Remembering a guide dog on Valentine’s Day

Today is the first anniversary of my guide dog Flossie’s death. Ironically it was a Sunday and a play at City Theater.  As we returned from the play and stomped off the snow and salt from our boots at our front door, I grew apprehensive.  We’d left my new guide, Dave, at home, as we had Flossie.

And as I waited while Bob turned the door key, I teared up remembering the greeting from Flossie, the lick to my hand, the nose to my knee, but not the usual exuberant leaping and whooping. As I started up the stairs to the ladies room, I heard her toenails scrambling in a distinctly odd way and hurried down to the kitchen.  There I discovered that she couldn’t stand.  As I lifted her rump, her back legs splayed out.

“Bob,” I said.  “I think her back legs are paralyzed.”  And within three hours she was gone.

Mercifully Dave greeted us at the door, leaping and licking and dancing and singing.  He didn’t understand why I was hugging him and crying.  He ran to get his tennis ball to which he is obsessed.  He truthfully would play and demand that we join in the game with that squeaking ball 24/7.  And when he loses it under a chest, radiator or bed, he whimpers and points with his nose until we scramble and grovel on all fours to reach the saliva-y thing.  Once Bob and I spent close to 8 hours on and off searching for it, and then had to play another 8 hours with Dave and the ball after retrieving it.  The only thing Dave Is equally obsessed with is his large dog bed on the floor of our room.  If he has to lie quietly at my feet during a meeting, he tried to drag the bed in his teeth downstairs to my chair.  Often he thinks, too, that Bob and I are similarly instance about this bed, so he grabs it and shakes it at us in a keep away game.

In the middle of the tennis ball game this afternoon, I thought again about my beautiful Flossie and had to smile.  I’d always thought Flossie won the prize for goofiest of my guides.  She had such a quirky, funny personality, so playful, so distracted.  Bob’s valentine to me this morning really summed her up—it was a dog on the cover, smiling so lovingly, saying “Happy….Squirrel…

Inside: The dog chases the squirrel, then pulls up and returns and says….Valentine’s Day.” That characterized my slightly A.D.D. guide, Flossie.

Dave is just as playful and full of personality. No other dog could be such a worthy successor.  R.I.P.,                  Floss.

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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