Every morning I wake up to a sweet, furry face looking up from the side of my bed. Even before I know I’m awake, he knows. Yet, he waits patiently for me to give him the signal for cuddles. Then he jumps up, leans in and gets a big hug. And I laugh.
It wasn’t always this way. Two years ago, I had lost my sweet 13 year old doggy and I was beyond sad. I was lost. Everything I did from walking to reading to throwing clay was always done with her by my side. And she was gone.
My dear husband shared my grief and insisted we both go to “Fun Day” at our local Guide Dog Campus. I loved seeing all the beautiful, happy, healthy dogs and their dedicated trainers. But with my grief so fresh, it was hard too. I wanted a hug from each and every one of them. I talked to the Guide Dog Career Changer Coordinators for a long time. I left sad but hopeful.
Luckily, four months later I got the call about a black lab Guide Dog pup who needed a new career.
I’m so grateful for this sweet, ‘tiggerish’ boy. He bounces up every morning to greet me and my husband. He’s learned to wait at the top of the stairs for Michael to go down before he charges down and out into the yard. He’s a food gobbler, yogurt bowl licker and blueberry picker.
He loves to run after the ball. He just doesn’t want to bring it back. His game is keep away and he loves to play it. Anytime. Anywhere.
He has learned a lot in the last year or so here. He now takes his treats gently, greets a little slower (and without bumping into me) and looks but does not leap at other dogs. He also knows how to walk beside me off leash outside the house and ‘go home’.
Home is where my Darby is.
Especially right now with all the fear and separation and loneliness, I know I’m not alone. Whether I’m throwing clay outside or painting inside, Darby is right there.
Upstairs or down. Inside or out. He follows me from room to room all day long. If he can’t reach me because I forgot and closed the bathroom door, he whines to remind me.
Just like Tigger in the Pooh books, he is happy, bouncy, playful and sweet. Even though he’s 70 pounds, he thinks he’s just a cuddly, playful lap dog. He snuggles next to me and when he can’t he watches over me.
Wherever I go, he goes.
Even if it’s on top of my feet.
And I couldn’t be happier.