In one month, my world will be completely changed. Ill have a new love of my life, but thats not to say that my love for Pippen will be over. Unlike the tragic endings of my relationships with my former Seeing eye dogs, my time with Pippen will have a happy ending. Unlike her predecessors, Pippen will go to live with a family where she will be free to be just a dog, enjoying the sunshine, the grass, children, and a life of leisure.
I tear up every time I think of the moment I say goodbye to her, but Im over trying to decide whether or not to keep her here for a pet. The kindest resolution of this dilemma is to let her retire while she is healthy. It would be selfish of me to keep her here to watch me go out the door with some other dog every day, leaving her behind in a lonely house. Where she is going, she will have many distractions to take her mind off our separation. Because she is a dog after all, in time, she will forget about me. Shell be enjoying a new chapter in her life. Ive been offered visits to her at her new home, but Im going to decline. It would be hard on her to be reunited with me, only to have me go away again, to say nothing of the heartbreak for me. No use in reopening a wound. The life of a guide dog is filled with change. First, theres the separation from its mother and then the separation from the puppy-raiser and return to be trained as a guide dog. Next comes the strange new place to live with a stranger who has come to take her away. And now comes the time when her work is over, and she can retire. Knowing that our days are numbered, and there is an exact date when I must let her go makes every moment with her a treasure. One of my friends says, I could never do that. I would keep her. But Pippen had a job to do, a purpose for being with me, and now that shes not able to do that job because of her advanced age, she deserves a happy ending to her life.
While Pippen goes off to her country home, Ill be in training with a new Seeing eye ® dog. Although I dont know what breed or gender it will be, I know it will be a wonderful dog, and I will love it to death. Ill have to remind myself that its not Pippen, and it has its own personality, just like I did with Pippen, and sherry before her. When our training is over, well begin a life together, making new memories, bringing new smiles, and enjoying new adventures. Ill probably be pretty tired, as well start our day at 5:30 in the morning. Well walk at a fast pace and for miles a day. Once upon a time, Pippen and I did that. Now, she gets to slow down and take it easy, while I jump back into a new relationship, and while its not exactly a jump for joy, as it was with my first dog Mindy, its the promise of a fresh new start.