Sunday columnist Peter Leith has seen a lot of the world, a lot of Australia and a lot of life. Aged 90, he makes the time to observe the world around him and agitate for change. He sees more than most, such as these scenes near a guide dog training centre.
Fairfield Station, in Melbourne’s inner north, is worthy of heritage listing. There are very old weatherboard buildings on both platforms, a magnificent old signal box, complete with levers, and a statuesque wooden, overhead pedestrian bridge joining the platforms. Without the overhead wires, one might think oneself back in the 19th century.
The station adjoins busy Station Street and has its own level crossing, which make it an ideal training ground for dogs from the nearby guide dog training centre.
It is ‘tear-making’ to see the dogs work to temper their eagerness to learn and their desire to please according to the slower learning curve of humans.
To see an ‘under-graduate dog’ peer, cautiously, and for the first time, over the edge of the platform or watch the doors open and close is very touching.
More touching still is the time when the new owner lives in at the training centre for several weeks to get to know and trust his or her new life companion – the ‘graduate dog’ into whose care he or she has been committed; to watch the expression in the dog’s eyes as it waits, patiently, at the foot of the steps until the new partner verifies that there are, indeed, steps there as the dog has indicated.
When the new owner takes, and survives, the first step, I swear that the dog’s expression says: “Well done. Here we go. Trust me. Together we can do it.”
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