It’s never easy saying goodbye to a family pet. It’s even harder when you have to say goodbye to a constant companion who has been your guide and protector for almost 10 years.
Orléans deafblind athlete Kevin Frost had to recently say goodbye to his guide dog of nine and a half years, Lewis, after he was diagnosed with Stage II kidney disease.
|Orléans deafblind athlete Kevin Frost with his guide dog Lewis who had to be retired early this month after being diagnosed with Stage II kidney diseases. FILE PHOTO
“I was with my daughter and she said that Lewis looked a little lighter than normal, so I took him to the vet to have some blood work done and that’s when we found out he was sick,” says Frost.
The prognosis was later confirmed by Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind who told Kevin that Lewis would have to be retired, leaving Kevin with a difficult decision, he could either continue to care for Lewis and get him the treatment he needed, or hand him over to the organization who would find Lewis a new home and a family to spend his remaining years with.
“It was a difficult decision and then again it wasn’t. I had to think about what was best for Lewis and the best thing was for him to get treated by Canadian Guide Dogs and be with another family,” says Kevin. “Losing a pet is devastating. Losing a guide dog is traumatic because you are with each other 24/7.”
Lewis is 11 years old which is equivalent to 65 human years.
This is the second time that Kevin has had to say goodbye to a close companion. Ten years ago, he had to say goodbye to his first guide dog, Nemo, who had to be put down after he suffered a spinal stroke.
Kevin must now wait at least six month before he can get another guide dog, but it could take up to a year and a half. In the meantime, he will have to adapt to life without a guide dog.
In 2002, Kevin was diagnosed with Usher’s Syndrome Type 2 which has left him with five per cent tunnel vision and 15 per cent of his hearing.
A guide dog makes life much easier and safer for their owners. They help them avoid potential danger when going out and about. Kevin figures Nemo and Lewis have saved his life at least eight times, usually by preventing him from walking out into traffic. On one occasion, Nemo prevented him from walking in front of a bus. On another, he prevented Kevin from walking into an open manhole.
During the past nine plus years, Lewis has become a bit of a celebrity in Orléans and at the many sporting events Kevin has taken part in on both sides of the border. He will be sorely missed by everyone who has gotten to know him.
But with the end of this chapter in both their lives, another chapter will begin just like the chapters in Kevin’s upcoming book Deafblind Champion which he has written to provide hope and inspiration to others facing life’s challenges.