Malcolm goes wherever Richard does. Home, work, the theater, Malcolm follows like a shadow at his side. At home, Malcolm has his own bed placed right at Richard’s side, and at the office, he has his own nameplate affixed next to Richard’s.
It reads: “Certified professional guide dog.”
“He’s like an extension of me,” Richard said. “Anywhere I go, he’s there.”
The Southeastern Guide Dogs Walkathon will be held in Baldwin Park on March 12. Families and well-behaved dogs on leashes are invited to come to Lake Baldwin Park (4990 New Broad St.) at 8:30 a.m. for family fun, food, entertainment and lots of tail-wagging dogs. This will be a family oriented, dog-friendly 3K walk along the shore of Lake Baldwin. There is no cost for registration.
Baldwin Parker Richard Darrington was matched with Malcolm last April. Since then, Richard has learned to transfer his trust – and sense of sight – to his four-legged companion.
“Malcolm is like my dance partner,” Richard said. “The more we practice and get to know each other, the more elegantly we move along.”
Twenty years after being diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, Richard has slowly lost his ability to see at night. His confidence waned while maneuvering the world after dark, having to “caboose” behind people to get from point A to point B, or using a white cane to orient himself with his surroundings and quickly packing it up before too many people noticed. Back then, his right “leading” leg, would be constantly battered, scratched and bruised from bumping into things trying to find his way, but not anymore.
“Now it’s just the opposite; I don’t know what I’d do without this guy,” he said motioning to Malcolm.
The small black lab was gifted to Richard by Southeastern Guide Dogs. Southeastern Guide Dogs trains and provides world-class guide dogs at no cost to people with vision impairments and to veterans with PTSD. The organization operates without government support, and depends totally on donations for its operating funds. To raise money to continue to train and provide guide dogs to those in need, Southeastern Guide Dogs will host a walkathon in Baldwin Park on March 12.
This year, Malcolm will have his own team strolling around Lake Baldwin to raise money for the group who raised him.
“You know that saying, ‘It takes a village?’ Well it does take a village to raise and train these dogs,” Richard said. The guide dogs go through extensive socialization and command training before being matched with the appropriate owner.
“I say he has a PhD in dogology,” Richard said with a laugh.
“He’s the one who passed the test, I’m just the one who holds the leash.”