Freckles is a guide dog and a hero. Her brave actions saved her family from fire and certain harm.
Sarah Ledger was only six months old when her mother, Velma, discovered that her youngest child could barely see. Holding up a rattle for Sarah, the infant reached for it and missed. And that was the beginning of an unpleasant barrage of tests and doctors and doctors and tests. It was finally confirmed that Sarah suffered from Bilateral Retinoblastoma, a hereditary from of cancer that caused tumors to develop in both of her eyes. (See:The Blind Dog Who Taught Children To See.)
Radiation treatments eventually cured her of the cancer, but Sarah grew into a shy, reclusive teenager, who was totally dependent on her family. In her own words: "I used my cane, but I was always running into things, and I couldn't get where I needed to go without help." She is still considered to be legally blind, although she can decipher shapes and very large print.
Sarah meets Freckles, the goldador guide dog
Life can be kind as well as cruel. For Sarah, Freckles opened her world in ways she never could have expected. This cross between a Golden Retriever and a Labrador boosted her self-esteem and courage. In her own words: I could do so much more because of Freckles. It was easier to make friends because I could get around by myself and I wasn't afraid." (See: Orlando The Guide Dog.)
While at home on a winter break from her scholastic schedule at Louisiana State University-Eunice, Sarah realized that Freckles was a lifesaver in more ways than one. She was off to bed one night when Freckles blocked her entry to the computer room, which marked the threshold of her bedroom. She simply wouldn't move and Sarah was forced to call for help. Her father, a fire-fighter, solved the mystery when he was alerted by an odd smell, which turned out to be her computer monitor that was smoldering. He quickly took it outside, but Freckles refused to calm down until she could no longer smell the slightest whiff of fire, which kept the grateful but very tired family up until 3am.
According to Jennifer Gerrity, who worked with Freckles during her training at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Florida, "She definitely was not trained to do what she did. Guide dogs are trained to navigate obstacles, not fires. And they do not perform body blocks." See: Merel, the Service Dog.)
Freckles went beyond the call of duty and no one can say why or how the dog knew what to do. Instinct is a funny thing and when it is tempered with love and loyalty, it knows no bounds. Sarah and her guide dog are bonded forever. Heroes come in all sizes, colors, shapes and species. This one has four legs and answers to the name, Freckles!