More than half of this eloquent, informative book is devoted to the author's first guide dog, Tammy, and it soon becomes plain why. As the dog matured from beginning guide to seasoned veteran, the author went from starting college to embarking on her long marriage and her impressive working life.
Each of the author's nine guide dogs thus far is described in loving detail: what it looked like, what unique personality traits it had, and why it had to retire from guiding. Age, illness, a tragic accident, and more—each required a return for the author to The Seeing Eye®, the country's oldest guide dog school. The beautiful German Shepherd pictured on the cover of the book with the author is her ninth dog, Enzo.
In prose and poetry, Noriega describes not just her loyal canine companions, but also the family she was born into, her children and grandchildren, details about her years in college as a blind student, and her subsequent work experience. While she accentuates the positive, she does not shy away from letting us know that there have been more than a few negatives in her life, too, including episodes of abuse and discrimination.
Experienced guide dog handlers will find much here that is movingly familiar to them. Those who have never walked beside such a marvelous companion will benefit greatly from learning what the dogs are trained to do, how they need to be cared for, and how observers should and should not interact with them. Touches of humor lighten almost every chapter, and the book ends with three imaginative, amusing skits in which the players are all guide dogs.
DeAnna Noriega and her husband, Curtis, currently live in Columbia, Missouri.
DeAnna Quietwater Noriega is half Apache and a quarter Chippewa. She is the mother of three, two daughters and an adopted blind son. She was the eldest of five children in a close–knit American Indian family. As a result of congenital glaucoma, she became totally blind at the age of eight.
DeAnna was mainstreamed in public schools in Texas, Michigan, and California. She completed a bachelor's degree in social science and did a year toward a master's in social work at California State University Stanislaus. While attending college, she taught independent living skills to the blind for the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. She worked as a caseworker in Santa Clara County, California, before joining the United States Peace Corps. DeAnna and her sighted husband met while attending college, and Curtis joined her in the Peace Corps. They worked together to establish a school for blind children in the independent nation of Western Samoa.
Upon her return to the U.S., DeAnna spent the next seven years at home, raising children. During this time, she became active in the American Council of the Blind and in Guide Dog Users, Inc. She taught braille, instructed breastfeeding mothers as a La Leche leader, was a friendly visitor at nursing homes, and worked as a volunteer intake clerk at the welfare office.
DeAnna and her husband opened two Papa Murphy's pizza franchise stores. She served as operations manager, doing inventory, ordering, supervising staff, and handling the cash register and phone during late afternoons and evenings.
After 14 successful years, they sold the restaurants to move to Colorado, where their two daughters were enrolled in college. DeAnna kept busy working as an instructor of braille and independent living skills with an adult education program in Colorado Springs. She remained active in many organizations of the visually impaired, serving as an officer at local state and national levels. She served as a founding board member of a nonprofit organization that opened a blind center in Colorado Springs. She established The Braille Books to Keep project for blind children in both Oregon and Colorado.
DeAnna has been a guide dog user for over 50 years and has taken an active part in passing legislation protecting service animals.