How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life
Pictured are the author and her dog, Campbell. The photo was taken by Dwight Lynn Sorrell at a Safe House event to recognize victims of domestic violence. The people were tossing flower petals into the Holston River in remembrance of them.
Cover design by David Dvorkin, www.dvorkin.com
This book was edited by Leonore H. Dvorkin, www.leonoredvorkin.com
Note: THE SEEING EYE and SEEING EYE are registered trademarks of The Seeing Eye, Inc.
This is the story of how the author obtained her first guide dog from The Seeing Eye™ in Morristown, New Jersey: what motivated her, the extensive training she had, the special relationship she developed with her trainer, and the good friends she made. Once she returned home to Tennessee, there were many new challenges to be met and overcome, including domestic abuse.
All that was in addition to her chronic conditions of bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia.
With honesty, courage, and humor, Patty Fletcher tells a remarkable story of personal development that is sure to inform, entertain, and inspire others, both blind and sighted.
Campbell's Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life has won the award for Best Nonfiction for 2016 on the DB-Review List. There were 27 nominees.
I downloaded and read this book pretty much in one big gulp last night and enjoyed it very much. I'm a Seeing Eye grad and am about to go back for a successor dog, so I was delighted to see some familiar names and read about training. I also could identify with the difficulties the author faced when she came home with the new dog. This book is an unflinching discussion of one of the possible challenges resulting from guide dog training, and that is the relationship with one's instructor. It's clear that Ms. Fletcher had an exemplary instructor, and a kind man, in Drew Gibbon, and it's also clear that he came into her life at a vulnerable spot for her. Guide dog training is a very emotional experience, whether it's the first time or the fourth, and with Fletcher's other challenges, it must have been terrible and wonderful all at once, and all in the same hour (smile). The discussion of how her increased independence changed her primary personal relationship is familiar to a lot of people who've "been there" and was at times heart-breaking but always honest.
The author's candor is moving, her experiences are unique, but anyone who has been through guide dog training can relate. I look forward to the second installment in this story.
4 out of 5 stars
On July 10th, 2017, Patty was interviewed on Branco Broadcast about blind patient concerns. To listen to the interview online, click here.
On Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 2:00 PM Eastern, Patty and Campbell Lee, her Seeing Eye dog, spoke in the Events Center at Games Galore and More about her work as a Writer, Motivational Speaker, and Nonprofit Consultant.
Please use the following link to read Patty's blog, "Campbell's World":
Patty has started a FREE monthly newsletter called The Neighborhood News. The first issue came out on April 4, 2015. The newsletter features news, encouragement, ads, and short literary submissions. To sign up to receive it, email Patty at: email@example.com
In your message, please include the email address you wish to have the newsletter sent to, along with your first and last names.
You can read the first seven issues of the newsletter by clicking on the links below. Please note that these are Microsoft Word files.
Issue 1, April 2015
Issue 2, May 2015
Issue 3, June 2015
Issue 4, July 2015
Issue 5, August 2015
Issue 6, September 2015
Issue 7, October 2015
Issue 8, November 2015
On January 13, 2016, television station WCYB ran a segment about the rights of service dogs under Tennessee law. The segment included an interview with Patty. To watch the video and read a transcript, please click here.
An article about Patty and Campbell titled "Constant Companion," written by Leigh Ann Laube, was published in the Kingsport Times-News on January 18, 2012. The article was on Pages 1 and 2c. To read a PDF version of the article, please click here.
Note: The article states incorrectly that Patty went to the Seeing Eye school in 2010. It was actually in 2011.
Patty's story "Rescued" is included in the anthology Awethology Dark.
Front cover of the Awethology Dark anthology
Back cover of the Awethology Dark anthology
You can find Awethology Dark in e-book and print formats at the following online stores. The e-book is free.
Smashwords — various e-book formats
Amazon — Kindle version
Amazon — print version
Createspace — print version
In this magical and love filled tail, King Campbell, Super Seeing Eye Dog, AKA Bubba, travels to the puppy nursery at The Seeing Eye to help ready a group of puppies who are just about to embark on the fabulous journey of learning to become Seeing Eye dogs. Just as he is about to finish his tail, a wee pup becomes very frightened of all that lies ahead, and one frightfully stormy night, she runs away! Will King Campbell hear the urgent call from the puppy nursery in time? Will they find her and save her so she can fulfill her destiny?
Author blog http://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/
One stormy night a few weeks later, King Campbell and his mother had just gone to bed, and just as he was about to drift off to sleep, he heard again the tinkling of dog tags off in the distance. They had an urgent sound to them. Something is wrong, he thought. So, after making certain his mother was fast asleep and checking the house, King Campbell stretched himself comfortably and once again let himself fade away.
As he appeared in the nursery, he noticed that there was much confusion, and he could smell fear.
"What is wrong?" he asked one of the mother dogs standing nearest him when he appeared in the room.
"Oh! King Campbell! We have an awful problem!" she howled.
"Why, whatever is the matter?" he asked with some alarm.
"Oh! That little pup that snuggled with you last time you were here! She heard that soon it would be her time to leave her mother and go with her first family, and she has hidden herself someplace, and we have looked and looked, but we cannot seem to find her!"
Now, it had been storming when he had left his human mother, and it was storming there as well.
"Well, now, she's such a wee thing. She can't have gotten far. We will split up and search the grounds."
Soon, King Campbell had all the pups gathered together, along with their mothers, and he gave each of them an assigned place to look. He remembered many things about the nursery and the land around it, and he was ever sure that they would find her without much trouble at all. He made sure to keep the wee pup's mother close to him so she would not be too afraid, and off they went into the storm.
The lightning flashed! The thunder crashed! And how the wind did blow! The rain was falling hard, yet all the dogs and pups looked and looked. Sniffing here, sniffing there. They looked inside and outside, too. They sniffed under bushes and around trees. They looked under furniture in the nursery, and even in toy boxes, closets, and drawers. A bunch of little Labrador pups even tried to look in the food bins, and when they did not find her, they decided to stop for a quick snack.
King Campbell chased them out, saying, "No! No! She is not in there! You leave it! Stop that!"
Pretty soon, though, they had looked everywhere they could think of, and still there was no sign of her. It was getting later and later; the storm was worse than ever, yet still they had not found her. As King Campbell stood with his head down, trying to think what to do, an idea suddenly came to him. He raised his head and barked very loudly!
"Woof! Woof! Woof!" The room fell still and he said, "Listen! Listen! Everyone! I have an idea! It is magik, and it just might work! At home, when my human mother is missing special people in her life and wishes to draw them to her in some way, she sings a special song. I am going to sing it, and when you think you have the words, join me! Now, come on! All gather round! Let us make a circle. All grasp paws! That's right, come on! All together, now! And remember, when you have the words, sing." He began to sing.
"Listen to the birds sing.
Listen to the chimes ring.
Listen to King Campbell's bell ringing.
Listen to the rain fall.
Listen to my heart call.
Listen to King Campbell's bell ringing."
Soon all the mothers and pups were singing, but the wee pup's mother was still crying and had not yet begun to sing. King Campbell turned to her. "You must sing! You must! You must sing and you must believe! Now sing!"
I'm a 46-year-old single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom I am very proud. I have a great son-in-law and four beautiful grandchildren. They range from one year to eight years of age: two girls and two boys. I hope to be able to write more about them later on.
I own and handle a Black Labrador from The Seeing Eye™ named Campbell Lee—a.k.a. Bubba Lee or King Campbell, to give just a couple of his nicknames.
I also have a tom named Kitty Bob.
I was born on November 9, 1967 in Kingsport, Tenn., where I also grew up.
I was born one and a half months premature. My blindness was caused by my being given too much oxygen in the incubator. I was partially sighted until 1991, at which time I lost my sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. I used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a guide dog.
Currently, I live and work in Kingsport, Tenn.
I used to work for CONTACT-CONCERN of Northeast Tennessee, Inc. I left that position in order to spend time with family and pursue my writing full time.
I wrote this book to tell the story of how going to The Seeing Eye™ and getting Campbell, learning to love, handle, and work him, then coming home and adding him to my life, gave me true freedom.
I tell of how changing from being a 31-year cane user to being a guide dog handler taught me things about myself I had never known before. I tell of the wonderment I experienced when I finally took that chance.
A major goal of mine is to help others who find themselves in domestic violence situations. I also want to help others learn more about mental illnesses and how different situations and environments can drastically affect those with such challenges.
I also tell how training affected me physically as a result of the fibromyalgia I deal with, along with the side effects of the medications I take.
I focus on bipolar disorder, on how it can go horribly wrong and cause a person to behave in ways they normally would not. Then I show how hurtful it can be when a person is completely rejected, made to feel as if they have been tossed out with the trash, when they become sick as a result of mental illness.
Another thing I have attempted to show is how, in certain institutional settings, attachments can develop—and how those attachments can become unhealthy for all concerned if they are not handled correctly.
Most simply, I want others to know more about me.
My hobbies include reading, writing, music, and standup comedy. I also like nature walks, light hiking, tent camping, and fishing. No, I am not afraid to bait a hook.
My favorite types of music are classic rock, rhythm and blues, and classic country, as well as some present-day country music. I also like meditation music.
I enjoy fantasy, science fiction, and books about the supernatural. I love the books by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and many more. My favorite books include Stephen King's Dark Tower series, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, and J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series.
I am a spiritual walker. I claim no particular faith, either Christian or pagan. I simply know that there is God and Goddess, or Mother Father God, as some call her/him. I lean toward the natural approach, or Druidism (Druidry), as it promotes harmony and respect for all beings, including the environment. I am also very interested in herbs and their healing properties. I recently enrolled in a course that will allow me to earn a certificate in the field of working with herbs.
Patty with her colleagues from Contact-Concern, December 13, 2013
D. Lynn Sorrell, Patty, and Bruce Pearl at a United Way event, September 2007
Christmas card with Patty and Campbell, 2012
This song, "Amazing" is in honor of Chapter 3 of Campbell's Rambles, "Dog Day." Right then and there, deep down inside, I really did know that "everything would be all right."
This next song, "Power of Love," is in honor of Chapter 10, "New York." Working with Campbell and Drew in the surroundings of New York gave me a whole new sense of trust and confidence—not only in Campbell as my guide and in Drew as my instructor, but in myself—and to find both love and confidence in oneself is the greatest gift of all. Drew was right when he once told me, "Giving a guide dog over to someone is like giving the best Christmas present in the world." What he didn't know was that he was giving a larger gift than he'd ever given before. My only regret is that I didn't see that long ago. But the saying "Better late than never" is absolutely true in this case.
Power of Love
Huey Lewis and the News
This next song, "Modern Girl," is in honor of knowing now that I can rely on myself, and that if I choose to share my life with another, whether it is forever or for only a short time, it is because I want to, not because I need to. I truly am learning: "To thine own self be true," as Shakespeare said. This song came out the same year as "All American Girls," by Sister Sledge. It's here just because it's a fun song, and because someday I hope to have a fun-loving guy that will feel that way about having me along for the ride.
This one, "Cruise," is here just because it's a fun song. Someday I hope to have a fun-loving guy who will feel that way about having me along for the ride.
Florida Georgia Line
This one, "This Is How We Roll," is a fun song, too. I hope that one day I will have friends who want to have me along, like the good folks I met when I visited another Seeing Eye dog owner/handler in Florida not long ago.
This Is How We Roll
Florida Georgia Line
And here's the song "Mountains." My thoughts: Life's too short to be upset or sad. I've come this far, and though my struggles are great, my blessings are greater. So I am standing, taking Campbell's harness in my hand, and walking down yet another pathway. With King Campbell by my side, I can't go wrong, and if by chance I get a bit distracted along the way, King Campbell will bring me back to where I want and need to be.
Someone Else's Star http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBp1ugUZ2mE