Life has a funny way of attracting collective themes to you regardless of if you are ready for them. The theme of the month for me has been being asked how long Munch and I have left in our partnership. From random strangers in shops through to my clients who have counselling with Munch as much as me, the question on everyone’s lips tends to be “when will he retire”.
Not one to stick my head in the sand about such issues, the reality of him hanging up his harness has been on my mind since we were paired together 5 and a half years ago. Life before Munch was a total contrast to life today. The fact that I lived with sight loss in relative silence meant I figured stuff out on my own and did not rely on my hairy soul mate to help me out. Even though some people close to me knew I didn’t have 20/20 vision they didn’t know the full extent of my sight loss as I chose not to tell them. Acting in the world as a fully sighted person was pretty tough but I got by for 39 years with only a few broken bones, dislocations and operations so not too bad. There is a time in everyone’s life however that you have to swallow the bitter pill of pride and ask for help. Post pill popping, the universe delivered the best help possible in the form of Munch who had the energy of an Ascended Master in a dogs body. When you get gifted such a life changing gem, it is hard to imagine a time that that gem will no longer be yours.
Pets owners know whole heartedly how their pets become a huge part of the family but with working dogs, it expands to a different level. Without Munch, I cannot get to work, shopping or any other places I rely on him for. If I leave him at home if I go to a concert or wherever with family or friends, he has a dog sitter who knows his needs. If he is sick, I stay home with him. My life revolves around my hairy soul mate at a level I never thought it would. There will be a time however that life will revolve around another Guide Dog and that is a life I cannot yet envisage. In just over 18 months, there may be small rumblings about what happens around retirement for my hairy soul mate that I owe so much to. Our next chapters will be polar opposites as his life winds down and mine will continue to evolve with work and family commitments. We will still be together yet live separate lives.
Guide Dogs can remain with their owners when they retire, go to a family member or get rehomed. There is no doubt that Munch will remain with us as not only would it break our hearts if he got rehomed after retirement but also I don’t think it would be easy to find someone to be patient with his entitled ways. Spending half a decade with Munch has taught me that I am not his owner, just a mere member of his staff. His daily massages, instance on sleeping on comfy furniture, shared lunches and his way or no way attitude to life may be a little much for another to handle so he will stay with us. When I get matched with a new Guide Dog, life will be twice as much fun and full of love. Munch will be happy to remain in play mode with minimal work as he watches the new dog fill his paw prints in life.
As each day passes I am aware that Munch gets a little more attention to help him know that he is loved and appreciated for his dedication to his work. Guide dogs have a selfless role in life ensuring that their partners can live an independent and safe life. Without him, I would exist more and live less. For these last few months or years together in partnership I have a feeling Munch may get a little more spoilt with love and appreciation in many different ways.