Confident with a Guide Dog
One and a half years ago, Grayson DeLong graduated from Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) with Montana.
As a senior studying Neuroscience in college, Grayson wanted a guide dog to help her become more independent. In researching different guide dog organizations, she prioritized the support she would receive especially after graduation, which led her to discover Guide Dogs for the Blind. “I really wanted to be part of a community after I graduated, which is why I chose GDB,” says Grayson.
Grayson felt a strong connection with Montana when they first met, and since then has formed a strong team. “As someone who used a cane before partnering with Montana, I was so used to only trusting myself and relying on my decision-making. But Montana allows navigating to become a team effort and we bonded so quickly.”
Grayson is most appreciative of how Montana has made her confident in navigating outside. “It’s unlikely to always have someone around, so Montana is helpful because I can always depend on her to help me be independent.” For many visually impaired or blind individuals, crossing a street is scary, but with Montana, this is no longer the case for Grayson. “It’s so comforting to know that when Montana and I are walking across the street and if there is danger, she’s going to stop or back up to the curb, and I don’t have to worry about getting hurt.” Grayson has had countless experiences encountering potentially dangerous situations that Montana has avoided, such as cars suddenly appearing in her path. Montana also allows her to go out after dark. “Before, I was never able to go anywhere at night, but with Montana, I can go wherever I want, like the library, the local eatery, or a restaurant in town, and not be stressed out about it.” Grayson also enjoys going to the mall and the park with Montana and not having to worry about bumping into objects and people. “I feel like I can live my life now, she just gives me so much independence and confidence. ”
Montana also made Grayson emotionally confident. “During the pandemic, Montana helped me maintain a routine and kept my spirits up when things were not going well. Playing with her and seeing her happy, going outside with her is really nice.” In the future, Grayson plans to travel with Montana to different states, as well as go hiking and to the beach.
“I’m so thankful for GDB’s mission. They help so many people in such a big way. They’ve given me independence and my freedom to literally live my life to the fullest, knowing that it doesn’t matter if I can’t see, I can still navigate effectively and be a contributing person in society.” Grayson currently runs a Tiktok account where she educates people about guide dogs and how her visual impairment doesn’t prevent her from enjoying life.