We only learnt this very sweet story over the course of time, but we believe it is a story worth sharing.
Dee purchased a beautiful necklace and a cookie cutter from us, and sent us the loveliest of messages:
Through this lovely message, we learnt the wonderful story of Dee, and her seeing eye dog family. Dee has been without a furchild for a few months, after which she applied to Guide Dogs Queensland for a withdrawn or rejected guide dog. She was contacted not too long afterwards, with a special dog to rehome - one whose over-friendly nature made her unsuitable as a guide dog, as was her renal dysplasia. Candy had been rehomed a few times, but her new families found they were either unable to deal with her prescription diet or her exuberant personality. Candy was to find her furever home with Dee, a dog training instructor and vet nurse.
The remainder of this story is best told in Dee's words.
Candy (19 November 2004 to 30 December 2011)
To us, Candy was the perfect dog with perfect house manners. Candy enjoyed obedience and especially agility when she was younger, she also loved the beach and swimming. Over her lifetime with us she trained many seeing eye dog pups in doggy etiquette and general house rules, many of these dogs are now working seeing eye dogs. And of course she assisted in the training of my blind seeing eye dog puppy Tigger, teaching him the route to the grass to toilet, where the dog toys and water bowl were, and so on. She was endlessly patient with him when he accidently ran into her whilst playing or walked into her when she was sleeping. She was our best friend, we miss you so much Candy.
Tigger I knew before he was conceived; at the time I was breeding manager for seeing eye dogs, and I had spent a long time planning the litter and the mating. As soon as he was born, I loved him, but knew he could not actually be my dog.
Tigger was born and bred to be a seeing eye dog; his uncles are working seeing eye dogs, his mum is a brood for seeing eye dogs, and one of his aunts is a search and rescue dog. Many of Tigger's immediate relatives are working obedience and tracking dogs. So, when he and his six litter mates were born, he had a big working future ahead of him.
At 10 days old, his eyes opened and looked a bit different. I waited until the next day thinking they were just the usual milky newborn eyes, but they looked very odd the next day. The local specialist reproductive vet had a look and recommended I take him to the eye specialist vet, who diagnosed Tigger as having Peters Anomaly, a very rare congenital but not hereditary anomaly in dogs.
So we now had a totally blind seeing eye dog. The only information in dogs regarding Peters Anomaly I could find was a springer spaniel in the UK which was euthanised at eight weeks of age. Also in humans there were two forms of the anomaly, one affected internal organs and learning ability too. Fortunately Tigger checked out as perfect in every other way. I was determined that he would not be euthanased like the springer pup. So I adopted him from seeing eye dogs.
Tigger is now 14 months old and what a fantastic dog he is. He has won obedience competitions at our obedience club, also gaining the trophy for highest scoring dog in club competitions last year. He visits schools and assists me teaching high school pupils and adults on dog care. He is friends with everyone and everything, he really is a ray of golden sunshine, greeting each day with a smile and a wag.
Tigger has taught me so much not only about dog training for dogs with special needs, but about life too.
I always believe the right dog will find you and it always has been true with me.
At I Heart Dog, we also believe that Candy, Tigger, and quite a number of dog-related organisations and businesses have been very fortunate to have "found" Dee; we think she is such a kind-hearted, giving and caring lady, and we have no doubt that her input into the training and development of seeing eye dogs has made an incredible difference in the lives of so many humans who have been blessed with the presence of an assistance dog in their lives.
We believe Dee's story reminds us that there are so many ways we can help both dogs and with the contribution of dogs in society. Not only that, but Dee has managed to fit in both mentally and physically challenging activities - and bonding opportunities - around other very unselfish endeavours.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Dee. You are a very kind, genuine lady, and a source of inspiration to us.