Blind veterans get help with new vision

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3 Reporter, brae@kesq.com
POSTED: 05:34 PM PST Nov 18, 2012    UPDATED: 05:37 PM PST Nov 18, 2012 
WHITEWATER, Calif. -

Lowe is not just your average dog.

"He is not just what we would consider an animal, but he's also my partner and my friend," Navy veteran Robert Silva said.

Robert Silva of Indio served as an E-4 in the United States Navy. He lost his sight but now Lowe has given it back to him.
   
"This is an amazing day. It's been about a year in the works," Silva said.

Silva and four other veterans graduated from the Guide Dogs of the Desert training program this month. Three walked the stage Sunday at the Whitewater campus, toward their newfound independence.

"I've been training guide dogs for 35 years now. I've seen the life changing things a dog can do for somebody," Robert Wendler of Guide Dogs of the Desert said. "Stutterers don't stutter when they talk to a dog. It's amazing."

Graduation came after 28 days of rigorous work preparing the veterans and their guide dogs for the world.

"We graduated to downtown Los Angeles. We worked on the light rail system, we took a train ride into LA. We covered just about anything these guys might encounter when they go home with their dogs," Wendler said.
 
The veterans and their dogs even learned how to go through security at an airport, with help from the Palm Springs International Airport. Silva said he and Lowe have a journey ahead of them.

"I serve as a pastor here, in Indio. I work primarily with the men. Hopefully Lowe will be incorporated into that," Silva said.

He wants people to know guide dogs can change your life --as he's experienced.

"Even though you might run into what might seem like an end, there's always a beginning to the work that is ahead of you," Silva said.