A Great Attitude Knows No Age
By Guest Writer Peggy O'Dell
Bob Justin is the kind of guy you want to be your next-door neighbor. Always smiling and quick with a joke, the former Marine credits his positive attitude with helping him get through many difficult times in his life, including the year he spent in Vietnam. "Attitude is the most important thing in the world," he says.
So when he lost the sight in his right eye in 1988, followed by his left eye 20 years later, he relied on his upbeat attitude and his family and friends to help get him through. "I'm not a rock kicker, I'm a positive person," says Bob. Still, he knew he would be forced to slow down from his active lifestyle.
During a stay at the Hines VA Hospital in Chicago, Bob met a former Marine from Michigan who told him about Leader Dogs for the Blind. "He told me Leader Dog was the best place to go to get a dog. He said everything there was first class and top notch." At 70, the lifelong "dog person," who had never seen a guide dog in his town, traveled to Rochester Hills to meet the dog that would not only be his loyal companion, but who would also change his life.
Leader Dog Lego enjoys accompanying
Bob to the gym, especially because he gets
to relax while Bob is working out!
Bob was matched with Lego, a golden retriever. "I don't know how they do it, but Lego is the perfect dog for me. They sure know how to make the best matches," he says. "I was so excited to meet him, and I trusted him from the first day. He's perfect."
Bob and Lego trained in a variety of locations, from residential and downtown areas, to stores and restaurants. They also trained extensively on the Leader Dog campus. "We worked hard together so we wouldn't be embarrassed when we got home," Bob says, laughing.
Bob may be older than most clients are when they receive their first dog, but he said he would recommend it to anyone, regardless of age. "The staff here is unbelievable. They are so hardworking and full of energy. And they are fun too. I really like to laugh and have a good time," he says.
With Lego by his side, Bob was confident he would be more active when he returned home to Iowa. "I'm just not a sit on the couch kind of guy," he says. "I had a route planned out for us to walk at home before I left Leader Dog." He also likes taking Lego to the gym for his twice weekly workouts and including him in his work with the Shriners, a group he has been involved with for more than 30 years. "I march with the Shriners, and now Lego can march with me."
Bob and Lego take a break while walking around
town and spend a few minutes talking about their
morning (Ok, Bob talked, Lego listened).
Lego may also have a future in education. "I used to go in to the schools and talk about the Vietnam War," Bob says, "But now I would like to take Lego and teach the kids about guide dogs. I think it would be fun."