Dale Is My Shiny Black Sports Model
A story about Otillia and Dale,
and their photographer Robbie!
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
~ Edmund Burke
As I read Robbie Aspeling’s story about Otillia and Dale, all I could think about was what Edmund Burke wrote in a letter… “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” …and that Robbie had chosen to do something, when a beautiful young woman was refused entry into a bridal boutique in Umhlanga.
Robbie met Otillia a few years ago, when he was assisting another photographer with a photoshoot in the Karkloof forest in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands.
“Here was this lovely young lady who despite her visual impairment was the perfect model. We did a series of themed images and you would never ever say that this was a model different to any other model that I had ever photographed,” Robbie shared.
During 2018, Robbie read how Otillia and her new guide dog were refused entry into a bridal boutique in Unhlanga, where Otillia wanted to choose a dress for her upcoming wedding… because they wouldn’t allow her dog in as it would mess up the dresses.
Now there are dogs… and then there are dogs.
I wouldn’t take my dogs to any shop, because they are hooligans and they certainly would mess up the dresses in a bridal boutique, and I would probably be arrested for the damage and the chaos they would create. Which is why we stay home… a lot.
Dale is not just a dog, she is Otillia’s eyes and her guide. Dale is Otillia’s friend and protector, they share a special bond that is interdependent, and allows Otillia to rely on her with confidence, and something most of us will never understand.
Dale is a disciplined, trained “clean” working dog, and Otillia relies on Dale almost every moment of every day.
After reading about Otillia’s upsetting experience, Robbie contacted her and asked to do a photoshoot, to create awareness about guide dogs and the necessary relationship that exists between owner and dog… and the bond that grows.
Stand Tall ~ Otillia and Dale
This is their story in Otillia’s words
My journey as a VIP (visually impaired person) started in 1994 as a 6 year old. My Grade 1 teacher noticed my inability to see on the black board. After numerous tests and specialist visits I was diagnosed with a genetic eye condition called Stargardts. This is a type of macular degeneration that causes the loss of Central vision and leaves you with some peripheral vision and there is no prevention or cure in modern medicine yet.
I matriculated in Pretoria at Prinshof School for partially sighted and blind in 2006, and while most teenagers my age were applying to get their licenses for their shiny VW Golfs, I was applying to get my shiny black K9 transporter Tia. Tia Maria stole my heart at first sight but sadly it didn’t work out, she was more of a guard dog than a guide dog.
As a college student I strived for independence and removed myself far from anyone and anything I knew. Potchefstroom came with a lot of new adventures but also with big challenges and through my teary phone calls back home my determination just kept growing. I was desperate to fit into normal society and subconsciously started training myself to hide my disability at all costs. I refrained from using my phone in public to avoid people noticing how closely I had to look at my screen. I learnt in order to appear less squint I always had to look to the left of someone when I spoke to them. I also had to constantly break my routines and step out of my comfort zones to try and build as well as keep my confidence and appear confident.
Seven years ago I started my therapeutic massage practice in Howick KwaZulu Natal. My partner and I bought a home and started establishing a comfortable life for ourselves but the more comfortable I got, the more I stopped challenging myself and I started losing confidence and independence. I started withdrawing more. I started feeling like a burden on my partner and my sister more often than not.
Last year on my normal route to work I started tripping and stumbling over rocks and pieces of concrete and realized that there was construction all along my route. It dawned on me that I was using my memory instead of my sight to get to work and that this could cause me major injury because I’m not able to see the ditches, holes and obstacles. I was now even more unsure of myself and relied on others to get around.
It was a major decision for me applying for a guide dog again because this would mean revealing my disability which I spent so much time hiding from the world. Who out there likes drawing attention to their biggest weakness? You always think that you are coping just fine but you don’t realize how much more fulfilled your life could be.
A very special bond….
Dale is my new shiny black sports model with built in navigation, 360 degree obstacle sensors and ABS brake system. She’s my eyes, she’s my confidence, she’s my independence and she’s my best friend. There is no sighted person alive that would ever understand the complete trust, love, gratitude and companionship between a visually disabled person and their guide dog.
DALE IS PART OF ME!
Otillia’s words are as inspiring as the photographs are.
I’m sharing Robbie’s beautiful photos of Otillia and Dale, and their story, because we are good women, Women of Worth, and we can do something, we can stop discrimination, we can make a difference, and ensure that what happened to Otillia last year, never happens to her again… and if it does, we’ll Stand Tall with them, and share their story.
We’ll ensure that shop owners, and shopping centres, and security guards know the difference between a seeing person with their pet…. and a Woman with her Guide Dog.
Thank-you Robbie for making a difference and inspiring us.
Otillia, you are a true Woman of Worth and an inspiration to me… and others.
Otillia found the perfect dress and she looks absolutely stunning.
Of course Dale was right there by Otillia’s side, while she married her other companion for life, David.