It was the perfect friendship. We would run and play together; he was by my side everywhere I went. He always sensed when something was wrong, and was there to comfort me. Gambit was my best friend through my most difficult year in high school. And even though I could never have made it through that tough year without him, when it was over, I had to give him up.
This very special friendship began when I joined 4-H and became part of its Seeing Eye puppy project. I attended meetings and learned training techniques, but each month I found it harder to be there without a pup of my own and watch everyone else try new techniques with their pups.
Finally the long-awaited day arrived. Gambit was only seven weeks old, and it was love at first sight. He was the cutest pup I had ever set eyes on. I couldn't wait to spend every minute training and playing with him.
Gambit and I immediately became best friends. He always wanted to be with me, and even slept at the foot of my bed. My job was to teach basic commands, socialize him, and give him as much affection as possible during the fragile puppy months. Gambit's training was virtually effortless; he learned commands very quickly and was always obedient.
Gambit had been in my home for five months when my junior year began. This was an extremely challenging year for me, and it was great to come home to his bright eyes and wagging tail. Every day I would talk to Gambit about everything on my mind. I knew he wouldn't judge or reveal my secrets. Gambit and I had some of the best conversations, and all he did was listen.
This July I received the call that it was time for Gambit to return to complete his formal training. My heart sank. I had known he would have to go, but it seemed too soon. It felt like my best friend was moving away. I didn't know what to do.
My time with Gambit came to an end on July 28, 2003 when my best friend and faithful companion moved on to a higher calling. It is clear now that he was destined for this all along, and he will help a blind person be independent.
Gambit taught me that there will be things in life that you may love but have to give up. All you can do is remember what they taught you, and it will make you a stronger person.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.