Blind World Magazine

A guide dog of a different color.




Summit Daily News, Colorado.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006.




CAPTION: Summit County resident Vicki Cox is shown at the Oregon campus of the Guide Dogs for the Blind with her guide dog Redford. Special to the Daily


DILLON - Redford, a Guide Dog for the Blind, may not look like others in his profession. That's because Vicki Cox' guide dog, who recently arrived in Summit County, is the first Australian shepherd to graduate from the program.


A Labrador usually makes up the canine half of a Guide Dogs for the Blind team, but the organization decided to give the donated Australian shepherd a try after seeing the breed's success in similar programs. Cox said people are paying attention to Redford because of it, and so far so good.


"Kudos to the puppy raisers," she said. "When it's time to be calm and he's got his harness on, he's quiet and nobody knows he's there."


Cox, who answers phones for her husband's construction business in Whispering Pines near Summit Cove, recently spent a month at the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus in Boring, Ore., training with her new partner. The Australian shepherd already had five months of formal work behind him when the two met in July for team training at the campus. The sessions included learning to negotiate stairways, elevators, crowded sidewalks and busy streets together as well as bonding as a team.


Cox described the training course as enjoyable and said it wasn't only the canines who made an impact.


"I met a lot of fun people," she said. "I never laughed so hard. It was a good experience to be with a group of 12 people that were blind."


Cox has been in the county with Redford for six weeks now and is enjoying her new range of mobility.


She said she hasn't ventured all the way to Breckenridge yet, but has taken the bus around her neighborhood and beyond to Frisco with her new partner.


"He knows exactly what to do," she said. "I just feel a lot safer on the street. I used a cane before, but that's a different technique - a lot of investigation. With Redford I can just go. He's my eyes."


Cox has encountered a couple of problems since her return, however, which she hopes will dissipate with greater awareness of her situation. She said although Redford's harness is a "dead giveaway" to his status as a guide dog, she's still faced some questioning about her presence with the dog.


"By law the dog is allowed any place I'm allowed." Cox is also imploring the community to keep dogs on leashes in town. She said she's found Redford to be a magnet for loose dogs, making for an uncomfortable situation for Cox who can hear a dog growling, but can't see where it is.


Guide Dogs for the Blind is supported entirely by donation and volunteer time. Call (800) 295-4050 or visit


www.guidedogs.com


for more information.



http://www.summitdaily.com/article/20060911/NEWS/109110049




End of article.



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