By Morgayne Mulkern
I first met my best friend, Kally, in the summer of 2011. Kally and I were an instant match. She is extremely energetic, smart, and friendly. She is so friendly that at times she can be overwhelming. This is one of my favorite things about her.
On our first day together, she was so excited and was jumping around. When I got too close to her she surprised me by licking my face. Kally is my first Seeing Eye dog.
During our initial training, she would get overexcited and pull hard on my arm as I tried to keep a tight grip on her harness. After a long day of training, I told the instructor that she was too wild and he said no you can handle her; you’re young and active and she is perfect for you. Turns out he was more than right.
Upon finishing our five weeks of training, Kally and I flew to California so that I could begin my freshman year of college. With limited time and help, Kally quickly learned the campus in less than a week. When I decided to transfer in the middle of the year to Bridgewater State University, she quickly adjusted to learning the routes of the new campus in a similarly short time frame.
I was amazed at her ability to catch on to my routine and remember what classes I needed to go to each day. It was as if she knew the days of the week. I remember being shocked when after a few weeks into the routine; a class was canceled so I wanted to get a coffee instead. Kally did not understand and kept pulling me in the direction of that class.
Many people have false assumptions about how Kally helps me. She is not a robot that I can command and she will bring me where I need to be. Instead, Kally has to be trained to learn a route. First, I have to understand the route and know at what points to tell her to take a left or right. She will help by stopping at street crossings or at a set of stairs. Second, I must repeat the route multiple times for us both to get used to it, and together, as a team, we are able to complete it.
Sometimes, upon reaching the classroom, she gets so excited that she starts to walk faster toward the door, placing her nose below the doorknob, and wagging her tail because she knows I am about to praise her. It is so cute how she takes pride in her work.
Kally does more than just bring me to classes. She is there for me, unconditionally, through the good and the bad. When she is in harness she is working and focused on helping me, but when she is out of harness she likes to do what any dog does; we play fetch, go for a walk or jog, and on a sunny day we both love to just sit outside and bask in the sun.
If my friends or family are dog sitting Kally, they have all told me how Kally will search for me, sometimes whining or just waiting by the door for me to come home. One time I came home to Kally on the floor cuddled in my clothes instead of on her favorite dog bed because she missed me so much. I miss her too when I am gone and I am happiest when she is there with me.
I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Kally. She is there with me all the time- in class, in my dorm, or visiting friends. She helps me cross busy streets safely and find all my classes. She is always there to enjoy a good day with me or cheer me up on a bad day. I always feel loved with her around. Kally is not just my Seeing Eye dog, but also my best friend.
Morgayne Mulkern is is a Comment staff writer. Email her at email@example.com.