A New Lady Friend

In Their Voices
By Maribel Steel, January 2020
woman and dog

When I was 15 months old, I graduated from Guide Dog school. I couldn’t believe I had finished five months of intense training and passed an endless week of exams. It hadn’t been easy to ignore food smells from sidewalk cafés, overlook feline provocation along the route and keep my composure when a Jack Russell sniffed my butt while we waited at the traffic light.

I overheard the trainers talking about my new family. She was vision-impaired and had a small boy-child. He’d better not pull my fur with his sticky fingers. Paws crossed, let’s hope he’s as welltrained as me. He’s three years old and hasn’t even started school— can you believe that?

I knew it was a special morning because my trainer groomed me from head to tail.

“Hey, laddy, you’re going to a new home. Got to make you look smart for your new lady friend.”


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I had a quick drink from the silver bowl outside the kennels and tried my hardest not to run around in circles. I felt like a puppy again. The fresh morning air tickled my whiskers as I sniffed the ground. I panted, in need of another drink.

Then the door opened and there she was, my new human companion, sitting on the terra-cotta–tiled floor waiting to greet me. I tossed my head as I walked closer to her, then gave her a polite kiss on the cheek.

“Hello, fella.”

She toyed with my ears and massaged my back with gentle hands. We peered into each other’s eyes, and for a moment, I had to wonder, Honey, are you sure you’re blind?

Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 99: Fall 2019

Photo: Maribel Steel

Maribel Steel is the Melbourne, Australia-based author of Blindness for Beginners.