Dave’s and My first anniversary

Yesterday marked the anniversary of Dave’s and my first date.  We were equally excited, although I think I kept my enthusiasm more in check .  He ran back and forth between the door to my Seeing Eye dorm room and me, whimpering, which I’ve learned since is his essential mode of communication.  It can be louder or quieter, more or less desperate, more or less constant, demanding, and pretty effective in getting his point across.  Usually the vocalization means he wants to play and I should be quick about it.  Almost as often, it means that he has lost his tennis ball, and I should be quick about recovering it, then playing with him.

Dave came home to Pittsburgh with giardia, a condition, if spelled correctly, means frequent and abundant diarrhea.  Using a new guide dog and any guide dog, for that matter, is a challenge, but one with a penchant for pooping unsubstantially is particularly problematic.  Downtown Pittsburgh in the center of prime shopping—three plastic bags might not suffice.  I needn’t say more.

After expensive testing and meds, Dave finally recovered, but by late August he complained of his first stomach ache.  Result: more costly tests which were all negative.

“Do you think he’s depressed?” an instructor at Seeing Eye asked.

I had to smile.  Dave was not inclined to depression.  Rather, he was probably the most playful of my five shepherds, finding every Kong, rope, bone, even his huge dog pillows as objects for games of keep-away.  Still once a week, his stomach gurgled, and this time his whimper was pitiful, expressing pain.  He lay on his large pillow like a lump and didn’t eat a kernel of food.

Finally in March, when Dave’s tummy troubles began happening every five days, we submitted him to more tests.  Again, all was negative, but the vet suggested we try ZD, a dry food for dogs with food allergies.  Since, Dave has only been ill once, over a worrisome three-day period.

Seeing Eye is not to blame for his giardia.  They’d had an outbreak in the kennel and Dave and all their dogs had been treated.  From what I understand, Dave was the lone pooch to have a relapse.  And giardia occurs, apparently, in all kennels, animal shelters, etc.

This past week Dave, Bob, and I met Leslie and Jeremy and Raya and Clydie at a wooded lake in eastern Pa.  Dave celebrated his new-found health, his anniversary, and anything worth observing.  He tore back and forth across the lawn of the large cabin, one of only three on this lake, found a path to a little beach, returned when called, and splashed into the water.  I’d come to believe that German shepherds were not drawn to the water.  But Dave plunged right in.  The true test will come next week to see whether or not he’s got the affinity for water his blind owner has.  Dave will be meeting the Atlantic Ocean in the state of Maine.  Brrrrr!

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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