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Recently, Faith and I took our test to be recertified as a service dog team from Canine Partners for Life. All working service dog teams take a test to graduate from the three-week training school when we are first matched. Every two years afterward, we retake the test. This keeps us fresh with our commands and our partner’s skills.

Our tester made a comment about other service dogs her age retiring. My heart hiccupped. I’m not ready to entertain retirement thoughts. Our commitment to each other is strong.

Faith is 10 ½ year-old and we have been together 9 years. Out of those years, we have been separated only about 7 hours. Any more, I feel we are one entity. I am committed to her. When I plan anything, preparation always includes her. She has accompanied me to 37 states and 2 Canadian provinces. Modes of transportation have included such things as plane, train, school bus, sailboat, cruise ship, helicopter and even a horse and buggy.

Faith’s commitment to me is clear. She rides in ambulance with me when I have an emergency and stays by my bed in the hospital. Okay, she actually shares the bed with me. Going outside to do her business, her good behavior brings nice comments. Her devotion shows through on her return trip. As soon as she can tell where I am, she becomes very determined to get back. I hear her harness jingle and then see her racing to me pulling her surprised volunteer behind like extra weight slowing her down.

My expectations for a new dog would not be the same as they were nine years ago. The thought of beginning a new relationship with another partner is one I do not look forward to with anticipation. We are comfortable with each other, like my favorite sneakers. They conform to my feet because I have worn them so much. We know how each other thinks. She does so many things for me so my energy does not end before the day ends.

To what are you committed? Why are commitments important?

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