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Pedigree

It was a day just like any other.

Liz Oleska was getting her son, Logan, ready for school and was on her way to bring him to the bus stop when out of nowhere, a massive headache hit. At a loss, Liz decided to take a nap and rest it off.

When she woke up, however, all she saw was darkness.


Terrified, Liz went to the hospital for help. But the doctors told her there was nothing more they could do. Her eyesight had already been deteriorating for three months due to diabetic retinopathy.

"That's when it hit me," she recalled. "I'm blind."

Everyday tasks like cooking and crossing the street were suddenly difficult and scary to Liz.

"What am I gonna do? How am I gonna live? How am I gonna survive? How am I gonna do this alone as a single mom raising my son?" she asked.

"I thought my life was over ... and then I got Bryce."

Watch the powerful video to be immersed in Liz and Bryce's story:

Liz's new guide dog came into her life like a four-legged ray of hope.

Bryce helped Liz grow her sense of confidence, independence, and pride. And even when times got tough, Bryce stayed by her side no matter what.

"It took me getting Bryce to realize that all I need is to trust myself, that I can make anything happen," Liz said. "Now I stop and think because Bryce has taught me to appreciate things differently. And there's so much that makes me happy — so much that I didn't even realize was out there."

In honor of Blindness Awareness Month, Pedigree is sharing Liz and Bryce's story to highlight how valuable these furry companions can be.

What's made these canine companions so incredible? How did they even learn to be so helpful?

Here are five fascinating things to know about guide dogs:

1. The guide dog training process is, of course, highly specialized.

Image via Pedigree/YouTube.

Each dog is assigned to a trainer who will work with them for at least five months. During that time, the dogs have to go through different phases designed to get them ready for the real world.

First, the trainers reinforce the basics the dogs learned as puppies. Next, the trainers up the ante by introducing obstacles and distractions to make sure the dogs stay on point. After that, the dogs are asked to perform all the tasks they learned without any help. (This step requires a lot of repetition.) Lastly, the dogs are integrated into normal settings and are able to put their training into action.

After that, they can direct their owner to wherever they need to go, avoid any dangerous obstacles, and even distinguish between commands to tell whether it'll put their owner in harm's way. (It's called intelligent disobedience, and it might just be their coolest skill.)

When all is said and done, about 70% of dogs make the cut and can become guide dogs. But don't worry about the others; training centers make sure to find a home or other job for them.

2. You can actually help out in the coolest way.

Image via smerikal/Flickr.

Guide dogs are trained from the moment they're born. But there's a little gap where you can help out and become a puppy raiser.

It'd be your job to raise a puppy! From the time they're 8 weeks old to around 18 months, these puppies need to learn basic obedience skills and manners. You'd also be tasked with making sure these puppies are sociable and exposing them to as many different situations as possible. When they're finally puppy teens, ready for the next step, they head back to the training center.

3. There's an art to selecting the right guide dog for an individual.

Not every guide dog is going to be the perfect match for every person with blindness or visual impairment. There are a lot of crucial factors that need to be considered before they can be paired up properly — age, height, walking speed, environment, personality, breed, etc.

Coordinators have to make sure there's a seamless relationship between guide dog and owner because they operate as a team every single day.

4. There are a few rules on guide dog etiquette.

Image via Pedigree/YouTube.

Many guide dogs are absolutely adorable. But remember that they're also doing a job when you see them out with their owner. So make sure not to distract them with shouting, honking, or feeding. More importantly, never grab the harness or leash from the owner because it will cause disorientation.

If the dog is absolutely irresistible, make sure you ask the owner first if you can have a moment with their guide dog to say hello and pet them.

5. Guide dogs aren't for everyone, but they provide an important service for their handlers.

Image via Pedigree/YouTube.

In addition to making daily tasks easier, guide dogs can help their owners gain more confidence as they move about the world together.

They help serve as their owners' eyes. But more importantly, they're giving them a whole lot of heart.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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