Sunday, April 14, 2019

Dog Days- 14/30

Debbie and Shadow at the airport, when she picked him up
Today's "Dog Days" poem is dedicated to my dear friend, Debbie. Debbie and I taught together about 15 years ago. Two years ago, when I ran into her at a training, she was accompanied by Shadow, an enormous black labrador retriever, who she was training to be a service dog. For more than three years, Shadow literally was Debbie's shadow- he went everywhere with her- to work,  to family gatherings, to social events- everywhere!

Over spring break, I met Debbie at the the service dog office, and she surrendered Shadow to his forever mom, a woman who became a quadriplegic after a diving accident. Even though Debbie and Shadow had been working toward that day for more than three years, and even though she had had a couple of months to prepare, it was still really hard to say goodbye. Today's poem is dedicated to Debbie and the huge gift she gave to the world through her work with Shadow.

"For Debbie and Shadow"
She met him at the airport
not very tall, but definitely dark and handsome
on that day two became a team
she was the center of his universe

she survived house breaking and teething
bought bones and balls and squeaky toys
taught him forty-something commands
took him to classes and appointments and meetings

he loved her classroom
delighted in being the center of attention in social settings
adored family celebrations
and grieved at family sadnesses

from the very beginning
she knew their relationship was temporary
another would reap the benefits
of all that work
all that caring
all that loving

even so
when it was time for him
to fulfill his bigger purpose
he took a chunk of her heart

with him

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2019

Debbie and Shadow in February, on strike with the Denver teachers


Ramona said...

"...he took a chunk of her heart with him." What a gift to labor so someone else can reap the benefits of the training you provide and then to lose your heart in the process. He's adorable!

Linda B said...

It is a special thing that Debbie gave, her dear dog that she fussed over and taught, especially loved. This is a tough one to read and imagine, Carol. I didn't know it took three years of training for service dogs. That is a long time together.