A year with Whit

November 25, 2012 • Posted in guest blog, Hanni, Harper, Mike Knezovich, Seeing Eye dogs, travel, Uncategorized, Whitney by

Whitney taking a break from her Nylabone on Thanksgiving day.

My husband’s giving me a holiday blog break with this guest post–here’s Mike Knezovich!

On Friday night Beth came through the apartment door sounding slightly panicked. “Mike, take a look at Whitney — I think she’s bleeding.”

A dog had lunged at Whit in our building’s elevator, and Whit was bleeding from a cut across her nose. As I cleaned it up, Beth recounted what happened. And then we both fell silent.

Of the many, many things Beth and I have felt thankful for over the past few days, one stands out: This is the first year of the past three that Beth wasn’t flying to New Jersey the weekend after Thanksgiving to spend three weeks training with a new Seeing Eye dog. Like many other couples, Beth and I appreciate our breaks from each other, but I don’t like it when she’s gone that long. And I particularly don’t like the yearlong process, after being matched with a new dog, where we figure out how and if it’s going to work.

Regular “Safe & Sound” readers know the story…in 2010, Beth’s guide dog Hanni began a well-earned retirement. Though it was sad to say goodbye to the intrepid Hanni, it all felt natural. We both looked at this next episode with positive anticipation. Sure enough, Beth returned with Harper, a gentle, loveable and handsome Yellow Lab. All was well until Beth and Harper had a terrifyingly close call with a car—and Harper was never the same.

So last November it felt more like “Groundhog Day” than Thanksgiving. For the second straight year, Beth juggled her work schedule, packed her things for a three-week stay at The Seeing Eye, and girded herself for the physical and emotional challenges of training with a new guide. I crossed my fingers that this one would take.

And it has. It’s been a year since Whit and Beth met, and Whit continues to learn and improve. She still has her moments—she’ll just sort of space out and lollygag, veering here and there to sniff around—I liken it to teenage behavior.

But those episodes are fewer and further between. More often she walks—trots, really—with a purpose, stops precisely where she should at the crosswalks, and waits for Beth’s command to go. Her head is high, and on a swivel—she’s always scoping out her environment. She’s affectionate but independent—she prefers to sleep in her luxurious bed under the piano in the living room rather than on the floor in our bedroom.

And so, after the elevator episode, Beth and I each quietly feared the worst: Whit might get scared in the elevator, and then, who knows.

We headed out for a long city walk yesterday and she didn’t miss a beat—in the elevator or on the street. Whit seems undaunted, and boy, am I thankful. Hanni’s enjoying a splendid retirement. Harper’s got a best friend named Beau. I’ve got a new favorite in Whitney.

And Beth’s right here where she belongs.

janet On November 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Beautiful! We are all thankful for Whitney and Harper and Hanni…and you both, Beth and Mike.

Kim On November 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I’m so, so glad that life has worked out for all of you!

bethfinke On November 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Thanks, Kim. An added bonus: I just started reading “Cocktail Hour at the Tree of Forgetfulness” and am really enjoying it — great recommendation!

Maria Bohrer On November 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Wonderful, Mike! So happy to hear that all is well with you, Beth, and Whitney. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Fondly, Maria LaPlaca Bohrer, a LI fan

bethfinke On November 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Maria, such a relief to hear you are “safe & sound” on Long Island, but I do know some of your students are still suffering from the storm — stay tuned for the next blog post, I’m featuring the fundraiser your wonderful daughter is sponsoring…

heather holahan On November 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm

So glad that everyone is where they happily belong. Well said Mike. Happy Thanksgiving to the three of you.

Audrey Mitchell On November 25, 2012 at 7:30 pm

One year already? I can see Whitney maturing into another Hanni…even better. Happy Thanksgiving.

bethfinke On November 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Ha! Sure hope Hanni’s new owner Nancy isn’t reading this…she’ll have words for you on Hanni’s behalf!

Lauren Bishop-Weidner On November 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Whew!! I do know the relief. Raising a glass to Whitney–and her folks.

Deborah Darsie On November 25, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Happy Anniversary Beth and Whitney (and Mike) – and I am glad you have had a true Thanksgiving.

I am so glad that Whitney’s confidence was not scratched…

bethfinke On November 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Her confidence not scratched — what clever writing. Be careful, I may steal that phrase from you….

glivingston On November 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Whew. Congratulations on a great year with Whit–and on all the work it took by all of you to get there.

Sarah On November 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Yay – Go Whitney! *grin*

beckylpcbecky On November 26, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Well said Mike – it is such a couple experience. Glad you all could enjoy Thanksgiving together home!

Bryan McMurray On December 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I love them all, but this one was so, touching, special, especially I think, as a man, knowing it was Mike who expressed such sentiments, things like something I might have said about my Sweetheart, Beth and I appreciate our breaks from each other, but I don’t like it when she’s gone that long. Thanks for being so open, Mike and Beth! It means a lot! Bryan

bethfinke On December 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

you’re so right, Bryan. Mike has a *wonderful* way with words, and he is an honest writer, I think that’s why so, so many people appreciate his guest posts here…especially me.

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