The human animal bond is a powerful force that enriches many lives each and every day. For Don Overton, a U.S. Army veteran, the bond he has with seeing eye dog Pierce has enabled him to live his life with more freedom and spend better quality time with his family.
While serving with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division during the first Gulf War, Don sustained an injury that ultimately claimed his vision. For more than two decades after that horrible day, Don navigated through life with a cane. Sadly, Don experienced harassment and bullying, having his cane knocked out of his hand and even broken by complete strangers. Don, however, was still able to live his life and never even considered a seeing eye dog.
While on a family vacation in 2016, Don and his son, Jordan, set out to explore historical monuments together, including the USS Alabama. At the conclusion of the trip, Don asked Jordan to describe his favorite part of the tour to which the twelve-year-old responded, “Dad, I wasn’t paying much attention… I wanted to make sure you didn’t fall.” Heartbroken at this admission, Don knew Jordan needed the freedom to be a kid and not his sighted guide.
Working through Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Don was paired with Pierce, and his life has completely transformed. Don is able to live life more fully and his son Don is able to enjoy his childhood without worrying about his dad. According to wife Peggy, “Don’s guide dog is a very loving companion and dedicated to his work. We have all fallen in love.”
In 2017, Pierce was honored as American Humane’s Guide/Hearing Hero Dog, a well-deserved honor. The search is underway for this year’s top dog and voting on the 21 semifinalists is open. To learn more, and participate in the second round of voting, visit www.HeroDogAwards.org.