog! I can’t wait to tell my boss who gave me that award in my senior year of high school back in 2011!”
Brittany is thankful to have learned about Southeastern Guide Dogs when her mom and sister were puppy raisers, and she’s delighted with her first guide dog. She’s moving soon from Lithia, FL, to Boston to join her husband, Anthony, who is in the Coast Guard. “Fred will help me get around independently and keep me active and joyful,” she says.