- Associated Press - Monday, February 9, 2015

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - Harold Randolph walked into the classroom where his wife, Terrie, had taught Braille. At his side was Stoney. The golden retriever walked around Room 224 in Robertson Hall for the first time in almost two years.

Stoney was Terrie’s Seeing Eye dog. Terrie taught more than 27 years at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind before she lost her battle with cancer in January 2013. Her four-legged companion and guide dog lay beneath her desk for several of those years.

Former colleagues and students still miss Terrie.

Randolph and Stoney, who’s been retrained as a therapy dog, began volunteering in the School for the Blind’s reading program. They recently made their first visit.

“Some children are more comfortable reading to a dog especially children who are self-conscious reading in front of their classmates. Randolph and Stoney will be able to help the children relax and enjoy their reading time,” Robert Ward, lead teacher in the School for the Blind, said in a written statement.

Nancy Morgan, another teacher at the School For the Blind, only worked with Terrie a couple of months. That was enough time for Terrie’s joyful spirit to make an impression.

“(Terrie) was wonderful. She had the best attitude about her visual impairment,” Morgan said.

She remembered when Terrie journeyed across campus to Walker Hall.

“She thought she could handle it on her own, but she got lost,” Morgan said. “Somebody had to help her come back, and she was laughing the whole time.”

“She was a role model for the visually impaired kids and people here,” Morgan said.

Stoney sat beneath her desk. Students were not allowed to pet Stoney because he was working, Morgan said.

“The kids loved him. That really helped them to pay attention in Braille because they knew Stoney was listening, so he’s really used to hearing children read,” Morgan said.

Excited children surrounded Stoney.

Some felt his wagging tail as he made his way into their semi-circle before they read a story aloud. Afterward, they clustered around Stoney.

“He feels like a teddy bear,” one said.

Zacchaeus Reaves, 6, was especially excited. He said Stoney’s visit was “great.”

Heilyin Sanchez, 6, thanked Randolph for bringing Stoney.

“Hey, Mr. Randolph, I love Stoney,” Sanchez said.

Randolph said Stoney is 11 or 12 years old. He was Terrie’s guide dog for about seven years.

“He’s still working, and that’s great. I hate to see him sitting on the sidelines. He loves people so much, and I think he’s still got a lot to give,” Randolph said.

Randolph started taking Stoney to visit residents at nursing homes. Then Randolph heard of a therapy program that he thought could benefit children.

“They basically read a story to him, which kind of takes the pressure off (them). It’s not like the teacher looking over their shoulder. Plus, if kids like dogs, it’s an incentive to get them to want to read,” Randolph said.

He thinks Terrie would be “very pleased” that Stoney is still able to contribute and help children.

“She spent her whole professional life helping kids and she loved kids.I’d think she would be happy about that,” Randolph said.

Randolph and Terrie were married almost 25 years.

Life without Terrie has been “quite an adjustment.” He said they did everything together. Friday’s visit brought back emotions.

“You can’t let the negative emotions and thoughts pull you down and hold you back. You have to go on,” Randolph said.

Randolph and Stoney’s visits, he thinks, will be a bright spot in his life. It also honors Terrie’s memory - a woman who impacted many lives.


Information from: Herald-Journal, https://www.goupstate.com/

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