By Randy Pierce
I’ve frequently been asked by some very young students meeting Quinn: “Is that a blind dog?” While that typical question is intended to mean is that a “Guide Dog,” my usual tongue-in-cheek response of “I sure hope not!” takes on an entirely meaning with this week’s surprising and inspiring story.
A young golden retriever named Tanner in Tulsa, OK has been managing the challenges of blindness, seizures, and homelessness after the death of his prior owner in 2010. While being treated for his seizures at an animal hospital, his caregivers saw something incredible. Blair, a homeless black labrador retriever being treated for a gunshot wound, began to try and help Tanner. By picking up Tanner’s leash with his mouth, he would guide Tanner safely around the play area. Tanner had himself a spontaneous Guide Dog.
As often comes with the bond between the blind and their Guide, each began to benefit in a myriad of ways. Beyond the obvious mobility assistance, Tanner’s seizures notably reduced in number. Blair meanwhile began to gain in confidence in his newfound duty and his anxiety reduced as this pair became pals.
The New York Daily News was my first insight into this story. I followed the story to its the source, KTUL.com, and learned that the hopeful adoption for the doggy duo is receiving tremendous attention worldwide. It seems very likely that an ideal home for the pair is imminent. On their journey to that home, they are now “guiding” the way for other homeless animals, inspiring a tremendous boost to dog adoptions all around the country!
Nearing the anniversary of the day I lost my very sighted and excellent guide, Ostend, I am particularly moved by this tale. Ostend was a golden retriever like Tanner and Quinn a labrador like Blair. The notion that Blair could naturally develop the skills for which Quinn was raised and trained is incredible. The demonstration of power in a dog well beyond guide work is something I’ve often realized but never noticed in so powerful a demonstration.
I give my strongest salute to this marvelous canine with whom we are so fortunate to share our world. I hope we are ever striving to be as good to them as they are to us humans.