Meet Ralph and guide dog Savannah
Ralph Smith, an Army veteran and former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, has a sharp memory. And June 4, 2009 is a day that Ralph will never forget. He woke up from emergency surgery to remove a tumor from his brain, but when he opened his eyes, he was totally blind. Convalescing in his parents’ home, he didn’t tell anyone for a month until finally revealing his secret.
After receiving new skills from the Lighthouse and from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Ralph decided that a guide dog was his next step towards independence. Now he’s met an energetic, exuberant yellow Labrador named Savannah, his first guide and new companion.
When Ralph and Savannah return home to Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, Ralph will introduce her to his wife and four young grandchildren. He enjoys walking at a fast pace, so Savannah will keep him in line. Ralph hopes to soon take Savannah fishing, something he’s missed since losing his vision. She will help him navigate when he volunteers with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and throughout his journey back to employment through vocational rehabilitation.