by Toni Eames
In November 1992, my late husband Ed and I traveled to Bermuda to participate in the World Congress of Obedience. The topics we chose were: blind handlers in the obedience ring, the assistance dog movement in the United States, and grief at the loss of a guide dog through retirement or death.
Knowing Bermuda is a British colony, we were intrigued to learn there were no quarantine restrictions preventing us from entering the country with our Golden guide dogs. Bermuda, a rabies-free country, requires documentation of rabies and parvo inoculations and proof that a flea and tick bath has been given to the dog within 10 days of entry. As Bermudans quip, “We don’t want American ticks and fleas, but you are welcome to leave with ours!”
Having contacted the Bermuda Lions prior to the trip, we were delighted to accept the offer to speak to their club. The Lions assisted us by providing escorts to tourist attractions and to and from the dog show grounds.
Our first five mornings in Bermuda were taken up with dog shows. Afternoons were set aside for sightseeing and socializing. Accompanied by members of the Lions and Lioness Clubs, we explored a living cave, strolled on the beach, took a ferry ride to a craft fair, toured a perfumery, and enjoyed the ocean breezes and narration on a glass-bottom boat trip to the nearby coral reef.
We were taken to historic St. George’s, the site of the 1609 settlement of Bermuda.
Of course, our then guide dogs Ivy and Kirby were an integral part of these excursions. Despite the lack of laws guaranteeing assistance dog access, our Goldens were welcome everywhere we went.
Prior to the trip, the Lions introduced us to Jean Hous, the only guide dog partner in Bermuda. When invited to her home for lunch, we gratefully accepted. Although a ride could have been arranged, on this occasion we preferred taking public transportation. Jean was excited by the thought of three guide dogs on the bus, a historic event in Bermuda. Whether on the street or in the bus, everyone seemed to know and greet Jean and her yellow Labrador, Mandy.
We saw Jean several times during our stay. She was a co-speaker at the Lioness Club dinner held at the Dinghy Club. We hold the Lions and Lioness Clubs in high esteem for the work they do on behalf of blind people. One of their projects is providing support for all the guide dog programs in the United States.
Scheduled to depart from Bermuda on a 7 a.m. flight necessitated waking up by 4:30. Responding to our fear that the clock radio in our hotel room might not go off as planned, the Dog Training Club members came to our rescue by purchasing an old-fashioned alarm clock to replace the one we forgot to bring. Everything went off without a hitch, and we arrived home in Fresno, California later that day exhausted, but exhilarated!