Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Partners Together

One of the most difficult aspects of having a guide dog is the reality that eventually the dog will need to be retired, or the dog will pass away. This is something every guide dog owner must face along the way. Once they retire, you have to deal with the prospects of getting a new guide dog, if you so choose. In a lot of ways, retiring Whitlee and getting Meyer was ending one relationship and starting another. It has come with its happiness, struggles, sadness, and ultimate success.

As this new journey continues each day, I find myself at times making mental comparisons of the two dogs. For example, Meyer likes to play with his toys, we do this a few times a day together and he makes me laugh quite a bit. Whitlee and I didn’t do much playing–she was either working or chilling out as I carried out my daily tasks. Another comparison between them is that Meyer is a bit of a slow poke on his morning walks, where as Whitlee always had this good focus and drive to her work, no matter the time of day or the place.

My biggest hurtle to cross with Meyer is that we are still new together as a team. Having a dog is not fresh and new to me as it was with Whitlee. With her, everything we did was a first for me with a dog. Now, I am doing all of the same things with Meyer, but he is not the first and it feels like it is the same old stuff but with a different dog. I suppose for people who drive cars, they remember their first car and the level of independence they felt when they drove off in it for the first time. I remember the first time I took a walk with Whitlee and the feeling has been unmatched to date.

So you might wonder to yourself, do I appreciate Meyer for who he is? Do I think I will come to trust and respect him? Is it ok that I don’t have the same feelings towards him as I did for Whitlee?

My answer to all these questions is yes. It will take time for these things to all fall into place. Each day, I feel that we are moving in the right direction towards trust, comfort, respect, and love between Meyer and I. Every day, being with him, watching him during our days, walking together with him and caring for him are all helping to get us closer in our journey. I think we’re meant for great things.

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