[bksvol-discuss] Re: O_T A Tribute to Judson

  • From: "Regina Alvarado" <regina.alvarado6@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2011 12:03:03 -0400

Shelley:  What a wonderful tribute! Made me cry, and oh how much I can
understand and celebrate with you for my past guides! I have wonderful
memories of all of them, but there is just something about that first guide
who works harder than probably any future companion.  Run and play with no
pain Judson! I remember lots and lots of stories about how wonderful you
were! Hugs to you Shelley and thanks so much for allowing me to know him
from your posts! What heroes they all are!
Reggie and Brooks


From: bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:bksvol-discuss-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Julia
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2011 12:31 PM
To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [bksvol-discuss] Re: O_T A Tribute to Judson

Hi Shelley and list. 
    What a wonderful tribute to your guide companion. I can understand that
his loss would leave a hole. He clearly touched so many lives in positive
ways. Reading what you wrote, I'm touched by the grace and strength of him.


On 24/07/2011 2:43 PM, Shelley L. Rhodes wrote: 

Hi everyone, 
I needed to share this, it is something I wrote about my first Guide Dog
Judson, who passed away yesterday.  I am warning you it is long, but it
makes me feel better to explain what Judson did mean to me. 

A Tribute to Judson

Born: November 12, 1998

Died: July 23, 2011

     Judson, was first and foremost my Guide dog, my first Guide dog, but he
was also my friend my protector, my confidant, my comforter and space heater
on cold nights in college.  Judson taught me me things while I was working
with him, while we were partners, things I still remember and use till this

      I remember like it was yesterday, though now is eleven years ago, when
I went into the library at Guide Dogs for the Blind, with the empty leash
hoping to meet this mysterious dog that they wanted me to work with.  I
couldn't wrap my mind around the name Judson, what kind of a dog name is
that, and how am I going to handle a Golden Retriever and all that hair.  Is
this guide dog thing really for me.  Mark came in leading Judson, a large,
beautiful, reddish gold dog, who promptly walked up to me, held out a paw,
gave a huge sigh and then layed down at my feet.  I was kind of surprised,
and asked if this was normal, Mark said it was for this dog.  And that was
when I got my first lesson from Judson, whenever possible take a nap, or as
we called it in later years the "We stop, he drops off to sleep" procedure.

     Judson taught me about trust, patience and persistence when he and I
would work together.  On our first night route, a trip from the bus through
San Rafael to the lounge, something I had never liked doing since I was a
small  girl, as I couldn't see after dark, I had to for the first time put
my full and complete trust in him as a guide.  And he didn't let me down.
He walked confidently guided me to the curves, guided me to the street
crossings and we made it to the lounge.  He only made one mistake, he knew
where we needed to go, but I wasn't quite sure and thought he was wrong, but
he was right (usually the case) and when I got to the lounge I gave him a
huge hug.  That started our partnership that lasted for seven years.  In
that time, Judson gave me the courage to go away to college eight hours from
home, for me to get the courage to volunteer for and get paid for a job I
truly loved being a tour guide at campus, with Judson of course as secondary
tour guide,   O.k. so the customers liked him better, smile.  And even to
travel to big cities, and places that I would never dream of doing coming
from small town Corry.  With Judson by my side, we traveled to New York City
to see several broadway plays including Beauty and the Beast (he didn't like
the fireworks), Chichago, Rent (where he defended me against a homeless guy
who wanted to knew who had the guide dog), and Les Miserab, (Where Judson
thought the cannon fire was real, and the bells they used in the opening
song were going to attack him.)  We walked through Central Park , went to
Ground Zero, and walked in the Macey's Thanksgiving Day Parade (where of
course he thought all the cheering and clapping was for him alone, not that
guy called Kenny G. on our float or that guy called the Mayor, but for
beautiful Judson, and pranced down that route with pride).  He went to
Washington D.C. with me, toured the White House, and didn't get arrested for
peeing on the lawn, he did have to go, after all.  We traveled to Seattle to
a conference where I presented my first time, and he discovered that sea
otters are in his mind strange water dogs, I think the sea otters were
thinking he was a strange otter.  We went to New Orleans , and went to
Bourbon Street , nope the dog did not drink anything and we avoided the
puddles.  I never dreamed I would live or work in a large city.  My dad says
that Judson traveled and flew more miles than most people dog in their life
time and I know I wouldn't have done all that traveling without my guide.  I
knew if we got lost or stranded I wasn't alone, there were two of us to
figure things out.

     Judson lived with me through a lot of changes in my life, from my first
time away from home for a long period of time, when I went to Kutztown
University , an eight hour drive from my home, to my adventures in graduate
school in Kalamazoo Michigan , using buses on a regular basis, and my
internship in Ohio .  From loosing my grandfather, finding out what my
visual impairment was and the other medicaland health problems I had in
college.   And finally my first job, in Boston , Massachusetts , where
thankfully although I had never learned to use subways, Judson knew exactly
what to do and waswilling to teach me.  My mom and dad were confident I
would be o.k. in all of these adventures because I had Judson beside me.  He
was a truly good judge of character.  If he didn't like someone he would
give that person dirty looks and would growl under his breath, just enough
to let me know what he thought.  He also wouldn't let someone he didn't
think was good or safe pet him.  So if you were allowed to pet him you were
a good person in his book.

      Judson also took fame in stride.  He was one of the canine stars on a
Nature program called Dogs the Early Years, ended up on Fox Philadelphia as
a canine Tour Guide Dog, and CNN for the same, and he appeared in the
Kutztown University passbook, advertising the College of Education .  He
also received an Certificate of Service from the College of Education for
his efforts recruiting new students, volunteer work and therapy morale in
hard times such as during September 11, and when one of our classmates died
in a car accident my senior year.  He also wore his own cap made especially
for him by the College of Education on graduation day in 2004.

      Judson also was my assistant in my teaching.  With my fifth graders he
was a willing ice breaker to get the students talking, students would come
approach him if they had problems.  With my sixth graders he helped me teach
them science concepts such as physics (heavy dog will exurt pressure down on
human attempting to hold him up, while human struggles to exer equal amount
of pressure to keep dog up in air), English, we did an essay called "What
would Judson do?" and patience in hard times.  With my visually impaired
kids, he taught them, that dogs can be friendly, and safe and good friends.
He taught one young e lady who was away from home for the first time that it
was o.k. to be scared that there were always friends in strange places, and
to properly throw a Frisbee.  He taught another girl from Haitie that dogs
are friendly and they don't have sharp claws like cats do.  He taught
another student that perhaps a guide dog might be partner for her someday,
and that trust is allowing a new person to brush your teeth with the
handler's supervision of course.

     He also taught me persistence.  He was usually correct in the route we
should take but would be patient while I figured it out.  He would try to
get me to play ball with me instead of doing my homework, after all all work
and no play made Judson a dull dog.  And he taught me unconditional love,
working I think several more months after he no longer truly enjoyed the
work, but because I dependend on him.

     Judson retired on August 12, 2007, and has enjoyed a long and happy and
well deserved retirement as a pet with my parents.  He tolerated my second
dog Guinevere and welcomed my third guide Ludden into our home.  He
tolerated and understood me when I was on crutches after breaking my ankle,
was willing to go for slow and careful walks with me to rebuild my strength
and flexibility in my foot.  He loved his fetch and retrieving games.  And
every morning as Judden my current dog, and I went off to work, I sewar he
thought, "have fun you sucker, you have to go to work, while I sleep in, ah,
the life."

     But the years of work took their toll.  Judson's left hip could not
support him anymore, and his right wasn't any better.  He was getting tired,
wasn't playing anymore, showing interest in food (he was a alarm clock you
could rely on when he was younger) and he couldn't get up and do the things
he wanted to.  On Thursday, he was not able to get up to get water, and
tried very hard to.  We knew it was time.  Yesterday, he slipped away
peacefully to Rainbow Bridge, where I know he is swimming in the clean clear
river under the bridge, playing fetch with the children there and rolling in
the grass with his pals Shadow, Lindy and all the dogs who have gone before
him.  I know he is free from paink, allergies, aches and pains and I know he
will be waiting for me at the Bridge when I come there someday.  I miss you
Judson, there is a whole in my heart where you used to be, but I know you
have left me in good paws with Ludden.  I love you dog, my partner, my guide
and my friend.  You are a reflection of God's love, after all dog backward
is God.  Be free.

Shelley L. Rhodes, M.A. CVRT
and Ludden black Labrador Guide Dog. 
Diamonds may be a woman's best friend, but a dog is mine.

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