It was a snowy Tuesday afternoon. Chester and I were visiting some of our friends at the Presbyterian Church in downtown Lancaster ~~ this is where adult education classes are held for a group of very special adults with different forms of special needs. Our friend Katey was taking her turn to walk with Chester, enjoying a stroll around the crowded multipurpose room, Chester proudly keeping pace alongside her wheelchair. As usual, I walked on one side of Chester, holding one lead, while Katey gently held and balanced her leash on the arm of her automatic chair. With each loop around the carpeted room, Katey confidently gave Chester gentle commands. He was more than delighted to obey her, Katey is one of his favorites! Katey, the very first one to pat the side of her wheelchair and give the "UP!" command, instructing the furry hound to lay across her lap where she can easily reach and pet him; Katey, the one who exclaims with each visit,I love Chester! I want to take him home with me!
On one of the laps I heard a whistle. Chester perked his ears. The was room filled with a dozen or so students and caregivers, it was difficult to see who the noise was coming from. As we neared an outside exit door I noticed the man, dressed in winter hat and coat, who was repeatedly whistling, trying to get Chester's attention. We paused a good distance from the door, Chester sitting quietly nestled between me and Katey. The man continued to watch us, making the Here Boy! type of whistle-tone. Assuming he was one of the driver's for the passenger vans waiting outside, I asked Chester if he would like to greet the man. Chester looked at me, and I gave the OK to be released from Katey's side, asking him to heal as I took my first steps towards the door.
Chester, halted, not following my direction, but positioning himself in front of Katey's chair. My canine buddy stood firm and still, eyes fixed on the stranger. I sensed Chester's tension, and I followed his lead. We stayed put.
The man turned, leaving the building.
As soon as we heard the click of the closed door, Chester repositioned next to Katey, ready to travel once again, relaxed and tail wagging.
My eyes met Katey's.
"I think he was protecting me," Katey said.
"I think you are right."
"May I give him a treat?" She asked.
"I think you may give him a kazillion treats!"
I handed Katey a few Pup-Peronies from my pouch. Chester, protector and friend, gently rose to Katey's hand and GLADLY received his reward.