Overcoming - Through the Human-Animal Bond
By: Rhonda Langille
Many years ago I stuttered. All of my childhood memories included my speech impediment. When I tried to speak a sentence that would normally take just a moment to say; it always took me at least 3 minutes to get it out. School was a problem, because the other children were not always kind. To end the teasing I decided to stop talking all together.
I started speech therapy classes two times per week, for five years and the problem persisted. My speech therapist told my Mother that a puppy might help, because she knew I really liked animals. When I turned 12 my Mother and I went and bought a puppy from the local SPCA. It was love at first sight. My Father named her Timi. Timi grew quickly all the while getting into mischief. My Mom said I had to take her to obedience classes. I knew I would have to talk so I didn’t want to go.
I accepted the challenge and faced my fear. At first I was nervous, but soon became very keen. In the second class the instructor told me that my dog would never learn as he could not understand me. I was told to speak clear. I was very upset, as I wanted to speak clear and I wanted my little Timi to learn. The next week I came back and to everyone’s surprise I was speaking very clear giving clear commands and praising my dog just the way my instructor Paul told me to. I was so happy! My dog came first in the class. I was so proud. Timi learned over 100 commands and 95 signals. We went on to perform in fairs and at children’s parties – both dressed as clowns.
After that I started to enjoy speaking and hardly ever stopped. When I was 20 years old I joined Toastmasters where I learned public speaking. I started to speak at seminars and group talks on various subjects. I also became a public speaking judge.
I have learned that we all have challenges, some we see, some we hear, and some we don’t even know about. But life is a beautiful gift and I am so thankful for my little dog Timi who gave me the confidence and determination to confront and overcome my problem.
If you have the same problem I had I hope my story will be one of encouragement. Don’t give up your breakthrough could be just around the corner.
The Journey of Light & Sound
My name is Kevin Frost. I am deaf and blind because I have Usher Syndrome. Usher Syndrome is a condition that takes away your hearing early in life and your vision later in life. I was diagnosed at the age of 32. My life was turned upside down. I lost my job, driver’s license and hobby refereeing, because I now have 5% hearing and 10% vision left. I decided to stay positive and get on with life. Thanks to the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, I received a guide dog named Nemo, who has given me my independence back. Nemo accompanies me everywhere I go.
I am involved with international speed skating against able bodied skaters and have won 20 medals so far. I’m trying to get speed skating added to the Paralympics and do presentations to educate people and businesses about disability issues. My most recent accomplishment is that I have been pre-selected for the Paralympics Adaptive Rowing team for Canada. For More Information Visit: Kevin Frost
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