Hear from our recipients of Gallant Hearts dogs and the impact it has made on their lives.
- Michelle and Ringo
My name is Michelle and I have been blind since birth. I received my first guide dog in 1975 and received my ninth guide dog on December 12, 2013. He is a 28 inch, 85 pound, black male Doberman Pinscher from a new guide dog school, Gallant Hearts Guide Dog Center, located in Madison, Mississippi. Ringo and his trainer arrived during our first snowstorm of the year and the worst snowstorm we had seen in five years. Thus began the most incredible experience I have ever had with a guide dog.
In addition to being blind, I was born with an orthopedic condition where my feet turn in, thus causing me to have to wear a pair of very extreme orthopedic shoes. Because of this condition, I needed a dog who would intuitively know that he had to be very careful on rough surfaces such as broken sidewalks and slippery surfaces such as ice and snow.
Within two days of meeting Ringo, I became aware of the care and concern that this dog exhibited for “his person”. He was willing to provide physical support when I needed assistance with balance, including using his body to hold me while going up and down stairs. He showed me hand rails for going up and down steps and avoided rough, icy areas, and, generally, was the most careful, gentle guide I had ever had the privilege of working.
Less than one week after the trainer left, Ringo and I went to a doctor’s appointment. We exited the para transit van, stepped on the curb and, shortly after the van left, a motorist in their vehicle came zooming along and jumped the curb. Ringo pushed me four feet away and out of danger.
In addition, less than two weeks after training, we took our first trip to the grocery store. We were approaching the entrance and out of nowhere a runaway grocery cart, which had escaped the large stack of carts that employees take into the store, came directly at us and once again Ringo pushed me out of harm’s way. The employee assisting me said in astonishment, “How did your dog do that?” To her query I replied, “He did that for me because he is a Doberman and he has a lot of concern and caring for my welfare.
Ringo has already, in just four months, surpassed any other guide dog I have ever worked. He has already saved my life and, in my opinion as a veteran guide dog user, shown exemplary ability. The Doberman is a much misunderstood breed but I hope I will always, for the rest of my life, be able to work one of these wonderfully sensitive, caring, concerned dogs.
Ringo gives me independence, he keeps me safe and gives me physical support, self-confidence, love and life. To me, Ringo is a hero every day.