Best Day, Worst Day

Charli Saltzman

I love those early spring mornings. The sun is warm on my face, the breeze softly playing with my hair. And let’s not forget about those beautiful birds singing happily, ready to cheer you up with their songs. It is on these mornings when I sometimes enjoy brisk walks with Joba. And believe me, he enjoys them too.

I despise these long winter days with a passion. I hate going outside, feeling the bitter wind nip at my skin. Shivering, I walk down my apartment steps with Joba.

“Hurry up, Joba. Park time,” I say as I’m standing shaking in the grass, And still, he takes his sweet time. But when he’s done, we rush as fast as we can back into the warm apartment.

Both Joba and I have are best and worst days. When I was a little girl, I used to think that life with a guide dog was just perfect. I mean, what could ever go wrong? You could always walk beside a dog, pet it when you want to, and take care of it. I am a dog lover and have always been, so I guess this makes sense. However, I didn’t anticipate having any problems. Now I’m a guide dog user and love it, but it’s not perfect. It’s not always a walk in the park, but do I regret it? Absolutely not. Maybe it might help you understand more if I describe in greater detail what a good day and a bad day for Joba looks like.

Genuinely, Joba is a happy dog. On his good days, he is paying attention. He is aware of every single thing whether it be a slow-moving car or a person walking beside us. On his good days, he listens to every command. When he is distracted, he quickly returns to his job. These are the days when I am extremely amazed at everything he was trained to do. But what about those off days?

Yes, Joba does have them. On these days, he still pays attention, but he gets distracted easily. He seems to have his head held low, constantly looking for something to stick his nose in. When people walk by, he turns his head to either sniff or lick them. He seems more stubborn on these days. When I tell him to do something, he takes a while to listen. But the thing I notice is that his off days are my off days.

I believe Joba can tell when I’m stressed. I guess it’s the way I carry myself, the tone I use. On my off days, I am less patient. I tend to get aggravated at Joba easily. If he doesn’t find that spot to relieve himself right away, I start repeating the command several times and jerking the leash to get his attention. When he reaches his head over to sniff or lick that person, I give him a correction. I’m supposed to do that, but on my off days, it’s more of a frustrated rather than a firm correction. I’ll just say, it’s not very effective, and Joba can distinguish between the two of them. So, when I’m having an off day, is it really no wonder why Joba isn’t having such a great day? So, what can I do about this?

Obviously, sometimes life is stressful, busy, and just plain rough. Those curve balls pop up out of nowhere when you least expect them. So, when I’m feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, what if, instead of getting upset, I reach down and wrap my arms around that ball of warm fur? What if I whisper “I love you, Joba” instead of trying to make him hurry? What if, instead of focusing my mind on those stressful moments, I reflect on those happy moments and thank God for the things I have? And what if, on those chilly mornings when all I want to do is crawl back under my warm blankets and go back to sleep, I decide instead to look forward to spring? I can feel it once again, that sun, the soft breeze. I can hear those lovely bird songs, and I think, what a wonderful life I have. I’ve got my family, my friends, and my beautiful guide dog. On both of those best and worst days, remember what you have. Remember all those special joys of life, and remember your pet, that dog or cat that makes such a difference. Who knows? Maybe your worst day can turn into your best day.

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