It was the eyes that got me. Isn't that always the case? Voluminous and forgiving eyes spoke longingly of past love, loss and present-day needs. His eyes were black-rimmed and trusting, set in a silvery-white face. I could almost swear it was my first service dog, Booker. No, not looking for a senior rescue dog. No, waiting for a young, fully trained dog. Who could imagine I would ever see those eyes and that face again? Not in this lifetime. But Griffin grabbed my heart and pulled me in, fast as quicksand. Was there any logic to adopting an untrained senior rescue dog? Griffin's eyes told me there was. There was an unspoken promise in those wise eyes.
He needed me as much as I needed him. We rescued each other. Even though I knew he could not be a replacement for a service dog, he could fill a void left in my heart. I had no other expectations. Griffin had his own ideas. He quickly learned to walk on a loose lead beside my wheelchair. Defying his years, he dashed with unbridled glory through tunnels and obstacles in an Ability-Agility class designed for people in wheelchairs. We were both reaching beyond our dreams and our limitations.
One day, I showed Griffin the telephone with its special handle. A curve of gnarled wood mounted on a strip of leather held years of tooth marks and scents. I gently placed the phone in front of Griffin, holding it as if it were a sacred object. His black nose twitched, breathing in years of enticing smells. With a glint in his eyes, his nostrils flared. He snuffled it. Sniffed it. And with remarkable ease, keenly grasped the handle between his teeth. Give. Good boy! It rapidly became a game of hide and seek. "Go get the phone," I'd call, and off he'd run. Griffin just as eagerly learned to retrieve items or pick up anything I dropped, carefully placing objects in my lap.
Affectionately nicknamed "The Griff," he does it all with a wag, a smile and a swagger. I am finding rescue appreciation is boundless.