Pringle celebrated his tenth birthday on the 31st of December 2014.
Pringle has been in service, as my Service Dog, for eight years and four months to date!
Here follows my recount of our very first outing. Having read what I have to relate, you may realise the futility in asking what my dog does for me, but ask rather what Pringle can do for you.
It was very busy, that day, at Gallager Estate. The event we were visiting was the Disability Show.
I was very self-conscious. It was not because of my disability – I’m a quadriplegic – it was the attention that Pringle was attracting!
I was so proud of my big beautiful Golden Retriever, my friend. People asked why I needed a dog. Some asked if I was blind. There were also those who asked ‘what all can your dog do for you?’ Jingers some of the questions were almost as clueless as those we get asked on the SARS Tax Return Forms!
Maintaining my composure I patiently I answered their questions, allowed them to pat Pringle while maintaining my integrity, why, after all, I was, indirectly, representing the S A Guide Dogs Association.
Pringle and I were gingerly making our way down a narrow aisle. I was carefully negotiating my motorised wheelchair, always being cautious to allow for the space that Pringle needs, when it happened.
The passage was thick with chairs, crutches and ‘uprights’! It was like a congested highway during peak-hour.
I was looking to my left, checking that Pringle’s path was still relatively clear. Out of the corner of my eye, just in the nick of time, I saw a wheelchair being pushed out of one of the stalls, right in front of me.
Shoot, I had to react quickly to avoid crashing into the ‘offending’ wheelchair.
Oh double-shoot, the chair had a severely disabled young girl perched in it. Her head was lolled back with her sightless eyes staring blindly at the ceiling. Her skinny little arms were folded over her chest, hands crippled like a bird’s claws. Saliva was drooling down her chin accentuating her expressionless, gaunt, almost haunted looking, little doll face.
Oh shoot, shoot, shoot, I did the only thing I could. I ‘Crash-Stopped’ my chair! This means that the chair comes to an immediate, sudden, full stop! It is definitely not the most comfortable manoeuvre, but it worked!
My knees were pressed hard up against the little girl’s chair. The carer who had been pushing the chair stood aghast with her face in her hands! The child’s young mother was behind the carer and she started screaming.
All eyes were on us!
The mother was screaming for help because the ‘dog’ was going to bite her child! She said that she was going to get germs, and said that her child was susceptible to disease. The woman was getting hysterical.
Then it happened. The World stood still.
Pringle had not been able to stop as quickly as I had. He’d come forward and seeing the little girl, he put his big head on to her lap and his big ‘feathered’ furry tail wagged gently. He knew what he was doing. He was creating a miracle.
Slowly, shakily, the little girl’s left arm unfolded and her crippled little hand came down plonk, plonk, plonk on Pring’s forehead.
The girl’s face broke out into a wide smile! Her head tilted forward and she looked at Pringle.
The child’s mother collapsed wailing that it was the first time her child had ever smiled, had ever responded to anything!
There wasn’t a dry eye! We all sobbed!
Pringle just wagged his tail; no big deal.
Sadly there was no photographic record taken of this incident, probably just as well!
Over the years Pringle has never ceased to amaze.
God bless you all. See how much your generosity is appreciated by ALL who have the privilege of coming into contact with any of the GDA trained angels!
Pringle just says, ‘Woof!’
My ever-so-handsome friend, Pringle.
Pringle playing Tazos at Spec Savers, in Benoni, one Saturday morning
Happy Boys together at Mill Stream Farm, Dullstroom.