Originally Published: July 4, 2017 6:01 a.m.
Just for the pure fun of it, I’d like to donate today’s allotted space to a guest column written by a very talented golden retriever named Avery. You see, Avery’s ruminations appeared in the May 2017 newsletter of the Prescott Noon Lions Club, but I figure that it merits a wider readership based on his fabulously influential position as a bona fide leader in the Dogdom Kingdom.
Briefly backgrounding, Avery was Lion Phil Weliky’s first guide dog for more than nine years before retiring as a therapy dog at the Yavapai Regional Medical Center. He passed away in January of 2016 at the age of 13. Herewith is his autobiographical account, translated from his native dog Latin and addressed to the good folks at the YRMC:
“I’ve given my all. I’ve given my best. I want to retire because I need a rest.
“I have been working since I was 2 years old, when I graduated from Guide Dog School. The school paired me with a guy who did not like staying at home. We were on the road about every other week. We went everywhere, I have stayed in more hotels than a bedbug. I’ve flown more in my 12 and a half years than a lot of people have in their entire life … I loved flying. I was treated so well by the flight crew that I always felt like I was flying first class. I got anything I wanted … can’t say the same for my partner.
“My partner and I spent a lot of time fund-raising for our Guide Dog School. During my attendance at those events I’ve met a lot of nice people, most notably Barry Manilow, Fess Parker, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Betty White, Peter Falk and Sky Stallone. Mary Hart and Cindy Crawford kissed me on the head once. I was lucky enough to walk in the Rose Parade alongside the Lions International float in 2008 with my good friend Dick Van Patten.
“My wonderful life led me to some great places. I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Times Square, to Las Vegas and atop that city’s Eiffel Tower replica. Have been through just about every casino, and took in two Cirque du Soleil shows. I like Hooter’s and Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants, which had comfortable floors and I found some great food just lying around. Disneyland was one of my favorite destinations. Lots of kids holding their goodies right at my level … but the Jungle Cruise scared me; all those creatures popping out of the water and the jungle. It almost got me kicked off the cruise for barking! But no one threatened the screaming kids. What’s with that?
“I’ve been in a lot of Guide Dog School brochures but I never considered myself famous, just a favorite of the school. However, I was famous in Prescott. My partner and I were visible all over town. Funny thing, though, everyone knew my name … but, my partner’s name? Forget it! Anyway, in October 2014 I stopped my guide work. My former partner received a Lab to take my place. What a laugh!
“I was not ready to retire yet, so I decided to become a YRMC therapy dog. I love the job. … walk around and get petted all morning. Get a few treats here and there. What a life! However, the best part was helping the patients and their family members take their minds off their worries and focus on me. I made them smile and just for a moment forget their problems. Sometimes though, I would make them cry. But that’s OK too; sometimes you just have to let it out.
“In 2014, YRMC bestowed the greatest gift of my life … Volunteer of the Year. What a great honor! I shared this award with John, who runs the snack cart. Couldn’t quite understand how I won; after all, John has a snack cart and all I had to do was drag around a guy that no one knew his name.
“As you can see, I have led a busy life but it is time to retire. I am 12 and a half years old now; I’m tired and need a rest. I will definitely, miss everyone at YRMC. Maybe if the Medical Center lets me keep my status until it runs out next year, I can come in for a visit. Thank you for your kindness for the last 10 and a half years. I remain your best friend.”
It was signed with a four-toed paw print.
Contact the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org.