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I stood impatiently in line, switching foot to foot and wishing the young cashier could bag any bit faster. I looked at a few posters, and finally, I focused my eyes onto the peculiar girl in front of me.
She was maybe about 10, even though on a second glance, she could've been 12. She wasn't the tallest girl, an she had deep brown hair, braided down her back. I didn't see her though, I saw the big dog, a German Shepherd to be exact, sitting beside her. He was a shining bronze, brushed to perfection, his ears turned and took in every noise, and he saw each and every glimpse of movement.
The line shifted. The girl gripped the leather handle and tapped him to urge him forward. I watched this pair move as one. He matched her steps, and she followed the movement of his body, putting all her trust into each of his steps. He was her eyes, but she would never see him.
The girl paid quickly, and I stepped out of line in front of her. The dog stopped and whined to notion I was there, and she paused.
I asked if I could talk to her for a minute. She nodded and turned toward a small table. As I sat down, her dog laid himself on his paws beside her. She introduced herself as Colleen.
I asked Colleen a few questions, but I only half-heard the answers. I was more interested in her dog. Her face was always angled towards him, and her foot gently rubbed his muscles. It was if there was a silent bond between them, and it was impossible to even imagine either one of them without the other.
As she stood up and left, I watched her walk out, holding her dog. She may never see where she was going, and she may never see her guardian, but she would always be safe with her magic dog in front of her.
I, myself, stood in front of the old Victorian building in Morristown. The sounds of barking dogs echoed all about me. I took a deep breath, and began to walk around the side, taking in the sights of all the dogs behaving perfectly as they trained around me. I followed the signs to the kennels. A man met me there and walked me out to the puppies. I stopped myself in front of the German Shepherd's, just like Colleen's dog. The man handed me a little puppy, and I cradled her in my arms. She blew through me with her solid brown eyes, the eyes that someday would be the withstander of life for another person.
I raised Hope, the puppy, for a year, trained her, and prepared her for her future life. As, I stroked her caramel fur for one last time, and then handed her off to her trainer, I gave the best wishes to my little girl ,now out on her own. I awaited news of her success, day by day. I stressed about her, and tried to work my way through another puppy. I fought insomnia and blurred vision for weeks, with everything becoming harder each day, and I was slowly starting to struggle through the simplest tasks. Finally, the note arrived, but it wasn't for Hope's graduation.
I stepped off the bus, back at the old Victorian house. I listened for the same hollow barking, and tried to find the steady footsteps of the man I was told was coming. When I finally heard him, I walked towards his steps to meet him. I shook the trainers hand, and I latched onto his arm, as he walked me inside.
I knelt down before the dog, as he released her from the kennel.
"She a lovely female German Shepherd, with the most beautiful caramel coat. She will guide you from here on out. Hope is yours now."
I gripped the leather handle, and advanced my guide dog forward. Everything had happened so fast, and I struggled to believe and trust Hope. As she paused at the steps, I looked down and knew she was looking up at me. I pictured the brown eyes blazing through me, and felt myself soften. I was above all the other dog owners, I knew how beautiful the eyes looking at me were. I took a deep breath, and I began to walk down the steps. I loosened my grip on Hope, her eyes were my eyes now, and I would always be safe with my magic dog in front of me