On January 3, 2019, I started working with my 5th guide dog. Subi is a 2-year-old female Fidelco German Shepherd. During the In-community Placement, the Fidelco placement specialist, Pete, worked with Subi and me for two weeks around my house and office. Subi and I are working well together and plan to pass the six-month probation period and have many years ahead to travel together.
Pete also placed my 4th guide dog, Laila. The following is a difficult email I had to send Pete back in June 2018.
I wish I was writing for a better reason. To the point, I had to put Laila to sleep last Friday. This email is to provide you with more details and be therapeutic for me.
For about a week-and-a-half Laila went on/off feed. This lead to last Friday’s appointment.
The same vet we had just seen within the month for a check-up/vaccination was explaining the nose to tail examination he was performing. Everything, appeared to be fine until he felt a lump in Laila’s stomach. This lead to the additional opinions and final difficult decision.
As you can tell from the below message I sent to my co-workers, Laila faithfully worked right up to the end of her short life.
Fidelco Guide Dog
March 14, 2012 – June 15, 2018
Even converting dog years to human years, Laila died too soon. Laila faithfully guided me to my office Friday morning. A few hours later Laila guided us out to catch a Lyft, so we could go to her vet. Laila had refused food for a couple of days and I thought she was simply on a summer-heat hunger strike.
The vet felt a lump in Laila stomach. After many tests, and a second and third opinion, Laila was diagnosed with stage 5B lymphoma. The only humane choice was to put Laila to sleep shortly after 5pm yesterday.
Please watch out for me and my cane, while I wait to get my 5th dog.
The Laila Years
I tend to think of my life in dog years and recall events that occurred while working with a specific dog. The Laila years will be fondly remembered as a time of renewed independence and confidence.
You may recall from placement that I do not like to make a mistake or do something to make the handler/dog team look foolish. Boy did I feel foolish when I got lost on our first placement walk around the Anadarko office. A Pete-ism, I recall you sharing was “Any route you get back from is a good route”.
Laila and I traveled a few times a year for work and water ski events, but never more than last summer. A special project had us traveling back-and-forth to Colorado. We made many trips through the Houston and Denver airports and stayed at several different hotels. Laila’s ability to adjust to her new surroundings and faithfully guide filled me with confidence. Contributions made by my Team earned me a promotion to Director, IT Audit.
Thank you and everyone at Fidelco for the great years I had with Laila and for the renewed independence and confidence.
Contact me to come talk to your organization to hear the many happy dog stories I have experienced in 25 years traveling with a dog.