My guide dog is a female black lab-poodle cross from GDF, and I’ve had her for four years. She’ll turn six in about a month, which just blows me away. When I got her, she was a gangly adolescent, not yet two years old, all elbows and knees. My mother took one look at her and said, “Oh my God, she looks like a cock-eyed optimist!” Not sure what that means, but it was definitely true. She was a big, goofy galloot. She still is, but she’s grown into her body, and a lot of people tell me she’s beautiful. She certainly agrees.
To me, she looks like a giant Muppet. She’s got huge eyebrows, and a mustache and beard. She’s also got big brown eyes like a lab, but they’re almond-shaped like a poodle’s. Her ears, though, could have been taken right off of a black lab and stapled onto her head. Her body hair is curly, but not poofy. When that “Shaggy Dog” remake came out, lots of kids stopped and pointed at her and yelled, “Look! It’s the Shaggy Dog!”
She’s brilliant, and I’m not just saying that because she’s mine. She loves to solve problems, think her way through navigational puzzles, and learn new things. The flip side of that is that she’s willful, stubborn, and easily bored. But she takes initiative and perseveres through pretty much anything. That’s not true for all guide dogs. There are guide dogs out there who are a whole lot more obedient and submissive than mine, but they don’t necessarily rise to challenges like she does. Some of them do. I only know that she’s the right guide dog for me. We have a bond that is difficult to understand if you’re not a guide dog user yourself. If you are one, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
She’s also extremely friendly, and would like you to throw her purple bone now now now, please. Right now. She’ll nose your hands off of the keyboard just to get the point across. Because, y’know, no one’s played with her in five whole minutes. Did I mention that dogs have lousy short-term memory?