Close your eyes for a minute. Squueze them shut. Hard. Now I want you to focus on the darkness. I’m going to ask you in a moment to open them, but I want you to ignore that request and keep them close. (Okay, now that you’re done reading, do it now and imagine me saying “Open your eyes.”)
Oh right? You can’t open your eyes. You’re blind. Blind people can’t just open their eyes. Thank you for indulging me.
Did you know that according to the National Coalition for Vision Health, over ¼ of a million Canadians are visually impaired and over $100,000 are legally blind? And how about that according to Autism Ontario over a ¼ of a million Canadian families are affected by Autism?
In 2007 the UN declared April 2nd (today) as World Autism Awareness Day and finally in November 2012 the House of Commons passed an act that made today World Autism Day in Canada too. 6 years later.
So why give a crap about these stats? As some of you may have heard, in two weeks, we will be fostering a seeing eye dog puppy name Konner through BC Guide Dog Services. Fostering is a 1 year, 24 hour a day, 7 day a week volunteer position. Puppy raisers expend their time, energy, money, love and caring for the puppies to move on to advanced training in hopes that they move on to assist a blind or visually impaired person. And if they don’t do that, that they go into the Autism Support Dogs program and get matched with an autistic child. As mentioned this is a volunteer position, but according to Autism Support Dogs each dog costs the program approximately $20,000 to raise each support dog.
Our family is super excited to meet and raise Konner (yes, Konner O’Connor ~ the irony). I have always said I love babies, kittens and puppy, just not kids, cats and dogs. So I guess I get some of my own needs met through this program as well. lol. I’ll admit, I am a little concerned about what we are taking on. Have you had a puppy before? Remember how much work it takes? But do you know what I’m most bothered by? Is the number of people who are so concerned about giving the dog away at 15 months. “ohhhh…it will be so hard”, “I could never”, how will your daughter be?” Well I can tell you what she won’t be. She won’t be blind. She won’t be autistic. She can walk across the street and look both ways with no assistance. She can open her eyes if I ask her to.
But what if she was? What if she was blind? What if she was autistic? Wouldn’t we want the kindness of others to raise these puppies?
So shut up already. On today World Autism Awareness Day, I ask for one thing. Stop asking if it’s going to be hard to give Konner back. Stop telling me how you could never do it. Just shut up. We are a loving family, with big hearts. Yes, it’ll be sad, but what great isn’t? So shut up already, really. I didn’t ask for your opinion. We got this. We got this.