Note: If you link to WBEZ to listen to the piece, it’s a little confusing. Use this link, and then just wait, don’t click anything–the right piece should start playing. Don’t pay attention to the playlist that may appear.
A longer version of this blog post aired on Chicago Public Radio November 24. I don’t cry during the reading, but if you listen closely you’ll hear me get a little choked up. Hanni has given me so, so much to be thankful for. I am really going to miss her.…
My Seeing Eye dog will be 11 years old in February. Walks to the Loop used to invigorate Hanni. Now they wear her out. She takes long naps after our excursions, and she doesn’t wake up from those naps as easily as she used to.
It’s time for Hanni to retire.
Back in 1990, it took two terrifying mishaps in traffic to convince me to switch from a white cane to a guide dog. Now, after ten years of side-by-side travel with Hanni, it’s going to take a lot to convince me I’ll ever love my next Seeing Eye dog as much as I do her.
Blindness dictates practicality, however. For Hanni’s and for my sake, I’ve signed up to return to the Seeing Eye this Saturday. I’ll be there three weeks, training with a new dog.
Dog-loving friends assumed I’d keep Hanni as a pet. Mike would like to keep her. I’m just not sure I can devote myself to a new Seeing Eye dog if Hanni is still around.
I can bring Hanni back with me to the Seeing Eye when I fly there Saturday to train with my new dog. They’ll find her a good home. I’m just afraid I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my new dog knowing Hanni was in the nearby kennel, waiting. The new dog wouldn’t stand a chance!
And so, I’ve decided. I’m giving Hanni to a couple of friends. We visit these friends often, so when I get Hanni pangs, I can always head over there for a hug. These friends don’t have a dog now, so they’ll be able to give Hanni their undivided attention. That’s something she’s used to. Getting attention, I mean.
I’ll get to visit Hanni, but it’s hard to imagine traveling more than a couple feet to hug her. Or trusting a dog other than Hanni to lead me around the city and keep me safe. I can’t think about that now, though. It’s time to take one last walk. With good ol’ Hanni.