Tuesday, September 1

Our first year

Greetings. How do you summarize a partnership or a year’s worth of events, emotions and feelings? Today is the first year anniversary. One year ago, I was matched with my current Seeing Eye dog Gucci. It all began when I was sitting in a chair in a lounge in Morristown, waiting for my future match. When my trainer brought her over to me and introduced me to her, she pretty much set the tone by putting her front paws in my lap and without hesitation giving me that first lick on the face. Though I was initially wary and unsure of how things were going to work out, after having not worked a dog for 9 years, Gucci took those fears and that uncertainty away by putting one or both her front paws on my arms, chest, and even shoulders. I clearly remember one of the first nights that I had her, when she put first one then the other of her front paws on my shoulder and held that position for several minutes. When I asked a trainer about this later, he said that she was showing that she was comfortable with me.

Then, all too quickly we were on the plane coming home and I was in tears at one point, having fully realized what I had done in getting her and fully appreciating having her. AS time went on, things were perhaps not as smooth as I might have liked, but we both were adjusting to each other and a new lifestyle, as well as her adjusting to my home and work environment. Countless times I have patted her on the bus, run my fingers through her triangular Shepherd ears, or just stayed calm when she was looking at me for direction. Now we’re a year later and we’ve come up with different games and things we do when at work and at home. She’s attuned to me and I to her. Any uncertainty I had felt in walking with her through the open parking lot of my apartment complex, is now gone as I trust her to make the right turns and guide me safely to and from the complex’s office. Sure, she might get distracted or turn when she’s not supposed to, but I’ve also let my mind wander at different times and not realized what she was trying to tell me or point out to me.

She still walks between two people that are spaced out but having a conversation, which I don’t pick up on until we’re already through, and then I’m apologizing. And she still pauses when coming to a crowd or upon someone with a cane at work, of which there are many people that use canes at work, but I’m glad I got her and that she’s mine.

So thanks Gucci for the memories, the past year, the times of running around the apartment or playing tug with the rope, or just for laying quietly under my desk and having people forget that you were there because you were so quiet. For being there for me when I needed comfort from waking from a bad dream, being nearby when I’m in the shower and just keeping your eyes on me when not on duty, and for being there for me at the many doctor’s appointments that we’ve been to over the past year. And for being there and having fun all the other times. I got worried back in May when I had dropped your leash at the horseback riding place, but that brief instant at which the leash was on the ground, when I called, you turned back to me as if to say, “Don’t worry, I’m here.” For getting me back to our apartment last fall when the taxi had let us off on the other side of the apartment building. That particular event happened just a couple of months after we had returned to Austin and I was so proud of you and impressed with your abilities. Here’s to more years of loyal service, fun times and good companionship!

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