Dave and Barbara, who now live in Florida, met because of their guide dogs. When Barbara started losing her eye sight a few years ago, a friend suggested she go to a guide dog school – not Freedom Guide Dogs – because, “Who knows, you might meet somebody.” Turns out she was right. Not only did Barbara find her first guide dog, Zella, a German Shephard, but she also found her future husband.
The couple has been through several challenges, especially health challenges. Dave fell, broke his hip, and subsequently had hip surgery. Then he became seriously ill a few years ago and was told he had six months to live. He likes to tell the story now as he and Barbara lounge by their pool with their black lab guide dogs from Freedom Guide Dogs. Dave feels blessed with extra years added to his life. “God has me in his hands,” he explains. Whether because of this blessing, or other reasons, in 2008 Dave was ordained as a Pentecostal minister.
Barbara has a full time job where she is able to take, Ronin, her current guide dog. This job has put a bit of a dent in their travel adventures. According to Barbara, she and Dave have traveled with their dogs to Cancun “over 100 times,” but because of her work schedule they have had to cut back on their tropical adventures.
Barbara has a heartwarming story of how when they had to put down a previous guide dog, Zella, a friend brought her ashes to their house in a box and set it on the ground while Barbara was away at work. Ronin laid his head on the box for about 20 minutes. By the time Barbara got home from work, Ronin had lined up in a row all of Zella’s toys in front of the fireplace. Before then he had never shown any interest in the toys. Barbara is convinced that Zella communicated to Ronin that it was now his job to “take care of mommy.”
Your dogs are your eyes,” Dave explains. The couple does not even use the work “dog” in the presence of Ronin, and Dave’s new guide dog, Asti. “We spell it out – D-O-G,” Barbara explains, “because they are so much more than dogs to us.”
The couple is exceedingly grateful to Freedom Guide Dogs for giving them such great guide dogs and companions – their boys have the same father – but also for the in-home training they received that was tailored to meet their specific needs. This is Freedom Guide Dogs’ specialty and what sets them apart from other guide dog organizations.
By Candy Fox