Today is National Seeing Eye Dog Day and we're recognizing one guide dog here in Central Texas with a very important job.
The walks start early for the who share a busy schedule.
"Between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. we take off and try to get our two miles in every morning," said Jerry Celey.
Celey and his guide dog, Simone, have an unbreakable bond after being paired together in 2015.
"I knew we were meant to be together," said Celey. "Everybody said it was a match made in heaven and I truly believe that. She amazes me every day."
Retina detachment caused Celey to lose his sight unexpectedly. It happened to one eye in 2008 and the other in 2013.
"I had one of the eyes removed last year," said Celey. "They say it's the film in your camera and it's not working."
Although he misses riding his Harley daily, Celey said Simone has given him a second chance at life.
"Kind of that battery that keeps me going," said Celey. "I don't think, if she wasn't there, that I would continue to push myself as hard as I do."
He exercises, takes his grandchildren to the zoo and even volunteers in Blind Rehabilitation at the Waco VA where he inspires others to strive for independence.
Randy Kohl is a blind rehabilitation specialist at the Waco VA. He said they focus mainly on cane skills, but he's seen the great work dogs can do.
"Dogs are taught intelligent disobedience," said Kohl. "If you're coming to a street and the owner says 'go' the dog will disobey that command if there's an object in that path of travel."
He said guide dogs and canes allow people to stay active after they lose their sight, which improves their overall quality of life.
"Even if it's just walking down the street to the coffee shop or to the barber shop, we want them to be able to get out and go do what they used to do every day," said Kohl. "Live that normal life, have that routine, don't stay shut in all the time."
Simone is always on the clock, taking great care to lead her handler in the right direction. Celey said she even led him to the love of his life.
"She's given me the courage and the independence that I needed to continue my life after sight," said Celey. "If I hadn't have had that, I wouldn't have walked up and asked my wife out to lunch!"
The perfect happy ending for a man who refused to quit.
"This is a journey and it doesn't have to be a bad one," said Celey. "I'm truly grateful for the opportunities I have because of Simone."
Celey received Simone through an organization called Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Ben Cawley, director of admissions at Guiding Eyes for the Blind sent Central Texas News Now this statement regarding Celey's story.
“Guiding Eyes for the Blind is thrilled to have Jerry and Simone as one of our Graduate Teams. Jerry is a kind and supportive individual towards everyone he meets and especially towards his guide dog Simone. Together the team has blossomed and have been working exceptionally well together for two and a half years. We congratulate Jerry and Simone on their success together!”
For more information on Guiding Eyes for the Blind, click here.
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