I feel honored that Buffy has let me do a post for her blog! Last week in her post – My partnership anniversary! – Buffy told you about the way that we became partners. She also told you about some of our time in Team Training. As well as a bit about our time together early on in our partnership.
Here I will give you my perspective on our partnership and highlight a few other areas of our journey together.
Just over nine years ago I had completed the application process to get a service dog from Canine Companions for Independence. Looking back I now know that I was accepted onto the waiting list just a week before Buffy was born. An exciting new journey starting for both of us!
As Buffy was growing and learning I was waiting and wondering. Waiting for that call with the invitation to attend Team Training. And wondering who my new partner would be.
The anticipation of when that call may come was so very hard. And the wait seemed endless. Had I been forgotten? Was there going to be a dog who met all of my needs? So many thoughts and emotions swirling around.
And then it happened. I got that call with the invitation to TeamTraining! Now the emotions were really all over the place . . . excitement, nervousness, eagerness, hesitation. What was it going to be like? Who was going to be my new partner? And was I going to do okay?
Seven years ago I was just arriving at the Northeast Region of CCI on Long Island. There were new people to meet. Each of whom was there to receive the gift of independence. A new best friend who would enrich each of our lives in ways we couldn’t yet imagine. Along with all of the others, I was excited and looking forward to finding out who my new partner would be!
My two weeks of Team Training were amazing! There were long days and challenges to overcome but the outcome was worth every minute of the time invested. When I was handed Buffy’s leash I was given an exceptional dog who has far exceeded my expectations and is perfect for me in every way!
Napping between training sessions during Team Training.
This is one of the very first photos I took of Buffy!
As you know Buffy and I recently celebrated our seventh year anniversary of being partners. In so many ways the time feels like it has gone by so quickly and yet in some ways it feels like we have been together so much longer. The constant companionship we share and Buffy’s willingness to help in any way possible has been life-changing!
At first, we worked together as a team because that was what we were each taught to do. But as our partnership strengthened we quickly became partners who danced together as one. Our trust in each other grew and our bond was increasingly becoming incredibly strong.
Spending every part of every day together builds a special connection that is like no other. We grew to know what each other needed at any given time. Buffy has an eagerness to help in every way she can and at every moment of the day!
Just imagine for a minute that you are sitting at your desk and you drop your pencil. You can’t get out of your seat. And you can’t bend over. How are you going to get your pencil? You could just sit there looking at your pencil and not complete your work. Or you could ask a friend to get it for you.
But what would happen if you asked that friend many times throughout the day to pick up something you dropped? Maybe they would willingly get whatever you’ve dropped. But they could also get discouraged with all of the interruptions from you.
And after a while, you might start hesitating to ask for help. You might start to feel like you were bothering other people. Or you might start getting upset with yourself for not being able to do things independently. These feelings are all real because each of us wants to be able to do as much as we can . . . on our own and without help.
Buffy willingly helps with all of my everyday tasks that I need some extra help doing. Like picking up that dropped pencil. Or the dropped silverware. Or any other dropped item. No matter how many times I drop something she is there with an eagerness to help that warms my heart.
Buffy is also always there when we are out in public to help with dropped items. Or to push the automatic door buttons. Or open those great big doors or tug closed the bathroom stall doors. She helps me to easily navigate any challenge we encounter.
As you can see Buffy does the physical tasks that help to make my days easier. And gives me the independence and ability to live each day to the fullest. But she also does so much more!
The companionship and unconditional love that Buffy gives is immeasurable. She gives me the confidence to go places without hesitation because I know we will be included. She provides a bridge to a community of people who oftentimes are uncomfortable around a person with a disability. Instead of looking away they smile . . . because she is by my side!
Buffy has opened doors to opportunities that I had only held in my heart as a dream. She has taken me on an incredible journey of love, hope, and joy! I am a better person because of the lessons she has taught me. And the ways she shows me how to live and love unconditionally.
No matter what we are doing – whether it be a quiet day at home or a day filled with bus rides and appointments – Buffy easily makes an ordinary day extraordinary. She gives me hope and confidence to know that anything is possible!
Buffy will be very happy to be back next week. She was kind to let me be a guest blogger this week. But she has let me know that it won’t happen often! She enjoys being the writer in this family!