I thought I would do something slightly different in this blog and try to get you to understand why a guide dog is much more than just a means of transport for visually impaired people.
When I first completed my training with Ed we had a couple of weeks at home trying to get him used to routes at home and work and also to the two other dogs that lived in the house as well. This worked extremely well and Ed fitted in great and learned his routes well and we were given the all clear that we had passed the training course and would be out and about on our own. (Of course with Guide Dogs help if required).
Within the first two weeks of this process I decided to visit my mum and show him off. My mum had been given the all clear from cancer at this time so it was a celebration. However when we arrived she was still very poorly and had not left the house for six weeks. She loved Ed straight away and could already see the bond we had. Later that week we had a call to say she had been taken into hospital so we rushed off to see her. Again Ed seemed to be really intuitive and could tell something was wrong. We decided to stay at her house for a few days until it was determined what was wrong with her. So for poor Ed it was another big change in his life as he had only just got used to living at home with me and we were now in another strange environment.
On talking to guide dogs I was told I could take him back to the kennels whilst we were away or we could keep him at my mum’s house but to make sure he did not get too stressed and he was kept to his strict routines, which we did. So poor old Ed had to learn new routes and learn how to cope with regular visits to the hospital to see my mum.
Later that week we were given the bad news that the cancer had returned and she may only have a short time to live. It was indeed short and she sadly passed away within a week. Ed coped so well and gave great comfort, not just to me but also to my family. It was as if mum had known her cancer was back but had decided not to go through with another bout of chemotherapy all she wanted to know was was I safe with Ed and how did he work with me. She saw that he was in fact a great dog and she was happy to know I was safe so she could go peacefully.
It may seem strange for me to say but Ed appeared to ‘know’ what was happening and knew my mum was ill and he would put his head on her bed so she could pet him whilst she was going through the pain of the cancer. He could also ‘feel’ my moods and never took advantage of me whilst I was down and we were out walking. He could sense so much more than I thought and would come over to me when I was feeling down to comfort me.
When relatives and friends came to the house for the day of the funeral he greeted them all and had a little lick of comfort for them. It’s now been twelve months since mum’s death and people still talk about how great he was.
Without him I don’t really know how I would have coped he was always there for me and we kept his routine to ensure he felt comfortable and knew his role. Even walking around the shopping centre I came across a lady who introduced herself as a nurse from the ward where mum was and she commented at how great he was and had said that both nurses and patients were all sadden by mum’s death but also were delighted at how good Ed’s behaviour was in and around the hospital.
It goes to show that guide dogs are so much more than a way to get out and about; they are friends that will comfort you when you are down and bring a spark of light to a very difficult situation. Ed never lets me down and with careful handling of each other we can get through anything.