All my life, I've volunteered somewhere. Growing up, I worked with the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind). The school/residence lay close to my home. It was a wonderful experience and I learned much about disabilities. These kids were not only blind but also developmentally delayed. Whenever I returned to Hamilton, I would spend time with the residents. My last job with them was being in charge of their Pet Corner. I would teach the children about animals and how to look after a pet.
When I was at the Tel Aviv University in Israel, I helped a blind woman record her school books and assignments into Braille. I would spend hours reading into a tape recorder so she could write them out. I also typed out her essays. It was wonderful being able to help her. I don't remember her name, but she was lovely and so smart. She did well in her studies.
In 1992, she travelled to Long Island, New York, to receive a seeing eye dog. Along with seven other people, she attended a guide dog school. She spent a few weeks with them learning how to work with her guide dog. I travelled there and stayed a few days. She was so happy to have me there so I could help translate when needed. I also took her shopping. Try explaining colours to a blind person.
The guide dog school was truly amazing. It was brilliant to watch the blind people who would normally walk hunched over and head down transformed with the dog to walking erect, head up and smiling. What a wonderful transformation. All of the people changed dramatically with a dog at their side. It made me cry numerous times.
I itched to pat and play with these guide dogs. I had never seen more beautiful dogs. Six were labs both yellow and black. There was a standard poodle and a golden retriever. Of course, I was not allowed to touch them since they were in work mode. But every evening, after the trainers had left for the day, everyone would bring their dog to me so I could finally lay my hands on them. I was in heaven.
From April to June, I have scheduled five signings. If you will be at the Burlington Indigo on Brant Street on Saturday, April 11th, come and say hello. I will be at Chapters in Meadowlands, Ancaster, on Saturday, May 9th, from 1 to 4 pm. On Saturday, May 16th, I will be at the Chapters in Guelph on Stone Road. I have two signings in June. On the 6th, I will be in Stoney Creek and on the 20th, I will be at the Chapters in Erin Mills, Power Centre.