Today, my little black Labrador is 5. She still looks like a puppy. I’ve been told that Labs have puppy brains till they’re almost old. That’s probably a good thing. She’s still excited every morning to see what’s outside. We walk the same street she’s traversed for the past 3 years, yet her shiny, black nose is going and she’s checking out the traces of whoever has crossed that road the night before. Deer? Turkeys? The black cat who sleeps in the center of the street? She always wants to greet the day, and her enthusiasm reminds me what a gift we have. So much potential is there!
We are a team. She has accepted that I am the boss—at least today…at least for now. The trainers told me she would always think she’s right and she will always do something, even if it’s wrong. That used to bother me. Now I understand how much a guide dog needs to have that confidence in order to do the work. Now I appreciate how secure she is in herself. It’s from careful breeding. It’s from meticulous puppy training from her raisers, Heather and Amber Findley, and their mom, Sarah. It’s from the gifts God gave her when He designed her before the beginning of time.
When I first saw Hedy, I couldn’t stand her. She stank. She was aloof. I wanted someone warm and fuzzy to cuddle away the sorrows of dimming sight. I didn’t want to have to fight every step of the way. But she has forced me to be more than I was. I have accepted the necessity of keeping up on her skills every day even when I didn’t want to be bothered. My reward is this interdependent partnership that is founded on respect, clear communication, and need. We have needs that only the other can meet. No one else has that place in our hearts.
She is my Valentine, this strong and happy girl. We take care of one another because it’s what we want to do. And when it’s time to go out and face the world, we go together because it’s better that way.