A sun with sun glasses - animation The guide dog Holger walking

Caption: Holger going for a walk

An angel sitting on a cloud drinking tea wand - animation

A Guide Dogs First Working-Day

Finally, finally, at long, long last after one whole year of waiting he came - "Hilarious Hulda's Hasty Holger!" - My new guide dog. On Saturday, February 17th, 2001, he cheerfully walked into my life, wagging his tail, and spread sunshine and joy around him like a happy little sun.

Holger is a Labrador with fair fur, a big handsome head, and strong paws - a real he-man. But at heart he is still a small baby who loves to fool around with my stockings and anything he can manage to lay his paws on in an unguarded moment. When we are visiting my mother, who has a very dog-friendly couch where I like to sit when watching the news, Holger always comes dashing like a whirlwind and jumps up to me on the couch, gracefully as an elephant. Then he walks around all over me, completely unaware of his weight and the bruises that his big clumsy paws leave. He keeps squirming around trying in vain to curl up in my lap like a kitten, and it is utterly incomprehensible to him that it is not possible. When he finally has to give up his attempt, he slumps exhausted in my lap and sleeps like a rock. When my arms and legs begin to sleep, he is kind enough to wake up again and dart off. But not to worry, he says, for five minutes later he is back, and the whole show starts all over until Holger once again is forced to accept that there just is no way that his 38 kilos of dog weight can fit in my lap.

In the beginning, we also had a small problem, which we literally did some fighting over. I do not want Holger running around the house when it has been raining until I wiped his paws, and Holger just did not get it. The problem was that Holger simply could not stand on three legs for just two or three seconds while I wiped his fourth leg. We struggled and fought and had hectic arguments, but Holger obstinately insists that he just cannot keep his balance on three legs. He simply topples over. Besides, he is completely indifferent to and at a complete loss about my good arguments that all other dogs master the art without difficulty. In the end, however, he solved the problem himself - presumably because he got tired of listening to my endless complaints and grumbling. So now he nicely and quietly lies down in the hall and tumbles to his side while mumbling something like I can wake him up when I am done with all my nonsense. Holger is really very good at solving problems.

Apart from that, Holger is a very good and clever guide dog who does not stop at anything. He enjoys riding the bus, though our first ride was torture, both to John Lundberg, who trained Holger, and to me. We got on the crowded bus without much difficulty. Somehow John and Holger managed to find me a vacant seat. Of course, the driver forgot to say where I should get off even though I asked him nicely, so it was John who informed me. And then happened that which was not supposed to happen: Holger did not want to leave the bus. He sat where he was at, and there he stayed. When Holger is sitting, he stays put, and no matter how much I tried to pull and tug him along he did not budge one inch. None of the words or commands I gave him entered his thick head. He just did not understand one word of it. It almost appeared as if he was suffering from momentary deafness. In the end, John had to get on the bus and help, and then we got off. When you come to think of it, I guess you cannot blame Holger for not wanting to give up the seat he had struggled to get; besides, it was cold and windy. So from a dog's point of view, it must have seemed completely crazy to leave the bus now that you just got on it. Since then he has been very good at riding the bus, but he definitely prefers the train.

He has also grown very fond of the service station where you can buy all kinds of things and where there is always a delicious smell - so delicious that now and then it is difficult to make Holger leave the shop again. But I guess it must be very tempting and frustrating with all these shelves with candy and cakes right within reach and in dog's nose height.

It is nice to be able to go places on your own again in the company of a good and clever dog, who is always ready for anything, any time, and any place. It is also nice that it is not as quiet and dull in my home, which has seemed far too empty after Ira was put down. Now Holger has taken Ira's place, and he does a wonderful job.

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