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I have a free moment and all of a sudden, I don’t want to write, even though I know what I want to write about. Thinking about Fayth is one thing. Writing about her, for some reason, is another matter entirely. I have actually been trying to avoid the subject in my mind since writing last night’s entry.

I was still living with my parents, back in 1997. My mother and I flew up to Johannesburg on the day of my birthday, 6 October. It could not have been a better birthday present, ever. It was a class of three – two of us getting service dogs and one gentleman getting a hearing dog.

I don’t remember if I met her for the first time later that day, or the morning after. Anyway, a day after that, she permanently became a part of my life and it became my responsibility to look after her. I was to learn how to look after her and how she could look after me, with commands to turn on a light, open and close the door and carry and pay for shopping, among other things.

We very quickly established a bond. The one night, I took her outside for a busy (SAGA’s term for doing their business) and she heard something in the dark. Naturally, Fayth wanted to charge and investigate, forgetting that she was actually on leash. She yanked my arm and I got really angry with her. We never had another disagreement after that.

Part of our routine while at the SAGA training centre was to bench our dogs in the evenings.  This meant securing her leash beside the bed, while I left the room for a while. Kind of like getting her ready for bed. I can’t remember the reason for doing this, but I returned the one night to find that Fayth had made herself comfortable on my bed. This was forbidden at the centre, but quickly became routine when we got home.

There was one other event that I remember from our week and a bit at the centre. We went to Zoo Lake. Again, I don’t remember why, or whether it was coincidence that there were a huge bunch of children there shaking tins and making a huge noise. All I remember was a huge battle it was to prevent Fayth from running away in fright. Afterwards, we were told that it was better to allow our dogs to run away than risk injury to ourselves. I was fortunate, though, after that, because loud noises never phased her at all. We have been in the vicinity of loud fireworks and a helicopter and several aeroplane trips without her getting distressed.

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