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Humans with CNIB Guide Dogs – Shelley & Rookie

Photo of Shelley sitting on a wooden porch, smiling while giving Rookie a big hug.
"Having a guide dog in my life gives me freedom and independence that I never had with my cane." – Shelley

"I was so excited to meet Rookie.  He was so calm and sweet, and interested in everything around him. It took a couple minutes for him to say hello because he was fascinated by the scent of my cat and retired guide dog. Rookie gets jealous when I give other dogs attention and he's a tad clumsy, which is so cute.  But when his harness is on, he's up to the task and eager to please. Having a guide dog in my life gives me freedom and independence that I never had with my cane. I have the confidence to go places I wouldn’t have visited before. I can go to the mall and do all my shopping with Rookie. He can take me straight to bus stops that I have taught him or stores that we go to often. I always felt very vulnerable with my cane and lacked confidence but having a guide dog makes getting around easy. The cool thing about Rookie is that he was raised by the Ottawa Senators' graphic designer, so he spent most of his days at the arena and hung out with the team. During his first year, as Rookie the Sens Pup, he had 8,000 followers on Instagram. Now, you can follow him on Instagram at @Rookie_the_guide_dog. I had two guide dogs before Rookie. A couple of years ago, my previous guide dog and I were returning from a business trip at night. My flight was delayed, and I was so tired that I just wanted to get home. As I walked outside and approached the nearest taxi at the airport, the driver looked at my guide dog and refused us; he stated he had allergies, but he didn't have a doctor’s note on hand. While we were able to get in another cab, it was so frustrating because it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I took the driver to court. I was hoping to set a precedent – guide dog teams are refused service way too often and nothing happens. Fortunately, this driver was fined. Everyone needs to know the rights of guide dog handlers. I want to live in a world where I don’t have to fight for a cab or argue with someone about my rights. It’s so important because guide dogs are amazing creatures. They enhance the lives of those who rely on them in so many ways. The bond that is created between human and dog is immeasurable. The freedom, independence, and confidence that Rookie brings to my life is priceless. Everyone who wants to have a guide dog in their life should be able to have one. Having a guide dog is a right, not a luxury, and they belong everywhere that their handlers are – it’s the law." – Shelley