Introduction: Up to this point Happy Tails has focused on rescued animals: street cats, abandoned dogs, neglected ferrets, wildlife in distress etc. However today's post is something a little different; it is not about an animal rescued by a human, but rather by a human rescued by an animal. Some animal rescue workers believe Never Breed or Buy While Shelter Animals Die, and while in general I would promote adoption very strongly, there are some very good reasons why one might opt to get a pet from a responsible breeder rather than a shelter. This story focuses on one of them...
Hayden attended Swarthmore as freshman intending to major in engineering. Like all the other students, he faced the trials and tribulations of the first year of college, the institutional food, the maze-like campus and the double edged sword of greater independence. However he had one challenge to face greater than others, the fact that he could not see.
Enter Fathom, the hero of our story, a yellow lab/golden retriever cross breed, specially bred and trained at The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ. Fathom and Hayden were paired up together over the summer and went back for sophomore year as a team. Hayden raised his bed and made a den for his pooch underneath, so that they both could enjoy the relative comfort of dorm living as bunkmates. Fathom learned the layout of the campus, the places Hayden had to go and even the places he wished he was going to, never failing to point out the ice cream stand on their trips through the cafeteria.
With Fathom at his side, Hayden has been able to enjoy college life to its fullest. He's felt comfortable taking greater risks, knowing he has Fathom to ground him emotionally and be there for him physically. With his canine companion, he's had the confidence to make new friends and the bravery to agree to take a research grant and spend the summer at a university halfway across the United States.
“Fathom is a best friend, a constant companion, a guardian, a brother, and a son all in one. He brings me strength, laughter, devotion, and emotional support. When I walk around my campus or just hang out in my room with Fathom, I wonder how I managed to get by without him. He’s part of me now. He’s part of my soul.”
Originally posted on the the SeeingEye's blog, the website for the oldest existing guide dog school in the world, the content has been edited and re-formated by Marjorie Skiba to better fit the voice of the Happy Tails blog with the Seeing Eye's permission.
Share your tales of animals who transformed your life or how you transformed theirs! E-mail your story to seekingsheltercomic at gmail dot com.