Green Room

Obligatory blind man gets to keep loyal dog post

posted at 5:36 pm on December 18, 2013 by

As a resident of the Empire State I give the government here (and the people who keep electing these clowns) a lot of grief, particularly when it comes to the downstate alternate universe of New York City. But even I will admit that there are moments when the Big Apple shrugs off all of its worms and shows the heart that I used to know and love. The media has been covering the story of the blind man who fell onto the subway tracks with his loyal dog jumping in after him. He was, as it turns out, about to lose the heroic canine who had reached retirement age.

The blind New York City man who credited his guide dog for saving his life Tuesday when he fell onto the subway tracks said he is going to be forced to give up his dog because the dog is nearing retirement and his insurance will no longer cover him.

The lab, named Orlando, will be 11 on Jan. 5, and will be retiring soon, Cecil Williams, 61, said. His medical benefits will cover a new guide dog but won’t pay for a non-working dog, so he’ll be looking for a good home for Orlando.

“If he had the money,” Williams said, “I would definitely keep him.”

Williams, who lives in Harlem, was at the 145th Street station in New York City at around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when he began to feel faint. Despite the best efforts of the dog, a black Labrador named Orlando, Williams tumbled over the platform edge and onto the tracks.

The New York Post caught wind of the story and in very short order, New Yorkers decided that this was going to be a special Christmas for Mr. Williams.

A blind man who nearly died after falling onto subway train tracks will get to keep the loyal dog who tried to save him — thanks to New Yorkers who whipped out their checkbooks to help the duo stay together.

Cecil Williams, 61 — whose 11-year-old pooch, Orlando, leaped onto the tracks after his master fainted on Tuesday — said the lovable lab will retire as a seeing-eye dog and become a pet with the help of donation money.

Williams, who will get a new service dog because Orlando is too old, had planned to give up his furry pal because his insurance plan doesn’t cover the living cost of non-working dogs, he said.

Donation cash will now pay for Orlando’s vet bills and food, which Williams said fills him with joy.

“The spirit of giving, Christmas and all that — it exists here. It’s in New York,” he said, in tears, at St. Luke’s hospital on Wednesday.

The public has ponied up $45K in donations and the dog will stay with Mr. Williams as his pet, even as he gets a new guide dog. It’s Christmas in New York and sometimes there’s still a little magic on 34th street.

Blind man Cecil Williams speaks about his service dog Orlando as his partner Cynthia holds the leash during a press conference in New York

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Awesomeness.

Say what ya want about New York, but this only one reason why I love this city so much. When push comes to shove…not like the subway of course :P…there’s a lot of heart here.

JetBoy on December 18, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Dang allergies.

rbj on December 18, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Great story, happy ending!!!!

But guide dogs have a mandatory retirement age? Government doing what government does.

Bitter Clinger on December 18, 2013 at 6:35 PM

I still think New York sucks balls. And that because of its government. The people? Not so bad. ;)

gryphon202 on December 18, 2013 at 7:04 PM

One of my profs used to say that when Adam got kicked out of the Garden all the animals turned their backs on him and walked away except for his dog who walked into the wilderness by his side.

29Victor on December 18, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Bitter Clinger,

It has nothing to do with the government when service dogs for the blind are retired. Private organizations train and place dogs, then replace them when older. You could keep the dog as a pet and also be sent a new working dog, or have a family member take it or return it for a retirement adoption. This man was unable to cover the costs of keeping the dog as a pet, which had been paid for a service dog.

With the donations sent in, I expect that Mr. Williams, Orlando and the new service dog will all manage quite well.

Madisonian on December 18, 2013 at 10:41 PM

An obligatory blind man?

I hope towns and villages without one won’t have to go around poking someone’s eyes out to fill a void.

Shy Guy on December 18, 2013 at 11:11 PM

Madisonian on December 18, 2013 at 10:41 PM

Thanks for the info. I stand corrected.

Bitter Clinger on December 18, 2013 at 11:25 PM

Too much dust in the air.

talking_mouse on December 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM

An obligatory blind man?

Exactly. Obligatory?

WTF?!?!

98ZJUSMC on December 19, 2013 at 11:20 AM