In 2015 I wrote a series for VisionAware for National Service Dog Month. This is a sequel to that series. I am currently working with my ninth guide from The Seeing Eye Inc. Each of my lovely dogs has taught me lessons I could apply to other aspects of my life.
Insights I Have Gained from My 50 Years with Guide Dogs
As I explained in that series 6 years ago, each of my dogs have brought important insights to my life:
- From Tammy, my first guide dog, I learned to live for today and to fearlessly greet each new experience. As I wrote in that first post, “My Tammy was a beautiful ninety-pound German shepherd, black Labrador cross breed dog with amber eyes. She became my best friend, confidant, and guardian as I set off for college over forty years ago. Little did I know how unique she would prove to be.” She opened up my world. “Tammy greeted each day with joyful enthusiasm. She taught me to do the same. Yesterday’s sorrows are past and we can only deal with what is going on at this moment. It is a waste of energy to trap oneself in a tangle of what ifs. Much of whom I am today, I owe to the lessons I learned from my loving free-spirited Tammy and her eight successors in harness.”
- Teddy, my 2nd dog, taught me that I didn’t have to be perfect at everything I did. Sometimes my talents would lead me in a different direction than the one I had planned.
- Phoebe, my 3rd dog, taught me that any task undertaken and accomplished well is a thing to celebrate.
- Irish, my 4th dog, taught me to pay close attention. Her party girl approach to life meant that I could never just relax and expect her to do all the work.
- Gentry, my 5th dog, was fast, strong and had no respect for women and was also my best traffic dog. His speed and agility proved priceless when he needed to spin me into a hundred and eighty degree turn and back on to the curb to avoid being run down by a logging truck. He also had terrific initiative in problem solving.
- Griffin, my 6th dog, taught me that we can get better results from others if we are willing to give them credit for their accomplishments. He was the only one of my dogs to die in harness. He loyally guided me until the day he died.
- Olsen, my 7th dog, met no strangers. As a matter of fact, he “introduced” me to then Senator Biden in 2008, who took my right hand in his and greeted me warmly. I wished him a blessing on his journey and safe travels. He stepped close, leaned across the barrier to kiss my cheek and give me a hug. He leaned down to stroke Olsen on the top of his satiny head and commented that he once owned a Belgian shepherd and that my dog was beautiful.
- Reno, my 8th dog, whom I affectionately call, “My Little Chocolate,” taught me to think of the needs of others even if it means toughing it through a difficult situation.
- Enzo, my 9th and current dog, has taught me that we must be ready to look forward and let the past stay in the past. We live in the now and that can be a pretty great place to be.
Fifty Years of Walking with Friends
Since writing this series, I have completed a book entitled Fifty Years of Walking with Friends, in honor of my mother’s 90th birthday this year. I invite you to join me in my journey and read more about the lessons I have learned over the years.
As I wrote in my previous series, “From each dog, I learned lessons that have enriched my life. …. They have given me the opportunity of meeting likeminded people who also love dogs. They have kept me safe and made it possible for me to go where I want, when I want and added immeasurably to the quality of my journey by assuring I didn’t have to walk alone.”