My last post shared both sad and happy news. My loveable retired Seeing Eye dog Hanni died Wednesday, and the book I’ve been working on for more than a decade had been released just the day before.
It’s been an emotional week for sure, but in the end, so much good to think about. Hanni lived an amazing 17 years, and she wasn’t suffering much at the end. Those 17 years just caught up with her.
Hanni played a major role in my life, and she plays a major role in my new book, too. It’d been a while since I wrote and revised some of the stories about her for Writing Out Loud, and rereading them these past few days made me smile. Publishing an excerpt here that highlights her guide work might be just the right way to honor that brave, funny, smart, cute, fluffy, heroic, tail-wagging retired Seeing Eye dog. Here’s an excerpt from a chapter called “Getting There,” where Hanni guides me to the very first memoir-writing class I led in Chicago back in 2004:
On our way to the first day of class, Hanni looks ahead, makes a split-second decision, and darts left. Holding tight to her harness, I sidestep along with her. My shoulders breeze by something as we needle our way down Michigan Avenue. A tree? A lamppost? A person? Without being able to see, I have no idea what we missed. I’m just glad we missed it.
“That dog isn’t looking where he’s going!” a random voice calls out from behind me. But what does the voice know? That’s just the way Hanni works. She’s quick on her feet. A proud graduate of The Seeing Eye, class of December, 2001, Hanni – her name rhymes with Bonnie – was taught to make quick decisions. She has to. That’s the only way we can avoid collisions with pedestrians. With cars pulling out of parking garages. With taxis turning right on red. With delivery trucks rushing out of blind alleys.
The trip is less than a mile from our apartment. Commuting by foot and paw, we sail down Michigan Avenue. Weaving through the lunch crowd, we are right on time. Until we run into this guy. . .
Aha. A cliff hanger! I won’t leave you hanging there for long, though – you can find out who “this guy” is by clicking on the Look Inside link on Amazon free of charge. “Getting There” is one of the chapters featured.
Hanni guided and kept me safe (and gave Mike some reassurance, too) for eight years, then brought joy to our friends Steven and Nancy for seven more. As one of you commented to my last post, Hanni really did lead an important life.
Thank you, Hanni. Thank you.