Truffle and Ashley are always ready to go. Ready for that next adventure. Whether it’s commuting across campus, tackling a D.C. internship, or double majoring, the two are inseparable and have an incredible bond. ‘Truffie’, as she is sometimes called, and Ashley Melero met in 2011 through a matching process, carefully worked by a team that analyzes things like life style, walking speed and personality when pairing guide dogs for the blind and their owners.
Ashley and Truffle recently finished an internship in Washington D.C. for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Ashley is working towards her practicum at the Department of State Health Services and double majoring in social work and sociology here at Texas Tech. And through it all, Truffle is ready to go as Ashley ventures out in the world. “All of these times that Truffle and I were forced to learn new environments; she handled it like nothing. I was scared, but Truffle has no fear”, Melero states. “The independence and confidence I received from Truffle is easily the most rewarding part of this whole experience…She is my eyes, my support system no matter what, my unbiased best friend.”
Service animals, like Truffle, provide assistance to their owner as well as companionship. Their main priority is helping with daily activities, though there is an undeniable, personal connection that also occurs. “When we come home and Truffle’s harness is off, she gets to act like a normal dog,” Ashley mentioned. “Our bond after just over four years is incredible.”
Perhaps the most fascinating part of talking to Ashley was understanding just how strong the connection is with her canine comrade and how much they motivate each other. Truffle understands that she has a responsibility to guide her owner through any situation just as Ashley understands that her future is determined by her own efforts. “It is our responsibility to make ourselves stand out on a résumé and to prove to people that a disability is not a handicap. If you want it, do it! Finding excuses as to why you can’t is handicapping yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t let your disability run your life, you run the disability and don’t let it limit you”, she commented.
Ashley’s determination and Truffles fearless attitude will surely be something to follow in the years to come as they embark on new journeys after graduation this semester. Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities and as we celebrate, remember that you can accomplish great things, regardless of a disability. Give it your best shot and as the world is working to become more accessible, you can make yourself more accessible to the world with hard work and the right attitude.