A Letter from Wayne Giles with his Guide Dog, Elsa
My name is Wayne. I lost my vision due to retinitis pigmentosa. Over the years my vision loss has progressed to the point that I am no longer able to see anything. I must confess, it is much easier to stay home and never go anywhere out of fear, but all four of my Southeastern Guide Dogs have allowed me to not be afraid and venture out of my comfort area. Thank you to DeeDee, Destinee, Lou, and now my newest guide dog!
I first attended Southeastern Guide Dogs in 2001. Recently, I graduated with my fourth guide dog. To say that many things have changed at Southeastern Guide Dogs over the past 20 years is an understatement! Thanks to the many wonderful supporters of the organization, the money raised has yielded a top-notch facility that allows the visually impaired, veterans, and now children and youths to realize how a guide dog will change their life…and still at no cost to the individual!
There is one thing that has remained consistent over the past 20 years—that is the quality and compassion of the instructors and the guide dogs. Both instructors and dogs remain our lifesavers!
The most notable change for me was student housing. When I first attended, we had a dormitory with two students per room, a very small training yard, and one common room that was also our classroom. Today the facilities rival the best conference centers and hotels. All students have a private room with individual patios for dog and owner. My wife told me the room was nicer than many hotel rooms we have stayed in!
When I first arrived, I was greeted by Sam, who carefully guided and oriented me to my entire room. Once I was comfortable, she guided me around the facility. Sam took me to two common rooms, a lecture and recreation room, the instructor’s room, a dining room (which, by the way, the food was excellent!), a large outdoor skills patio (which was under roof), and a fenced-in play yard for the dogs. I also found out that Fromm’s dog food, Elanco prevention, yearly check-ups, and vaccinations are all paid for by generous donations.
Two years ago, my wife sponsored a Southeastern Guide Dogs puppy for her niece Delaney’s birthday. The dog’s name was Elsa (her niece loved the Disney character). Over the past two years, Delaney has received Pupdates on Elsa’s progress. Delaney got her final Pupdate—Elsa graduated and is working with her new handler. Delaney looked at the picture and pointed to the ‘handler’ and got very excited, shouting, “That’s my Uncle Wayne!” Elsa, the dog we sponsored for the past two years, is the same guide dog that will allow me to have the confidence and independence to venture out of my comfort zone. Southeastern Guide Dogs uses the phrase “Dogs of Destiny,” and Elsa is my Destiny!
Are you interested in sponsoring a puppy like Elsa? Learn more about our Sponsor a Puppy program at www.guidedogs.org/puppy