Remembering my beautiful Tyler
On his first Christmas at the Bridge
Long ago and far away
Or at least it seems so from today,
A little ball of fur and feet,
The Holiday season did gently greet.
This pup was special, soon to grow,
So many things that he must know.
He learned to stay then come and sit,
And only minded baths a bit.
His legs grew long, his expression wise,
As the world unfolded before his eyes.
This pup saw stores and parks and malls.
He walked through church and workplace halls.
All these things were done with care,
For important work they did prepare.
Dad and the kids walked him about,
While Mom gave baths and took him out.
One day they went to “Puppy Camp”
Where he performed just like a champ!
He sat and stayed and came on cue,
They said “a fine job he will do!”
This pup did not fear loud trucks,
Or men with beards, or even ducks!
He laid quite still at his family’s side,
And simply loved to “take a ride.”
The family talked of one sad day,
When their “wonder pup” would go away.
They knew that this was meant to be,
This well bred dog was meant to “see.”
That special season came again,
Up went the tree and fun began!
This year the pup was old enough,
To play with kids and other stuff.
Just a sniff, to see what’s there!
Boxes wrapped with such great care!
But through the year this dog had learned,
Many corrections he had earned.
He would not sniff or root around,
Or pick things up from off the ground.
He’d learned to stay out of the trash,
But only after a big old crash!
Photos hugs and quiet tears,
Filled the days through end of year.
And then, right after New Year’s Day,
That once small pup went on his way.
Off to school that puppy went,
To learn just what those trainers meant.
“Forward.” “Good dog.” “Left.”then “Right.”
He’d concentrate with all his might.
As months went by, the young dog moved,
Through repetition he improved.
He stopped at curbs and went around,
The many obstacles trainers found.
Then through the city that smart dog worked,
From speeding cars he backward jerked!
The trainer told him “Find inside.”
This meant to look for doorways wide.
“Find the counter.” “Find a seat.”
Then lie there at the trainer’s feet.
They bragged about him on and on.
He’d passed the tests. He’d soon be gone!
The summer class was almost full,
Yet no one there would like his pull.
This dog would work the trainer thought,
For someone who liked to walk, a lot!
That special person was finally found,
Just as the snow lay on the ground.
The class began December First,
Some students said it was the worst!
It was hard to spend a month away,
Coming home so close to Christmas Day.
New dogs were handfuls that first week,
This wouldn’t due with the holiday peak!
The dog remembered trees and such,
But thoughts of mischief he gave not much.
This was just like any time,
Behave yourself and you’d be fine!
Meeting his handler was quite a surprise,
Though she looked pretty normal, what was wrong with her eyes?
She was just like the trainer in the commands that she gave,
But he soon discovered she couldn’t see him behave.
She patted his back and his glossy fine head,
Though she could not see his eyes, she could feel him instead.
They walked very fast with the trainer behind,
This dog showing off all the things he could “find.”
And once they had walked everywhere that they could,
The trainers pronounced this team was quite good!
The weekend before Christmas the class got decked out.
There was hustle and bustle and rushing about!
From his room on that Sunday, the dog could just hear,
The sounds of his first family, ever so near.
His person had left him on his bed chain to go,
Out to the living room so she could know,
Who raised him from such an adorable pup,
“What was he like then?” “Where did he grow up?”
Someday he knew he would see them again,
His very first family, it just wouldn’t be then.
They did send him gifts that all smelled like their home,
His toys and his bed and even a bone!
The last day of class was a quite sad affair.
Before they went home all the students did share.
Hugs and thanks to the trainers, emotions did show.
“Now you’re off on your own.” “Now you’re ready to go!”
The dog and his person went home in a plane,
And throughout that first week he heard the refrain,
“Leave it.” “No, bad dog.” “Stop sniffing, right now.”
He really did want to, but didn’t know how.
For those first months he tested his person a bit,
But as she grew to know him, he showed her his wit.
They traveled on planes and buses and cabs,
And when they weren’t walking, on her he kept tabs.
He guided as she walked with her children again,
Through malls and to college, around every bend.
He liked her new husband and kids and the rest,
But the dog knew that always, his person was best.
Each year that rolled by saw the holidays near,
With so much more meaning because he was here.
Small celebrations were held in his name,
As “3”, “4”, and then “8” years passed since they’d trained.
He’d gone back to visit his first family’s home,
Where he’d been allowed off leash to party and roam!
He’d been to the mountains and run on the beach,
All while guiding his person and loving them each.
But now he was tired and his pull was so slight.
He laid on his rug from morning till night.
Guiding was over, it was too hard to move,
But life as a pet did see things improve.
A new dog now walked where he had once been,
And he happily rested a loving old friend.
This night before Christmas he lay by the tree,
While the family took pictures, just where he should be.
They knew that his days with them were not long,
So to the Christmas Eve service, they took him along.
His person took out the old harness with care,
And placed it around him then stood just right where,
She’d found herself standing for walk after walk.
To his ear she bent low and then started to talk.
“I love you, you know that?” she said with a tear.
“And I realize next Christmas, you might not be here.”
One more time she commanded him, “Forward, outside.”
The dog lifted his head and his tail wagged so wide.
The family moved back and let the team go,
This trip was so special, they all seemed to know.
For that last night he guided her safe on their way,
This devoted partner and friend crossed The Bridge” the next day.
Christmas could have been sad, a time none would forget,
But the dog’s loving family saw something else yet.
His person did miss him as by him she knelt,
But she kept thinking of all the joy she had felt.
She’d walked by herself with confidence and pride,
For the first time since her blindness, this dog by her side.
They had worked as a team so long and so far,
Her independence was his shining star.
Each year after that when the holidays came,
They remembered this first dog and called him by name.
The family told stories and always would say,
“We’ll each see him again, some Christmas Day!
I miss you with all of my heart, Tyler