Thought Wheel

Ann Chiappetta

Happy Birthday, Bailey

| Filed under writing

Bailey on the cover of my book, Follow Your Dog

Yello lab Bailey is next to blue water with blue skies above.

Who is Bailey? My guide dog, of course, a goofy and sometimes dignified seven-year-old male yellow lab bred and trained from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. He’s the right dog even though his cream-colored fur infiltrates almost every fabric, even the bathroom towels.

Here are some of the things he is done since we met in March 2015: Helped me be a better handler, a faster walker, a more patient person.
Here are some things I believe I have helped him achieve: better manners, tolerance to cats, and doing better with food scavenging.

Today he is 7 years old and it is significant because I know he will be my working dog for another 2 years; his projected retirement age is 9. Until then, Bailey and I will travel a little more once the covid19 pandemic has subsided.

Finally, I want to convey to folks reading this why handlers like me go on about our dogs, why a working dog deserves respect and the best care possible. I personally believe every pet deserves the best care possible, no matter the species but working dogs, especially guide dogs even more so.

I hope I am not overstating the obvious. Every time we go out and walk a route, I feel blessed, free of some invisible restraint. Bailey knows his job and his desire to perform is infectious. He picks up a new route or task quickly once he knows a treat will mark it.

There was one time I thought he wouldn’t walk onto the lift platform beside the jet. The jetway was being used and I could not walk down the stairs. When the flight attendant said I would need to ride down from the plane to the tarmac, I panicked, not knowing if Bailey had ever been on an open-air lift. He took me on, sat and cocked his head as if to say, wow, this is different, waited for the lift to complete the ride, and guided me off like he’d done it just yesterday.

He only showed fear once. We were at an old-time farm and the chickens and rooster were in the street. He refused to walk past, in fact, tried to turn around and go back the way we came.

Happy birthday to Bailey, ever-curious, affectionate, and full of big-boy sweetness.

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