Reversal of Fortune: An Extraordinary Story of a Guide Dog

guide dog-9 - CopyFor a number of people, their eyes are a cold nose: a Guide Dog. Those of us with vision and a pet dog can readily attest to the bond we share. Surely then, we can understand that for people depending on a guide dog, that bond is acutely magnified.

We appreciate that the interdependence between a person with impaired vision and his or her  guide dog transverses the concept of love, for such teams manage within a rarefied sphere, transcending even the predicates of praise. This type of working dog is undoubtedly deserving of every accolade we can bestow.  Thus, it is not surprising that among the stories we research to bring to our readers at mymagicdog, a significant number of them include these exceptional assistance dogs.

In a place that brings to mind the adventures of Robin Hood – Nottinghamshire, England – a young, blind girl named Sheila Hocken, was given another kind of gift, happily not coins from a robber but a guide dog named Emma.guide-dog-3

Sheila and her guide dog, Emma, did well together.  Emma, a chocolate Lab, would probably have been accorded some kind of fame in the annals of dog stories simply by virtue of the fact that she lived to be the oldest guide dog on record: a remarkable seventeen years.  But that is only part of the story.

In 1975, Sheila underwent an operation that partially restored her sight. At almost the same time, Emma developed cataracts and went blind herself.  In a remarkable reversal of roles, and some might say, fortune, Sheila then became the eyes for her guide dog. As Sheila knew first-hand the difficulties for an individual who is blind, she was Emma’s ideal partner. After Emma died on November 17, 1981, Sheila became a dog trainer and eventually wrote books about dogs starting her first one with, of course, her devoted guide dog, called Emma and I.    B-92-Guide Dog

paw prints (crop from frame)

For a touching story of a blind dog, and the two canines who guide her:
A blind dog’s “seeing eye” companions
To learn more about guide dogs, here are three resources:
The Seeing Eye
Guide Dog Foundation
Guide Dogs for the Blind
For a list of the closest guide dog organization near you, go to:
Guide Dog Foundation global network, then choose “Closest Guide Dog Provider” from their home page
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11 Responses to Reversal of Fortune: An Extraordinary Story of a Guide Dog

  1. Fran June 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    This is so heart-warming. What would we do without our dogs?

  2. Mary E. Trimble June 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    This is a touching story. Come to think about it, I’ve never heard of a dog having surgery for cataracts. I wonder if they do. It’s a relatively simple procedure for humans now, I understand.

  3. Ann Barbas June 10, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  4. Norman Wilson June 10, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

    Just this week we had a guide dog jump in front of a bus to save its owner. Remarkably, it only suffered leg injury. It is just another example of the inter-dependence between man and his best friend.Great story, Patricia.

  5. peggy June 10, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

    This is an incredible story! It’s almost as though there was a form of metamorphosis happening, where Sheila and Emma switched places, therefore giving Sheila the opportunity to serve her dog as Emma had served her. Thus Sheila gained the
    knowledge from both sides regarding dog care, and ultimately was able to use all her knowledge for the benefit of many.

    Thank you!

  6. Susan greif June 12, 2015 at 3:18 am #

    This is a great book for my granddaughter( I think ). What age would you suggest and where can I purchase it. Thank you and keep bringing us more stories like this.

    • Dr. B July 9, 2015 at 7:40 am #

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks for your response. I believe a child 8 or above could read and enjoy the wonderful story, “Emma & I” by Sheila Hocken, which describes the incredible story of her guide dog. I found the original version of “Emma and I” at our local library, published in 1978. It is still possible to purchase a new copy, however. Happily it was reprinted in 2011, so you should be able to find it — or at least order it — at your local bookstore. And, of course, there is always Amazon! Good luck and thanks for writing to My Magic Dog. We love it when one of our posts inspire someone to read more about the topic!

  7. Kathleen Kaska June 12, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    This choked me up! Love it!

  8. Marie Grime June 14, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    BEAUTIFUL story, although it’s so sad that the poor baby went blind herself. My beloved Timon, the world sweetest Chihuahua, lived to age 21, if the vet was accurate in his assessment. He estimated this poor skinny little rat-like thing that came to my door as “9 or 10 years old,” and we kept him 11 more years.

    Poor thing, though. toward the end he was blind, deaf, and limping. People hinted that perhaps I should euthanize him, something I’ve never done and hope I never have to. My reasoning: He showed no signs of being in pain, his appetite was good, he was still joyous when either of us walked in the door, and he had learned to get around our little 900-square-foot townhouse with no trouble. Even when we bought new rattan dining room chairs, he learned to simply walk through them when he encountered them.

    We had a backyard fence that was openwork iron. He hadn’t gone through them since he first came to our house, probably never wanted to, but apparently one day in the yard, he confused them with our dining room chairs, walked through, and fell into the lake behind our house.

    My husband got to him while I was still combing the neighborhood in the other direction in search of him. My greatest comfort is that he lived long, was happy and relatively healthy until the end, and went quickly.

    I agree with one of your other comments, if they can do cataracts so easily on people — and I know the difference they make, I had them done myself — why can’t they do it for dogs?

  9. Liz Tarbet June 24, 2015 at 1:20 am #

    Thank you for sharing the wonderful love story of Sheila and Emma. It made me smile :o)

  10. Linda Ablin September 2, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    Dear Dr. Bloom

    Such lovely stories. I always start my day off by reading your Blog

    Your bigest fan.

    Linda Ablin

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