Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – An Angel

As you know, Whitlee, my first guide dog, passed away recently. I’ve been doing a lot of mental reflections on the situation ever since I received the news of her passing. She sure was a dignified dog who knew what her purpose was on this earth. When she worked, she folded her ears back and looked like an arrow. It was difficult to distract her away from her work and she was quite an intense, serious dog.

My life changed the day she entered into it. We began walking 2 miles each morning before work and another 2 miles in the evenings after work. I never gave any thought to the fact that once she was at my side, my fears about getting hit by cars disappeared completely. It was like she took those away from me.

It can be so easy to get bogged down with all of the problems in our country and around the world. Sometimes it seems like everyone is stressed out and it becomes easy to adopt this way of feeling. Even if the stress doesn’t affect me, I think that just like everyone else, I get caught up in the rhythm of work during the week and weekends off. Sometimes it is easy to think that people aren’t paying attention, or that they don’t care.

I’ve been taught a lesson many times in my life. People really do care, even if they don’t see me all the time. Many friends and acquaintances have written or called me when they found out about Whitlee’s passing. Everyone expressed their concerns for me and they reminded me that there are lots of people out there who have gone through this before and they are happy to help if I need anything. It is heartwarming to know that people genuinely do care and they want to help. I am so thankful and grateful to everyone who has come forward with their words of encouragement and support. Many times in life, there is gain that is found from loss.

Whitlee is my hero. Like all of you who have guide dogs, every one of them are precious and we must honor them every day and cherish each day when we put the harness on them and ask them to go forward. They hold our care and trust close to their hearts and they are loyal every day that they are alive. Whitlee had thirteen wonderful years here on earth and everyday that she was with me, I always thought to myself, “She does so much for me, what can I do for her? How can I make her happy and comfortable?”

I’m glad to have known Whitlee and I praise and honor every day that we had together. Now, I must be sure to keep Joel’s best interest in mind as we work together each day. I have made sure to pay attention to him carefully in the days that followed the news of Whitlee’s passing. I was obviously upset about it, but, with Joel, I reminded him that he is a good boy and that everything is ok. We’ve taken quite a few trips to play with his favorite ball outdoors and he has enjoyed some good runs with his ball in his mouth. I want to make sure that he is happy and ready to work each day, just like Whitlee did for almost 9 years. So, make sure you give your guide dog, pet dog, or any other animal in your life a big pet and a hug. We love them and the love is unconditional!

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