Aristotle and the Guide Dog

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Photo depicts guide dog Nira, a yellow labrador, sporting a new leather harness at Guiding Eyes for the Blind. She’s smiling. 


Sometimes I think about the world as the ancients did and imagine I can stand in a pond and observe all the chance things nature chooses to reveal. Blindness complicates this but only a little. The aim is to stay open. Watch less television. Live like Aristotle. And soon you find that life with a guide dog raises this art to a higher level–you enter the day on a dog’s terms, walk in Central Park before you are ready for new circumstances. You’re half awake and it’s very early and you find yourself in  conversation with a policeman who admires your dog. It’s also clear he admires you. You’re in the world despite all the obstacles. You’ve trained successfully to be in the world. The policeman doesn’t have to say this. It’s in his voice. He was just walking his beat and he came across a man and dog who together defy the odds. And you have given him something Aristotelian, a minor marvel at sunrise. And he has given you easy, mostly implicit admiration–the way Americans used to do this, the Gary Cooper way. It’s six am and you’ve already thought of philosophy and Lou Gehrig. This is guide dog life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.