Laura Ann Grymes and Dyson

By: Jim Price

The car was so close she felt the heat. The driver was going way too fast, exiting the bank at a blind driveway. Her dog instantly pulled her backward and she was experienced enough to go with him.  He saved her, himself, and the trainer from possible injury. And Amazingly, Laura Ann Grymes had just met her new guide dog, Dyson, less than 48 hours earlier.

 "I don't want people to be afraid about coming to get a dog because this almost never happens," she said, preparing to tell the story. "But he was amazing. I couldn't help it, when we settled down a bit I just bent down and hugged him and burst into tears." Telling the story, she cried again, pointing out she already felt a very close bond to her new dog.
Laura Ann Grymes hugs her guide dog Dyson

 Grymes was at the Oregon campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind to get Dyson, a male Yellow Lab, her fourth guide dog. "From the puppy sitters to the trainers, they did such a good job with him," she gushed in a noticeable Texas twang. "In fact, all my dogs have been just perfect for me. I don't know how they do it." At her side Dyson settled for a snooze, oblivious for a few minutes as she reminisced. Later when she rose, he was instantly on his feet, ready to go to work keeping her safe on the busy streets of Portland.

Grymes, 44, spent her early years in a combination of schools, ranging from public to private, Christian to a school for the blind. That mix served her well at Texas A&M (she is very quick to let anyone know she is an Aggie!) where she earned a degree in elementary education. She even taught for a time, but soon realized her passion was not in education, but in the health and wellness field. So now she is a massage therapist at Walker Chiropractic Center in Bryan, Texas. She's licensed to do everything from cranial-sacral to deep tissue Swedish massage. "I'm very passionate about what I do," she said. And she does it best with a guide dog at her side.

 "My first dog was Danna, a female yellow Lab," she explained. "I had her nine years," and just that simple memory was enough to choke her up for a second. "All my dogs were wonderful. Each was different but she was just perfect for me on campus. I had to retire her for age-related issues but my mom adopted her so that was good."

 Next was Rally, another yellow Lab, who she had for more than seven years. "Even though he was bigger, he was more sensitive," she said. "He was more careful and he did really good work." While she had Rally she and her mother, Lucile, created a very successful pet sitting business in the College Station, Texas, area. "He was so calm I remember one time he held absolutely still as a litter of kittens crawled all over him."

 She said she and her mom make a great team. "It's not a matter of me taking care of my mom, or me living at home with my mom. We are best friends and thoroughly enjoy each other." Managing their pet-sitting job, Grymes did all the paperwork, the interviewing, and the scheduling. Once on site, her mom scooped kitty litter or prepared meals while she played with them or took the dogs for a walk. Using a waste walker she could handle two dogs at a time. She said their busiest day, a Christmas, kicked off at 6:30 a.m. and finally ended at 11:30 p.m., "With a stop at Denny's for dinner - Merry Christmas!" They gave up the business when her mom developed breast cancer, but Grymes was happy to report she is now cancer free for more than five years.
Laura Ann Grymes and guide dog Dyson walk down the street

 Her third dog was Dasher, also a male yellow Lab, who she described as very careful and her most sensitive yet. "We had to spend a lot of time in the hospital and he was so well behaved. Once again, GDB did an amazing job of matching us up. At work, he got to roam free while I was working and he became kind of a therapy dog. Our patients loved him."

 When she isn't taking away pain or helping people relax, Grymes can by studying the local birds. She calls herself an amateur birder, but since she can't do it with sight, she uses sound. She has a number of apps on her phone that identify bird calls. And she said it's very common for wild birds to answer the recorded call. She's also a Christian singer and she plays the guitar.

 Back home in Texas she said they had a good flight home. "He was a little nervous when we took off from Portland but he quickly settled down and we had a great flight. Unfortunately they wouldn't let me relieve him at our stopover in Denver so he had to go 10 hours, but he handled it very well and we got home with no accidents."

 She was especially thankful to her puppy sitters, Megan & Alex Minkiewicz of Bend, Ore. "Megan had flown with Dyson on business so he was used to flying. The people around me at work just adore him and he's getting along great with Dasher. We are quite a site out walking with my mom and our two dogs. I couldn't be happier."

 Neither could Dyson.


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