We Are Inseparable Friends
TRACY is my guide dog, a ten-year-old black Labrador retriever. Thanks to her I can get around quite normally. She also provides me company and comfort. So it is little wonder that I have come to love her dearly and that we are inseparable friends.
Sometimes, unintentionally, humans fail in a way that Tracy never does. One day, for example, I had left Tracy at home and was walking with a friend. We were talking happily when suddenly I fell to the ground. My friend had forgotten that I am blind, and she did not warn me about the curb. This would not have happened with Tracy at my side.
Once, Tracy actually saved my life. I was walking down a street when suddenly a truck began to swerve out of control toward me. I heard its engine but, of course, could not see where it was headed. Tracy saw and understood the danger and quickly pulled me to safety.
Blind, yet Seeing
I was born in 1944 in the south of Sweden, and I have been blind since birth. I was sent to a boarding school for blind children, where I learned to read and write Braille. Music became an important part of my life, especially playing the piano. After graduating from high school, I continued studying languages and music at the University of Göteborg.
My life, however, was changed forever when two of Jehovah’s Witnesses called at my door on the university campus. Soon I began attending the meetings of the Witnesses and even started sharing with others what I was learning. In 1977, I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah God by water baptism. Although physically blind, by a study of God’s Word, I had received something of surpassing value—spiritual sight.
Today I consider myself much better off than those who can see physically but are spiritually blind. (Compare John 9:39-41.) I am delighted to have a clear mental vision of God’s new world where, according to his promise, the eyes of the blind will see—yes, where all physical infirmities will be healed and where even the dead will be resurrected!—Psalm 146:8; Isaiah 35:5, 6; Acts 24:15.
Although I am unmarried and physically blind, with Tracy as my loyal companion, I get along quite well. Let me describe how she helps me carry on my secular work and perform my ministry as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Matthew 24:14; Acts 20:20; Hebrews 10:25) But first, a little more about Tracy herself.
Selected for Special Training
When Tracy was only eight months old, she was tested to see if she would qualify as a guide dog. She proved to be calm, easy to teach, and not easily frightened by sudden loud noises. Therefore, she was next put with a family for some time to learn what normal family life is like. Afterward, when she was mature enough, she was sent to a training school for guide dogs.
At this school Tracy learned to do what is required of a guide dog, namely to help her future master find doors, stairs, gates, and pathways. She also learned how to walk on busy sidewalks and how to cross streets. She was also taught to stop at the curb, to obey traffic signals, and to turn away from dangerous obstacles. After about five months of training, she was ready for work. That is when Tracy was introduced to me.
What Tracy Does for Me
Each morning Tracy gets me out of bed so that I can feed her. Then we get ready for work. My office is about 20 minutes’ walk from our flat. I know the way, of course, but Tracy’s job is to help me get there without bumping into vehicles, people, lampposts, or whatever. When we arrive, she lies under my desk. Then, during my lunch period, we usually go for a walk.
In the evening, after returning home from work, the best part of our day begins. This is when Tracy guides me out in the house-to-house preaching work and to the homes where I conduct Bible studies. Many people are friendly to her, patting and hugging her and sometimes giving me a nice tidbit for her. We also attend Christian meetings each week. After these the children like to greet and hug Tracy, much to her delight.
I realize that Tracy is just a dog and that she will die someday. That means I will eventually have to get another guide dog. But, for the time being, we are a team and we need each other. When Tracy is not around, I become quite unsure of myself, and she gets nervous and restless when she cannot guide me.
Need for Understanding
Surprisingly, sometimes people try to separate us. They view Tracy as just an ordinary dog or pet and do not understand our deep relationship. These people need to understand that Tracy is for me what a wheelchair is for a paralyzed person. Separating us is like taking away my eyes.
The better others understand the relationship between me and Tracy, the fewer problems there will be. A wheelchair, for instance, is readily accepted but, unfortunately, not always so a guide dog. Some people are frightened by dogs, or they just don’t like them.
What is found in a folder about guide dogs, published by the Swedish Association for the Visually Handicapped, is very helpful. It says: “The guide dog is a moving aid for the visually handicapped person. Yes, more than that. It is a living aid. . . . It is a friend that will never let you down.”
Indeed, Tracy serves as my eyes in the darkness, and she helps me live as normal a life as possible now. Yet, I am convinced that soon, in God’s promised new world, I will be able to see all the awesome marvels of creation. Thus, I am determined now to maintain my spiritual vision.
So, with Tracy’s head in my lap, we are now ready to listen to the recording of the latest issue of the Watchtower magazine.—As told by Anne-Marie Evaldsson.