Hi folks, it’s me again — Mike Knezovich, aka Beth’s husband. Feels like the movie “Groundhog Day,” or “Groundhog Year.” The time since Beth left for the Seeing Eye last November seems to have flown by. And like last year, I’ll be getting dispatches from Beth — who will be very, very busy, not to mention tired — at The Seeing Eye during training. I’ll try to fill Beth’s blog shoes while she’s gone, and pass along her news as it comes.
And some just came: It’s a girl. Named Whitney. The trainer says she goes by just “Whit” most of the time.
Not that Beth hasn’t been busy since she flew to New Jersey on Saturday. She’s been on training walks with instructors, sat in lectures and had her time scheduled solid. When she calls she’s typically interrupted by an intercom announcement calling students to the next activity.
Which is great, because the last three weeks — and really, the last couple months — have been a slog. We both were reminded of how independent Beth is with a Seeing Eye dog, and how much more she has to depend on me without. Plus, there has been sort of a dark cloud around this year’s trip. Last year was certainly bittersweet, what with Hanni heading off to retirement. But it was filled with the excitement of a new dog, and looking forward to another long partnership between Beth and her new dog. That didn’t turn out, and this trip has had a tinge of sadness and fatigue about it from the beginning.
So it was terrific to hear Beth and Whitney on the phone. Beth was upbeat and giggling, and I can’t wait to meet Whit. I’m confident it’ll be a good match, and that with just a bit of luck, this will prove to be a long partnership. By the time the dogs get this far, they have proven they have the right stuff. According to The Seeing Eye, 60 percent of the dogs born at the Seeing Eye make it to the training stage. Eighty percent of the dogs who make it to training stage go on to be placed with a blind person and work as a Seeing Eye dog. So about half the dogs — who are carefully bred by The Seeing Eye – end up being placed as guides.
Beth’s first dog, Pandora, worked until the age of 12 and lived to 17. Hanni worked until 11 and we hope she matches Dora in longevity. Harper worked less than a year, but it was truly a “dog year.” Besides a harrowing near-miss with a car, he managed to run into a lot of other difficult situations that were mostly a matter of bad luck. Including walking into the elevator that happened to be occupied by two skittish Chows that lunged at and bit him.
So while it’s sad about Harper, I don’t for a second consider the time a failure. I do miss scratching his big lovable head, though. And I’ll always be grateful for the job he did for Beth, and for The Seeing Eye.