Do you believe in it?
Could you live it?
Can you trust it?
. – Proverbs 8:33
"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment."
- Marcus Aurelius
I would like to spend some time today introducing you to my dear friend Lynda. It's been a few years since I have attended high school. Okay, 25 years to be exact (let's keep that a secret). Shortly after graduating from high school I took up a full time job at an automotive factory in my area. The factory is where I met Lynda. We were both the same age, indestructible, rebels, and "no one can touch this" type of chicks. We walked into a friendship where we automatically clicked. Since we were young and indestructible we decided to make ourselves a permanent team. Yeah, we decided to rent an apartment together. Can you just imagine two young females living in the same apartment? I don't think there was ever a quiet night, especially since we worked 2nd shift.
But to tell you a little about Lynda.... when she was very young she was diagnosed with one of the most common and deadly diseases that we know of today. Diabetes! Daily insulin shots were a norm for her when we were living together. I worried about her a lot and did everything I could to help her.
Well, as life goes, we spent a year together inseparable in that party apartment, had tons of good times, got involved in our own relationships with men, got busy (married), and we just kind of drifted apart. Went our own separate ways living our own lives without each other.
But let's go back to the high school age again....When I was in high school it was a time of clicks, bullying, "I am better than you" attitudes, "you are different so you don't belong here, and I'm going to make your school hours miserable" attempts, etc.... I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.
When I left high school the door was shut on that part of my life, with the hopes of never reopening it. Twenty-five years later I am attending college. Something that I never thought I would be doing in my lifetime. And as I started my classes at the local college in my area, who do you think I ran into? Yup, Lynda!! My long lost friend that I have been missing so badly over the years. Lynda's major is social work, but you are going to be amazed the farther down you read. In my eyes, Lynda is the most courageous, strong willed, and goal determined person I know. I really truly admire her.
Okay, wait a minute, as I look at Lynda there is something very different about her. She is not the same person I lived with years ago. She is walking different, depends heavily on her friends, has a very special friend by her side at all times, carries a lap top computer with an ear piece wherever she goes on campus, and wears dark glasses all the time.....
Lynda is totally BLIND (diabetes)!
Lynda is the second vision impaired person to attend this college campus with a service dog (seeing eye dog). And as I get reacquainted with Lynda, and catch up on our lives, that high school closed door comes flying open right in my face.....College students are suppose to be adults, act like adults, and present themselves as adults. One of Lynda's COLLEGE classmates is giving her a hard time about her service dog, how Lynda treats her, and having the dog in class. This classmate has complained time and time again to the instructor. Since the adult college student is a tattle-tail and can't approach Lynda as an adult her/him self, the instructor feels that something needs to be done. The instructor finds time to talk to Lynda about this complaining classmate. Which ends in tears for Lynda.
This is what I am thinking: The classmate may be uncomfortable with Lynda's disability? Maybe this classmate doesn't like dogs? What if she/he just doesn't want Lynda there and is doing everything he/she can to scare Lynda away? Does the college need to educate the students on disabilities and service animals to help them better understand?
What I know about a service animal from research:
A service animal's mission is to enhance the independence, dignity, and self-confidence of blind people through the use of their own eyes and judgments.
After a service dog's eighteen month age, they will begin a four month training course. The training course consists of:
· Respond to basic obedience commands
· Pull wearing a harness
· Lead in harness through neighborhoods, traffic, stop lights, and crosswalks
· Understand and carry out the concept of intelligent disobedience.
Intelligent disobedience is knowing when to accept a command from their master and when to over-ride that command using their own judgment.
A lot of work goes into training a service dog, and that classmate of Lynda's needs to realize that the service dog (Marley) is at work when Lynda is in school. When Marley is working she is no longer a pet, she is Lynda's eyes.
"Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is."
- Mary Anne Radmacher
One very important piece of information to pass along.....never, never, never touch, feed, or coax a service dog. Never speak to them either. They are suppose to be concentrating on their job, and if they are distracted by you they could cause harm to their blind master.
I am part of Lynda's (eyes) transportation to and from the college campus. Marley knows who I am when she sees me, but I never speak to her while she's working. I wait until we are in the car, and then it's hugs and kisses and treats......
I am so glad that Lynda and I have reconnected. What an inspiration she is.....