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Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire (Drill)

Every day our dogs help people with mobility so they have the freedom to lead independent lives. Here’s an example of the important job our dogs have.

In June, Sandra Bullins of Johnson City, Tn. came to Southeastern Guide Dogs to get her first guide dog.  She was paired with a sweet black Labrador named Jim.  Sandra was looking forward to leading a more independent life and hoped Jim would allow that to happen.

After being home for a couple of months, Sandra and Jim had gotten into a routine, that was until a fire drill gave Jim a chance to show off his skills.  Here is that story in Sandra’s own words:

“Jim has a special pillow he rests on beside me at work. I run an industrial sewing machine that places buttonholes in a side of a helmet cover. I wear headphones, listening to books while I work.  About 11:15 am last Wednesday, the fire alarm went off — we were having a fire drill. The standard operating procedure was that the sighted employees would assist the blind out of the building. But on that day something different happened.

“I was sewing when the alarm sounded. I shut off my book player and took off my headphones. To my right, Jim sat up and licked my elbow.  I turned my chair to the left while moving his leash behind my back to my left hand. By the time I got my chair turned around, Jim was there beside me.  All I had to do was stand up and pick up the harness handle and then we were off. I did the hand signal for the "forward" command because the alarm was so loud you could not hear anything.

“My guide got me through the maze of machines and buggies to the door out and to the upper parking lot quickly and safely!

“He was the talk of the plant. Where others were confused and had to wait for help, my newly-found independence took me beyond my former limits. Jim did not hesitate one bit. He responded quickly to hand signals without me saying a word. He got so much well-deserved praise, I swear I think he was strutting the rest of the day!  Everyone was amazed, astonished, and could not believe it. He handled the situation like a pro!

“All I could say is...’That's what a well trained guide dog is supposed to do!’

“I send thank you after thank you to Southeastern Guide Dogs for my partner!”

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