One day I saw a seemingly elderly person riding an adult tricycle with a dog on a leash. What a good way to exercise your dog if you can’t walk well, I thought They traveled slowly so that the dog had time to eat grass, examine a fire hydrant, and stare at bigger, barking dogs behind fences.
Actually, I thought the person was a man who wore a tee-shirt, cargo shorts, athletic shoes and a baseball cap. Today when I met the pair on the trail, however I learned the rider is a female, and so is the terrier. I’ll call them Sue and Bess.
As we talked there on the trail, I read Sue’s hat brim. The words were, “Thank a Vet.” I wondered if she was a vet herself or if the hat belonged to her husband. It didn’t take long to find out, because Sue began to tell me what a fine service dog Bess is. Seeing my curiosity about her own condition, Sue told me she has a heart problem because of an industrial accident with a poisonous substance. She said, I’m the only one alive out of seventeen people who were in the space that day.
Sue and her dog went their own way then, and I went mine. In a moment, however, I turned around and there they were coming back. I like to walk at my own pace when I’m ready to go. It’s often at different parts of the day. I’ve made some friends on the trail and we always enjoy running into each other. Sometimes there will be two and sometimes three of us standing and talking for a short time.
On this day, the trike went downhill fast and the little dog trotted along on short legs. Going uphill the trike went slowly and laboriously. We eventually got into a rhythm and as we went along Sue talked about herself and Bess.
Bess’s story included being picked at the SPCA over a black lab pup, which, as Sue put it, would have been a lot easier to train. “It took eight years for Bess to start paying attention. She’s been a real asset, though, in the last four years when I’ve really needed her,” Sue said.
Sue also told me that in the service, she was a professional dog trainer. She trained Rottweilers and German Shepherds. I asked what the dogs’ jobs were and she said, “Bomb sniffing for the Rottweilers, and drug detection for the German Shepherds.” Sue was also an Intelligence Agent for a spell. She says there are an awful lot of lies in the news these days – she knows.
Besides the heart problem Sue has PTSD and epilepsy. When she’s about to have an epileptic attack, Bess insists on going home an hour and a half before the cataclysm arrives. If they are on the trail she turns around in the direction of home and barks continually until Sue consents to go along. Sue doesn’t understand how Bess knows she’s going to have an attack. Bess was never trained for that.
When we got back into our neighborhood, the two of them had to travel in the street. I said goodbye and thanked Sue for serving our country. She said, “Thank you so much for saying that. People hardly even talk to me. Maybe I’ll tell you a funny story next time.”
God be With You Till We Meet Again