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Laura Jotham and Hedda

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I enjoyed writing this article about Laura and her new guide dog Hedda. Laura suffers from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a blinding eye disease that affects premature babies. Laura is close to finishing high school and in order to go to college and live a more independent life she decided that she would need a guide dog to help her get around. Page two is a follow up article about Laura. Hedda unfortunately didn't work out with Laura and her family so she had to get a replacement guide. I enjoy the read of the second article because even though Laura and Hedda didn't work out, there is still a positive side, Laura getting a second chance to be independent with another guide.

Text of Laura Jotham and Hedda

  • Harness, Hedda, said16-year-old Orangevilleresident Laura Jotham, asshe stood holding a blackCanine Vision Canada(CVC) harness in front ofher small black LabHedda.

    Hedda was almostimmediate in her response.Putting her head through

    the harness, she waitedpatiently for Laura tosecure it to her small body.

    Laura and Hedda havebeen together now for amonth. The first 26 ofthose days were spent inOakville at the Sir JamesDunn Dog Guide TrainingCentre, created by theLions Foundation ofCanada.

    Ive never stayed

    away from home that longbefore by myself, saidLaura. I thought it wasgoing to be a completelyuncomfortable situation.But it was great, the staffwas great and the accom-modations were fantastic.

    Laura has Retinopathyof Prematurity (ROP),which is a blinding eyedisorder that primarilyaffects premature infants.Laura was born at 26weeks, spending almosthalf the first year of herlife in hospital. She devel-oped ROP during thattime.

    Laura is legally blindwith only 10 per centvision in her right eye, andnone in her left. Sincecompleting the program inOakville she has found shecan move through life withmore confidence.

    Its not necessarilythings I wouldnt havedone before, but now Imjust that much more confi-dent, said Laura. I dontneed to wait for someoneto take me or wait for afriend to go with me.

    Since graduation Laurahas been readjusting to life

    at home with her newcompanion.

    Its been a bit difficultjust because I have to bal-ance her (Hedda) andschoolwork and every-thing else, she said. Shewas quick to add that heranxiety came from beingunable to relate to thisexperience and not know-ing what to expect.

    Laura commented thatshe was glad the programwas a bit lengthy. She wasable to establish a workingroutine with Hedda thathas continued since theyarrived home.

    Greg Clarke, CVCshead trainer in Oakville,said that for clients theprogram doesnt end at theend of the training session.After the client returnshome, within between twoweeks and a month a train-er will visit them at hometo make sure the dog is lis-tening to commands andthe client is happy.

    I can vouch for a thor-ough, all-encompassingcurriculum, Laura said.She commented thatthroughout her time inOakville they were given

    various tasks to accom-plish that simulated reallife.

    It costs $6,000 to traina dog in the Canine visionprogram, said Mr. Clarke.Funds as well as the num-ber of dogs bred andaccepted to the trainingprogram are among theproblems that face theLions Foundation ofCanada.

    There is no cost to aclient, he added.Everythings coveredfrom (the client) beingassessed, flying toOakville or any othertransportation to get here,their stay here is all takencare of.

    Since her enrolment inthe program Laura andHedda have accomplisheda lot together.

    We did a trip inDowntown Toronto usingthe subway, using theescalators, Laura said.She commented thatbefore Hedda she was ter-rified of both those things.But now its like noth-ing.

    They also did thePurina Walk this past

    weekend. It was really, really

    good, she said. I thinkits important for people tosee the end result, whatthey are helping accom-plish.

    She stated that the walkis something that shehopes to continue doingannually with Hedda.

    Walk for dog guides isa big fundraiser for theprogram, it helps us con-tinue what we are doing,said Mr. Clarke.

    Before, the CVC uni-versity for Laura was start-ing to fade away for her.Now, it is still a bigunknown but now sheknows that wherever sheends up going, she wontbe alone.

    On the back ofHeddas tag it says Pathto Freedom, which is real-ly what she is, Laura saidof the dog resting patientlybeside her. I think thereshould be more facilitieslike this and I think thatanyone who can partici-pate or volunteer theirtime or donate shouldbecause its a great thingto do.

    Orangeville Citizen/Free Press and Economist June 10, 2010 A5

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    able to service it for hous-ing.

    Mr. Young sought tohave the 20 acres redesig-nated but Mr. Wever saysit would be difficult tomeet the provincial criteriafor including it for devel-opment.

    However, the councilwill consider the request

    prior to next Mondaysmeeting, after which thefinal draft of the OPreview is expected to becirculated to the provinceand various agencies.

    Three of the major con-siderations for the firstdraft would be therequired sidewalks, theheight restrictions, andpossibly the Besleyrequest.

    From page A4

    Challenged by PPS

    Black Lab Hedda now Lauras eyesBy LINDSEY PAPP

    Staff Reporter

  • The Mono Nordic SkiClub will hold its 11thannual trail run thisSunday, October 17.

    One of the most populartrail runs of the fall season,the event will take place atMonora Park, just north ofOrangeville on Highway10. Its features include amulti-purpose area for useby participants before andafter the run; alunch/snack bar andindoor washroomsequipped with showers.

    There will be doorprizes as well as prizes forthe top male and femaleparticipants and top threeelementary-level racers.

    The trail run will usethe clubs five-kilometrecross-country ski trail,which takes participantsthrough a colourful standof hardwood trees, somefragrant pines and past aninviting pond, as well asup and down some chal-lenging hills.

    And this year the club isoffering a new event in theform of a unicycle race

    over the full five kilome-tres.

    All told, therell be1.5k, 5k and 10k runs,with the shortest for ele-mentary school childrenand the longer runs for allfive categories elemen-tary, high school, post-sec-ondary, Open and Master(40 years and over).

    The event, which willstart at 10 a.m., involvespre-registration fees of $5for kids 12 and under, $15for youths 13 to 18, $20for adults and $10 for allentrants in the unicyclerace.

    Entrants will berequired to sign waiversand register no later than9:30 a.m. Sunday. Youthsand adults registering onrace day will face an addi-tional $5 fee.

    All proceeds will go tothe clubs racing program.

    It has been four monthssince Laura Jotham gradu-ated from the Sir JamesDunn Dog Guide TrainingCentre and came home toOrangeville with her dogguide Hedda. Since then,Laura has had to be re-enrolled into the trainingprogram with her new dogWatson.

    Laura has Retinopathyof Prematurity (ROP), ablinding eye disorder thatprimarily affects prema-ture infants. She devel-oped ROP after she wasborn and today is legallyblind with only 10 per centvision in her right eye andnone in her left.

    Laura plans on further-ing her education afterhigh school. Having aguide dog that is able tokeep up with how she willbe living her life in thefuture was really impor-tant to her.

    With Hedda, I had herat home for a couple ofmonths and she wasntkeeping up with me, shesaid.

    During a follow-upvisit from Lauras trainer itwas decided that Hedda

    wasnt working out wellenough for Lauras needs.Hedda was brought backto the school to see if someextra training would helpiron out the problems shewas having.

    If I wanted to get upand go, she wouldnt getup for me, she wouldntgo, said Laura. Heddawas great in training butshe wasnt working outwhen she came home.

    There was no changeand it was agreed that anew dog should bebrought in.

    Laura says she was notdeterred by her experiencewith Hedda. She under-stands that sometimes adog and a person are notwell suited for one anoth-er, and she is much moreoptimistic about her newguide, Watson.

    He is fantastic, hekeeps right up with me,she said. We have offi-cially been training togeth-er for three weeks.

    Watson is a two-year-old golden Lab cross who,according to Laura, has agreat work ethic.

    He will lie low whileIm in class but when wehave to go hell get up andgo.

    Instead of requiring herto go back to Oakville fora month to complete thetraining for a second time,the Sir James Dunn DogGuide Training Centre hasbeen very accommodat-ing. They are allowingLaura and Watson a homeplacement where theirtrainer will visit them acouple times a week sothey can train together inLauras home environ-ment.

    Its my grade 12 yearand I cant afford to take amonth off school thisyear, said Laura. Theschool is so great, Imreally blessed to havethese people in my life.They are very accommo-dating.

    A trainer visits Lauraand Watson a couple timesa week in Orangeville towork with them.

    The school is there if Ineed them, and training inmy area is working outwonderfully, said Laura,who will be graduatingfrom the program inNovember. She has plansto visit the Lions Clubaround Christmas to showthem how she and Watsonhave been doing.

    Orangeville Citizen/Free Press and Economist October 14, 2010 A11

    From page A8

    > OUR BUSY BEE PROGRAM FOR AGES 3-5 Music and Movement during the early childhood stages are impor-tant for healthy child development. That is why HRC is introducing the Busy Bee Program. This one hour program will include:

    s music & movement

    s instrument exploration

    s agility & hand eye-coordination activities

    s active games & more!

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