Tag Archives: visually impaired

Guide Dog Tales Vol. 22



By Carolyn Dale Newell

You know that feeling you get when your face is about to meet the ground? Thankfully, I regained my balance quickly. Whose bright idea was it to plant trees in the middle of a sidewalk? Even sighted people trip over these sections where underground roots push up the concrete.

A guide dog doesn’t view small lifts like this as a step. We have walked through there countless times, but this would be the last time. Not the last time we walk it, but the last time it may cause me to fall.

I used my clicker and treats to teach Iva to stop at this point. We practiced several times before heading on with our leisurely walk around our little downtown. I try to provide Iva with a variety of routes.

We rested on a bench taking a water break. As I stood up, I told Iva our plan was to go to the Mexican restaurant for lunch with my husband. When we reached the corner, Iva did not go to the curb as usual, instead, she turned right, the direction of our destination. I was shocked because we have only walked there once before.

As we strolled along, Iva came to an abrupt stop, and she went no farther. Something partially blocked the sidewalk, but why wouldn’t she go around it? I reached out and discovered a piece of fence wire across our path. Undoubtedly, this was a construction site. We were forced to find a new route, and it included crossing a busy intersection without a traffic light.

Our patience rewarded us with a lull in traffic, allowing us to rush to the other side. Iva began pulling hard, not because she has a fondness for Mexican cuisine. Iva remembered the dog treat she devoured from the Amish Cupboard, next to the Mexican restaurant. When I instructed Iva to turn left, she momentarily hesitated as if to say, “No, this way, Mom! Remember we went this way before.”

After lunch, Iva chomped down her well-deserved bone.

We had safely encountered our first obstacle as a guide dog team. Knowing we can handle them is rewarding.

Life is filled with obstacles, Not the physical ones, but the difficult ones, like: diseases, addiction, depression, grief, finances, and heartache. We come face-to-face with them, giving us cause for despair.

We take the obstruction to God, but many times, He refuses to move it. Sometimes, God protects us using a blockade. If I had moved that fencing to get around it, we would have been hurt.

Christians forget God has our best interest in mind. Sometimes, a roadblock may be our safety net. We should rejoice in these detours of life, giving God thanks for being our shield.

Next, we allow God to guide us. Iva and I found a new route to the restaurant. This path was not easy because it involved a difficult crossing. We did it, and we will do it on our journey of life.

Perhaps you find yourself standing before a barricade today. Friend, our heavenly Father has a plan for you, and it may differ from your plan. Father knows best, so follow His lead. You may journey unchartered territory. Navigation may be difficult, but God is right by your side. He never leaves His children. He shows us the way, and we walk in it.

Lift up your chin. This side trip has benefits, although you may never know what God protects you from. Now you clinch the rewarding knowledge that obstacles don’t stop you. They just turn you around.

Copyright 2017 Carolyn Dale Newell.


Guide Dog Tales Vol. 19

In the photo, Iva targets the pick-up button at Walmart.


By Carolyn Dale Newell

I didn’t expect this. Exhilaration flowed through my veins. As soon as Iva found our driveway, the race ended. No, Iva and I were not being chased. The amazing thing was we were jogging for fun.

I am not athletic at all! Running was never something I enjoyed. How many years have passed since I ran? No idea!

It began when I would drop Iva’s harness and allow her to leash guide me from our mailbox to the driveway. I do not want to use my nice harness on the beach, and I want both of us to get accustomed to leash guiding at home first. One day, after a long walk, I said, “Let’s run!” After that, I was hooked. Iva loves it too.

We also race across the back yard when she is off-leash playing. You should see how fast Iva runs! Me, not so much, just a jog.

I am in awe of the wonderful blessings I share with Iva. She is definitely a gift from God. Honestly, who would think I would want to do anything faster than speed walking?

God continues to open more doors of independence for us. I depend on God for my independence. We take the bus at least once weekly for appointments, lunch, or just to explore new routes downtown. This surprises me because I was content with isolating myself at home and writing.

Last week, we made our first solo trip to Walmart. I love shopping with my Walmart app. Sometimes, we get free shipping, or I can choose to do a store pickup. I have taught Iva to target the pickup button at Walmart.

How do blind people shop? I asked for someone to help me shop at the service desk. Afterward, we got our pickup order.

I crossed the traffic lane in front of the store to take Iva to the mulched area to potty. On our way back to the sidewalk, a car refused to stop for us. It was a close call. A gentleman who had been on the bus with us yelled for us to stop. At the same time Iva stopped. He was God’s guardian angel for us that day. His shout stopped me quicker than Iva’s brake.

Crazy people appear everywhere, but God keeps His protective hand over us. Each independent step seems to incur some small attempt by the enemy to keep us homebound. We continue moving forward and trusting God.

God has blessed me with an amazing life. Psalm 37:4 says,

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

First, let’s burst our bubbles because this Scripture does not mean He gives us everything our flesh craves. God places His desires in our hearts. Therefore, we desire what He desires.

I did not desire a guide dog until I began experiencing mobility issues. God allowed those problems, those thorns in my flesh, to create my desire for a guide dog.

Like a child waiting for Christmas, my heart pitter-pattered with excitement as the days grew closer to the moment I met Iva. What freedom!

Never, no never, did I imagine all the things we would do together.

When God places desires in our hearts, they are good desires. They are great desires. They exceed anything we can think or ask (Eph. 3:20). I wonder what new adventures God has in store for us now.

Copyright 2017 Carolyn Dale Newell.