Carolyn Wing Greenlee

Does She Ever Get To Be A Dog?

People ask me if Hedy ever gets to be “just a dog.” They have the idea she is always in harness with that solemn, I’m-Attending-To-Business look on her face. I think they wonder if she is ever out of harness, even to sleep!

Here’s a video I took of Hedy having her nails trimmed by one of her favorite people, Cathy Silva, from down the street. In the past, it took three people to hold Hedy while she was getting her nails cut. She changed from a well-trained guide dog to a Tasmanian Devil. But Cathy has a way with dogs, and she is able to clip those nails without trauma. Here’s a look at how Hedy is at home. Yes, she does this even when she’s not getting her nails done. No, she doesn’t wear her harness at home. In fact, most of the time she’s au naturel, and spends a great deal of her day snoozing, which is one of her favorite things.

By the way, long, long ago, I asked if anyone knew what to do for Hedy’s excessive scratching. People sent ideas, but nothing changed the problem. Many said they had the same mystifying issue with their dogs. Hedy has been itchy since the day I was handed her leash, November 9, 2008. I have tried many things, including fish oil and krill oil, but the answer seems to be she has food sensitivities. Early on, we guessed wheat and corn, but we did not suspect chicken. I suspect some of the trouble comes with the way mass-produced chickens are raised and killed. But Hedy’s inability to tolerate chicken also extends to free-range chicken of the highest quality. It’s not just antibiotics, growth hormones, or abysmal living conditions, it’s chicken itself.

Recently, Dan did extensive research on dog food and read that many owners have linked chicken to their dog’s itchy skin. He also found that almost all dog foods contain chicken. After three hours of reading late into the night, Dan found Horizon Legacy Salmon Dry Dog Food; with no Grains, GMO’s, Growth Hormones, Steroids, By-products or Chemical Preservatives. Hedy has just started transitioning to the new food and her stools are already better.

If your dog has a strong smell, lumps and bumps, or scratches a lot, you might check to see if the culprit is chicken. As in your own food choices, it’s a good idea to read the labels. Many ingredients that aren’t good for humans aren’t good for dogs either.

Hedy will be ten in a few months. Right now, she’s in great shape, perky and silly when off-duty, and a willing guide when it’s time to work. We have eight years of partnership together, and I want her to stay as healthy and energetic as she can be for as long as possible, even after she retires. I think a major key is her food, just as it is for us humans.

Direct link to video


  1. jan wilson

    January 6, 2017 - 9:46 AM

    Thank you Carolyn for sharing your stories. You write as though you do not have a problem with your eyes. Your defining details are most enjoyable! Keep up the good writing!

    • Carolyn

      January 12, 2017 - 9:05 PM

      I am grateful for access technology which allows me to continue to write. Whenever I get frustrated and feel like whining, I remember people like Joni Earickson Tada who paints with a brush held in her teeth, or people who signal specialty computers one blink or eye movement at a time. We all have so much to be grateful for—and being able to express ourselves, communicating with others even when other capabilities fail—it’s an immense blessing, especially when people like you let us know our stories have been read, enjoyed, and our lives shared beyond the limits of time.

  2. Linda Jacobs

    September 19, 2016 - 2:56 PM

    Hi, Carolyn. Loved the video of Hedy. Boy, is she still energetic! Hope to see her (and you, my dear) in Santa Fe!

  3. Nancy Cardoza

    September 19, 2016 - 9:32 AM

    Beautiful Hedy. Loved the sweet and vivacious look in her eyes as she rushed back up the stairs right to you! You and Dan are the BEST dog parents.

    • Carolyn

      September 19, 2016 - 11:53 AM

      Nancy, you always notice what touches me most. I loved that expression on her sweet, little face. She even tilted her head. God is an extraordinary Designer. He created each individual with a personality and a purpose. Hedy is truly fulfilling hers!

  4. kathie

    September 19, 2016 - 8:58 AM

    Thanks for sharing the video of Hedy. So glad to know that she has time to be playful & have fun…but I’m ever so grateful that she is a wonderful part of your life! xoxo kathie

    • Carolyn

      September 19, 2016 - 11:51 AM

      It’s a constant attention to balance, just as with children or spouses or friends or family. We can get so busy we forget to enjoy them. We have a partnership of function (such as parenting a child), but joy is a stronger bond than discipline and instruction. My father, the Confucian scholar, used to lecture me, whether I was being corrected or taught about something such as condensation (I still remember the chalkboard and his diagrams), all was aimed at the enrichment of my character and mind. Fun wasn’t part of my life. Even vacations were drives between museums and historical places. But guide dogs have to be kept motivated. We were instructed to play with ours at least fifteen minutes a day. And walks are required—not destinations, just walks. I have seen more beautiful mornings and evenings, heard more birds, smelled more trees, felt more exquisite breezes, because Hedy needed to go out. God did not intend us to work all the time. Joy is part of His plan for fullness in our lives. And sometimes, if we don’t know how to do that, He provides a silly girl like Hedy, who makes me laugh and lifts my heart with delight.

  5. Mary E. Trimble

    September 19, 2016 - 8:19 AM

    Hedy is doing so well, Carolyn. I remember her early days. What a wonderful life she has with you!

    • Carolyn

      September 19, 2016 - 11:47 AM

      How excited I was to bring Hedy to the Women Writing the West conference in 2009! I remember having to be so vigilant with her because she loved to help clean the carpet in the dining hall. Hedy the Hoover. She hasn’t changed.

      I so appreciated your help with Hedy at the various events. You’re such a dog-person, and she knew it.

      See you in a few weeks at the WWW conference in Santa Fe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.