Written April 27, 2006

Ultimate Trust, Eighth Anniversary

By

Leonard A. McHugh

It is hard to believe that eight years ago that Eric Loori, trainer for Freedom Guide Dogs, knocked at my door with a fantastic Black Labrador Retriever named Indy. Immediately, Indy showed me his ultimate trust by rolling on his back exposing his belly to me. A dog will only do that when he is confident that you will not hurt him. I learned of this trust when I was a kid working in a pet shop. This meeting was the answer to my prayers for my quest in obtaining a guide dog.

Over the past eight years I have experienced a wonderful relationship with this ?furry thing? as I sometimes call him. There also were some not so wonderful times, for instance when he ate four foil candy wrappers, and we had to drive about forty miles in a sleet and ice storm to have him examined by a veterinarian.

This dog has done so much to help me, the first few months working with him I still experienced some balance problems from my surgery complications. As we did more walking around town my balance greatly improved. It was not like walking on the totally flat surfaces in the rehabilitation center and no one was walking along to tell me to watch my step. I had to learn to immediately react to the uneven and broken sidewalks. I learned as someone said ?you must learn to dance with your dog?. As I developed this fine art, of dancing, my sense of balance was significantly recovering.

It took me much longer to develop the same level of faith in Indy that he had within the first three minutes of being introduced to me. I never understood this total trust until I experienced it for myself. It took a few months before I developed the confidence of placing my safety in the care of a dog?s judgment.

To date I occasionally have some minor problems with balance, especially when I give him a follow command and the person that we are going to follow quickly turns around to go the opposite direction. Indy immediately reacts, spinning me around. My legs do not always want to follow. I just quickly stop and drop his harness for a few seconds until my balance recovers and it is safe for me to resume walking.

Indy, Furry Thing, Babe Magnet, Bozo and some other names I have probably called him is now nine and a half years old. His first year and a half was spent in preparation and training to become my devoted guardian angel. He does keep me safe. I know that it took him a long time to train me.

Indy, happy anniversary!

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