Meet David and guide dog Harley


[Click here for the video audio description for our community with vision loss.]

David Townsend & guide dog Harley

Tampa, Florida

guide dog, black dog, fibromyalgia, iritis, lyme disease, coast guard veteran

David sits on a bench with guide dog Harley at his side.

For seven years, David Townsend struggled to understand why his eyesight was failing. He loves the outdoors and suspected that a tick bite might have something to do with his poor vision, but doctors missed it. Finally, a fibromyalgia specialist gave an unexpected diagnosis: iritis, an inflammation of the iris which can be caused by Lyme disease.

As a retired dentist and Coast Guard veteran, David experienced a lifetime of achievements. But vision loss affected him in ways that left him feeling helpless. “My wife is outgoing and social, and I know she didn’t like to leave me alone so she wouldn’t do the things she liked to do,” he says. His daughter suggested a guide dog, but David thought they were only for those with total blindness. Now he’s been matched with his first guide, Harley, a beautiful black Lab. “Harley is like an extra son,” he says.

David is amazed at how Harley helps him. “During one of our walks I didn’t see a curb, but Harley did and he stopped me,” he says. “I’m looking forward to taking him everywhere. I want to fly to Maine with Harley and my wife for a vacation.” Married for 40 years, David is focused on making his wife’s dreams come true, and now Harley is a dream-come-true for both of them.

Harley is named thanks to the 2016 Walkathon fundraising efforts of the Central Pinellas Puppy Raisers and puppy raisers Bill and Lois Gagne. The Gagnes’ hobby is riding Harley-Davidsons.

Posted on September 7, 2018 | Category: Blog, Graduates, Our Dogs