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The Meaning of Gratitude

By Michelle Barlak

TSE Graduate Mary Anne Lynskey smiles next to her Seeing Eye dog, Faith, a golden retriever.

One of our graduates, Mary Anne, wrote it to mark the 50th anniversary of meeting her first Seeing Eye dog, Faith.

Dear Seeing Eye Family,

Today I write this with a grateful heart. My being is filled with an overwhelming depth of joy and wonder. Fifty years ago today, June 13, 1971, I embarked on an adventurous journey which continues today. On that day, my first seeing Eye guide, Faith, a German Shepherd Airedale cross, was presented to me and remain with me in a joyous bond which lasted for nine and one-half years. She was the first of my six Seeing Eye guides who have walked through life with me continuously since then, with partnerships which so far have averaged greater than eight years each. Although each one of these partnerships has brought personalities which have shined brightly and have bestowed me with many precious memories throughout the years, Faith was my teacher. As her name aptly denotes, she engaged me in the wondrous process of learning how to believe unquestionably that she would keep me safe, confident and happy. She held my life in her paws, and we both knew it. Faith introduced me to the treasures that make the bond between my Seeing Eye dogs and me not only possible, but probable, enabling it to endure overtime. 

Firstly, there must be complete trust without which this miraculous process could not take
place.  There must be an almost sacred commitment and determination to successfully negotiate life‘s share of joys and challenges that will come, firmly embracing the conviction that with work and patience, resolution of difficulties will follow, forging an even deeper cementing of the bond. The most important ingredient that must be mixed generously into this unshakable teamwork is love which never becomes discouraged or tired and remains optimistic and joyful, always sure in the conviction that “we can do this“. There are just so many people to humbly thank. They make miracles happen every second of every day, every time a Seeing Eye dog and its proud owner picks up that beloved harness handle and dance together, doing tasks great and small or just taking a walk to savor gods gifts. Who can not be  enraptured with all that is around us, especially the sound of the pitter-patter of those little paws and the awesome awareness of the presence of our guides who live to love and walk with us. They demand nothing, but deserve everything, for they love us at least two-fold as much as we love them. 

I express humble and eternal gratitude to Seeing Eye donors, puppy raisers, vets as well as housekeeping, kennel and office staff and all who make my training stay at the Seeing Eye school so enjoyable and fulfilling. To all of my instructors, past and future, this proud and grateful graduate appreciates your time, talent and treasure: for I know the work you do is a vocation, not merely a job and paycheck. When I entered the Seeing Eye building 50 years ago today, I never looked back. Thank you so much.


Mary Anne