Autumn’s Gift – Strides of Freedom

Randy, Tracy, and Autumn lounging on the "rock couch" atop Mt. Piper
Randy, Tracy, and Autumn lounging on the “rock couch” atop Mt. Piper

By Randy Pierce

“True worth is in being, not seeming,–
In doing, each day that goes by,
Some little good–not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by.”

-Alice Cary (from the poem “Nobility”)

While I have undertaken some marvelous adventures recently and have still more grandiose experiences just ahead, it is in the day-to-day freedoms in which I most fully celebrate Autumn’s gift to me. I delight in the majesty of a mountain summit, the euphoria of crossing a marathon finish or the jubilation of ringing the bell in the Tough Mudder for certain. The vast expanse of my life isn’t in those rare moments, but in a daily walk to celebrate morning’s coolness, weekly errands to stores, doctors, banks, presentations, meetings, or visits with friends. For all of these there are many ways I could undertake them such as sighted guide with my wife or a friend or independently tapping my way with my blind cane. The former is a dependency which infringes upon my freedom and the latter is significantly more limiting to me. This is why I celebrate what Guiding Eyes Autumn delivers to me each and every day. We have bonded into such a team that I take full independence in the “we” of any accomplishments while reveling in the companionship provided along the journey. We are so much more effective than my use of the cane and she provides such enthusiasm, affection, and pride of work into the process it makes life with her a very precious gift indeed.

Randy, Tracy, and Autumn lounging on a boat over Independence Day.
Randy, Tracy, and Autumn lounging on a boat over Independence Day.

We are just reaching our 16th month of working together and the leaps of progress in our teamwork are remarkable to me. Even though she is my third Dog Guide, it somehow still feels surprising and new to reach this point of clarity in our understanding and work together. Sure, she’s wowed me with back-to-back weekends of successful mountain hikes under her guidance, and yet I marvel most at our travels through the neighborhood, downtown, and into entirely new environments. When I take the harness into my hand and tell her to go forward, the common routines flow with a confident safety and surety which now allows my mind to think about my next blog post, plan a presentation flow, or even take a phone call in the more quiet areas because she has me in her attentive and well trained paws. A bit of this happens every single day on that morning stroll.

When taking bus to downtown Nashua, I manage the route but she handles the curbs, the sidewalk clutter, the passers-by and the unexpected dangers of construction with the confident grace which weaves my focus and our work into a true team. She proudly prances up to a door on request or to the edge of the stairs where I feel the harness turn as she looks back lovingly as many report to show me what a good girl I have in her. Every “good girl!” I deliver to her (and she is earning many) brings her ears up and a tail wag which shows me just how well she loves to be part of this team with me. This interdependence we share and all the itinerant joys of our lives is the most marvelous gift of all.

Autumn leads Randy through a parking lot.
Autumn and Randy hard at work.

You see, it is difficult to demonstrate the full measure of impact received by spending 24 hours each day, 7 days each week in the constant company and mutual support of another being. It is difficult to showcase the hours of my life gifted back to me in time saved along each route we traverse today. It’s possibly more challenging to highlight the relaxation and mental freedom I experience while Autumn guides me on our various errands throughout the weeks. Still most powerfully of all is my confidence that I have the ability and independence necessary to just live my life to the very fullest–and all the while I do so with the most devoted, caring, and playful puppy partner anyone could desire. I love my Autumn girl and thank her every day for the gifts she brings into my life directly and all of those fortunate enough to share a little time with her as well.

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