Kiwanis club honors blind man from Pratt who depends on service assistance dog, and tells others his story across the state.
When Randy Teske takes the dog for a walk, its actually the other way around. Teske, who is blind, has a service dog, Marco, who has given him the freedom to get out and go to wherever Teske wants to go.
Randy has had Marco for five years and they walk together, a lot. In the first two years, Randy kept track and they walked some 2,000 miles.
Since he got Marco, Teske travels the state with him, sharing his experiences and letting people know about the assistance dog program and how it can change lives.
One of those presentations was at the Manhattan Kiwanis. They were so impressed, they nominated Teske and Marco for an award for handicapped people who go above and beyond their limitations to help society and help their fellow man
The Kansas Kiwanis honored Teske with the award that was presented at the Kiwanis state convention on Aug. 3, said Susan Teske, Randy’s wife, who drives him and Marco to their speaking engagements.
The Teskes and Marco travel across the state, going to schools and various clubs and organizations, and share their story of service dogs and how they can enrich and change a life. At schools, they teach students proper etiquette when meeting a person with a service dog. So far, they have held 149 programs and traveled over 30,000 miles as they spread the word about service dogs, Susan said.
At a presentation in El Dorado, a man who needed a service dog heard the presentation and began the process of getting a dog. He completed the process in October and will soon have a new independence he didn’t before.
“It will open doors in his life he didn’t think he would have,” Randy said.
It was these presentations that led them to Manhattan and the nomination and eventually the award that Randy was surprised to receive.
“It was a humbling experience,” Randy said.
Marco is an eight-year-old golden retriever and was born and trained in Washington, Kansas. He was trained at Kansas Speciality Development Services, a fully accredited school. He is specially bred as a service dog and has had thousands of hours of training.
Assistance Dogs International is a watch group that monitors KSDS and other schools to assure the animals are properly trained.
“These are professional trainers,” Susan said.
It’s a lengthy process to get a service dog. An application is required along with character references, telling the school that the blindness was permanent, a reference from a veterinarian, a video of the house, yard and vehicle they would use to transport the dog. They also needed a picture of Randy walking with a cane, have a personal interview and provide $25.
The potential dog and client are matched for personality and speed of travel. Susan said she can’t keep up with Randy and Marco when they go for a walk and they go everywhere.
“I can just take off with Marco. We got to town or take a walk in the park,” Randy said. “He can take me to the bank, to the barber shop, to the doughnut shop, to the dentist and to Woodys for a Hamburger.”
One thing Randy would like to see added in Pratt is more audio signals at stop lights. There are signals at Third and Main but it would be very beneficial to him and others that are sight impaired to have more audio signals.
Marco’s training includes intelligence disobedience. That means if Marco sees a car coming and Randy gives the command to go, Marco will not move.
One day they were at Third and Jackson and Randy didn’t hear any traffic so he gave Marco the command to go forward and Marco refused to move. Randy gave the command three or four times but Marco wouldn’t go and Randy got a little frustrated.
Later, they were in Dollar General when a lady said it sounded like Randy was frustrated with Marco and she said she knew why Marco wouldn’t cross the street. She had seen them at the intersection and there was an electric car coming through the intersection that Randy couldn’t hear. But Marco could see the car and refused to move.
“I didn’t hear anything. I gave the command to go forward and he wouldn’t go,” Randy said. “He knew it wasn’t safe.”
Randy gradually went blind over several years. He worked at Doug Reh’s Chevrolet, managing the service department. With help from the staff, he continued to work even when he should have retired, Randy said.
When Randy’s eyesight got so bad that he couldn’t continue, he and Susan wondered why this had happened. At times they got discouraged.
“Blindness is a pretty major disability,” Randy said.
But they chose to move on. Randy said he was inspired by words of his late friend Jack Ewing who said “you either get up and do it or die.”
Susan said they could either stay home or make a mark on the world. So they got Marco and changed their lives so much, Randy said telling their story was the thing to do.
“I feel the obligation to spread the word,” Randy said.
The more they talked about it, the more it seemed what they needed to do. Susan said they guessed this was the path the Lord wanted them to take.
They drew on their faith in God and found strength in Isaiah 55:8, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” NIV