I went to Lowe’s week before last. Hadn’t been in quite some time, because I’d been in this unhealthy, unreasonable, passive-aggressive sort of place about home maintenance.
But I’m climbing out of it. So I bought weatherstripping, primer, some screws, and stuff. I noticed a fellow with a guide dog inside. It was a striking German Shepherd, 80 pounds or so and a lovely brindle brown and black. (I actually thought “Seeing Eye dog” at the time, but net research for this post tells me I’m supposed to say “guide dog” now. So be it.)
I checked out, left with my stuff, and got in the Technical Writing Express. In the rear-view mirror, I noticed the guy with the guide dog walking my direction in the parking lot, but on the other side. He was well clear of me, so I shifted to R and started backing out.
The Shepherd stopped instantly. So, so did his master. There was no chance I was going to interfere with them. I looked carefully before I moved. Nevertheless, there they stood, motionless. There is a tremendous dignity in a German Shepherd that I don’t think is present in any other breed.
I completed the backing maneuver. Less than a second after I shifted to a forward gear and started moving, the guide dog resumed walking with his master.
I’ve been thinking about that encounter since. I’ve marveled at the dog’s extensive training. (That’s a complex situation I just described. The dog’s been trained to err on the side of caution. Very good, yes?)
More than that, it’s made me consider the weight of the cross I’m carrying. And, to be blunt, it’s really light compared with the crosses of many others. Getting a chance to see that man with his dog in an actual situation for which the dog is trained, I was granted an opportunity to appreciate what I have.
It was a routine encounter, but one that would require no specific attention from me. However, he needed his dog. Because he’s blind. He can’t see.
Whatever the situation, I’m trying very hard to think about whether I have a legitimate license to complain. I invite you to join me in that consideration.