Fields Of Life. Ch.10.
The Next Step:
Anyway, within a month of returning home from Poland, my life would begin to see a difference as I was introduced to a brand new friend.
Rula: A Labrador -golden retriever,with medium length ginger/red hair covering most of her body, had deep brown eyes, a pink nose and shades of cream hair around her feet, tail and chest.
She was introduced to me a week or two before the Christmas of 1994, but we weren’t to meet again until our training in February 1995.
Her birthday was 16 March 1993.
She was born in Leicester and fulfilled her puppy walking training with a family in Torquay in Devon, England.
Rula went on to undergo her guide dog instruction in the training centre at Cardiff, and that’s where we met for the second time.
By the way, Rula was named after Rula Lenska – who is an actress of Polish origin.
Anyhow, the course which Rula and I completed together, normally covered a four week duration.
However, for some reason we were able to successfully finish the course in three weeks!
Remarkably, the course consisted of numerous things: Putting my full confidence & trust in a dog, allowing her to guide me through and around obstacles, letting her find curbs and steps, finding the way from A to B and so on.
As the bond is built between dog and owner, the guide dog relies on instructions or commands from the owner.
THE DOG WHISPERER:
All the same, on one such training day, our assignment was to venture into Cardiff, a bustling city with many commuters with crowded streets and traffic jams!
And so, my instructions received from my tutor, were to walk into the centre of Cardiff and then ask some one the directions to our intended destination.
In part – this was to build my confidence in approaching people at the same time as handling a guide dog.
As we ventured through the open air shopping mall, I eventually managed to ask someone for directions to our intended destination.
Out of all the people I could have possibly come across, was a little old lady.
On asking her for directions to our designated location, she paused quite briefly, and thought for a moment.
She then stooped and whispered into Rula’s ear the directions for finding the way ahead!
Promptly, the little old lady left us, thinking she had done her good deed for the day.
But, evidently I was non the wiser.
By this time I was joined by my instructor.
After we evaluated the experience, we laughed in an uncontrollable manner!
Furthermore, we never reached our destination!
Even so, Rula and I went on to qualify, and for many years, we ventured various places together – including Newport, Cwmbran, Blaenavon, Birmingham, Solihull and London.
Throughout our time together, I would often slip into moments of calling her Gannet, Muppet, or My Red Leicester!
Rula didn’t go everywhere with me, since it really depended on where I was going, who I was visiting and when.
Still, at times I would rely on my good old friend the white-cane.
Other times I would accept the offer of sighted guide.
For the most part, unless Rula accompanied me, I discovered that Paul was always the best person to lead me.
He was certainly the most adventurous!
A friend to me and a wonderful brother and fellow soldier.
Always ready to lend a helping hand across the atlas of life.
You know, God brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.
We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.
We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.