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Remembering President Abraham Lincoln and My Leader Dog Heather

February 13, 2013

Remembering President Abraham Lincoln and My Leader Dog Heather

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Are you wondering what connection my second Leader Dog Heather has with President Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday we honor today (February 12)? Well, let’s go back in time—not 204 years, but only several years.

Despite the pouring rain on that summer day in 2006, my second Leader Dog, Heather, and I walked (with my sister) from the Visitor Center in Springfield, Illinois, to the home where President Abraham Lincoln and his family lived for 17 years before moving to the White House. When my guide dog and I entered the historic home, I promptly took out the paper towels from my pocket and began to dry Heather as well as possible. All guests were dampened; however, fortunately, the park ranger (who was our excellent tour guide) did not seem to mind. Several minutes later, after touring the main level of the Lincoln home, we were given the opportunity to walk up the stairs where President Lincoln had walked. As one of my hands touched the wooden handrail and my other hand was on the harness handle of my guide dog, my yellow lab and I ascended the stairs while I became choked up with emotions. Of all the stairs we climbed at my workplace (a technical college), of all the stairs we climbed elsewhere, the ascent to the second floor of the treasured Springfield home with my Heather is the most memorable to me.

Of all the Lincoln sites to visit in Springfield, Illinois, the Lincoln Home National Historic site was my favorite. Someday, I hope to return to Springfield to tour the Greek Revival house of the Lincolns again and to pay my respects once more at the
awe-inspiring Lincoln Tomb. I want the privilege of walking up the stairs where President Lincoln walked and hold the banister that he touched—this time with my third Leader Dog, Zoe, because I never tire of appreciating the special freedom of being able to go with my guide dog into any public building in the United States—even the historic home of one of our greatest presidents.

Post-script: What a year 1809 was! Not only was President Abraham Lincoln born in 1809, but also Louis Braille (January 4) and Edgar A. Poe (January 19) were born in 1809.

February 12, 2013, Tuesday.


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  1. What a year it was indeed. It must have been electric, running your hand up the railing of the staircase. Your mind was probably rolling through reel after reel of possibilities and mental images. It all must have seemed all together fitting and proper to go through it all with Heather also.

    Great post.


    Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

    Vivian Green


    • Thanks so much to a fellow Word-Press blogger for taking the time to add such a meaningful comment to my February 12 post. AJM

  2. Hi Alice, this is interesting. I hope you have more opportunities to visit Lincoln’s home and run your hand up that banister.

    • Thanks to a fellow Word-Press blogger for taking the time to comment concerning my post about the Lincoln Home. AJM

  3. Paula J. Lumb permalink

    Very moving, Alice. I am a big fan of Abe’s and could just imagine your “ascent” up those stairs at his home. Goose bumps, big lump in my throat, as I imagined myself doing the same thing. History may be in the past, but it’s still always present, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing this experience, especially in honor of your dog, Heather, as well. Keep traveling! Deon’s sister.

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