Carolyn Wing Greenlee

Spring Happening with Hedy

It’s Poetry Month. To start the celebration, I’m posting the first poem I wrote after graduating from guide dog school with Hedy on December 13, 2008. I had not written any poetry in a year, having sunk into depression after the strain of ten years of caregiving my mother, my father, and my husband. My sight had dropped to 4% and I’d lost my ability to discern the subtle nuances of color.

In 2008, I was struggling to find a new way of dealing with my life, then preparing for the dog, then earning the dog, then graduating—but the wonderful soulmate partnership had not come about. Even when we were home and Hedy had no distractions of dogs, people, and the trainer she loved, we were not becoming a team. This is not an ego issue; it’s a matter of safety. How can I trust Hedy to guide me if she doesn’t care enough about me to try to keep me safe? If I am not the focus of her attention—if a wafting scent, a dog bounding towards us off leash, a friendly admirer entices her to lunge or swerve—how can I walk confidently with her as my guide?

Everything at Guide Dogs for the Blind is designed to keep the handler safe. They emphasize the need for bonding and provide special training in doggy massage. No one else—not student, not dog, not instructor—interacts with your dog. It’s just you and your guide. They’ve been training guide dogs and the blind for more than sixty years. It’s down to a science. They kept assuring me it would work. “Just keep at it,” they’d say.

Then, on February 28, 2009, as spring was beginning to soften the bleak winter landscape with green, Hedy changed towards me—just a little. I was surprised. And then a poem pushed through my own cold, wordless heart. A flurry of poems followed, but this was the first, triggered by a gesture from Hedy that brought me the beginning of something I hoped would be beautiful.

••• Spring Happening with Hedy •••

(on the last day of the fifteenth week with Hedy)

Spring Happening with Hedy

She watches me now.
And sometimes lies close.
On her own.

They said this would happen.
I thought it would not.
She’s too stubborn.
I’m too strained.

But I don’t get to be
the only one
not lovable enough—
exception to the tried and true

They said
You do the work.
You take your place—steady at the helm.
You be the Source.
Correct-reward-and praise.

It happens
like little buds pushing
dark bare sticks
to blossom
It happens
like lilies
from cold dumb globes
spearing through spring soft soil
gallantly green
and white.

It happens
like leaves.
It happens
it happens.
It happens
because I want to
want her to
want to
so much

And she does
she does
like blossoms
like lilies
like leaves


  1. Mary Holtz

    April 5, 2011 - 5:45 AM

    I loved hearing your voice! It brought back wonderful memories! Thank you!
    We feed our pussy cat the same food, Spot’s Stew is made by Ellen Degeneris and is the healthiest one on the market. Salmon is her favorite! I have used Chinese herb formulas to treat itchy skin in dogs, and was very successful. Give it a try!

    • Carolyn

      April 5, 2011 - 10:19 AM

      Mary, I’m so glad to know about the Spot’s Stew! We settled on it by lots of surrogate muscle testing. When Hedy continued to itch, I double and triple-checked the food by additional muscle testing by my acupuncturist, Cheryl Schnabel, and my chiropractor, Dr. Robert Joliin. The Chinese herb idea sounds promising—and so much my heritage! Wish Daddy were here to ask. He had a vile-tasting detoxification formula that cured Plantar’s and Flat Warts. I wonder if it would work for Hedy’s problem. Any particular formulas you recommend? XO back! C and H

  2. kathie fong yoneda

    April 4, 2011 - 7:27 PM

    So glad that Arnold’s friend’s medication seems to have improved your RP. How generous of you to try & connect other RP users to this wonderful “potion”.

    Hedy is a wonderful guide dog & companion…like in any relationship (marriage, business, etc.), you two will have challenges to overcome…but as long as the love & trust is strong between you two, I have every reason to believe each challenge will be met & eventually solved!


    • Carolyn

      April 4, 2011 - 11:17 PM

      I’m thrilled that the medicine might bring improvement for other RP people. It’s all natural stuff, too. No side effects. And I trust you’re right about Hedy and me. It’s more work than marriage because of the language problem. Lots more work than having a pet, but at the same time it’s such a privilege to have a dog like this. We’re both learning and growing. Teal says when Hedy’s 8, she’ll be the perfect guide. Of course, guide dogs are usually retired at age 10…

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