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Freedom’s Paws May 31, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life.

Volten when he arrivedMy family and I are volunteer Puppy Raisers for The Seeing Eye.

Every two years or so, a wriggly, little, seven-week-old puppy is delivered to our door. We teach them, clean up their messes, take them everywhere, and fall in love. Eighteen months later, we give them back. And, yes, we cry. Every time. It doesn’t get any easier to let one go.

But this is why we do it.

Let me introduce to you Uncle Mike, World War II Veteran. Mike is not my uncle. He is a relative of a friend and fellow puppy raiser, Bill Bennett. Here is Uncle Mike’s story, through Bill’s eyes.

Uncle Mike was a good kid from New England. One fateful December, Hell rained down on Hawaii and Uncle Mike was, soon after, a U.S. Marine. At 19 years of age, he was sent to Tarawa. While there, he forgot to duck. Bazooka shrapnel destroyed his eyes.

Many folks would have given way to self pity. But Uncle Mike was a U.S. Marine, a man of honor built from the same stuff our founding fathers had in their souls.

Shipped back to Boston, Uncle Mike received rehab and training in how to navigate his newly darkened world. Then, Uncle Mike fell in love with one of his nurses… and she fell in love with him.

Wedding bells rang, followed by the purchase of a small farm in Kennebunk, Maine.

Uncle Mike went to work, seeking employment to support his family. Of course, no one wanted to hire him because of liability issues. But he was persistent and eventually convinced a company to hire him, after signing waivers to hold them harmless. Uncle Mike worked in a machine shop for nearly forty years, and had the best safety record of the entire staff.

Uncle Mike remoldeled his house, too. Armed with a Braille ruler and a level that went “beep”, he figured out how to do things and did them well. The father of eight, he also enjoyed a wonderful relationship with his wife and was well respect in his community.

And, along the way, four faithful paws stood at Uncle Mike’s side.

This is why I do what I do. Why I get up at two in the morning to clean puppy puke, make room in my day for yet another run to the vet, forgive when one of my favorite dress shoes becomes a chew toy.

For Bill’s Uncle Mike and the many, many others who have lived, are living, and will live freer lives because of four guiding paws and two seeing eyes.

Voltan before heading backLet freedom ring! (no matter how much puppy fur I must vacuum)



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