What would I do with my guide dog for almost two months? Thankfully, my dear friend Debi had volunteered to care for her! It was so wonderful to know that she would be in incredible care while we were gone. Then, it was super exciting to learn that they planned to come to the finish line in St. Augustine, FL when we arrived April 27th!! So exciting. Then, after we returned home, I would fly to pick up Georgie from another friend in Portland. The many logistics and support to make this dream happen were coming together. So grateful. Today – March 3 I got on a plane with Georgie my guide dog to meet Debi at the airport. She was at the gate and we had lunch and enjoyed visiting before she departed with Georgie girl and I flew home with my cane in hand. I had my harness to return home and had some people ask me what happened to my dog! I definitely felt a little empty handed not having my dear guide of six years by my side.
There are those days etched in your memory … September 17, 1997 was one of those days for me. I was a young mom – 32 years old and at the campus of Boring, Oregon to receive my first guide dog. This is how I share this experience in my book: Look Up, Move Forward: “I’d been eagerly awaiting Dog Day, and I finally met my guide on Wednesday, September 17. We’d been asked to wait in our rooms for our dogs to be delivered to us, but after several minutes, I couldn’t stand it anymore and I opened my door out in the hall to find that several of my classmates had also given up on waiting patiently. We shared our nervous anticipation and excitement and it wasn’t long before I was presented with my 63 pound yellow lab, Pantera. She was almost two years old and full of life. We went back into my room to get to know each other better. … I told Pantera how happy I was to meet her and how much I was looking forward to our adventures together. If a bouncing dog indicates a happy dog, Pantera was full of joy. She wagged and wagged her tail as I stroked her yellow fur and gave her a bone. I called Steve and the kids so they could ‘meet’ her too and share in my excitement about being matched with this energetic new partner who would help me navigate life safely and independently.” This dog was going to change my life in amazing ways and we both seemed to sense that excitement and anticipation on that day.
Photo description below: Andrews family with Pantera in Park City – after purchasing our Olympic berets in 2002. Pantera served as my guide dog for 9 years and was a key part of our family.
Today 22 years later with my third guide dog, Georgie, by my side … I’ll reflect on the special three dog days I have had — Pantera, Cricket and Georgie – my beautiful guide dogs who have opened up so much possibility in my life.
What is a life changing day etched in your mind?
Look up, move forward!
Oh, It’s fun to start blogging again. Looking forward to sharing my thoughts about life as a therapist – author – speaker – woman who is gaining vision and insight while losing eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa.
Why the name? Look Up, Move Forward? It’s a mantra that I believe we continue to do in life as we navigate life’s challenges and joys. Here’s the story behind it (also the title of my first book: Look Up, Move Forward — my journey of finding my vision while losing my eyesight.
The story goes as follows:
After a busy morning at work, cricket my guide dog and I stepped out of the office for a walk. We had just got our stride when my cell phone rang. The call was from one of my colleagues and so I picked it up. My colleague was going through a difficult time. She needed to talk and I was happy to listen, hoping I could support her in some way that would help. I slowed down as we talked and cricket sensed that I was preoccupied. She slowed down too and then got distracted herself, sniffing along the edge of the sidewalk. Hoping I could redirect her without interrupting my friend I whispered “cricket hop up. Move forward.”
My friend said, Becky what did you say?
“ Oh sorry, cricket was just off focus. I told her to “hop Up and Move Forward.” I thought you said “Look Up, Move Forward.” My friend Melanie said. That’s exactly what I need to hear.” She heard a gift in my instruction to cricket a bit of wisdom that has stuck with both of us. Cricket gets all the credit for the insight that day and for teaching me a lesson I treasure.
So often were encouraged to just move forward during difficult times or press on through challenging circumstances. The frequently prescribed remedy is to get moving again or to keep moving through pain. Obviously I believe in movement – I love movement. Moving forward does play a role in healing. But just like I asked cricket to “hop up” or “look up” first real progress requires a period of refocus, a sort of pause in our lives.
For me looking up is often seeking spiritual help, but it can also be taking a moment to look for silver linings, or to bask in gratitude for the silver lining, or to bask in gratitude for the beauty in my life. It’s the quiet moment of contemplation or the consideration of my values and how to incorporate them into the challenge. When I take that moment to refocus and reflect on my motivation and desires, I feel the strength to move forward with purpose and determination. Then moving forward really does make sense.
Share your thoughts on Look Up, Move Forward.
Becky Andrews, LCMHC