September is National Guide Dog Month, so I decided to learn more
about how guide dogs help people who are blind or visually

Melissa Hudson and Camry, courtesy Guide Dogs for the Blind.

I’m partnering with Natural Balance premium-quality pet food and Guide Dogs for the Blind, a non-profit charitable organization that raises and trains
exceptional guide dogs, to recognize the ‘Top Human-Canine Teams Who Make Us Believe.’
These nine teams are outstanding examples of the amazing
partnerships possible between humans and canines. I was particularly
inspired by Ashleigh and her guide dog Yuri. Here’s their story:
 Ashleigh Hertzig lives in New York City. Visually impaired since birth, Ashleigh used a cane to get around for years—but found that it became increasingly difficult to be mobile during the wintertime due to dangerous patches of ice on the pavement. These harsh winter conditions—combined with encouragement from her family—got her to consider the possibility of a guide dog. 

Ashleigh Hertzig and Yuri, courtesy Guide Dogs for the Blind

Ashleigh grew up terrified of dogs, but as she began researching Guide Dogs for the Blind, she felt that their positive reinforcement philosophy matched her personal beliefs and values. So she took a leap of faith. When Yuri—a Guide Dogs for the Blind-trained yellow Lab—first walked into her life, Ashleigh remembers he was so excited that he couldn’t stop sneezing. Now, over two years later, they’re so connected that she can’t imagine life without him.

“Being paired with Yuri has changed my life in so many ways. In addition to being my eyes, keeping me safe, and giving me independence, he has also become my best friend—and is constantly by my side,” says Ashleigh. Without Yuri, Ashleigh may have never developed the confidence and independence needed to fulfill her dream of living and working in New York City. She is now able to navigate the city’s fast-paced subway system every day, feeling fully safe and cared for. 

As Ashleigh’s story shows, in addition to providing enhanced mobility,
guide dogs can also be a social bridge, opening a world of possibilities
for friendship and human connection. 

You can check out Guide Dogs to the Blind to read about other amazing
human-canine teams. While you’re there, consider donating to Guide Dogs for the Blind–there’s no better time than National Guide Dog Month
to show your support for these incredible people and their four-legged

Bruce Gilmour and Marley, courtesy Guide Dogs for the Blind

Guide dogs are just one example of how we have special bonds with our dogs. My dogs Ike and Kelly show me how important they are to my life every day. Natural Balance even sent us this cool swag to help us celebrate National Guide Dog Month!

Do you have a special bond with your pet too? Tell me about it in the comments below!