Celebrate National Guide Dog Month with Natural Balance
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Celebrate National Guide Dog Month with Natural Balance

September is National Guide Dog Month. It's the perfect time to learn about what life might be like for people who are blind or visually impaired. What is it like to "see" through the eyes of a guide dog?

In celebration of the National Guide Dog Month, Natural Balance, the maker of premium-quality pet food, and Guide Dogs for the Blind (a non-profit charitable organization that raises and trains exceptional guide dogs to serve the blind and visually impaired) have recognized the "Top Human-Canine Teams Who Make Us Believe."

These nine teams are outstanding examples of the amazing partnerships possible between humans and canines. I was particularly inspired by Ashleigh and here guide dog Yuri, and I'd like to share their story with you:
Imagine, for a brief moment, what it would be like to work in the middle of Times Square in New York City. Imagine weaving through the large crowds, the bustling commotion, and the pulsing energy at every corner. Now, imagine trying to do this without your eyesight. For Ashleigh Hertzig, this is not just an imaginary scenario—it’s her everyday life.

Visually impaired since birth, Ashleigh used a cane to get around for years—but found that it became increasingly difficult to be mobile during the wintertime due to dangerous patches of ice on the pavement. These harsh winter conditions—combined with encouragement from her family—got her to consider the possibility of a guide dog.

Ashleigh grew up terrified of dogs, but as she began researching Guide Dogs for the Blind, she felt that their positive reinforcement philosophy matched her personal beliefs and values. So she took a leap of faith. When Yuri—a Guide Dogs for the Blind-trained yellow Lab—first walked into her life, Ashleigh remembers he was so excited that he couldn’t stop sneezing. Now, over two years later, they’re so connected that she can’t imagine life without him.

“Being paired with Yuri has changed my life in so many ways. In addition to being my eyes, keeping me safe, and giving me independence, he has also become my best friend—and is constantly by my side,” says Ashleigh. Without Yuri, Ashleigh may have never developed the confidence and independence needed to fulfill her dream of living and working in New York City. She is now able to navigate the city’s fast-paced subway system every day, feeling fully safe and cared for.

As Ashleigh's story shows, in addition to providing enhanced mobility, guide dogs can also be a social bridge, opening a world of possibilities for friendship and human connection.

To help people like Ashleigh Hertzig, please consider donating to Guide Dogs to the Blind. Once there, you can also read the stories of the eight other amazing human-canine teams. There's no better time than National Guide Dog Month to show your support for these incredible people and their four-legged superheroes!

Do you have a special bond with your pet? Feel free to share your own story in the comment section below.

Disclosure: I received a free gift in exchange for this publication.

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