“I’ve never met a blind dog before,” said the little boy.
He was a foster child, his foster mother was with him. We were all introduced by chance in a public park.
The boy watched my dog, Marigold, walking along, bumping into a nearby fence. We were out for a potty-break. Marigold was trying to find a suitable patch of grass to do what I call, “leaving constructive criticism.”
The boy watched us in rapt wonder. We are a team. Dog and man. Marigold and me.
I am Marigold’s “Seeing Eye” human. My job is to guide her through this world of woe. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m trying.
And at this particular moment, I was following Marigold closely with a plastic baggy over my hand, ready to do my duty.
“Why is she blind?” the boy asked.
I chose my words carefully. Because how do you tell an innocent foster child that somebody took a blunt object to this puppy’s head and destroyed her eyes?
How do you tell a child there are humans out there who would use a length of rebar as a weapon against a soft, floppy-eared puppy?
“Someone hurt her,” I said.
“Not everyone’s a nice person.”
The boy’s eyes grew serious. “Yeah. I know.”
He looked at Marigold prancing along and said nothing. He just observed.
The kid was maybe 6. He wore Levi’s and a striped shirt that showed his little belly. His hair was strawberry. Opie Taylor eat your heart out.
His foster mother said he’s had a rough life. And that is all I’m permitted to tell you about him.
He watched Marigold with great interest. Marigold walks with a cautious gait. Sometimes she high-steps like she’s hiking through tall grass. She does this so she won’t stumble on any sudden obstacles.
We’ve been working on things, every day. When we go for walks, off-leash, I put a bell on my shoe so she can follow me.
Also, I taught her the word: “Step.” This is my cue word for Marigold to be aware of upcoming drop-offs, staircases, curbs, sidewalks, or gutters.
We’ve also been practicing using a leash. Although I’m not sure who is walking whom. She pulls harder than a protagonist from a Jack London novel.
If I were to wear roller skates during our walks, for example, I would be halfway to Québec right now.
Marigold uses her voice a lot, too. Because it’s hard being blind. Her world is all black. Therefore she can’t communicate with body language or eye contact. All she has left is her voice.
I try to remind myself what it’s like to be sightless. A few days ago, I wore a blindfold for 24 hours just to see what it was like. I didn’t take it off. Not even to use the restroom.
It was frightening. Have you ever gone without your sight? I felt alone sometimes. I had to have help getting into the shower. In a word, it was scary.
So that’s why the relationship I have with Marigold is different than any relationship I’ve ever had.
I’ve had a lot of canines in my life. But they were all regular dogs. They could see, hear, smell, eat, run, play, terrorize the UPS guy, and leave constructive criticism on people’s lawns.
But this animal needs me. Marigold needs me to guide along the stairs. In crowded places, she nudges my calf with her nose so she won’t lose me.
At lunchtime, she needs me to tap her food bowl so she can find it. I’ve never been needed before. Not like this.
“Can I pet her?” said the little boy.
“Will she be afraid of me?”
“Not if you’re gentle.”
The boy called Marigold to him. She heard his voice and carefully walked in his direction.
“You’re a pretty girl,” said the boy.
When she came to him, the child held her head in his tiny hands. He inspected the ocular scar where her eye was removed. He used a tender hand to stroke her.
And then he began to cry. Tears slickened his cheeks. I started to feel badly.
“I’m sorry someone hurt you,” the boy said. Then he gave her a hug and wept into her fur.
“I love you,” he said, sniffling his nose. “I love you, love you, love you.”
The things you see as a Seeing Eye human.
Grayce Love - October 30, 2022 7:03 am
WayneGina Yount - October 30, 2022 7:21 am
So much pain in this world but oh So Much More Love! ❤️😭❤️😭❤️
Cm - October 30, 2022 7:40 am
Barbara - October 30, 2022 8:04 am
Ann - October 30, 2022 8:05 am
Brenda Sanders - October 30, 2022 8:18 am
Your words make me cry more than any sad novel. My heart is touched every day by you. Thank you, Sean, for your words.
Susan Poole - October 30, 2022 8:45 am
Oh my…..when the little boy-child began crying and telling Marigold he loves her, my tears started….heart-wrenching💔😢😪
Don Simms - October 30, 2022 8:49 am
I lost my brother to cancer recently. Sometimes I need a good cry. Thank you for this. Thank you for doing God’s work. You amd Jamie are amazing.
Ronald Blankenship - October 30, 2022 9:48 am
Love your stories. They always have a good lesson.
Susan Neuhoff - October 30, 2022 10:23 am
Well, that made me cry! Blessings to you and your sweet family on the early Sunday morning.
sflouden - October 30, 2022 10:41 am
Oh wow….now I am sniffling my nose…thanks. This boy deserves a puppy!
Dolores - October 30, 2022 10:44 am
Marigold provided much needed catharsis for this little boy. Even if the situation is out of your control, there’s a sense of shame, feeling not good enough. A need to keep secrets and bury your emotions.
My prayers for the boy and all in foster care is to know their value. And the trials survived will serve to make them more sympathetic humans. Like this young one and the writer.
PS It’s ingenious the ways you’re helping Marigold adjust.
Gigi - October 30, 2022 2:22 pm
@Delores~ perfectly said !
Deb - October 30, 2022 11:07 am
I’m bawling. So so sweet.
Lyn Brown - October 30, 2022 11:23 am
Aaagh! Another good, cathartic cry! Thanks!
Joy Jacobs - October 30, 2022 11:47 am
Steve - October 30, 2022 12:05 pm
So good. What a way to start a Sunday morning
MermaidGrammy - October 30, 2022 12:14 pm
That wounded, little, red headed boy needs you and Jamie. Adoption is a wonderful thing. You have so much to give and he has even more to give you
Leigh Amiot - October 30, 2022 1:12 pm
I was wondering, too, if Sean had just met his son.
Gigi - October 30, 2022 2:30 pm
@MermaidGrammy ~ I agree with you ! I thought the other day after reading Sean’s column, it’s not too late for he and Jamie to be parents. There’s a red headed child out there that’s been through hurt and pain that needs a living home. Sean could relate so well to that child and give the child a loving home that he deserves. This sounds like a match made in Heaven to me. ❤️
Cathy - October 30, 2022 12:16 pm
It’s not like you’re really eliciting the emotion, but it comes in waves anyway.
Nancy Briski - October 30, 2022 12:22 pm
I’m crying too. There is a special place in hell for those humans who mistreat animals.
Kristen McGinnis - October 30, 2022 12:23 pm
My favorite by far!
beachdreamer - October 30, 2022 12:26 pm
What a heart this little boy has! His past will not define his future, but I believe will make him stronger….and oh so compassionate. I’ll bet he will become a counselor, psychologist , or maybe a special needs teacher. Something that will help others who have been hurt. God bless him, and God bless you and Marigold! What a blessing you both are. Please give Marigold a hug for me and tell her I love her too❤️
Melissa Brown - October 30, 2022 12:31 pm
Omg, l cried for this little boy. He must have had a terrible life before becoming a foster child. He had so much love in his little body to give to sweet Merigold. That little boy needs someone to love him. Have you and Jamie ever thought about adoption ? You would be such good parents.
Kathy Compton - October 30, 2022 12:31 pm
Wow. The boy and the dog needed each other. So sweet
Diana - October 30, 2022 12:35 pm
Sad and beautiful. 💕 Tears are flowing.
Bobbie Ivey - October 30, 2022 5:32 pm
The best sermon ever! God’s love through the eyes of a child. “I love you!”
Trudy - October 30, 2022 12:42 pm
Thank God for foster parents. Maybe the mother will become a “foster failure” like I was with my foster dog, and adopt this sweet child. I pray he will be loved and protected the rest of his life.
Jean Sherrill - October 30, 2022 12:43 pm
What a sweet story….gentle child….gentle dog…..wonderful owner.
Susan - October 30, 2022 12:43 pm
Suellen - October 30, 2022 12:46 pm
Getting ready to leave for church and trying to keep my make up from running down my face. Poor child. Poor Marigold. There’s a special place for people who hurt defenseless children and animals.
joseybell - October 30, 2022 12:48 pm
The little boy isn’t the only one crying.
sjhl7 - October 30, 2022 12:51 pm
Such a pure, loving spirit. My tears are flowing too. God bless all the children and animals who have felt such pain …
Julie, RN - October 30, 2022 12:56 pm
Bless you, Sean, for sharing Marigold with “Opie”❣️ A little bit of love can go a long way 🐾💕🐾
Jenny Young - October 30, 2022 12:56 pm
Oh I do hope someone is saying these words to this sweet boy.
Sean you should check out @bryartonfarm on Instagram. This family adopted a blind child from India in the middle of covid & are in the process of adopting another bling child. She is the most beautiful, adorable little girl….
The mom was born with a cleft palate & has really helped open eyes to just how easy it is to see past hard things & create/enjoy beauty.
It’s funny that when I read about Marigold I think of little Ellie Pearl….I hope that came out right. 🙂 We need to be reminded just how precious each life is….human & animal.
mccutchen52 - October 30, 2022 12:57 pm
A lot of times a loving dog makes everyone feel better. No matter if they are blind or not.
Tammy S. - October 30, 2022 1:04 pm
This may have been dog and boy but there was definitely understanding for the one to the other. God bless that little boy, and his foster family, God bless Marigold and God bless you and Jamie. If we would all just love one another, as God has asked. 🏼
Glenda Davis - October 30, 2022 1:25 pm
I don’t know how you do this every single day….just when I think I have read the best of Sean you pull something like today…I am in a fellowship group at the condo where I live (Park Tower on Highland Avenue – not far from you, I think) and we share books, scriptures and commentaries that speak to us…..yours are at the top of our list! Please give Marigold a good back scratching and tell her it comes from the old ladies at Park Tower who hope one day she will stop by to say hello. You can come, too.
Deacon Nick - October 30, 2022 1:38 pm
Thank you, Sean! Returning good for evil is the only path to Our Father.
ktm - October 30, 2022 1:41 pm
Hey Sean, I have a blind dog too, although her blindness is from cataracts. She’s 13 and her name is Stormy. She does just what you describe your Marigold doing-the high stepping and vocalising. And I too use the work ‘step’ to warn her of steps and curbs, and ‘watch out’ when she’s on a collision course with something. I would do anything for our old girl. She’s given us unconditional love and loyalty for 13 years. The least I can do is keep her safe in her new darkness.
Trent - October 30, 2022 1:56 pm
Very misty this morning in SE AL…verrrry misty…
Marilyn - October 30, 2022 2:10 pm
May this young boy find peace and love in his life.
Debbie - October 30, 2022 2:17 pm
Gigi - October 30, 2022 2:19 pm
I was doing good until the end, then I lost it. The world needs Jesus. If people had the love of Jesus, there wouldn’t be any cruelty to dogs or humans.
Patricia Gibson - October 30, 2022 2:52 pm
Well that made me cry. That little boy identified with Marigold❤️
Mary Dietrich-Kauflin - October 30, 2022 3:17 pm
Beautiful. Had a blind dog myself. Will never forget what he taught me.
Tom Wallin - October 30, 2022 3:47 pm
Bless you. You and marigold are teaching compassion to everyone you meet on your walks. Love your Marigold stories.
Leigh - October 30, 2022 5:03 pm
Tears of sweet connection. Thank you for helping Marigold and that little wounded boy and me.
Alice Grimes - October 30, 2022 5:10 pm
God bless you and Jamie for loving this precious baby
LIN ARNOLD - October 30, 2022 5:20 pm
God bless this sweet young boy. And I’m so thankful that he’s in a good environment now. Peace be with you, young one!
Connie - October 30, 2022 5:40 pm
God bless him. I pray with all my heart he’s in a good place now.
Peggy M. Windham - October 30, 2022 5:54 pm
Moody Jim - October 30, 2022 6:23 pm
You guys are going to make a great family with that little boy.
Linda Moon - October 30, 2022 6:29 pm
My eyes “saw” for my blind cat Spunky long ago. We shared lots of love, Spunky and I. So, thank you for being our eyes to see the little boy there with you and Marigold. Love, Love, Love, Love Love back to all!
David - October 30, 2022 6:37 pm
Beautiful story of help with a beautiful ending!
Jeanne Hays - October 30, 2022 6:43 pm
eileen muzzey hector - October 30, 2022 7:08 pm
Thank you for taking an ordinary day and making it extraordinary.
MAM - October 30, 2022 7:11 pm
It seems everyone has leaky eyes this morning. What a sweet, sweet story! May God bless that little boy and may his foster mother take good care of him, as good care are you are giving Marigold. I love dogs, so please give Marigold a hug or a tummy scratch from me, but don’t forget to give a big hug to Jamie. Don’t forget Otis and Thelma Louse.
Chasity Davis Ritter - October 30, 2022 7:19 pm
The things that i cry over when i read one of your blogs. Some souls are Deeper and know more than the rest of us ever dare. God bless both of those precious souls.
Doris - October 30, 2022 8:19 pm
That one really did bring tears to my eyes. Thank you always for your stories.
Ann Johnson - October 30, 2022 8:21 pm
God bless you and sweet Marigold. ❤️
Rosemary Carter - October 30, 2022 8:26 pm
Heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. Thank you❤️
Deborah Blount - October 30, 2022 8:30 pm
I pray you are Marigold’s seeing eye human for many years to come. She has many lives to touch in our world.
Cheryl - October 30, 2022 8:37 pm
I hope the person who did that to your dog goes to jail for a long, long time.
Nancy G. - October 30, 2022 8:37 pm
Thank you for sharing stories of love and caring. We need to read and hear and see more. It is on us in these strange, maybe dark times to remind each other that there is one true, freeing instruction that can free us of hate and fear: “Love One Another.” Continue doing what you do
dmgtomlin - October 30, 2022 8:50 pm
Heartbreaking, but so heartwarming as well!
Thames Robinson - October 30, 2022 8:51 pm
Leaking eyes, again.
Lisa - October 30, 2022 10:42 pm
Dogs heal and love your heartwarming story❤️
Jayne Loetkeman - October 30, 2022 10:45 pm
Cindy Foster - October 30, 2022 10:57 pm
Soooooo sad 😢
Susan Kennedy - October 30, 2022 10:58 pm
I hope someone is loving that little boy. 💔
Tracy Jayne McLaughlin - October 31, 2022 2:16 pm
Me too!! What a sweet child that probably treated as badly as marigold. God bless those that care!
George and Diane Zane - October 30, 2022 11:33 pm
Thanks for this one Sean. My wife and I have a 6 year old Maltese named Sunshine who recently contracted an evil disease called Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS). She lost her sight in a matter of days and is completely blind. We took her to a dog opthomologist (sp?) and learned that there is cure for this condition as well as no known cause. She is our 4th Maltese and was an energetic and visibly happy little girl who enjoyed romping and playing with everyone and her gigantic collection of squeaky toys. Now she just wants to lay down and sleep. It feels like we all had some very good years stolen from us — that means the dog and the humans.
conkledavid - October 31, 2022 12:39 am
Tears here thank you
Danny Prater - October 31, 2022 1:29 am
To God be the glory! Prayers for your continued witness for God’s gracious love even for blind dogs!
Slimpicker - October 31, 2022 1:29 am
Sean, have you considered that Marigold’s vocalizing more than what maybe normal, a way for her to echo locate her surroundings? I saw a story several years ago about a blind boy who chirped and clicked and whistled to echo locate as he walked and became vey proficient at recognizing different objects ( walls, trees, house etc.)
God bless you for sharing Marigold with that young boy. I’m sure he will remember that experience for the rest of his life.
Linda Holmes - October 31, 2022 1:31 am
Your experiences with Marigold have been heartfelt because I too belonged to sweet, blind Willie. He belonged to me from six weeks of age until he was over sixteen years. Willie was a broken coat Jack Russell and, unknown to me, in those genes was the probability he would lose his sight around age seven. It broke my heart when it happened. How would he adjust to such a handicap? My fears were totally unfounded! I was amazed how quickly he adapted. His spunk never ceased and he never felt sorry for himself, not one day. He was my hero and I was his seeing eye mama.
Judy - October 31, 2022 1:36 am
Gracious!! That’s really heartbreaking. So happy you have that sweet pup.
cajuntiger74 - October 31, 2022 2:18 am
Sean, this story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for being Marigold’s seeing-eye-human.
Kathy - October 31, 2022 2:33 am
Hmmm…sounds like this little red-headed boy needs sweet Marigold as much as another red-head does. Just sayin’. ❤️
elizabethroosje - October 31, 2022 3:48 am
That boy to be so sensitive to animals and pain. I can understand that this young boy too has suffered. God be with him. And you Sean and Jamie and Marigold + others.🐕❤️🙏
Susan - October 31, 2022 12:21 pm
Donna Horn - October 31, 2022 1:52 pm
I love your writings Sean, but they often touch my heart and make tears flow. This one did!! May God bless you, Marigold and that precious little boy!!
Anne Arthur - October 31, 2022 1:53 pm
That’s why dogs are such healing agents for hurting kids, no matter the kid’s age, 6 or 106. Marigold is pure gold for many, as we learn from your stories .
Tracy Jayne McLaughlin - October 31, 2022 2:14 pm
This is what love is. Thank you for taking care of marigold. Your stories make me realize that there are wonderful people is this world.
Susie - October 31, 2022 7:09 pm
What a heartwarming “tail” of a tale…..loved this!
Connie B Spencer - October 31, 2022 9:24 pm
Oh my goodness!! I just read this at work and the tears came no matter how hard I tried to stop them. What a beautiful story!! Thank you for this!!
Lisa Baker - October 31, 2022 11:31 pm
Ok, this one got to me. That little boy….
But also on the flip “She pulls harder than a protagonist from a Jack London novel.” HA HA HA!!! (I was an English major and I love it!!)
Carole - November 1, 2022 9:30 pm
Beautiful. we have a deaf Great Pyrenees who watches and smells everything. She’s also a therapy dog. Love her bunches.
Karen Kromm - February 7, 2023 3:54 pm
So sad & sweet all at once.