A guide dog has many jobs. Stopping at changes of elevation, taking its handler around partial or total barricades on the path of travel, and finding entrances and exits are the most familiar jobs that guide dogs are asked to perform. However there is another task-- one that we don't really think about much. That job is to pull the handler out of the path of on-coming traffic, either by pulling their person back, or getting in front of them and body blocking them. This part of being a guide dog has cost many dogs their lives. Yesterday it happened again.
Our friend has been hospitalized with broken bones and is recovering from surgery. His dog-- who saved his life-- was euthanized because her injuries were too severe, and the only thing that could be done was to end her suffering.
I can't even describe my feelings when I heard this news. Shock, quickly followed by horror and sadness. And the knowledge that my dog, who is currently sleeping next to me on my pillow could be asked, one day, to pay this final price.
I will hold all of mine extra close tonight and will remember the ones we have lost.
I would also ask my sighted readers who drive to pay attention. When you make the choice to get behind the wheel of your car, you are taking on a huge responsibility. This responsibility means that you need to pay attention when you are on the road. Using the phone or flipping through your stack of CDs for "just one second" could end up costing someone their life. Pay attention!
... and hug your dogs tonight, and if you have any extra juju, or energy, send some to a friend who was the victim of someone's random act of carelessness, and who is grieving the loss of his partner.