Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: DOG (08/09/18)
- TITLE: Trinity
By Hannah Gaudette
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The door knob glares at me, daring me to grab it, twist it, and face the world. I imagine the world - enormous, full of strangers, unsafe. But I must go out. I have allowed my grocery to list accumulate additional items long enough.
I croak one word. “Cover.”
A warm body moves in front of me and presses against my legs. Trinity looks up at her master with a sympathetic glance. I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve her. She sticks by me. She is patient with me. She knows my every fear but they don’t stop her from being my bridge to the outside world.
I open the door, and she leads me to the car.
Thank God the store is not even five minutes from our home. I hold Trinity’s harness and glance furtively around the parking lot. But I seem to have picked a good time of day. There are few people here. Inside, I have a virtually clear path to each item on my list. Except the cake. I have to get the cake for my niece’s party. I promised. But I’ll have my back turned to half a dozen people when I browse the selection.
A cool nose nudges my hand. My heart calms at once and I manage to smile at Trinity. I give her the command to “block,” and she moves behind me, creating a wall. I choose the birthday cake, and turn to Trinity. “Trinity, release.”
We move on.
Since I was approved for a service dog and later matched with this chocolate lab, it has been only a few short months. My sister tells me I’m a more complete person. She says I’ve placed my trust in Trinity and begun to allow her to lead me out of a shell. I don’t want to stay in this shell. I failed college because of it. I failed to make friends because of it. It was my sister who pushed me into finding a service dog. And yet . . . And yet now I cannot imagine being without Trinity.
She leads me through the check-out process, and, having again given her the command to block, I don’t feel quite so trapped by the presence of strangers. The smiling cashier says I have a beautiful dog. Trinity must sense my anxiety - she licks my hand. I return the young lady’s smile.
We move out of the store, through the parking lot. Despite the setting, I can feel the breeze, the sun. It’s a cool September day, made cooler, more refreshing by the rainstorm that swept August and summertime away from us. I think . . . I think I’m looking forward to that birthday party tomorrow. I can’t believe little Abbie is already nine years old.
Trinity settles down in the car, and I watch her sleep. So rested. So peaceful.
We head for home.
FICTION, but inspired by many true stories.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Described in this story is a psychiatric support dog. As do all service dogs, Trinity would have worn a do-not-pet warning on her vest. These are vital warnings. No matter what task the dog is trained to perform, a dog who is given outside attention is a distracted dog. They cannot assist their handler when a stranger is distracting them. Please take heed of these service dog vests for the sake of the people who depend on them.
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