A woman I barely know invited me to a party at her home and explained that this would be a select gathering–just a close-knit group of people from her previous workplace, and me. I was pleased to be included and pretty confident it would be fun. The hostess, Catherine, is Greek and there was a rumor that her mother had been involved in the party prep. I dared to hope of pastitsio, baklava and something involving lots of lemon, olives and feta cheese. Catherine is upbeat, original and engaging. It seemed likely that her friends would be similarly stimulating company.
As it turned out, I was not the only fresh face, for Tanya had brought Dude, her new hearing dog. Dude, who I think is a retriever/labrador mix, is the color of Greek honey and as mellow as a sunny afternoon at an island Taverna. His job is to alert Tanya when he hears others call her name. People often forget she’s deaf and stand behind her to ask a question, share a joke or issue an order. Dude is there to save everyone’s time and the speaker’s embarrassment. Of course, he is on the lookout for danger, and very handy when the smoke alarm goes off at night, or the doorbell rings unexpectedly.
Although Dude and Tanya have just moved in together, theirs has been an 18 month relationship with Tanya traveling back and fro to California to get to know her dog in his training days. They are both clearly besotted although Tanya is quick to point out that this is a professional arrangement. “He’s a working dog” she says.
I had never heard of Hearing dogs before meeting Dude and now, as is the way of these things, I suddenly know two. Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes have Rescue.
All three live in Boston and Rescue came to the, well, rescue as Jessica and Patrick worked to create a new normal following the serious injuries they suffered in last year’s Boston Marathon bombing. Erin and Lynn, two longstanding friends of mine, have spent a lot of time with Jessica and Rescue in the last few weeks, planning and executing a Valentine’s day surprise for Patrick, and an event that is sure to yield lots of new funding for service dogs. Check out the surprise here.
Catherine’s party delivered the anticipated calorific treats and a number of new friends–funny, smart, warm and cynical people with whom I am glad to be suddenly and unexpectedly in touch. Lynn and Erin’s decision to spend their time and talent to help strangers in a far off city in the week of bad snow has made them new friends and, based on the news pick-up so far this morning, must have generated a lot of interest in service dogs. For Valentine’s day, hold out your hands to friends old or new and, if you can, share the love with organizations training hearing and seeing eye dogs.
Learn more about Canine Companions for Independence.
Learn more about NEADS: Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans.