It pains me to tell you this, but we’re through. Finished, like the bottle of sunscreen I just tossed into the trash.
“but why?” you’ll ask. “We always have so much fun together.” You’re right; we do, but I can’t take this anymore—can’t take your fair-weather flirtations, here today, gone tomorrow. You do this to me every year, and every year I swear I’m not going to fall for your warmth and charm, but your warmth and charm are like Hugh Grant’s smiles; they get me into trouble every time.
You stroll into my life with your flip-flops and your trendy sunglasses, smelling of sea-spray and sand, and I hear the ocean lapping against the shore when you whisper promises of endless devotion; the world is ours. Time is ours. No one and nothing can come between us—just you and me, together.
Remember? Remember the heat? The passion? Remember when you said it would never end? I thought you meant it; I believed you when you said it. I thought I was the only girl you said that too, forgetting that when you pick up and head off around the world, you probably feed the same lies to the Southern Hemisphere. Don’t believe it, Southern Hemisphere! It’s all a lie! Summer is the relationship commitment-phobe of seasons! It’s all fun for a while, but just when it’s getting serious, just when you start to say that you could get used to this, you’re alone, with nothing left of your time together but sand in your socks and an unfinished Netflix queue that you’ll never watch, because you just can’t face it alone.
I trusted you, Summer. I let you into my life and into my heart; I tried on swimsuits for you! Think about that! The horror of communal changing rooms, molding, massaging, and mashing myself into a slip of fabric that displays everything except my dignity (because I no longer have any) just to look good for you.
First, there was the bliss of having you near and knowing that I could have my way with you, because the best part of being with you was that I made the rules; whatever I wanted to do, wherever I wanted to go, you just smiled and said, “I’m yours, baby.” So we slept in and cuddled up in bed in the mornings with a cup of coffee and a favorite book, because we had nowhere to be—no appointments, no classes to teach, no papers to grade, just an endless canvass of time to fill with our dreams. We visited friends, talked late into the night, drank wine, and ate more ice-cream than my mild lactose intolerance permitted, but that’s the other thing about you; you convince me to live dangerously.
Sometimes we’d look at the clock after an evening of binge-watching Netflix, realize it was 3:00 in the morning, and I’d suggest calling it a night, but you’d pull me down onto the sofa and whisper seductively in my ear, “Just one more episode. Don’t you want to find out if Kimmy’s boyfriend will be deported? I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. Live in the moment.”
Remember when I’d wake up at 4:00 in the morning to the sound of rain pounding against my window? Remember how you’d let me snuggle back down beneath the covers and murmur as I drifted back to sleep that it was okay, because I didn’t have to get up in an hour to commute to work in that wet mess? Remember that, Summer? Remember those mornings when you’d wake me with a smile made of sunshine, pull back the covers, and ask me how I wanted to spend the day? I always loved that about you, how you were totally cool with me taking control of the relationship…at least in the beginning.
But now you’ve started to pull away. When I wanted to stay up late the other night to finish reading my book, you reminded me that I need to start easing my body clock back onto “school time.” When I wanted to spend a rainy weekend watching TV and playing word games on my iPhone, you said I should probably start using my time more productively to work on my syllabus. When I wanted to sleep in, you dragged me out of bed so that I could run errands on campus.
Okay, Summer, I can take a hint. You don’t want me anymore. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that in a relationship, but when you say it, it hurts so much more, because you always come crawling back, and every time, you promise me that this time will be different. This time, you won’t leave. This time, we’ll be together forever, and every time, like a fool, I fall for it. Well, I’ve got news for you. I’m done falling for it. I’m telling you to leave now, before you have the chance to quietly pack up your things and slip away suddenly, because it always feels so sudden. I brace myself for it every time; you’ve left me before, and I know you’re going to do it again, but I always allow myself to forget—to just bask in your presence, because if you’ve taught me one valuable lesson, it’s the importance of living in the moment and savoring life’s little pleasures.
So, I thank you for that, Summer, but it’s time for you to go…until you show up next time and remind me how much fun we had last year, and I fall for you all over again.
I’ve wanted to write this for some time now, but whenever I sit down to draft a letter, the words get stuck between my brain and the page. It seems odd, really, to suffer an attack of writer’s block when addressing a woman who was once famously accused of verbal incontinence. You, with your candor and ready wit and your lack of (or perhaps refusal to activate) your brain-to-mouth filter, have often inspired me to practice greater honesty in my life, with others and, more importantly with myself. I have also discovered, as have you, that alcohol, while a seemingly effective tongue lubricant for confessing honesty, occasionally does more harm than good. Over the years, I’ve tried to express to others how much your story means to me, but nothing I’ve ever said has felt like an adequate tribute, so in honor of the 20th anniversary of your story’s publication this year as well as your return to the silver screen this month, now seems a fitting moment to thank you.
I first met you as an overwhelmed, twentysomething, budding feminist graduate student in English Lit, between crying over my inability to grasp Michel Foucault and eating entire cartons of ice-cream. When not slaving over novels that I seemed destined never to finish reading and feeling intellectually inadequate because I couldn’t use the word epistemological in a sentence, I gradually discovered that my social life had slunk off into the darkness, crawled beneath a pile of dirty laundry, and died. As I slumped on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a bag of pretzels, I convinced myself, in a fit of despair reminiscent of my elementary school days, that no one wanted to befriend the strange, bookish blind girl; never mind that I was pursuing a graduate degree in English and was entirely surrounded by strange, bookish people. I imagined everyone was attending swanky wine and cheese parties on Saturday nights and couldn’t be bothered inviting me because no one wanted to give me a ride. The fellow graduate student on whom I’d been crushing turned out to be a Mormon divorcee with three kids who flirted blatantly with me while being engaged to another woman and then tried to set me up with one of his friends. Had I known the textbook definition of a fuckwit at that time, I might never have landed in that particular mess, but I digress. To add insult to injury, my roommate (an undergraduate who was also blind) told me one night that “you dress like a woman twice your age, and it’s really off-putting. People think you’re older than you are.” So now I was not only unpopular; I was so criminally unfashionable that even other blind people shunned me.
Thus I found myself, during winter break after that first semester, de-fogging my brain with your diary. As you poured your heart into my lap, counting calories and alcohol units, self-consciously scrutinizing yourself in dressing-room mirrors, and worrying about dying alone and being eaten by an Alsatian, I realized something. Your struggles, your insecurities, your doubts, your fears were mine too. When I agonized over whether or not the size of my butt was the reason I couldn’t get a date or sulked about not being invited to any fabulous parties, you were doing the same. For one of the few times in my adult life, I experienced the thrill of bonding with another woman over the struggles of, well, simply being a woman.
I had spent most of my life struggling to fit comfortably in my own body, let alone fitting in everywhere else. Rationally, I knew that I couldn’t bow to the stigmas of disability; I couldn’t conform to the image that many people associated with a blind person who groped every day for one of three identical pairs of jeans to avoid a citation from the fashion police. How though, I wondered, could I construct a body image that reflected my personality without having my physical appearance and fashion trends filtered through the eyes of others? Trips to the mall were my personal purgatory, spending hours in front of a mirror that reflected nothing to me, relying on others to tell me honestly whether or not horizontal stripes made me look like a circus tent. This reliance on the judgement of others’ opinions of my body, believing that I couldn’t construct a self-image without the ability to see my own reflection, instilled me with a deep sense of self-loathing. I believed that if someone else told me that I was too tall, or too fat, or my hair looked like a bird’s nest, then it must be true, because they could see what I couldn’t. My body was disabled, abnormal, and therefore unattractive, and this, I gradually learned to believe, explained why I seemed to be a social pariah.
Then, Bridget, I met you, and I felt, for the first time, that someone understood me. My struggles, my self-scrutiny, my feelings of inadequacy had nothing to do with my disability and everything to do with the realities of being a young woman trying desperately to keep up with, as you put it, “Cosmopolitan culture.” You, Bridget, helped me to recognize that what I see in the mirror every day is as much a projection of what I believe my self-image to be as what is actually reflected there. On the one hand, you critically yet comically revealed a sadly enduring pressure on women to maintain unrealistic body image standards; on the other, you revealed to me that I wasn’t alone in my insecurity. My seeming inability to maintain a steady, healthy relationship with a mature adult male had nothing to do with my so-called disabled, abnormal body or the circumference of my thighs and everything to do with the fact that I simply hadn’t met the person who was ready and willing to love me just as I am; moreover, it didn’t (and still doesn’t) matter if I ever do, because being a woman of substance means loving myself with all of my flaws, not defining myself in terms of how others, especially others of the opposite sex, choose to see me. You gave me the courage to believe that if I choose to pursue love, I should settle for nothing less than someone who celebrates my strength and values me as a strong, independent woman; if I choose to remain single, my life and my work make no less valuable contributions to society because of that choice.
In the same way that you dramatically imagined that everyone had forgotten to invite you to their Christmas parties, I allowed my acute loneliness to exaggerate the perfection of everyone else’s lives. I imagined that everyone else had a successful job, a fashion magazine-approved BMI, glamorous circles of friends, and wildly sensational sex lives. Their reality, I gradually discovered, was far closer to my own. You gave me what I’d spent most of my life searching for: the validation that my lived experiences as a woman were, in many ways, no different than those of other women despite sometimes being constructed through the lens of disability.
After connecting with your story, my life didn’t magically change overnight, but that reading experience opened a space for me within the communities of women I began to encounter. You helped me to find a voice to participate in the narratives that women told and bonded over every day, from agonizing over the seemingly unattainable quest to find a perfectly-fitting pair of jeans to wondering if the barista at Starbucks who always gave me extra foam was hitting on me. Having reached this realization, I gradually found myself forming deep, enduring female friendships with women who have loved me, laughed with me, cried with me, eaten countless trays of chocolate chip cookies with me, drunk through enough bottles of wine to fill a black hole, and endured hours of agonizing dressing-room scrutiny and relationship analysis as only women can. You, Bridget, with your self-deprecating humor and your willingness to keep buggering on, taught me to embrace the wonderful, tumultuous, imperfect beauty of simply being a woman.
Several weeks ago, I met a few friends for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant, and as usual, at the end of the meal, each of us broke open our fortune cookies to read aloud, between crunches, the nuggets of wisdom tucked inside. I generally put about as much faith in fortune cookies as I do in my weekly horoscope; neither have ever contained phrases like “A million dollars,” “You’ve won an all-expenses paid trip to England,” or “full time employment.” They’re slips of paper baked into a hard pastry shell, after all, not the Amazing Kreskin. This time turned out much the same. “Welcome the good change coming into your life soon,” my cookie prophesied.
“How suitably vague,” I mused. “That could involve anything from winning the lottery to ‘The Big Bang Theory’ returning to Thursday nights and thus restoring order in my universe.”
On the drive home, I found myself chatting with my friends teenage daughter about relationships. In a mojito-inspired burst of Bridget Jonseian wisdom, I suddenly heard myself declaring, “Never settle for someone who makes you want to do everything they want to do. Don’t sacrifice your identity for anyone. (unless he’s 6’1 and English. Then maybe you can negotiate, but just a bit). Nobody makes you whole. You’re an individual with or without anyone else. You don’t need anyone to make you a whole person.”
“Why,” I wondered as I got ready for bed, “is it so easy to give advice to others and not follow it ourselves?” Everything I told my friend’s daughter I’ve learned from my own experiences. My bruised, battle-scarred heart tells a story of resilience. I’m proud of those bruises. They remind me that I’m brave enough to fall in love and strong enough to survive and climb out from beneath the rubble of crushed dreams. I thought again of my flimsy fortune and suddenly recalled that this month, I will celebrate what I’ve affectionately termed my “Bridget Birthday.”
Anyone who’s seen the 2001 film adaptation of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary knows that it all began for her in her 32nd year, and by “it,” she means everything. Between losing and gaining a job, losing and gaining a boyfriend, and learning how not to climb a fireman’s pole, Bridget learns that being a woman of substance doesn’t mean getting it right all the time; rather, it means learning how to fall, and how to brush yourself off when you do so you can try again and maybe, or maybe not, land on your feet the next time.
As I thought about Bridget’s story and how much I’ve learned from her about how to be a woman in a world that seems full of wrong turns and roadblocks, I made a resolution to make this year, my 32nd, the year of Bridget. So, to start things off right, I’ve made a list—not exhaustively long because I’m nothing if not practical—of my Bridget year resolutions.
1. Stop obsessing about your job
You have one. Many people don’t. It will lead to bigger and better opportunities in its own time. Life is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others
When you set other peoples’ lives up as the gold standard for your own, you set yourself up for disappointment. Tell your own story. Live your own life.
3. Stop obsessing about being single
Just because you haven’t gotten married, bought a house, or had a baby, you’re no less of an adult than anyone who has. (Re: stop comparing).
4. Stop thinking of your heart as broken
Your heart may be bruised, but it beats, and it feels, and it remembers how to love, if you’ll let it. You’ve been hurt, yes—badly. So have a lot of other people. Your heart is whole, beautiful, and full of love. Your love is a gift; give it where you know it will be treasured.
Before you offer your heart to someone, check to see if he’s holding out his hand, ready to take it. If he’s not, it doesn’t mean you’re unworthy; it just means he’s not ready to hold something that precious and cherish it the way it deserves to be cherished. Don’t stand there thinking one day he’ll decide to hold out his hand and take it. When and if he’s ready, he will come to you and ask you to share it with him. If he never does, someone else will, because you’re worth it. Your heart is a one-of-a-kind, limitted edition jewel. It deserves to be treated as such.
5. At least once a day, tell yourself that you’re a strong, confident, woman of substance, comfortable with who you are, just as you are
Tell yourself this as many times as you need to until you believe it, and even when you do believe it.
Do you make birthday resolutions? What have you resolved to do this year?
He’s left audiences spellbound with his Academy Award-winning portrayal of King George VI in “The King’s Speech.” He’s displayed a surprisingly impressive set of stunt skills in Matthew Vaughn’s “Kingsman: the Secret Service.” He carved a permanent place for himself in the hearts of women the world over with his tenderly authentic portrayal of Mark Darcy in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” But there’s a bit more to Colin Firth than a dive into a lake and the fact that thanks to him no one else can ever win an ugly sweater contest ever again. Ever.
In honor of his birthday today, here’s a look at 5 times the world fell in love with Colin Firth.
1. His 2011 Golden Globes acceptance speech
When he scooped up his Best Actor award at the Golden Globes in 2011 for “The King’s Speech,” the first of many accolades, it was easy to forget for 50 seconds that Firth was drawing on the talent for which he was being awarded. Nonetheless, post-gameshow press recaps praised him for essentially showing showbiz how it’s done.
Go home, Hollywood. Colin’s got this one covered.
2. His moment of gallantry at the 2012 BAFTA Awards
Colin Firth doesn’t break the Internet very often, but we all remember flailing when Meryl Streep, in an adorable if inadvertent Cinderella impression, lost a shoe while mounting the stage to accept an award, and Firth, in true Prince Charming mode, retrieved it for her while his wife Livia looked on with an expression that clearly said, “Sorry, ladies. This one’s mine.”
On a side note, reenacting this scene in the rain while running to teach a class doesn’t conjure Colin from the shadows to save you, as I discovered, to my acute embarrassment. But that’s another story.
3. His jab at Ricky Gervais at the 2012 Golden Globes
Colin Firth is the king of deadpan, and that is all. When Ricky Gervais, albeit jokingly, called him a racist kitten-puncher at the 2012 Golden Globes, this was Firth’s response.
Colin Firth 1, Ricky Gervais 0.
4. His moment of appreciation for Jane Austen
In a 2006 interview, when asked to name the women in his life, Firth replied, “my wife, my mother, and Jane Austen.” While some of us have since speculated that this was largely a tongue-in-cheek jab at the fact that his role in the BBC’s wildly popular adaptation of Pride and Prejudice forever entrenched him in Darcy mania, I have to confess that despite my healthy skepticism, I allowed a tiny piece of my heart to drop into his hand at that moment. You’ve said it, Mr. Firth, and you can’t take it back.
5. His flawless improvisation as Mark Darcy
We’ve all seen “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” We all remember that fateful snowy kiss that was likely the primary catalyst for my decision to drag my last boyfriend with me to a wedding in Wisconsin in the dead of winter in the hope that he might be similarly inspired. (He wasn’t. Because you were wondering. And he’s not my boyfriend any more, for entirely unrelated reasons. Let’s be clear on that). But many people don’t know that Firth ad-libbed Mark Darcys forever classic line at the conclusion of that snowy kiss scene.
So, for something a little bit different for this blog, you get two bloggers for the price of one! We happened to be thinking about the same sort of thing at the same time, and agreed to collaborate! Since we are posting this entry simultaneously on each of our blogs, I figure an introduction is an order:
Blindbeader (real name relatively unknown): working her first guide dog, Jenny. Somewhat of a perfectionist, loves the challenges of life but would sometimes like the world to slow down a bit. Eats too much chocolate, drinks far too much coffee, and yet somehow manages to stay employed, athletic, and reasonably sane. Follow her on Twitter
Francesca (Twitter handle @poetprodigy7): Working with her second guide dog, Zeus, AKA espresso on four legs. Writer, teacher, self-deprecatingly funny, sometimes refers to herself as the blind Bridget Jones. Addicted to coffee, chocolate, Colin Firth, and the Big Bang theory (not necessarily in that order).
Guide Dogs- Living in the Real World
Francesca: Several weeks ago, on a cold, gray, misty Monday, I dutifully donned my raincoat and ventured into the downpour to take my guide dog for his evening constitutional.
Under normal circumstances, he would, Labrador that he is, have raised no objections to getting wet; this day, however, he was recovering from a mysterious episode of stomach upset, and I might have foregone the walk until the rain subsided, but for the fact that I was endeavoring to avoid an unmitigated disaster of the nature that would require a professional carpet cleaner.
Given that both of us were wet, tired, and anxious, it should come as no surprise that Zeus’s distraction resulted in us becoming slightly (or completely) disoriented. How was it that the dog who keeps me from falling down stairs and has been known to plant his paws between me and oncoming vehicles couldn’t even locate our front door? Too wet to ponder the incongruity of it all, when we finally found our way back home, I promptly sat down on the couch and cried for about fifteen minutes.
Anyone who has ever been the two-legged part of a guide dog team knows this story all-too well, and yet as many of us will attest, even on the worst days—when your dog has barked in harness, or nicked a bite of your co-worker’s peanut butter sandwich—we’d far rather walk on the wild side of life with our crazy companions than take that journey alone. Between two dogs, I have a combined total of nearly eleven years of experience as a guide dog handler, and I use the term experience euphemistically here to mean: “I’m still alive, and not in a full body cast, so I must be doing something right.” When I experience moments of self-doubt, I sometimes force myself to step back and think about just how much my dogs have taught me about friendship, bravery, and blind faith. At the risk of sounding like the amazing guide dog whisperer, then, being a guide dog handler has taught me several lessons about life.
Blindbeader: 18 months ago, when I started training with my first guide dog, Jenny, I felt incredibly overwhelmed by the entire process. I had practical questions that had been asked and answered, but I wanted to know more about that emotional – almost mystical – bond between guide dog and handler. The problem was, I didn’t even know what questions to ask, much less the answers I needed to hear.
Lately, I have come across many people who have just started training or just come home with new guides, as well as those that are in the application process or waiting for class dates. Here are many pointers that I wish someone had told me before I first opened my door – and my heart – to the most stubborn dog in the world.
Francesca: A bad day is just that: one day out of the hopefully innumerable ones I will live. When I have a bad day at work, I drown my sorrows in tears and vodka.
When Zeus has a bad day at work, he wags his tail, licks my hand, and shrugs it off. Whether this is because he believes in a better tomorrow or because Labradors have notoriously short-term memories, his approach seems far more emotionally balanced.
Blindbeader: Your dog will test you, period! It varies in scope, intensity, duration, and activity, but almost all new dogs WILL push the boundaries. This does NOT mean that there is anything inherently wrong with handler or dog.
I’ve been there, though, at a time when all of my guide dog handler friends told me that their dog NEVER did activity X or didn’t have bad habit Y. Thankfully, we worked through it with a lot of hard work, some frustration, and huge parties on street corners when Jenny took me to the light pole without grabbing the garbage at the bottom of it.
If the dog is being unsafe, however, or there hasn’t been improvement (And I mean, even a LITTLE), guide dog schools generally have followup services either on request or on a regular basis; use them! Or ask questions of other guide dog handlers, who have been in the trenches and can offer a variety of suggestions. I just have to remember that many first-time long-time handlers can have selective amnesia. If I ever get that way, knock me upside the head!
Francesca: Sometimes, work can wait. Even when my dog isn’t in harness, rarely is he off-duty. Even when we’re taking a leisurely stroll to nowhere in particular, he is always multitasking, concentrating half on the business of fertilizing the neighborhood grass and half on the business of ensuring that I don’t sprain my ankle falling over a tree root. Whenever he tosses his favorite toy into my lap or wedges his nose between my hand and the laptop keyboard, he reminds me to check the proverbial warning light on my brain’s battery and occasionally power down and recharge.
Blindbeader: I so second this one! If a guide dog has time to be a DOG, to bond with his/her handler, it does make him or her a better guide in the long run. It took me about six months to realize when Jenny was exhibiting more frequent distracted behaviors, then it was time for a good long run, or a seriously wicked game of tug. That done, she would be able to focus on her work, and everyone was happier.
Francesca: Learn to let it go. One day, my dog stopped me from falling off a drop in the sidewalk because I was far too intent on a conversation with my friend to notice the change in elevation. The moment we got home, he immediately rewarded himself by, for reasons which remain clear only to him, stealing a pair of my underwear from the laundry basket. While I naturally corrected him for this, I didn’t dwell on the mishap with my usual scab-picking intensity, because I was still grateful for the fact that I wasn’t doing the bunny hop on a broken leg. Case in point: things could always be worse. Appreciate it when they’re not.
Be prepared for your dog to occasionally make you look really really really dumb. I was in a familiar area while training with Jenny one day, and I told her to move forward. She stopped, I corrected her, and told her to move forward. She eventually did… and led me straight into a gravel pit. Oops! The first thing they drill into your head at guide dog school is “Trust your Dog!” and this has served me well more often than not. Sometimes I get to know why my dog did what she did; other times I just shake my head and just wonder why she chose to quite determinedly run me through that parking lot, but the dog has two working eyeballs, and I certainly do not! Then again, there are times Jenny IS doing something she shouldn’t, making me look silly; in two minutes the dog will forget about it, and you should too!
Francesca: It takes more strength to hold a grudge than to let go of one. Have you ever tried to stay angry at a Labrador? It works about as well as defying the laws of gravity. No matter how frustrated I sometimes find myself with my dog, he always manages to win me over with his puppy dog penitence, and this reminder to forgive and forget has served me well in the relationships I cultivate with others. Perhaps Woodrow Wilson said it best: “if a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”
Blindbeader: Pick your battles! There are some things guide dogs should NOT do:
scavenge, chase after other dogs, get up and wander around on their own. That being said, all dogs have quirks; some can be trained out of them, others are just interesting little fringe benefits. Jenny does not like guiding me through puddles (or getting her feet wet at all); however, she will do it if she has to. I can decide that, well, she is the dog and I am the human, so by God, she will guide me through that puddle! Or I can just be thankful that my shoes stay dry and I don’t have to worry so much about the ice hiding underneath all that water. Guess what I picked (Hint: my shoes tend to stay dry…)
Francesca: You can, contrary to popular belief, perform essential functions without the benefit of caffeine. At least once a week, I am heard to declare that the fact that I feed and walk my dog every morning before I’ve had my first cup of coffee testifies to my undying appreciation for the sacrifices he makes daily to keep me safe. (Including making sure that I don’t mortally wound myself when I attempt to move without first fueling myself with caffeine). There’s a reason I refer to my overly frisky, furry eyeballs as espresso on four legs. One shot of him propels me pretty efficiently through the first fifteen minutes of my day.
(On a totally different note) Guide dog school has good suggestions, maybe even great ones, but much of what you learn is done after formal training is over.
This is OK, and, in fact, necessary. You will laugh when your dog shows you – in that cute way he has – that your safety is in his paws, and by the way you should trust him because he has two fully functioning eyeballs *you do not) and is walking you calmly around that open car door…
You will cry with frustration on a day when it all just goes to hell and there’s no rhyme or reason why. You will sing for joy on the first day you just “click.” And you have good days and bad days, sometimes feeling like you have the most intelligent creature on the planet and other times wondering why this little demon from hell is taking up space in your apartment.
I don’t mean to sound like having a guide dog is this painful drudgery; trust me, it isn’t! But I have seen so many guide dog handlers get discouraged that things aren’t going well and it isn’t working like it shows on TV or did in class. I LOVE having a guide dog. I love putting in the work to shape her behavior that will make her a better guide and us a better team.
When a concept we’ve been working on for months clicks in her head, I almost don’t have to praise her because her head is up and her tail is wagging happily; I praise her to the skies anyway. The day during training when she pulled me out of the path of a bus, I had no idea how many other close calls we would dodge over the next 18 months. If I get to stay safe, trusting my life to her two working eyeballs and four stinky paws, I’d gladly take the occasional cracker away from her…