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Guide dog escorts blind girl to Tibet

01-07-2013 | From: 中国西藏网

Chen Yan and Jenny in Shangri La
Chen Yan and Jenny in Shangri La

Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-la, and finally Lhasa, a 2000km trip in one week.

Black, bounding, and well-behaved, a cute Labrador guide dog showed up in Lhasa with her owner, opening a new chapter of dog-guided tour for the blinds. Her name was Jenny.

Jenny is the first trained guide dog ever stepped on the land of Tibet. "Her debut is meant to raise public awareness of the various ways that guide dogs could assist visually impaired people, and the importance of getting public places better accessible to these dogs so that they could better help their owners." said Chen Yan, Jenny's owner, a blind piano tuner.

Chen was born with congenital cataract. Their friendship dated back to 2011 when Jenny was brought to her as a "second pair of eyes". As her "best company", Jenny accompanied Chen to many social activities where their story turns known to and appreciated by more and more people.
Meanwhile, Chen's keen interest in traveling turned intenser, particularly her dreamed journey to Tibet. On May 10 this year, Chen finally launched her Tibet trip. Guided by Jenny.

Starting in Kunming and passing by Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-la, they eventually arrived in Tibet after tackling numerous obstacles. In the early days, even finding accommodation turned extremely challenging: no hotel owner was willing to let Jenny in. Hearing of this news, many kind-hearted locals went negotiating with hotel owners until some of them approved Jenny's access. "By all means, it's never easy for a blind to travel with a dog," a volunteer explained Chen's circumstances to a hotel receptionist.

As they got nearer to Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, altitude sickness loomed large. For one time, Chen woke up so sick that she had to be hospitalized. Happy news arise though: this time around, Jenny was not only allowed to stay with Chen in the ward, but was also especially taken care of by the nurses.
All over the way to the Plateau, warm-hearted people cared about her health and kept persuading her to stop. But Chen never forgot what set her on the trip in the first place.

In early June, they entered Lhasa where they had green light all the way from Nyingchi County to the Potala Palace. At the end of the day in Nyingchi, kind-hearted hotel owners are more than happy to offer accommodation for free which, in Chen's view, was the "best gift" they ever received through the entire journey.

Her second stop in Lhasa is the Lhasa Blind School. There students were greatly encouraged after playing with Jenny and a smooth interaction.
When they finally stood in front of Potala Palace, Chen was so exhilarated that tears welled streaming down her cheeks, " I'm determined to take Jenny to Lhasa. She must see the view, the majestic view, on behalf of me, as my "second and only pair of eyes", said Chen, tenderly caressing Jenny's head.
Back home, Chen posted on her blog, "this is a never-to-be-forgotten trip that I risked my life for. What does count, however, is not the length of life but its width. My heart swells with gratitude to all that volunteered to help and cares about me and Jenny."

As for the next trip for Jenny, Chen said they will move on together.

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