Claire and Mark Gaffey with guide dogs Venice and Rodd
Seeing-eye dogs not only help blind people navigate their environments, but they can sometimes also help them find that special someone.
Meet two couples from Florida and England who probably never would have met if their guide dogs hadn’t shown them the way to love.
Mike and Eva Truelock
Eva, who is legally blind, was having some behavior issues with her guide dog, Cara, back in 2007, so she and the Black Lab returned to Southeastern Guide Dogs, a school in Palmetto, Fla., for more training.
“They told me to bring Cara back in order to get her out of her environment, which may help her get back into shape,” Eva told The Ledger. “I told my mom I’ll come back as single as I am going, but she told me, ‘I hope you find someone.’ I just kind of dismissed that.”
But her mom’s wish was about to come true. Eva and Cara stayed at Southeastern for a week. During that short time, Eva met Mike Truelock, who was about to graduate after being trained to use his first guide dog.
Mike, who has retina pigmentosa, has been blind since he was 28. Eva was born with retina cancer and lost her eyesight at age 3.
The two met and hit it off, but then Eva returned home to Winter Haven while Mike returned to his home in Dallas. They continued to stay in touch via email.
And then one night about two months after they’d met, Mike called Eva. “This is when the relationship really began,” Eva told The Ledger.
For the next three years, Eva would fly to Dallas or Mike would fly to Winter Haven. In 2010, the two got married and settled down in Winter Haven.
Eva’s current guide dog is an energetic Black Lab named Sandy. Mike’s is Romeo, also a Black Lab, but whose calmness mellows out Sandy.
“Sandy is 6 but sometime acts like a 2-year-old dog,” Eva told The Ledger. “She is very high strung and very verbal. Romeo is less outgoing and is more cool and calm.”
It’s interesting that the guide dogs’ personalities match those of their pet parents.
“I know that Eva tends to be very outgoing and bubbly while Mike is calm, cool and collected,” Suzy Wilburn, director of admissions and graduate services at Southeastern Guide Dogs, told The Ledger.
“The two complement each other perfectly. The unique part is that their dogs have also been the yin and the other’s yang, which makes for a very happy household.”
Mark and Claire Gaffey
In March 2012, while attending a two-week residential training class in England for guide dogs and the people they’ll be assisting, Venice, a yellow Labrador Retriever belonging to Claire Johnson, fell head-over-paws in love with Rodd, also a yellow Lab, who belongs to Mark Gaffey.
The two 3-year-olds were inseparable. They “seemed to know something we didn’t,” Gaffey told the Daily Mail in July 2013. “They were always playing together and nuzzling up together.”
Gaffey and Johnson are both in their 50s. Gaffey has been blind since birth; Johnson lost her eyesight due to diabetes when she was 24. The two lived less than two miles away from each other in Stoke-on-Trent, but had never met prior to the training class.
Since their dogs got along so well, Johnson invited Gaffey out for coffee after the classes ended. Soon they began having lunch together. And then dinner. And then, 11 months after the foursome first met, Gaffey proposed to Johnson, on Valentine’s Day 2013.
“We were purely in the right place at the right time. I have never believed in fate, but it does seem like it was meant to be,” Gaffey told the Daily Mail.
He and Johnson were married in March 2014. Venice and Rodd led their happy pet parents down the aisle and served as ring bearers, according to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
“I have no doubt that our guide dogs brought us together and helped me find my true love,” Johnson told the association.
“Much like our two guide dogs, we really are best friends and soul mates.”
Photo via YouTube