Lions Highlight

Published in: Update - Issue 2 - 2014 »   
Client Debbie Dayton sits facing the camera and smiling with her left arm around her Leader Dog, Patrick, a golden retriever

Lion Debbie Dayton and LD Patrick

For 25 years, dependable, “go-to” Debbie Dayton managed a very busy Secretary of State office. When her vision declined, it was like hitting a brick wall. “People used to come to me for help, now I had to ask for help. I was no longer independent. I just sat at home.” Things began to change when Debbie met a woman with a Leader Dog while on an outing in a local mall with a group of people who were visually impaired. Debbie was so impressed by how well the woman traveled with her dog that she applied to Leader Dog. Soon she was getting out of her house with Leader Dog Joshua at her side.

“My friends [with visual impairment] called to go to the mall—they wanted to see what Joshua could do. As we took off, I started talking to them but eventually realized no one was answering. I had totally left them behind!” Debbie had been the least skilled traveler in the group, but now with LD Joshua, she was leaps and bounds ahead of the rest. Today, Debbie and her second Leader Dog, Patrick, go everywhere with complete confidence.

Debbie recalls being at Leader Dog with Joshua, “I saw the impact Lions had on Leader Dog and I thought ‘Wow! I want to be a part of that!’” She became a Lion in the spring of 2002 and has twice served two-year terms as club president, zone chair and region chair. She has shared her experience with thousands of people and continues to spread the mission of Lions and Leader Dogs for the Blind.

During our 75th Anniversary Open House, Debbie and Leader Dog Patrick demonstrated to guests how Patrick can be “patterned” to a route. Patterning is when a client points out a space or object to his or her Leader Dog so that the dog can remember it on its own. Debbie showed how Patrick could correctly take her to a particular office, a certain chair or the copier when directed.

“He’s just amazing,” she told guests. “I can go in any entrance at the mall near my house and tell Patrick, ‘Find Macy’s,’ and he’ll take me there.”