Love beyond the grave

According to our experience, guide dogs have an unprecedentedly intense ability to bond with their owners, and we assume that this attachment is stronger than the attachment of other dogs to their owners. It is because they spend much more time together and have many more common experiences. In this situation, not only the dog is referred to the person, but also the owner of his dog, which results in a relationship based on reciprocity.

We asked the opinion of our visually impaired friends who received guide dogs from our foundation.

Sámán (Shaman) reads Marcell’s mind

Sámán and Marcell have rest on a trip

“It happened sometimes that my dog, Shaman read my mind. I don’t even notice anymore that I just thought that I had to go to a certain place, and he turned in that direction without a word, without any special instructions, and by the time I woke up, we were already there. Sometimes I don’t know how guide dogs do this. Especially when we go to a place where we have been only once, without any reward, so that even without a positive affirmation, he knows that I want to go there” – said our friend Marcell Kopa from Pécsvárad.

Dani, the retired dog takes care of Nóra

Dani and Nóra Varga a few years ago

Nóra Varga told a story about her retired guide dog that made her very emotional. “Dani was already retired at that time, but at home, in Verőce, we still walked around with a harness. I’ve always known that Dani loves me very much, pays attention to me, takes care of me, and would bring the stars down from the sky for me, but what I experienced today surprised even me. We went down to the Danube bank, where a rather steep and not very regular staircase leads to the given exit. He was very excited because swimming is one of his favorite hobbies. I was sure that he would stop at all the necessary places, but with an excited dog, I was a little afraid of going downstairs, so I thought I’d go down next to the railing. I took off Dani’s harness and leash, put on the bell, and said the magic word: “You can go” I expected him to rumble down and jump into his beloved Danube like someone shot from a rifle, and instead, he didn’t move past me, and as I moved, he moved past me, signaling every difference in level. Just like that, without a harness and a leash, and after saying the word “you can go”, when there was nothing else for him to do. My sweet Danika…I was totally in love…”

Dani nowadays (left)

Dolly helped her owner with an injured leg

Írisz Sáfrány was surprised by the self-sacrificing behavior of her dog: “We live in Győr and we went for a walk last week. I let Dolly run and I started, but soon after my ankle gave out and I couldn’t get to my feet. Dolly immediately came up next to me, stopped, and held her neck for me to hold on to. Then I managed to get on my feet and we started walking slowly, she then came by my side to see if she could help me with something. I think that there is no need for more care and love. At home, if she hears me getting upset, she’s already there by my side. She can never sleep deep enough not to hear what I’m doing.”

Two kinds of love

Hablaty and Panna

“Hablaty loves me and my partner, but there is a difference between the two kinds of love. He is very aware of the difference between two kinds of love and two owners. His behavior is also
interesting during the sensitizations. There, he knows that the presentation is not happening live, and he clowns around for the most part. He’s only interested in the reward, he does it, but he’s in a hurry, but when we leave, he’s completely in work mode and takes good care of me” – said Anna Mária Pesa.

Strong love and attachment

Our guide dog trainer Darinka Farkas emphasized that ethological research has shown that the dog’s natural environment is the human family and not the garden or the wild. This led to the question, how do dogs relate to humans? Thus, after further research, it was also established that dogs bond with humans like children bond with their mothers. It’s about love on the one hand and attachment on the other, and what is very important is that these two are not the same. Love is always an emotional connection, bonding is different: a dog can bond with someone who can provide him with security and protect him in various situations.

Darinka with her two guide dog students

“What is very interesting and touching to me about the guide dog-owner relationship is that in many cases love and attachment can be observed very, very strongly back and forth. Professor Vilmos Csányi said in a recent documentary film based on the investigations of the Department of Ethology that the blind person and the guide dog take turns making decisions while driving, this is complementary cooperation, and only dogs are capable of such cooperation with humans. Because of this, the love and attachment between them is much deeper, since in this situation not only the dog is dependent on the person, but also the owner of his dog, which results in a relationship based on reciprocity” – said Darinka Farkas.

Mystical stories

Marcell Kopa called a thriller what he experienced with his former guide dog: “I experienced what love beyond the grave is like. Max could not even stand on his feet two days before his death. I took him out to the yard in my arms. That day, with the last strength of his life, he crawled to my bed, leaned on it, then laid down and breathed his last there. Soon after, I had to get used to walking the streets alone. Max had a distinctive bell. I never heard it anywhere else, except on the street, and no, my ears weren’t dazzled, I didn’t explain it to myself, specifically, I heard Max’s bell ringing on my left side whenever I walked alone. It’s a strange feeling, but as I imagine Max walking beside me like a ghost, it doesn’t seem unbelievable to me. For some reason, I can accept this situation, knowing Max’s personality. It will be very strange, but this haunting state lasted until my next guide dog, Sámán, came. From then on, I didn’t hear the bell on the street.”

Ágota Lukács experienced something similar: “I always heard Berry’s footsteps next to me, until Vacak came. And even though I had a white stick, I felt like Berry was always there on my left side.”

Ágota and Vacak

In closing, Darinka Farkas told us why she loves training work. “I feel privileged to witness such deep emotional experiences.”