August 1-7, 2021

Only -2 more days until
Intl. Assistance Dog Week

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A Summary of My Life with My Guide Dogs

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer presents resident Toni Eames and her guide dog Adora with the Proclamation for International Assistance Dog Week.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer presents resident Toni Eames and her guide dog Adora with the Proclamation for International Assistance Dog Week.

by Toni Eames* & Adora  

Anyone who knew me before college graduation, would describe me as shy and unwilling to speak up for my needs.

However, when I trained with my first Golden Retriever guide dog, named: Charm, in 1967, my life changed, and my advocacy blossomed. Hunter College refused me admission if I insisted on bringing my guide dog with me.

All of a sudden, I was advocating for Charm, and I wouldn’t back down. I even asked the New York City mayor to come to my rescue.

Working with a guide dog opened a new world of travel comfort and new friendships. In grad school, my extroverted self-came out. People chatted with me about the dog, and I could pick up the ball and make new friends.

Over the past fifty-four years I have been partnered with the following six guide dogs: 1.) Charm in 1967 from Guiding Eyes, NY, 2. & 3.) Both Flicka and Ivy were Privately Trained, 4.) Escort, the only male, from Leader Dogs and 5. & 6.) Keebler and Adora from Guide Dogs for the Blind.

It was Charm who accompanied me to my first job as a rehabilitation counselor at a psychiatric hospital. When Charm died, I was devastated and could not imagine another dog working as a competent guide for me. However, successor guide dogs, Flicka and Ivy, both female Golden Retrievers, stepped smartly into their pawprints. Escort was my only male guide, and he filled my life with laughter. My girl guides have been reserved, but Escort was a “toy boy.” When people came to my home to read to me, he would lay quietly, but as soon as I got up to go to the bathroom, Escort grabbed a toy and thrust it at the reader. Keebler and Adora have guided me carefully and safely. It’s hard to believe I’ve been a guide dog handler for over fifty years!

Ivy was the dog who shared my wedding with Ed Eames. When Ed retired, we moved to Fresno, California and became adjunct professors at CSUF. By now, Ed’s first guide dog had died, and he now worked with Kirby. Along with four other disabled persons, Ivy and Kirby were the founding dogs for the “International Association of Assistance Dog Partners” (www.iaadp.org). I was so convinced my dogs had changed my life, I wanted others to learn of the benefits of having a trusted companion. Keebler was with me when Ed died. Since our working dogs are with us 24 hours a day, our bond of comfort and safety is complete.

I cannot fail to mention the cats who also enriched my life. My current feline family members, Yancha and Meadow, are adjuncts to my beloved guide dogs.

I wanted to share my story about my amazing dogs during “International Assistance Dog Week”, August 1st – 7th, 2021.

 

*Toni Eames was one of the Founders of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP).