Welcome to the current series of Posts from Your Archives… and I will be picking two posts from the blogs of those participating from the first six months of 2020. If you don’t mind me rifling through your archives… just let me know in the comments or you can find out the full scope: Posts from Your Archives – Pot Luck – 2020
This is the second post from author Patty Fletcher and is a post from Patty’s WordPress Wednesday Feature and is an interview with an inspiring lady and her journey.
Angela’s Journey #Fundraiser#ServiceDog
Hello campbellsworld visitors. Today, I’d like to bring to your attention a problem that most are probably not aware of, and that is, the need for ‘service dogs’ which are trained to do multiple tasks.
My friend Angela is disabled in a way that causes her to need such a dog.
Now, you’re probably thinking…
“OK. There’s a school for that, and it’s a nonprofit, so, like ‘Guide Dogs’ that’s free, right?”
Here’s Angela to tell us more…
First, tell us a little about you, who you are, where you live, and anything else you’d like to share about your life.
Hello to all. My name is Angela Latessa and I’m 37-years-old. I’m from Cleveland Ohio. I live with my roommate. I have 5 cats who are all rescues and a retired Seeing Eye dog.
What is your disability, and what caused it?
I have 2 brain injuries which resulted in my sight loss and epilepsy.
I was born 3 months early at only 2 lbs. I had birth trauma from umbilical cord strangulation and had to be resuscitated twice. Throughout most of my life I had low vision.
i didn’t find out about the epilepsy until I was a freshman in high school when a school nurse saw me in the hallway having a seizure and told my parents.
The seizures became so bad by the time I was in my 20s I had 1-4 a day, for 5-7 days a week. So, they quickly added up. I finally decided enough was enough and wanted to go through brain surgery, so I didn’t have to have them anymore.
In 2013, I had almost the entire right hemisphere of my brain removed and haven’t had a seizure since. But the surgery was complicated by bacterial meningitis and that caused me to have more problems.
I understand that you’re raising funds to acquire a Service Dog which will be able to perform multiple tasks. Tell us about the place from where this dog will come, and what it will be trained to do for you?
I have had 3 dogs from The Seeing Eye in the past, so I thought getting another dog would be a piece of cake. However, things didn’t turn out as I thought they would.
I tried several different guide dog and a few Service Dog schools and had lots of problems due to my brain injury. Either some places would train for brain injured Veterans but not the average citizen, or they didn’t know how to train for guide work. I couldn’t find anywhere that would train for both brain injury and blindness.
It was my roommate Stephen who found Sit Service Dogs for me. He kept saying, “There must be a place that bridges the gap between blindness and brain injury.”
We talked with them, and they said they could help us since they like complex cases which is exactly what I have.
They said we had to fund half of the cost of training. They pay for the other half. In total, the cost of the training of the dog is $30,000. They said we could either save or fund raise. So I chose the fundraising route.
Sit Service Dogs is located in Ava Illinois and they train dogs for people who have neurological and physical disabilities.
My dog will be trained in specific tasks relating to my brain injury and blindness. These tasks are, neurofeedback loop for ongoing seizure detection, changes in terrain as part of guide work. This is for things like curbs, steps, and low obstructions. They don’t train for overhanging obstacles, but I believe I have enough knowledge to train that part of the dogs learning myself after working as many years as I have with guide dogs. The dog will also protect me from traffic and will help me cross the street safely. Routine regulation, brace work, deep pressure therapy, and alerting another adult in the event of a medical crisis such as seizure or a fall.
If you’re able to obtain such a dog, how will it enhance your life?
I will be able to travel safely again. I had used my limited sight for so long and had remembered most of my routes with no problem. Now that I have problems with memory, cognitive mapping issues, no usable sight, vertigo, and going out with too much noise at one time, this dog will help me to feel independent again since I know I won’t fall, and I can get help in case of an emergency, and I can do as little or as much as I want and I don’t have to meet anyone’s expectations but my own.
How much funding have you raised, and how much do you still need to raise?
So far, we have raised $9,500, so we’ve a way to go. After we pay our portion, the remainder of the cost will be covered by a generous grant from The Chelsea Hutchison Foundation in Colorado.
Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your situation that I’ve not asked about?
Just that anything is possible. This was so overwhelming in the beginning since I didn’t know if I could raise the needed funds, but with help from my friends, family and others who didn’t know me, this dream has begun turning into a reality for me when I didn’t know if I would ever work with a dog again. So, I just wanted to tell others not to give up on their dreams.
Angela, I agree with you. ‘Anything is possible.’ This is so exciting! Thank you for sharing your situation with us. Please do write often to keep us updated on your progress.
The best way to know what’s happening is to follow the Fundraiser over on Facebook. Here’s that link for an update on 30th August: Angela’s Facebook Donation page
And to visit the main site for SIT Service Dogs see: SIT Service Dogs
Thanks to everyone in advance for reading and contributing.
©Patty Fletcher 2020
About Patty Fletcher
I’m a single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom I am very proud. I have a great son-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren. Three girls, and two boys. I hope to be able to write more about them later. I own and handle a Black Labrador from The Seeing Eye™ named Campbell Lee–a.k.a. Bubba Lee or King Campbell, to give just a couple of his nicknames. King Campbell is now retired and I hope to return to The Seeing Eye in spring of 2020 to obtain a successor guide.
I was born in Kingsport, Tenn., where I also grew up and now live and work.
About my blindness: I was born one and a half months premature. My blindness was caused by my being given too much oxygen in the incubator. I was partially sighted until 1991, at which time I lost my sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. I used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.
One of the recent reviews for Bubba Tails
Bubba Tails: From the Puppy Nursery at the Seeing Eye is a delightful story for all ages, told from the perspective of King Campbell, an older and more experienced Seeing Eye dog (trained to guide the blind). King Campbell appears at night to the puppies at the Seeing Eye School, and their mothers, and tells them stories about how he came to be selected for the school, his training process and meeting his forever mother. His stories help to allay some of the puppies own concerns and anxieties about the future when they undergo their training to be Seeing Dogs and eventually become companions to a blind person.
This is a most insightful book about how Seeing Dogs are selected, including the qualities they need to have to do this job, as well as the training process they go through before they are matched with a blind person. I say matched because that is exactly what happens, the person is paired with a suitable canine companion. I thought this was very interesting as I had never really thought about how close the relationship between a blind human and their Seeing Dog is prior to reading this book.
The second part of the story when Campbell meets his new forever owner was the most meaningful for me. It was a wonderful experience for me to learn about how the Seeing Dog and their new owner must adapt to working together. The Seeing Dog needs to learn to read their human owner’s body language and respond to subtle signals. The human must also learn to trust their dog and this is quite a difficult thing to do. I can understand that putting your faith in a dog, no matter how much you love it, must initially be difficult when you are unable to see and protect yourself. I loved reading about how this amazing trust developed between Campbell and his owner.
This is a book that everyone can read and enjoy for the story and also appreciate for its detailed insight into the relationship between Seeing Dogs and their owners, and also the world at large.
Thank you for dropping by today and Patty would love to read your feedback and if you would like to participate in this series here is the link again: Posts from Your Archives – Pot Luck – 2020