Since Ufi was diagnosed with cancer, many people have asked me when I’m going to get a new dog. As the title says: I’m not ready.
Sure, I miss having a dog guide. It’s faster, more efficient, and I look less akward. Most of all, I miss having a wonderful friend with me almost everywhere I go. Still, I’m not ready.
Yes, I know many people keep a retired dog and work a new one. I know Ufi would hate that. He still follows me to the door. I’m too loyal to hurt his feelings.
Having a new dog would be an icebreaker with some people. But all it would do is bring me a lot of additional superficial conversation. No one is going to ask how long I have had my cane. No one is going to tell me my cane looks good. No one is going to let me know how well my cane works for me. But no one is going to talk to me only because I have a cane.
I miss not being able to zone out while Ufi walks me down sidewalks. Feeling for obstacles with my cane takes a lot more concentration.
I know my regular veering and slow pace, two things Ufi never let happen, lead many to feel sorry for me, pity me, or see me as unequal. I can’t worry about others seeing me and deciding what I’m doing says about me.
With Ufi I was hardly popular. Without Ufi, my lack of popularity and my differences are more obvious.
While I wish more people saw in me the character and strength I know this experience is making stronger in me, I live for how I feel about me. Sure, working with Ufi would be amazing. But working with Ufi wouldn’t make me better.
I’m not in a rush to apply for Ufi’s replacement. I know it will be well over a year before I have a new dog guide. I also know none of the things I most appreciate about Ufi and our relationship could exist until I’m ready to get another dog.
For me, love and trust is what makes a relationship. Loyalty is critical. Love, trust, and loyalty take time. Love, trust, and loyalty take work. Love, trust, and loyalty take commitment. Love, trust, and loyalty take an open heart. Love, trust, and loyalty take a willingness to forgive mistakes. Love, trust, and loyalty take a readiness to accept flaws while recognizing wonderful traits.
I can’t offer another dog time, work, commitment, an open heart, forgiveness, a recognition of flaws and an acknowledgment of wonderful traits while I’m still loving Ufi.
Our relationship was never about me. It was always about us. Until Ufi has passed and he has been properly grieved, I will not be ready to get another dog. You see, my next dog won’t be another dog. My next dog will be a wonderful friend and tremendous worker because I won’t have my next dog until I can give it what our relationship will deserve.