There are several definitions for achievement, but I think my favorite is “a great or heroic deed.” To me that really defines an assistance dog. Great or small as the accomplishment or task might be, every single day of their lives these amazing dogs showcase their superior ability. Seeing as a definition alone can hardly encompass how profoundly these dogs influence our lives, I’ll let the posts speak for themselves.
One of the greatest advantages that an assistance dog partnership brings to a handler is independence. So it’s not surprising that this would be one of the most common topics that participants wrote about. By My Side‘s Katrin blogs about “The Achievement of Independence” through the different roles she has played with her two guide/service dogs. She states: “With the sense of confidence in myself and my own skills, entering into a partnership with Tom has been [successful] and rich in ways that my partnership with James had never been.”
Torie of The Average of by an Average Blogger writes about her journey to “Achieving independence” through her partnership with her guide dog. She sums everything up by writing about how her life has changed and notes that while some might not view it as much, she feels strongly that it wouldn’t have been possible without her assistance dog.
At My Life as a Blind Person, Michelle also writes about gaining greater independence through obtaining and being partnered with her guide dog in her post “Achievements.” She stresses how this achievement is complex in that it has layers built into it that are themselves achievements.
And Karyn from Through a Guide’s Eyes discusses the “independence [she has] gained by the massive achievement of training [her] dogs with all the naysayers out there” in her post “The Border Collie Boys” highlighting the specifics of training her service dogs and the lessons imparted from it.
Sometimes it’s the journey itself that is the achievement as Carin, of Vomit Comet, states: “Some people don’t understand what all goes into working with a guide dog. They don’t get the concept that the team’s learning doesn’t stop when they leave training. But truly, the life of a team is a great big string of achievements.” Her post “Figuring Each Other Out is an Achievement” further details the nuisances of a guide dog partnership that require time and effort to explore and fully understand.
Relatedly, in “A Puppy Raiser’s Achievement” at Plays with Puppies, Patti details the steps in preparing a puppy for his potential career as a guide dog. Or, more accurately, how she goes about her goal “to raise a puppy that is ready to take on the next step” by achieving the established standards outlined by Leader Dogs for the Blind.
Cait also writes about her goals, noting the progress she and her potential service-dog-in-training, Jack, are making and the sense of accomplishment that brings with it in her post “Deep Thinking” over at Dogstar Academy.
At Ruled by Paws, Brooke outlines the path that led to her having the confidence to raise and train her own service dog in “Achieving the Confidence.” She emphasizes: “I’m hoping Cessna will never stop challenging me to become a better person, and that she will help me teach Rogue how to walk in her shoes.”
Here at Gentle Wit I chronicled the “Trials and Triumphs” of my second guide dog’s health issues. The road itself was none too easy, but “obviously it wasn’t all for naught and we made it through . . . Not that I want to repeat it, but I don’t regret the struggle.”
“Achieving Team Balance” by Kimberly of Dog Days of Kimberfus, is also about health struggles. Specifically, she writes about the health issues in her second guide dog, Jack, and how that impacted her initial working relationship with her third guide dog, Abby. It’s an experience that I can personally relate to quite well (see the comments section on her post) and a truly inspiring piece that she happily concludes with: “Abby’s health issues played a part in our team taking longer to gel than I’d like, but hard work and determination on both our parts helped us keep the partnership and our bond intact. By our first team anniversary, we were a smooth tandem, gliding along, two bodies working as one.”
A Story of Hope is a website devoted to the memory of a Hope, a service dog who passed away from cancer in 2010. Her partner, Hopesclan, is currently fundraising to obtain her successor. In her post “When All Seems Lost” she blogs about the state of limbo she has been in and the grief she has dealt with since losing Hope: “I know Hope made me a better person and gave me a chance at a a much better life. With her I knew achievement. Where I go from here is a great unknown, but at least I now know the potential my life holds.”
Ending on a high note we have some posts that emphasize the accomplishments in an assistance dog partnership! In fact, a notable milestone happened at Dog’s Eye View. In “Achieving Team Success” Laura marks the one-year anniversary with her second guide dog, Jack, and notes the work that the two have put into maintaining their partnership. Specifically, she writes about how these accomplishments, both big and small, have led her back to “[her] regular life again.”
“I think how much better our partnership has improved is the real achievement here,” remarks Ashley who celebrates her half-year anniversary of her partnership with her service dog, Cole, in her lovely post entitled “Six Months and Stronger Than Ever over at The CRPS Girl.
Milestones aren’t always big events, though as Sharon, of After Gadget, statesin her post ”Our Recent Public Access Achievements.” She explains: “The achievements that Barnum and I celebrate are not the successes of a graduation or a title. Rather, they are small steps that are leading us — oh, so slowly, it often seems — along the path to a working partnership.”
Likewise, Martha at Believe in Who You Are writes about the accomplishment of her “First Major Trip” with her guide dog. She highlights their incredibly long bus ride to a fairly large convention and their initial work as a team on the streets of St. Louis.
Of course, what would a celebration be without a party? Last, but certainly not least is “Puppy Party,” at Allie’s Antics, where puppy raiser Wendy tells us all about the birthday party that was thrown for the first Guide Dogs of Texas litter of puppies. She’s included a slideshow of photos from the party and they are applicably adorable.
I would like to thank everyone helped make this edition of the ADBC a success by contributing posts and taking the time to read the submissions! I’m also extremely grateful for all the assistance I received in promoting the Carnival; it wouldn’t be nearly the success if there wasn’t a way to garner interest in the event itself. I sincerely hope that you all enjoy this edition a fraction as much as I have in organizing it. It was a great honor and a lot of fun!
If you haven’t yet, please take the time to show your appreciation to our many contributors by leaving a comment on their piece. We all might blog first and foremost for ourselves, but it can sometimes feel a bit lonely in the vastness of the Internet. Also, please share this link with others!