A year ago Glory came into my life.
I am profoundly deaf, but I can hear when I wear my two cochlear implant processors. Like many people who have a profound hearing loss, my life experiences are divided between two worlds. When I wear my cochlear processors I am part of the hearing world. When the processors are off, I am deaf again.
This is where Glory comes in. Finally after a wait of about a year, there was a place for me in a hearing dog program. The day I was accepted was a jubilant day for me. I was going to be a puppy mom!
I trained to work with Glory for two weeks last summer. I trained alongside three amazing women with different levels of hearing loss. During that time, we shared many laughs, tears and stories about our lives. I have wonderful memories of my first weeks with Glory and all the wonderful people I met during training. As students, we quickly bonded. The dogs captured our hearts. We were in love!
Glory is a beautiful and petite black lab with deep and soulful eyes. She is quick, bright and extremely insightful. When she first came home with me, she followed me around with those beautiful soulful eyes, never leaving me. I felt like a rock star. She established a special place on the couch that was hers, and she loved to rest by my feet under the table at dinnertime.
Of course, I was flattered. I was humbled. Most of all I was touched by her unconditional love. Everywhere I went, she was with me. Out for my morning walk, doing errands, or snuggled by my feet at the dining room table, she was always nearby.
First thing in the morning that sweet little face would be staring at me. It was a remembrance of a time when I had babies, a time any mother will never forget.
Somewhere along the way, Glory developed a fear of transportation. Living in the greater New York area, this was a problem as I rely on some public transportation and drive to visit family and to do errands. It was hard to watch her suffer, but I had to put her suffering before my special needs.
On October 5, 2018 she needed to be removed from the program. Both the organization and I were in agreement that it wasn’t good or safe for her and it wasn’t good or safe for me. This was a necessary but very painful loss. I would not be able to keep her as a pet as dogs are not allowed in my cooperative community unless they are a service dog.
I cried so much after she was gone. I didn’t know I had so many tears left inside of me. It was yet another loss to grieve at this time of life. So many triumphs and losses seem to occur in my life when autumn leaves fall.
Yes, it is grief even though it isn’t death. I didn’t even know I was numb for so long after my husband and my parents passed away. Like hearing loss, losing Glory was a perfect example of experiencing “disenfranchised grief” coined by Dr. Kenneth J. Doka. That is, losses that are not necessarily death or losses recognized by our society.
Glory taught me so much. Her presence was a reminder to never forgot to connect with all living things. Glory made me realize I needed to feel life again.
I could smell her scent on the couch for a long time after she was gone. It was hard to give away all the sweet remembrances of her days with me. The house seemed empty. I realized how much I needed to reconnect with the universe again after all these years. I didn’t even know I was numb.
She came to me for a reason. It may be debatable what that reason was. Her mission was accomplished, and she was entitled to her own brand of happiness. I had to let go.
When we were in training, we were asked to pick a song that reflected our experience with the dogs we were matched with. I picked the song The Glory of Love. Coincidentally, when I was given Glory, her puppy raiser gave me a beautiful video of her early years that was entitled The Glory of Love.
I was told by a classmate, “Dogs get things that humans don’t get.” So very true. How ironic is it that she recognized something in me beyond words spoken. That little girl reached a place in my soul that has been inaccessible for a long time.
She is back with her puppy raiser who has kept in touch with me. She tells me “We will always be family that is bound by Glory.” I was so lucky to have peace of mind in knowing that someone who loves her will be caring for her. She was so kind during the process, and has always recognized and respected my role as someone who loves Glory and my part as a “puppy mama” in her journey.
Glory is in a good place now, and is loved by all of us. But I will never forget those 35 days of Glory.