Carolyn Wing Greenlee

Happy 10-year Anniversary, Hedy!

Carolyn and hedy in the Fall leaves

On December 13, 2008, I sat on a chilly stage with my classmates waiting for the moment my name would be called and puppy raiser Heather Findley would tell her experiences bringing up a tiny, willful black Lab named Hedy. Then I would be assisted to the podium where Heather would hand me the leash and Hedy would be my official guide for as long as our partnership would last. It brings tears to my eyes as I write.

At this moment, Hedy is snoring next to me, her back against the leg of my chair. It hasn’t always been like this. When we met for the first time, we disliked each other thoroughly. It isn’t true that it’s always love at first sight. Throughout my training at GDB (Guide Dogs for the Blind), I seriously wondered how this stubborn, aloof, independent dog could be God’s best choice for me, the one I prayed a full year He would select to be my partner and guide.

I can’t believe it’s been ten years! So much has changed in so many ways! Planning to publish a book on living with a guide dog in real life, I wrote stories of our first year at home, but, as I said, things change, and here we are, nearing the end of her career, and I still have four or five other books in the queue waiting to be written before I can no longer type… or remember. I kind of have a plan of putting together a book or two of stories that I don’t have time or energy to write into completion on their own, so the rather shocking truth of having a professional guide dog at home and in public may yet someday be seen.

Meanwhile, in honor of our now invaluable partnership, friendship, loveship, and indelible bond, I’m celebrating our decade of unique relationship that is closer than a marriage, and more surprising and fulfilling than any I’ve ever had with another sentient being.

Thank you, my darling Hedy, for ten years of freedom you alone could bring into my life in your own, inimitable way.

– – – –

For anyone curious about our experience at guide dog school, I have published two books on that subject.

A Gift of Dogs book cover A Gift of Dogs is interviews with my classmates. Having never been around blind and visually impaired people, I was curious to hear their stories. They range from a disgruntled rap singer afraid to use a cane lest he be mugged on the streets of Detroit, to a man who suddenly went blind on the L.A. Freeway at 60 miles an hour. Each one told the story of dealing with blindness and the difference their dog made as they learned to walk independently, trusting a four-footed guide who was committed to keeping them safe.

 

 

Steady Hedy book cover Steady Hedy is my own descent into blindness, all twenty-eight days behind the private doors at Guide Dogs for the Blind, and how my worst nightmare became the source of my greatest healing. Interwoven with that extraordinary transformation are the interactions I had with my instructors and classmates. It was a month of dealing with differences, learning to be a family that helped each other overcome fears and doubts, becoming in the process people of hope with new skills that equipped us to face courageously the issues of blindness with a partnership that is only possible to those who have had such devastating catastrophic loss.

5 Comments

  1. BETTY M HELF

    December 14, 2018 - 7:43 AM
    Reply

    Sadly there are no more puppy raisers in Lake County, so that gathering on my deck could not be duplicated today. Jeanette would still like to do it, but she would have to drive to Santa Rosa for the meetings. We miss having a church puppy.

  2. Pat Salzarulo

    December 13, 2018 - 9:39 PM
    Reply

    Gosh I recognize that gorgeous picture on the beach with your young guide dog Hedy.
    I can’t believe it has been ten years. She certainly has gotten grey.
    I met you the day of graduation December 2008. My girls, Penelope & Sheena were graduating that day too. We became close at that time because of Debbie who got Sheena.
    Penelope is retired now and still with Kathy in Idaho. I think Debbie is still using Sheena as her guide. I know Sheena was sick & not doing well for awhile. Sheena is 12 yrs old now. I only hear from Debbie at Christmas time after I have sent them their Christmas package.
    Time passes by in the blink of an eye.
    I’m on my 11 th puppy now. My last 2 made it as guides. Recently my Fidella was diagnosed with Bone disease and had to be retired after a year a 1/2 guiding.
    Monroe my most recent puppy graduated December 8th and now lives in Regina sks, Canada. Burrr my poor California boy..
    My wonderful devoted Cabo left me on August 7th,2018 . One day after his 9th birthday. I lost him from cancer & I still mourn for him. He was certified and worked for the San Diego District Attorney as a court dog for 51/2 yrs. Cabo & I we’re inseparable. I am devastated over my loss of him. I spent thousands to try to same him but it was too late. He’s in heaven now charming everyone there.
    I miss him terribly.. Treasure every moment with your girl Hedy. They leave us far too soon.. Hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season. Pat Salzarulo

  3. Betty Helf

    December 13, 2018 - 7:52 PM
    Reply

    It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years. I have both of the books you listed above and found them very informative. I had never really thought much about guide dogs before then. I love you both and would like to give one of you a belly rub.

    • Dan

      December 13, 2018 - 8:05 PM
      Reply

      Lol !!!

    • Carolyn

      December 13, 2018 - 9:00 PM
      Reply

      Betty,

      You’re the reason I was able to meet the puppy raiser community here in Lake County, the local group sitting around your lovely patio with pups in various sizes at their feet. “A Gift of Puppies” was the result, with two of our local raisers providing the first interview for that collection of amazing people raising pups for 18 months and then handing them back over to the school. How do they do that? They had surprising answers, which are now in that other book on service dogs I put together. Thank you for saving plastic bags for us and always being a welcoming place down the street to stop and visit. Hedy loves visiting you.

      Maybe you’re the one who should have the belly rub!

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