Here’s a letter I just wrote to my faithful friend to recognise his five years of service with me so far. Here’s to many more. 🙂
Five years ago and two months, you came into my life. Bounded in and disturbed mum to no end as you literally jumped at her. I don’t think she was expecting that from a soon to be Guide Dog. However, I found it amusing so from that moment you were an awesome dog in my book.
When I received the phone call from your Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, saying we would be starting training together, I was excited. I’d been going through a dull spell and nothing seemed to make me happy but that first afternoon in the hotel, when your GDMI brought you in and we sat and had strokes, I was delighted.
Learning how to groom you, feed you, take you to the toilet, be safe handling you, learning to check you for medical ailments was a lot to take in on top of learning how to work you, even the handbook doesn’t have the answers. Because Bailey, you are unique! Every owner who dotes upon their dog as much as I do will probably say the same about their precious pooch but to me, you’re one of a kind and they definitely broke the mould when they made you.
Taking instruction, learning how to walk with you, be guided by you was an experience and a half and most of that week seems quite blurry and the same. Rain, there had to be rain, it was February. Getting in and out of the van, harnessing you up and off we would go on another walk somewhere. I know every walk must have been different but my memory isn’t what it used to be so knowing what we did on each day is not coming easily to me, but you know what my memory is like.
Learning to walk through doors safely, waiting at kerbs and stairs, asking you to find things, it was so much to take in. And then there was my hospital visit. You remember that? I couldn’t breathe and lost my key card and wedged myself in the door and waited for help, and you must have known and began barking furiously and help came. Even then you were concerned about me, sitting by my side as the paramedics tried to help me. And when I returned you came bounding in, happy to see me once more.
At the end of the two weeks, which included snow fall, walking in ice, a fire alarm at the hotel which you and I were the first guide dog and owner out which you thought was fantastic, bouncing along on your lead as I used the cane, many laughs around the dinner table, playtime and grooming sessions with you and I, we came home. I was so nervous. They were releasing you into my care and we wouldn’t be seeing our Guide dog Mobility Instructor until Monday and we had arrived home on the Saturday. Dad went out and bought you a rug so you didn’t slip on the laminate floor in the living room and we went and bought you a new bed which you chewed, I understand, it wasn’t that nice.
And I cried, for two whole days. I didn’t know if I could handle the responsibility. Feeding you, taking you out to spend, making sure you were OK, it was a huge shock to me. I was terrified. And I even considered giving you back when your GDMI came out on the Monday. And then we went on a walk that Monday morning and I knew, you were going to stay.
On the Thursday we qualified and began to settle down into life together as a working partnership. There were hard times, there were so many fun times and many more times where I was constantly amazed by you and what you gave me.
Even five years later, I can still be amazed on a daily basis by your determination, loyalty, intuition, cleverness and willingness to work so completely for me. I know I provide food, water, nice beds, toys, plenty of exercise and fun and mostly love, and yet it never seems enough. You have given me the ability to get up and go wherever I need to with confidence because you are padding along by my side. If I get lost, I’m never alone, because I have your wagging tail and soft ears to remind me there’s always a way out; and often you find it. You gave me my life back and for that, I can never thank you enough.
You are my eyes, my companion, but most of all my best friend and Bailey, after these wonderful five years, I hope we have as many as we can get together in our working partnership. I will always love you for what you have given me and I’ll always be there however I can. Thank you for being my mobility aid and giving me that independence but above all that, thank you for being my Bailey, my best friend. So congrats for being a working guide dog for 5 years now, and I hope we can have a fair few good more to come. All my love for eternity, Mummy.