Chester gave and received SO much love throughout the day, no matter where we roamed there was always time for an athlete or helper to pat this pup and share some lovin'. Each moment was special at these olympics ~~ but, the moment forever etched in my memory is Chester poolside at the Special Olympics.
We were invited to share in this day from one of our favorite athletes at Almond Acres ~~ she is someone who has climbed into Chester's heart, and mine. Audriana and Chester share a special bond that I can't explain, but, from the moment they met, it was love at first sight.
Our day began with walking into the Opening Ceremonies, Chester was at his friend's side. She proudly held one of his leashes as she marched in, leading the way for her AACA friends. Uniformed Officers from Law Enforcement and Public Safety lined the walkways, greeting each athlete with encouraging words, a high five or knuckle bump....many with tears. tears in these eyes too..........
Our plan was to stay in the packed gymnasium with Audriana and friends throughout the entire Opening Ceremonies. Soaking in every magnificent moment. However, things did not quite work as planned. Imagine ExCiTeMeNt, thunderous applause, cheers & stomping feet on bleachers, exploding from over 2,000 people. Great for people, not-so-great for my pup. Thunderous applause sounded a bit too much like real THUNDER to his ears. Chester gave me the this scares the bejeebers out of me look, which meant it was time for me to take my buddy outside to a quieter spot, so outside we stepped.
After the Ceremonies we met our athlete poolside. Poolside for Chester usually means woohoo and swim time. Fortunately, he did not make the plunge, but greeted his treasured athlete at water's edge with a smooch, wishing her good luck in her swim. He would have joined her if he could!
As soon as she entered her lane for her swim event, Chester and I positioned ourselves at the opposite end of the pool, along with a few other cheerleaders from her family and school. When the race began, our little swimmer was kind of stalled in start position. The crowd cheered for her, and Chester began to bark, I am talking GIANT and LOUD woof woof woof. His eyes were on his girl in the pool, urging her forward. And forward she swam! Chester's tail was swooshing like a propeller. His barking was so loud and incessant that I pulled him back, looked into his eyes and whispered ....Chester, quiet.
He looked right back at me as if to say, It's the Olympics for cryin' out loud, and our girl is swimming!
Back to leaning over pool's edge and barking his brains out. He did not stop barking until his swimmer reached the end of the pool and popped her head out of the water ... and then he gave her a big ole doggie kiss. .....And then took a serious drink of pool water.
It was the sweetest moment ever.
When Audriana stood on the podium getting her gold medal, she motioned for Chester to join her. And he did. And he posed with her. And together they smiled.
The Special Olympics --- beyond Special :)