My little red tether is my anchor in running with my friends. A beautiful guide dog has been my tether/anchor in mobility and independence for 17 years: 1. Pantera 2. Cricket, and now my beautiful 3. Georgina (Georgie). A life of family and friends is my joy and anchor in life.

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. CC Scott

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

11 years ago - introduced to Pantera


Eleven years ago - after spending 2 1/2 days working with the beginning training of a guide dog (known as 'juneau work') we are introduced to our new guides!

I can remember all the details of September 17, 1997 and the feelings that were there also: excitement, fear, uncertainty, even some denial still - do I really need a guide dog? (had I forgotten the car that had hit me that had really accelerated my desire to get a guide dog or the stop sign that I had WALKED into ... or you get the picture)

I stood waiting at the door of my room in Oregon of Guide Dogs for the Blind for my turn to be introduced to my new guide. We had each been told the breed of our dog and the letter their name started with then we were to wait and be introduced one by one. I would be receiving a yellow lab whose name started with "P". I had NO idea what this experience was going to be like. Up to this point, my experiences with dogs was minimal ... we had gotten our little pug, Missy, a year prior. I was soon introduced to Pantera without her harness and invited to go back to my dorm room to get acquainted with this happy, excited not yet 2 year old yellow lab. I recall wondering how this darling dog was going to help me safely cross the street and so much more. The first walk with her is hard to put into words ... I had not walked that fast for a looong time - if ever. I wanted to keep walking forever ... it felt so good. I was at GDB for four weeks bonding with Pantera and learning to work with her to see if we could be a team. The four weeks at Guide Dogs for the Blind was an amazing experience. It felt soooo long to be away from my family - Natalie had just started 7th grade and I wanted to be there but knew this would help me be a more independent mom, too. I was having such an interesting experience learning to put my trust in Pantera - some challenging days and some really amazing days as we grew as a team. I also developed a love for Portland and its beauty ... even the rainy days created fun memories and helped us appreciate the sunny days! The first guide represents a lot of firsts ... I love you Pantera and the doors that you opened that now Cricket and I breeze through.

4 comments:

OSU 98 said...

Made me tear up. :) Pantera sounds like a very special girl.

Becky said...

Nicole;

Thanks for your comments ... this is the first year have celebrated my 'day of freedom' without Pantera so missing her. She was a wonderful dog and love how gracefully she passed on the 'handle' to Cricket.

Lacey said...

Oh how I hope that my experience with learning to "enjoy" having a dog is as good as yours was.
I couldn't agree more with Oregon!! I would LOVE to move back there.

2 labs 4 me said...

Your story brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing. Love, Debi