By Ann Chadwell Humphries
Back when I could read print, I enjoyed the ACB Braille Forum. There was an announcement about the Top Dog conference in Charleston, SC. The conference was sponsored by the Dixieland affiliate of Guide Dog Users, Inc., which represented guide dog users from South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
I had been walking in my neighborhood with my cane until early January 2010. When roofers, garbage truck, and delivery truck all roared by at the same time — disorienting me — I folded up my cane and slammed it on my thigh.
“There has to be a better way,” I said.
My family and I drove to Charleston and watched how guide dogs and their handlers were walking confidently through the lobby, to the elevator, and hotel registration. We were gobsmacked!
I applied to three guide dog schools whose representatives were attending the Top Dog conference, and by February 14, I was accepted by Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Florida.
Brego came into my life on May 10, 2010, at 1:21 p.m., a day and time as important to me as our wedding anniversary and the births of our children.
My guide dog and I became “Ultimate Outsiders” for visiting all 47 state parks. Brego visited 22 and was given a retirement party by South Carolina Parks. They turned the T-shirt into a pillow for him.
Then, I was assigned Monti. We moved and I am fine without a guide for now, but I really, really needed my guide dogs at the time. I thank the ACB Braille Forum for giving me that gift of independence!