Five Years!

Black and white pencil sketch of Uschi buried in the snow

There is so much I have been meaning to post about — and one thing in particular will likely happen very soon. But for now, I just wanted to acknowledge the fifth anniversary of being partnered with Uschi. Honestly, I can’t believe it’s been five years already because it has gone by incomprehensibly fast for me. And yet, even though I have fond memories of working my other girls, I feel almost as if I’ve never been without this wonderful and wacky guide dog.

Seventeen Years Ago

Portrait of Dolly in harness

On this day back in 1998 a little black Labrador retriever literally bounded right into my lap and totally changed my life! It’s been several years since Dolly passed and even more since we worked as a team, but in some ways she’ll always be missed.

Four Years

Portrait of me and Uschi on a brown background; Uschi is standing beside me with my arms wrapped around her

I would be ever so happy if we got rid of Daylight Savings. I spend the following week after we gain the hour feeling like a zombie that’s been scraped out of my bed and propelled into the morning, but worse is the dog who just can’t grasp the time change. For weeks she tries to make 5:30 happen because her internal clock says that’s the latest I should be sleeping. I want to get mad at her about it, but not only do I lack the ability to convey the issue to a canine, Uschi’s method of rousing me from sleep is so subtle and gentle that it almost makes up for it.

Yes, I actually characterized an aspect of this goofy shepherd as “subtle” and no one is more shocked than me. I’ve now worked with her for four years and I am no less baffled, amazed, and amused by her ridiculous antics and boundless energy. She’s certainly a unique dog and it’s been an interesting journey over the years. At this point there aren’t any great revelations to discover like her fondness for standing on her head or preference to eat her meals on a carpeted surface. Unless you count having to deal with the raw skin issues from her allergies. Instead I realized more simple things like how her targeting has transformed from a quick touch with her nose to a soft lick of her tongue.

She’s also become quiet the snuggle-bug and is by far the most exuberant, enthusiastic and willingly affectionate of my guide dogs.

Three Years!

Portrait of Uschi and me on a white background; Uschi standing on her head in front of me

Today marks three years partnered with Uschi and she still amuses and astounds on a daily basis!

Two Years

Two years ago today I had one of the worst sinus infections of my life. It was snowy and cold and I was miserable.

Portrait of me and Uschi on a black background; me lying on my back with Uschi rolling partially on her back on top of meOh, also, I was partnered with Uschi.

Two years later I still find it remarkable that she can contain all that frenetic energy and focus herself as a guide dog. I’m still ludicrously amused and entertained by her antics. And I continue to find myself enamored of her adorable moments and baffled by her quirky habits.

Mostly, I’m amazed at how proficient a partner she is. She keeps me safe when we’re away from home and young at heart when we’re not.

This coming year will be bringing with it many changes for us both and will undoubtedly be an adjustment for Uschi in her working life. I expect she’ll adapt just fine and I’m more than a little curious to see her reaction to some of my future plans. At the least, I’m certain she’ll prove no less ridiculous to be quite believable.

Honestly that’s just fine with me.