Animal Rescue Hero Fidelco Guide Dog Izaac





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Uploaded on Mar 10, 2014

Izaac is a guide dog trained by the Fidelco Foundation of Bloomfield. He is partnered with Bill DeMaio, director of parks and recreation for the city of New Britain.

DeMaio, who has a demanding and wide-ranging job that includes managing 70 full-time and 400 part-time employees in seven divisions, including Veterans Affairs, Parks, Recreation, Golf and Cemeteries. DeMaio has Retinitis Pigmentosa, which has resulted in the gradual loss of his vision. He resisted use of a cane or guide dog, believing it would label him as "blind and dependent." He has coped ably, succeeding in his career, but it took a toll on his life, affecting his ability to socialize and experience new things. As DeMaio's eyesight continued to degenerate he had what he describes as his "ah-ha moment," when, while walking, he collided with an approaching jogger he never even saw.

That was when DeMaio seriously investigated getting a guide dog. Soon after, Izaac, Bill's Fidelco Guide Dog, came into his life. Izaac has helped Bill, a former athlete and avid walker, maintain his mobility and keep up with the demands of his busy lifestyle. "Now I walk with speed and confidence," Bill explains. "I'm not afraid anymore to go anywhere. It's been so
good to be able to go outside you can't put a price on freedom and independence." Bill says Izaac helps him feel like part of the world again. "Getting Izaac opened up the world of people that I had gradually distanced myself from. Izaac is a social magnet, people flock to him and me by association — freeing me from that old isolation due to my blindness."

DeMaio says his new found confidence has given him a new mission. "Now I'm outgoing enough to even plan an upcoming speaking engagement to a group of fifth graders in Massachusetts. It's part of my quest to be a goodwill ambassador for guide dogs and Fidelco. I even have a mantra — 'Changing what it means to be blind'."


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