She got into the train at the Florival station. The controller's attitude drew my attention as he was patiently waiting for a person to board. Then I understood. The young woman was blind, and she let her dog board first to guide her inside. I offered them my place which was more spacious and went to sit on the other side of the aisle. As the train was winding along the Dyle valley, with ponds to the left and the forest to the right, the lady was radiating a beautiful energy.  I decided to cross the aisle again to sit down in front of her and start a conversation.

We talked about her dog, a golden retriever, brimming of health. I asked about the dog's training and about his future mistress' education. After one year of socialization in a family, the dog was handled by a specialized trainer for 9 months. Then the turn came for the training of the dog's mistress.  She had only two half-weeks of training and mostly learned on the job.

Above all, she had to establish with the dog that she was the boss. The dog needed to know that when he is wearing the guide’s harness, there was some serious business to be done! Since then, the dog has never let his mistress down. Oh yes, she tells me with a smile, the poor animal finds it difficult to estimate my height. One day he passed under a high fence which hit me straight onto my chest!

I then asked her: “Is it difficult to be guided by a dog?”  She replied:  “The technique is simple and easy to master.  The hardest thing however is to completely trust my guide: to stop if he stops even when I do not perceive any danger;  or to follow his instruction and continue my journey in the middle of apparent commotion.”

We arrived in Leuven, our last stop. Straight as an "I" she strolled towards the station’s exit. The young woman sped towards the music classes which she gives to the visually impaired.

If trust in one’s dog opens up so many possibilities, how many more horizons open up when humans trust each other?

This is my wish for 2015: despite current attempts at spreading hate and terror, may trust expand and flourish! 

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Comment by M.L. Prabakar on March 4, 2015 at 10:21am

Dear JL,

Thanks for the wonderful story. when I reflected on this story I was able to to see one significant aspect related to trust between the golden Retriever and the young lady and that's my learning.  My learning is that one need not be perfect to be trusted. The dogs limitations were known to the lady but still she trusted the dog.  Aspects like being serious, committed to what you do and above all being there for the other person is what makes one trust worthy person.  Thanks for sharing, warmly,


Comment by Dr. E. Mohamed Rafique on January 25, 2015 at 12:31pm

JLLs technique of extracting information, experience and learning, in a casual conversation is to be mastered. What others might not even have noticed, JLL gets to the Knowledge of it!

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on January 25, 2015 at 12:18pm

Its not easy to trust JL. What has helped me is being open to the belief that there is some goodness in each one of us. And then making an effort to know the person. Thanks for your blog. I liked it and also because its about a golden retriever. I love this breed as I have one!

Comment by Jan Somers on January 9, 2015 at 11:30am

Trust becomes or has always been - a key attitude !


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