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I love the adaptability of my guide dogs.  I’ve been very lucky in that respect.  Both Tom, and James before him, have been very go with the flow, very intelligent, adaptable dogs.  In Tom’s case when he and I were first matched our life included a lot of public transit travel on trains and subways, and routes through areas with steady streams of traffic.  Then after a couple of years, our life shifted to include less transit routes and more sidewalk, sidewalk-less walks often joined by clients and their needing training dogs.  Our life over the past year or so has shifted yet again, both with the speed and pull on the harness that my body can handle, and the routes we travel.

Tom has now become a trail dog.  And an excellent one at that.  While we still have a couple of sidewalk, higher traffic routes, and the occasional trip into the city on public transit, now a days most of our travel is in the woods.

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Tom guiding me through a field

Whereas before Tom learned to find the escalator, find the sidewalk, find the station.  Now he finds the trail.  And he’s damn good at it.

On today’s travels on the trails, part of our route took us down a path that has been rather neglected.  Yet Tom skillfully kept us on path, now covered with fallen leaves, rotten logs and hidden roots, and when we finally came out of the semi-bushwhacking portion to the more maintained cross trail he easily told me such.

He takes me over narrow, slippery wooden bridges.  Through the fields.  Through the pine forest.  He ignores the chipmunks Zora loves to hunt.  He blocks the more rambunctious dogs from running into me.  And carefully tells me about the hazards of roots, branches and rocks.  And of course he tells me exactly when we reach the various ponds and streams, so I can take off his harness and he can go wading about in the water he loves.

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Of course safety first.  Tom in his bright orange safety vest waiting for his guide harness to be put on over it.

Lately I’ve been finding it easy to sink into depressed thinking.  Then I take a walk.  And remember that at least Tom makes life and independence so much easier.  And the hole becomes a little harder to fall into.

Good boy, Tom.

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