Maria Colon woke with a start in the early hours of August 7, 2015. The unsighted Philadelphia woman was unable to see anything wrong, but one of her other senses had kicked in. The then 56-year-old had been rudely awoken by the smell of smoke which – unbeknown to her – was billowing through her home. As the deadly fumes began to choke her, Colon did the only thing she could think of, and called out for her housemate. The only problem being that her cohabitant was a canine. This was a life-and-death situation, and surely all was lost. What could a dog be expected to do?
Maria Colon is originally from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, but now lives in the Holmesburg neighborhood of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. Although she is registered as blind, this was not always the case. Unfortunately, Colon became sightless in 1992. This means that the poor woman has been visually impaired for almost half her life.
As a result of her disability, Colon required the assistance of a service dog. This was when she welcomed a Labrador retriever into her life and her home. The golden-haired female dog had been trained to help out and be a companion to the blind. As well as being a sighted guide for Colon, Yolanda was able to perform various functions independently. For example, if her owner held out Yolanda’s harness, the dog would climb into it herself.