Vladimar and his dog Frank highlight the many gifts and costs of disabilities, and show that they think with their hearts.
Vladimar and Frank
Once there was a man named Vladimar who wore heavy brown-rimmed glasses with shaded lens. His eyesight was so poor he qualified for a seeing-eye dog. The dog, named Frank, had special training to assist Vladimar in seeking out persons with physical and mental impairments so Vladimar could present them with one thousand dollars to help with medical expense or transportation.
Every day Vladimar and Frank went to a different locale. Sometimes by bus they went to a shopping mall. Sometimes they walked to a nearby hospital or park. When Frank found a person with a disability, he tugged the hand harness three times, and Vladimar stuck out his right hand and said, “Hello. I’m Vladimar Z. Smith.”
Usually a voice hesitantly answered, “Oh, hello. I’m Angela.”
Sometimes it was an adult voice, sometimes it was a child’s voice and an adult was always nearby and answered with the child.
As Vladimar talked with the person he had just met, he was always astounded at the gifts the person possessed. One had such a cheerful voice he felt bathed in sunshine. Another couldn’t talk but played the harmonica, and still another was engrossed in writing poetry which he shared with Vladimar. One small boy made terrific drum sounds with his fingers against the side of his wheelchair. A girl who could not hear Vladimar’s voice sketched his picture with colored pencils. Vladimar talked with people who worked, played, had silly giggles, were sometimes grumpy, were often happy, and usually invited him to visit the next day which he did. At the end of the conversations, Vladimar always surprised them.
“I’m authorized to give you a cashiers check for one thousand dollars,” Vladimar said to each one.
“Why?” each person asked.
“Because I can see that your special need costs you,” answered Vladimar.
“But you can’t see,” said one anxious parent after the check had been duly inspected.
My dog sees the color of your hair, the cut of your clothes, the way you walk or don’t walk. I see you as a person with a gift. I, Vladimar, see with my heart. It’s the best way of seeing.”
It’s story about a perceptive man who is visually blind, but is not blind in understanding. If you are perceptive, but have no dog or money, what can you do
Small Group Discussion Questions
1. Besides money, what does a special need or disability*** cost? ?
(Among other things it may cost spontaneity, lifestyle, way you spend money, occupation, friends, loneliness, detours in plans, time for treatments and doctors, different transportation, and possibly a change in body image or change or growth in theology,
2. Have you ever considered that a chronic illness or other special need might deplete a bank account? Or deplete emotional reserves? What does it cost emotionally?
3. What besides money did Vladimar spend? Did Vladimar think in labels? If so, what kind of labels?
4. What internal eyes (or focus) did Vladimar Z. Smith possess that let him see gifts in people? Can this focus be developed? If so, where does a person begin?
5. What would be the advantage of having an intuitive seeing eye dog? The disadvantages?
6. If you understand problems of persons with special needs but have no dog and no money, what can you do as a Christian? (Among other things, make certain your congregation is meeting the needs of persons with special needs in your community, treat persons with special needs as persons with names and lives, etc.)
***Special need or disability might include differences in mobility, vision, sight, cognitive performance, communication or a life-changing illness that is not visible.