One Year!

Time is an odd and bewildering thing. In equal parts I find myself astounded by the length of time that has gone by and disbelieving that it is truly a year to the day that Uschi and I became a team.

In thinking over our time together I find myself at somewhat of a loss; the events that truly stand out seem so far removed from the present. Perhaps that’s a blessing because it seems to have eased some of the less pleasant recollections I have of our past events, such as training during the most horrendous weather while I was incredibly sick and the fiasco at a local bookstore. Though, I don’t I find there’s any less distance between other memories and can hardly fathom that it was so recently we went to the Tulip Festival and the Great Escape!

Me sitting with Uschi in front of a bed of roses at Schenectady Central ParkStanding in sharp relief within my memory is a resounding feeling of trepidation. I didn’t know what to expect of this partnership. I was optimistic that it would prove equal to my previous experiences, but realistically knowing it could be a failure. And while I was quickly smitten with this adorable shepherd and her childlike personality, I found that truly bonding as a team did not come as easily or quickly as with the dogs before her. I’m not positive of exactly when I felt us gel into a team, but I do remember that I had a bit of an epiphany around Easter and realized I had been distancing myself. Maybe I was subconsciously trying to protect myself from the possibility of the partnership failing, however remote. But I think mostly I was preoccupied with concerns over Yara’s well being and it was seeing in person that she was thriving and that both dogs got along so well that seemed to clear out the emotional clutter I wasn’t even aware of.

Reflecting on this last year the most intriguing thing to me is that in many ways Uschi and I have surpassed my previous guide dog teams. Whereas I would generally build up to certain experiences and expectations, I never had much of a need — and more often no opportunity — to ease Uschi into certain tasks. Honestly, upon realizing this I was mildly horrified that I had been so lax about this, but Uschi’s risen to every challenge without fail, including several instances I would consider far more stressful than necessary and would have liked to avoid completely. Much like Yara, she’s had no need for settling into her role as my guide dog. A fact I still find astonishing given her antics when out of harness!

If anything, she certainly keeps me young with her limitless energy and exuberant personality! Every morning she practically throws herself at me for a bit of cuddling and then speeds around the house, bounding over large stretches of floor and flinging herself onto a piece of furniture or one of her numerous beds. Sometimes she will loudly toss her toys about or prance through the house proudly showcasing her dressage mimicry and it’s all I can do to keep from rolling with laughter. She’s nothing if not unique.

Truly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.


  1. Hello Cindy! I enjoyed reading about your experience with Uschi. It is interesting because a lot of people think that a blind person and a guide dog are matched and the bonding comes automatically and the relationship just is. When in fact it takes a while, meaning months, before they can be called a “team” in every sense of the word. Love Fidelco Guide Dogs! Wish you and Uschi all the best!!

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