GUIDE DOG TALES VOL. 18
By Carolyn Dale Newell
Iva attended Vacation Bible school at our church Tuesday night for a guide dog presentation. The kids, divided into three groups, loved Iva. I began by telling each group how Iva became a guide dog.
Bred and born to work, Iva spent her puppy days with Rachel, her volunteer puppy-raiser. Rachel taught her obedience and socialization, and she did a terrific job. All guide dog handlers owe an unpayable debt to our selfless puppy-raisers.
Then Iva returned to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and they taught her how to guide blind people. Once I arrived at school, Iva spent three weeks with me in my dorm room, as I learned to handle her.
Iva and I did some simple obedience like “sit” and “down”. The kids seemed amazed when Iva guided me to several doors and back to my chair on command.
Next came the “bad kid”. Mrs. Bobbi plays that part well since she loves Iva. We demonstrated how someone can distract a guide dog from her work. Distractions come in several different packages. They can be anything from petting her to talking to Iva while she is in her harness, working. With the older group, I allowed some of them to play the “bad kid” and Iva did excellent at avoiding distractions.
All three groups participated in walking across the room so they could see how Iva keeps me from bumping into people. Iva did a fantastic job as always.
Finally, the kids got to ask questions and pet Iva while she was out of harness. When the last group left, Iva looked longingly at the door. Iva whined when no more children came through the door. She truly enjoyed interacting with the children.
The lesson that night was about David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17:45—50). We all face giants in our lives, but just as I trust Iva to guide me safely, we trust God to overcome our giants.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust. Psalm 91:2 NKJV
David trusted God, and he went out to face the nine-feet giant alone. Goliath wore heavy armor, but David wore faith. David overcame Goliath, the giant by the power of God using a slingshot and five smooth stones. I overcome the giant of blindness with Iva on my left side and God on my right.
Last night, we attended the Bible school commencement. Iva enjoyed the kids and music. The kids learned something because none of them tried to pet her or talk to her once I harnessed Iva up.
One drawback to living in a rural area is being the only guide dog handler here. I try to educate people with these presentations. A knowledgeable public helps me. They know what to do and what not to do. People find it interesting because they never see the life of guide and handler up close. Even some adults from church noted that they learned something they never knew before.
God blessed service dogs with intelligence and ability to learn to help sightless people. Other service dogs perform such tasks as helping people with mobility issues and detecting the onset of a seizure. Our amazing God created some amazing dogs.