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Guides and Heroes.



"Best friend for life!"
For the next ten minutes, I want you to close your eyes; as well as resist the temptation to open them during this period - as our natural instincts compel us. Without the power of sight, your challenge is to undertake a standard, mundane task; brewing a cup of tea, washing your hands, or simply whipping on a pair of comfortable shoes, the act itself is not important. Just make it one you consider, as the old idiom goes, "you could do with your eyes closed." Once the time has passed, re-open them and continue reading this article...

As much as I love cats, they are a top ten candidate for every list complied of the laziest creatures on Earth; up there with koala bears and hippos. Moggies view work as a human invention, designed to serve their royal needs; which is, oddly enough, a large portion of a felines charm. Dogs, on the other-hand, are tireless workers; grinding away at any given task until sheer fatigue drifts them into a snooze, only to start again once reawaken and loaded with meaty noms. 

Of all wonderful animals of the world, when it comes to aiding human beings, few are as special as the reliable guide dog; and the unbreakable relationship developed with their blind companion. For the first two years of their lives, a small collection of Labradors, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are bred as specifically trained navigators to the blind. It is not a forced scheme, and of the 4,500 registered dogs currently working the United Kingdom, there are many others who simply were not suited for the positions; appropriately re-homed and loved afterwards. The scheme is operated by 1,000 employed workers and 10,000 dedicated volunteers and - as with all volunteers, their efforts come purely from their love of the scheme they devote their time to; in this instance, a mixture of animals and human disability.

Once receiving their doggy honours, these waggy tailed heroes are carefully selected to join his new companion; who, in most cases, is still learning to adapt to the scary realities of a life without physical sight. Now together, this new reliable best-friend provides vital aid in the daily tasks of life; dressing, shopping, and getting around the local area safely, as just a few of the hundreds of skills learned, in order to provide their human with a greater feeling of value and use. No other creature is as universally defined by their giving nature like a dog, and while the guides physical aid is paramount, it is what they provide on a spiritual and psychological level, which I believe serves as an even richer gift in these situations.

The reality of sight never returning; and the fear, isolation, and loneliness it brings, can only be fully understood by those who have experienced it; we can only imagine. But from those who have walked this road, there is a consistent expression having a loyal, faithful companion is a wonderful antidote to the despair, while getting used to their help, company, and love, does eventually eradicate the fear. For the first pivotal six-months of this new, scary life for each human, this one solitary guide dog is a gift from the heavens. For the blind, a guide dog is not only a faithful companion to help cross the street, fetch slippers, or serve as a reminder when the bath water is too high. He is their honest, reliable, heart-filled best friend; sticking by their side every waking hour of the day. They rise and sleep together, eat at the same times, and rest as one. While guide dogs are trained to become the eyes of the blind, their inbuilt abilities to love and nurture can only help to rediscover a lost human soul. Like all good beings, while a dog views direction with his eyes, he sees compassion, with his heart...

Think back to those ten minutes? Scary isn't it? And this is without the notion of darkness as a permanent reality. I want you to try those ten minutes again. Only this time, with your own faithful little companion by your side; knowing he or she isn't going to abandon you, no matter how hard times become. Whether a Labrador, German Shepherd, or charming little Pug - in many capacities, all dogs are both guides and heroes in return; as much as animal lovers are to them. It's a pretty healthy relationship...

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