Summer began her career in therapy work at 1.5 years. By 6 years old she became a certified Crisis Response Canine. Following crisis and disaster, Summer and her handler provide psychological first aid to survivors and first responders.
But shortly after the difficult jobs started, Summer was diagnosed with an eye disease called Golden Retriever Pigmentary Uveitis. Brown pigment clogged the drain inside her left eye, leading to devastating high pressures called glaucoma. She lost vision in the left eye and battled pain that would not respond to medical treatment. But the worst was yet to come. Just weeks after the left eye was surgically removed (enucleation) to make her comfortable again, the pigment and inflammation worsened in the right eye. A rigorous treatment regimen was initiated but the pressure rose in the right eye and took her remaining vision. A procedure called a chemical ablation was performed to stop the production of fluid inside the eye so that the pressure would decrease but she could maintain a comfortable but non-visual eye.
But at 12 years of age, Summer doesn’t let complete vision loss stop her from doing the job she loves most, comforting people. She is still working as a therapy and Crisis Response canine and touched the hearts and souls recently at the 15th anniversary of 9/11. She held the hand of a young boy during the reading of the names of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and rested her head on the lap of a woman who sat on the ground in grief. She also recently donned her superhero cape when she attended a camp for burn survivors.
Even when Summer is not working, her days are filled with joy. She wrestles with her doggie siblings and she still trains weekly in obedience classes doing almost everything the sighted dogs do. As her family says, “We have learned through this ordeal that love is blind and we enable the ability, not the disability!”