Since receiving his golden lab “Ted” in May, Antonio Fotualii (age 29) has fewer restrictions and more choices. Antonio lives on Capitol Hill in Seattle, is a Type 1 diabetic who was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy at the age of 23, which progressed rapidly.
I was facing blindness at 26 years old, but I believed I had a bigger purpose.
“After multiple surgeries that failed to stop the progression, I was facing blindness at 26 years old, but I believed I had a bigger purpose and wouldn’t let it stop me. I made the best of it and didn’t want losing my vision to be the end of my life. Now that I have Ted, I am much more at ease in my day-to-day activities,” said Antonio.
“I live in downtown Seattle and have anxiety. Having Ted as my guide makes crossing the street in the city much safer for me,” said Antonio. “When I used a white cane in the past, people were continually running into me. Ted stops when there is possible danger and makes me feel more comfortable.”
Tony marvels at the matching process GDA uses to pair the recipient with their dog.
“GDA’s matching process is magical. I was amazed that all eight in my graduating class got a dog that matched their personality and their individual’s needs. Ted is me in dog version,” Antonio added. “Ted gives me emotional support, makes me laugh and is a great companion. He is literally my eyes and has made me more athletic than I ever imagined. Last week in Chelan, I walked 2.2 miles in 45 minutes and out walked my mom. That is saying something.”
Antonio is an impressive young man, who charges forward despite obstacles placed in his way. He started his own skin care business called Blinding Beauty.
“My motto for my business is that Blinding Beauty products make you so beautiful, it is blinding,” said Antonio. “I feel that same way about Ted. He is just as blinding because he is so golden and light.”Beyond the freedom he has with a guide dog, there was another unexpected benefit from Guide Dogs of America.
“I gained seven close friends who were in my class at Guide Dogs and three of us live here in the Seattle area,” said Antonio. “We live in a big, but small city when you think three of us are right here. Gaining good friends who are in the same situation was a bonus on top of receiving Ted.”