Mighty Quinn and 2020 Vision Quest

vision quest 2020There’s merit enough to being a 70 pound, 5 year old yellow Labrador Retriever with a hefty dose of adorable. Quinn certainly takes it to the next level several times over. He is a Guide Dog charged with the safety of his totally blind human, Randy Pierce from Nashua, NH. That is impressive work in and of itself, but made all the more ‘interesting’ by their mutual decision to begin hiking the 48 tallest peaks in the ‘Ruff’ and rugged terrain of the White Mountains!

Quite appropriately they began their quest on Independence Day, July 4, 2010, with a trek up Mighty Mount Washington.  Can you imagine walking incredibly close beside someone three times your height and weight, navigating perilous trails with jagged rocks and boulders, twisted footing, and steep drop-offs abounding? Can you imagine having to be responsible for choosing the route for them while dodging their gigantic feet; which you ultimately need to lead to the best possible footing, all while they cannot see you or the terrain and they don’t even speak your language!?! Quinn takes this task on with dedication, devotion, attention, and a tail which never seems to stop wagging. Pride and enjoyment are constantly bursting forth from this amazing dog.

visionquest 2020Quinn’s mental work is amazing, made even more so when there is an understanding of what is involved. He studies the trail ahead to select a route which best matches the gait of his partner, looks to ensure that the branch is just above the danger of a head injury for the 6’4″ Pierce, and then double checks the immediate footing of the step ahead.  Quinn exhibits patience at each warning stop, pausing to ensure his blind partner can find the threat upon which knee or noggin’ might otherwise take injury.  He uses subtle body angles to position the steps as best possible and even employs precariously placed paws when a step isn’t wide enough for both as they pass through challenges.  Quinn has days where he has logged twelve consecutive hours of this level of work and yet takes to it with an appreciative passion for the freedom his guidance delivers.

The reward of accomplishment alone is overwhelming. The many moments along the way to pause and appreciate so much of the journey are the real motivation. It is the journey not the destination, but without Quinn guiding the way to these heights, the tale would be quite a different one. Instead we have an astounding bond as these two navigate their conventional life, their mountain adventure, and of course the time to relax and share in the freedom they provide for each other!

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