By Ken Steadman
It is with a great deal of sadness that we bid farewell to Norman, a Leader Dog for the Blind. He has faithfully served his blind friend Donna Taylor and the East Tennessee community for the past six years.
Norman showed signs of Illness for several days recently. He wouldn’t eat, showed total lack of energy and laid around most of the time. Donna became very concerned and took him to the vet. Blood tests and x-rays were taken and the doctor found that Norman’s liver was the size of a basketball. The blood tests revealed cancer of the liver. All body functions closed down and Norman died during the night.
Leader Dog Norman touched the lives of thousands of school children, teachers and other adults for the past six years. Donna and I, with the assistance of Norman, made 81 visits over the past 6 years to churches, senior citizens facilities, service club meetings, as well as children and teachers in 34 elementary schools in East Tennessee communities. Norman received many hugs and much petting as his reward for his attendance. Donna was always extremely gratified to hear children call out “There's Norman!” when she was shopping at stories.
Norman changed Donna’s life over the past years providing her with much love, comfort and an undying trust. He was her constant companion and eyes, allowing a great deal of personal independence. Norman also saved Donna’s life on three different occasions. Donna, I, her family, friends and other household pets, will dearly miss him.
Fond memories will keep Norman alive for many years. He will never be replaced or forgotten. However, another Leader Dog will be arranged for Donna so she can continue her life as a blind person. This is how the Leader Dog for the Blind Program works. Donna will have to return to Leader Dog School in Rochester, Mich. for about six weeks of training with a new assigned companion.
Lions Clubs around the world are the largest single financial contributor to the Leader Dog Program. The Fairfield Glade Lions Club will cover the airfare to Michigan but all other expenses are free.
Farewell and God bless you, Norman. Thanks much for being a part of so many lives.