By Emily Simone
GDB Graduate Field Representative
Don first came to GDB in 1993 at the youthful age of 81 and trained with Marin a stunningly beautiful golden retriever male who had a wonderful, ‘old soul’. They were inseparable for 12 years and had a bond that went beyond anything I have seen in my many years at GDB. Marin was devoted to Don, and Don would have jumped off a cliff for his beloved Marin. Marin succumbed to aggressive cancer in early 2005 and this ended friendship was devastating to all involved… From the local vets, to GDB’s vet staff and the AGS grief counselor, we all wept copiously for Don and his lost Marin.
Don’s next soul mate was Sachi, a spunky little female yellow lab, with whom he graduated in June of 2005 at the amazing age of 94! Don worked with Sachi until summer 2012. Sadly Sachi passed away suddenly from aggressive cancer. Don was devastated to lose his constant companion.
Don loved GDB and over the years, he and I developed a warm relationship. He looked forward to my visits and I tried to visit him whenever I was in Colorado. One of my fondest memories was a time when I arrived for a visit and he had set up TV trays in his living room and served me a lovely take-out Chinese lunch, served on his deceased wife’s best bone china dish ware. It was so very sweet and touching.
Don lived through two world wars and witnessed the invention of cars, television and guide dogs as a mobility aid. He spoke frequently and lovingly of his lost wife and son.
On my last visit with Don, this last October, I took him to his favorite restaurant ‘The Buff’ in downtown Boulder. I asked him what his secret was for living to the age of 100 and still being so independent and sharp. He was humble and couldn’t offer any miracle for discovering the key to eternal youth. He did tell me that sharing his life with his guide dogs gave him a reason to live and thrive….Isn’t that what our mission is all about????