[GDU] Lighthouse leader excited about getting guide dog
basil05 at sbcglobal.net
Sun May 23 20:06:55 CDT 2010
I went to this blog today and read the first entry, and I think it's going
to be fun to follow this person through her guide dog training.
Judy and Indy, the wagging happy shepherd
Lighthouse leader excited about getting guide dog
By CARL ORTH | The Suncoast News
Published: May 21, 2010
Laurel Brown's 4-year-old guide dog Heidi is a black Labrador.
Laurel Brown's experience with her guide dog Heidi influenced
Sylvia Perez to get a dog as well.
PORT RICHEY - Sylvia Stinson Perez wields a mean cane, but she
says she has seen the light about guide dogs.
The executive director of Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired
and Blind, Perez prides herself on her independence despite her
worsening vision. She leaves today, Saturday, for "rigorous
training" for 26 days with a guide dog.
Perez's excitement about her journey was building Wednesday
during Low Vision Awareness Day at the Lighthouse office in Port
Richey. Some 65 individuals attended the event put on by Freedom
Scientific, a maker of products for the visually impaired.
Perez has started a blog so people can follow her dispatches from
guide dog school. Go online to BLOG.lighthouse-pasco.org.
"I am so sure I'll be so excited that I won't even sleep the
night before," Perez wrote in an early blog dispatch.
Her eyes have dimmed significantly since she took the reins at
the Lighthouse in July 2008, Perez acknowledged.
Perez's tunnel vision is a result of retinitis pigmentosa, an
inherited eye disorder. The tunnel typically keeps getting
smaller and smaller until the disease results in blindness.
Her trusty, pink cane has gotten her around pretty well up until
now. Perez resisted getting a guide dog until she was inspired by
the example set by Laurel Brown and her faithful companion,
Heidi, a 4-year-old black Labrador guide dog.
Perez calls Brown, independent living program manager for
Lighthouse, "a tremendous inspiration and role model for our
The dogs "become the eyes of the individual who is blind," Perez
said. "I have decided to pursue a guide dog to increase my
independence even further. A long cane finds obstacles, while a
guide dog avoids obstacles."
The blind master still must provide the dog directions. "A dog
doesn't know where to go unless the human tells them where to
Most folks don't realize just how demanding the guide dog
training can be, Perez said. Hence her blog so she can share the
The toughest part will be spending more than three weeks away
from her family, especially her 10-year-old daughter.
"Every day starts at 5:30 a.m." at the guide dog school, Perez
said with a grimace.
The most asked question I have received is 'what kind of dog will
you be getting?' " Perez wrote in her preliminary notes on her
Perez herself won't know until she arrives at the Seeing Eye in
New Jersey, where school trainers will match her with a dog based
on interviews, observations and measurements, such as her typical
Visual impairments come in many different forms, visitors at the
Lighthouse awareness day event discovered.
Perez marvels at the "amazing technology and devices available"
for people adapting to a visual impairment. Perez uses a
magnification machine for reading books or tiny print on medicine
Many free services and training are available through the
Lighthouse. Call the Lighthouse at 727-815-0303.
Supporters also can join the Lighthouse's Facebook fan page.
The Lighthouse website is at www.lighthouse-pasco.org>.
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