So Friday when I was traveling, I began with the ever irritating task of going through security (if you ever want to know which line is going to go faster, get in the line that I am NOT in!) Even though I got through the VIP line, when we got to the actual screening, people were coming from everywhere and, long story short, I ended up in a rather slow lane behind a guy who was singing to himself, loudly (he will NOT be in this blog anytime soon) and an older gentleman who had an aide dog with him.
As I waited...and waited...and waited, I was watching this gentleman work his way through the process of taking out all his metal objects, etc. etc. and deal with getting the dog through. The singing guy asked if he could pet the dog and then, gently, the woman who was traveling with the older gentleman said, "I'm sorry, but the dog is working right now and I have to ask you to not pet him". My first impression was that this woman was perhaps a daughter, aide, or traveling companion but then (as one of their bags had to be re-screened) I noticed that the woman's shirt had an emblem on it that matched the emblem on the harness of the dog. And I realized, I was seeing one of those things I had only heard about...this man had newly received his working dog and this woman was one of the people who had trained this dog to assist the man and was now easing both the animal and the man through the transition of their new life together.
I had always been amazed at the work that these dogs can do - from detecting strokes before they happen, to opening doors, to knowing when to cross the street but what had impressed me even more greatly was the idea of these trainers who must have incredible strength of character to devote their lives to training these dogs and then, after building a relationship with them, be able to give them away to their intended owner and their intended purpose. Today I saw this in action. I saw a woman who greatly loved the animal she had worked with, but who had an amazing sense of giving and kindness and could ease her previous "ward" into a new relationship with another...I have a hard enough time dropping my dog off at the kennel for three days, I can't imagine turning over an animal I had cared for, for ever.
These dogs perform every day miracles for their owners - giving them back their lives, but to me, I today will honor this woman and all those who train these animals - not only do you give the animals a sense of purpose, and so many people back the aspects of their life they had lost, but you have a strength of character and grace that truly amazes me.