Meet Sandy and guide dog BJ

retinitis pigmentosa | RP | charm school | blindfold walk

Sandy sits on a bench with BJ by her side.

Sandy Matthews and guide dog BJ

Palm Bay, Florida

Sandy Matthews’ diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa at age 20 explained a lot. It explained why her sister remembered so much spilled milk and why her mom sent her to “charm school” to overcome her “clumsiness.” After realizing that Sandy fell down stairs and knocked things over because she lacked peripheral vision, her mother cried, regretting the scolding to “pay more attention!”

Before receiving her guide dog, Sandy and her daughter traveled to our area and reserved a spot at our previous Guide Dog Experience activity. “I was terrified,” she confesses, but reluctantly held the harness during the blindfold walk. “I won’t need the blindfold,” she explained, and her fears quickly dissolved.

Now that she’s navigating with a happy and playful yellow Labrador named BJ, her first guide, Sandy’s days of hanging on to her husband’s arm or staring down at the sidewalk are over. “I look forward to seeing things again when I travel,” she says. “Normally, I’m not seeing anything—but with BJ, I’ll be able to look up and look around. Between my guide dog, Uber coming out, and the new bus in my town, I’m going to have a busy year!” In addition to enjoying more traveling, Sandy looks forward to shopping alone, volunteering with a friend, and discovering new things and the world around her. “I’m going to get out of the house more,” she smiles.

Posted on August 13, 2018 | Category: Blog, Graduates, Our Dogs