When Beth broke her hand awhile back, it was bad news for several reasons—
- She would have to wear a cast, which slows typing considerably, and also makes lots of menial daily tasks—already more difficult because she can’t see—even more difficult.
- She wouldn’t be able to swim, which is her preferred form of exercise.
- It was on her left hand. As in the hand that holds Whitney’s harness.
Because her cast left her with only two working fingers—the index finger and thumb (think crab-like pincers), that just didn’t work. Whitney—like all Seeing Eye dogs—was taught to pull firmly when she leads. That tension is a form of communication—if the dog slows, the tension lessens and Beth’s going to slow down.
Besides that, Whitney pulls hard—those two measly fingers just weren’t enough.
And so, we had a couple mopes around here for a while. Well, Beth only moped for about five minutes at the doctor’s office, her being Beth and all. Whitney was fine for a day or two. Until she understood she was stuck with me walking her, and that she and Beth would be going on no adventures together. Well, the three of us did go out together, but Whitney wasn’t leading. Just not the same.
As written more than once in other posts, these dogs are not robots. They sniff when they aren’t supposed to, sometimes they let temptation get the best of them and they go for a good looking hound in the lobby. So sometimes it’s easy to forget that they derive a great deal of satisfaction from working.
So for two weeks, Whitney behaved and looked bewildered, not to mention, well, depressed.
Beth had a follow-up appointment about a week ago. The bad news: She had to keep a cast. The good news: The doc gave her a new smaller one that gave her enough of her fingers back that she and Whitney could ride again.
I went out with them on their trial walk. I should say I followed them on their trial walk. Because Whitney and Beth were at a brisk downtown walking pace, Whitney with her head on a swivel, alert, smiling, weaving around bad pavement, bits of snow—and I can’t know it, but if a dog can look proud, that’s how she looked—proud.
Whitney and Beth have now been through two of these idle periods—the other one much more protracted (not to mention terrifying).
But both cases, after a hiatus, instead of saying “forget this,” Whitney was elated to be back in the saddle—err, harness—again.
We should all love our work so much.