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.