Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Holiday Story: Cecil Williams and His Guide Dog, Orlando.

I love this story, sniff.  It has everything:  miracles, a lovely Labrador retriever, a charming gentleman, kind folks:

Cecil Williams, 61, and his Labrador Orlando both escaped serious injury when train slowed to pass over top of them.

Gallant guide dog Orlando, a black Labrador retriever, bravely leapt on to the tracks at a Manhattan subway platform on Tuesday after his blind owner lost consciousness and tumbled in front of an oncoming train.
Cecil Williams, 61, and Orlando both escaped serious injury when the train passed over top of them – a miraculous end to a harrowing ordeal that began when Williams began to feel faint on his way to the dentist.
“He tried to hold me up,” an emotional Williams said from his hospital bed, his voice breaking at times.
Witnesses said Orlando began barking frantically and tried to stop Williams from falling from the platform. Matthew Martin told the New York Post that Orlando jumped down and tried to rouse Williams even as a train approached.
“He was kissing him, trying to get him to move,” Martin said.
Witnesses called for help and the train’s operator slowed his approach as Williams and Orlando lay in the trench between the rails.
“The dog saved my life,” Williams said.

But wait!  There's more!  Sadly, the day when the accident happened was almost the last day of Orlando's working career.  He is eleven, and expected to retire.  Williams will get a new service dog.  But what will happen to Orlando?  Williams hoped that a good home could be found for him as he himself couldn't afford to keep him.

What happened next?  This:

A blind man who tumbled onto subway tracks in Manhattan with his guide dog declared "there's still good people in this world" after he was told anonymous donations will make it possible for him to keep the animal after it is retired next month.
Cecil Williams, 61, appeared with the black Labrador, Orlando, at the hospital Wednesday, after telling the AP in an interview a day earlier that the beloved pup would be forced to retire due to his age in January. His insurance wouldn't pay for a retired dog, Williams said.

The organization Guiding Eyes for the Blind, which provided the dog to Williams seven years ago, announced at the press conference that donations had covered the cost of the dog for life after his retirement.
An emotional Williams thanked strangers for their kindness.
"Orlando, he is my best buddy, he's my pal," Williams said. "The spirit of giving, Christmas ... it exists here and it's in New York."

Yes, I know I usually write like a robot on crack, and that I'm all opposed to sentimentality and fuzzy thinking and letting any feelings out from under my war helmet.  I even know that a few wonderful and heart-warming stories don't change the balance of the scales on human cruelty and indifference.

But sometimes we need stories which make us renew our faith in humanity, which make us think that there could be a different way if we only tried.  And having a Lab in the story is as good as chocolate.