Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Raising a Guide Dog

Name: Whitney Neumann
From: Pacific Palisades, California
Grade: 10th grade
School: Palisades Charter High School
Votes: 0

The dim lights inside Los Angeles Union Station bounce off Spence’s yellow ‘Guide
Dog in Training’ vest slightly illuminating the graffiti walls.
With the mundane moan of trains entering the station, I start my
commute with Spence 
the yellow Labrador I have been raising non-stop for the last eighteen
months. The workers of the morning hour look at me with a tinge of
empathy misconstruing my role with Spence. He is different than a
regular dog, unable to snuggle on the bed or run off leash, we
instead can go anywhere together; we are invincible.

After months of treat enticed training, Spence guides me onto the train with no
instruction. His tail wagging, I smile with a sense of accomplishment
as we head to our last Guide Dogs of America (GDA) training together.
I learned to adapt to uncomfortable situations and I grew from the
responsibility of my commitment because of his unique career for the
blind and all the rules that came with him as an eight-week old

As I turn my
best friend back into GDA forever, my blind Uncle Thaddeus’ words,
“Sight is a distraction,” play in my head. No longer perplexed, I
understand the insignificance of stereotypes. I bend down to give
Spence one last hug goodbye and I recognize his blindness to
prejudice. With eyes closed, my four remaining senses put darkness
into perspective and render outer beauty insignificant. I recognize
that my blindness to prejudice allows for pure human interaction.

With tears rushing down my face, I press my body against the cold metal bars to
stare at the cement walls that will be his new home while in formal
training. I take my last look at Spence and we both go our separate
me to college and Spence to a new adventure. Uncle Thaddeus’ guide
dog, Jasper, changed his life. I’m glad to be giving back this same
gift of sight to Spence’s future blind owner. I’m proud I stayed
true to an act of selfless devotion for a dog that was never my own.

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