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At the Curb of Joy and Wonder

March 23, 2022

NOTE:  On each St. Patrick’s Day, I recall my finalizing my packing for my first of four trips to Leader Dog School.  Thirty-two years ago, on March 18, I flew to Detroit  where I was met at the airport terminal by a trainer from Leader Dogs for the Blind.  After two days of preliminary lectures and training, I received my first of four Leader Dogs at 1:11 p.m., on March 21.  Amazingly, Leader Dog Keller immediately began bonding with me.  What a Golden Retriever!  What a dramatic new stage in my life at age thirty-nine! 

After working with Leader Dog Keller and my trainer at the practice court on March 22, 1990, Keller and I –along with the other students, guide dogs, and trainers (now called Guide-dog Mobility Instructors, GDMIs)–went by Leader Dog School buses to the Leader Dog Building in downtown Rochester, Michigan, on March 23. 

                When my turn came for a training session with Tom Hill, my 54-pound Golden was ready to roll.  With bubbling excitement, I exited the building with my hand on her harness and with her leash properly positioned.  Doing as I was instructed after we found the grass line at the end of the sidewalk, I told my young guide dog, “Keller, left.”  Having turned left successfully, I must have been beaming as we briskly walked down the sidewalk to Fourth Street.  Then, the moment happened–the unforgettable moment happened.  So, on this past Monday when I was pondering my 32nd anniversary of working with Leader Dogs, the following poem quickly came to my mind to take a word snapshot of the precious moment from 1990.

At the Curb of Joy and Wonder

poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Oh, the joy and wonder

of my first walk with my first guide dog!

Oh, the thrill when that little Golden

magically stopped at that first curb–

yes, when we had real curbs–

that Leader Dog took my breath away

and simultaneously breathed new life,

restorative life into me.

At that first curb,

at that first step of a sparkling new life,

I smiled at a Michigan March sky,

let joyful tears flow from my eyes,

and gave thanks

for Leader Dog Keller

and all who made her gift to me


I have held this harness

of joy and wonder:

I have held this gratitude

for thirty-two years.

I have grown older,

my four Leader Dogs grew older;

but the gratitude never grows old.

Most gratefully,

the joy and wonder vivaciously

greet me at the dawn of each new day;

for joy and wonder, thankfully,

never grow old.

(written on March 21, 2022, Monday)

Wishing all of my WORDWALK readers the joy and wonder of spring,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

Posting on March 23, 2022, Wednesday


From → Uncategorized

  1. joanmyles permalink

    Love the memories…keep the joy and wonder moving forward, darling Alice!

  2. What a beautiful reflection and memorial to your precious leader dog, Alice. I love the thoughtful progression of verbs and remembrances in this poem.

  3. Annie Chiappetta permalink

    Hi Alice, what a great post, sharing it makes me remember the first walk with that first dog. 💖

    Ann M. Chiappetta, M.S.

    Making Meaningful ConnectionsThrough Media

    914.393.6605 USA

    All things Annie:

    • Thanks, Annie, for reading this post and sharing a comment! Happy memories of your first walk with your first guide dog!
      Best wishes–Alice and Willow

  4. What a lovely remembrance and how thankful I am that you have been the beneficiary of four faithful, loyal, and intelligent Leader Dogs.

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