Meet Patti and guide dog Melissa
Patti Kohler’s first guide dog, Melissa, a “sweet and soft-spoken” yellow goldador, went home to Clearwater with readymade dog friends. “We’re the dog sitters in our group of friends,” Patti says, and she and her husband also have a big golden retriever named Cooper.
Patti’s vision loss from giant cell arteritis was unexpected. Five years ago she lost all sight in her left eye and three years ago she became legally blind in her right. “The rapidness was frightening,” she recalls. “Not being able to drive, not being independent, not being able to do things on my own…I became very confined in my world.”
As a former Walkathon fundraiser for our school, she turned to Southeastern Guide Dogs. “This was the first place I looked into,” she says. “It was perfect.” With Melissa’s help, Patti looks ahead with hope and confidence. As a Pinellas County school social worker, Melissa accompanies her to work, and Patti hopes to resume camping with her husband, something she gave up when she lost her vision. “I have a lot of places within walking distance of where I live,” she says. “The grocery store, drug store, restaurants—I’ll be able to do all those things on my own.”