I think, in general, my job is pretty great. I get to hang out with dogs all day and meet the people that love them. Once a year, though, my job gets a little extra sweeter. In the month of May, I get to participate in the annual Service Dog Event. To give a little background, the ACVO (or American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists) promotes a yearly give-back event, during which service and military dogs get free eye examinations by veterinary ophthalmologists in the month of May. The eye examinations help detect and prevent eye problems for these amazing dogs.
This event is special to me because I meet so many dogs that make an unbelievable difference in people’s lives. I also feel blessed to hear the stories of these dogs. I can think of many special moments during the May events, but a few stand out.
One May, I met a lady (I’ll call her Susan) that told me the story of how she met her service dog, Bella. Susan had a degenerative muscle disease that confined her to a wheelchair and made it hard for her to grasp objects or open doors. She told me how helpless she felt and how much time she spent alone. She found out that she would be receiving Bella through Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a non-profit organization providing assistance dogs. Susan described how she met Bella, how she trained with Bella and how Bella traveled back home with her. Susan told me that Bella not only provides constant companionship for her, but Bella also helps her open doors, pick things up and perform tasks around the house. Susan sat with her hand on Bella’s head as she told me with pride about all the things Bella could do. She looked down at Bella and said to me, “You know, the best thing she’s done for me is make me feel happy again. I’m not alone anymore.”
Another young girl, Mary, told me the story of her debilitating anxiety that prevented her from going into public places, learning to drive or being around more than a few people at once. She said that she spent years in therapy and many psychiatrists gave her many types of medications. One doctor recommended a service dog for her. Her parents got her an assistance dog. Mary was telling me this as she was sitting in our busy clinic after she had driven herself to the appointment. I asked her how she could do all this. She said that her dog, Remington, had given her the courage to face her fears. She told me that the only medication she now took was when she had to fly. She said that she was a completely different person because of Remington.
These dogs that serve in homes or in the military transform people’s lives and they do it all selflessly and quietly. Their acts of love for people humble me and make me so grateful to witness their work. Every May, I can’t wait to examine these dogs and help them help others. I think it’s only fitting that we opened during the month of May.
If you have a service dog (or know anyone with a service dog), visit us for a Free Eye Exam during the month of May at our service dog event!
Want to know more about what we do at the Animal Eye Clinic? Visit us at: www.indyanimaleyeclinic.com.