The other night, I was with a group of friends who have lived here a long time. The conversation turned to people we all knew, particularly a woman who ran the coffee shop at the Lincoln County Courthouse with the help of her guide dog, Cindy.
I didn’t know June Evans until the day I got a phone call from local veterinarian, Jay Fineman, who said, “I know you do hospice with people, but do you do dogs?” Jay then explained he had a blind client whose guide dog had cancer, and June was going to be devastated.
I immediately called June, wondering how to insert myself into her life. To my surprise she knew about me because Wayne Belmont, Lincoln County counsel, read the News-Times on audio tapes for local blind people. June also loved to write and used a talking computer. I encouraged her to join me and a group of writers who met at night in the jury room at the courthouse.
There is so much more to this story, but not enough space here, except to tell you about the day Jay called to say it was time to do the humane thing for Cindy. Ironically, that very day Dr. Steve Brown was coming to our home to euthanize Sasha, our 13-year-old wolfhound. Of course I went to be with June, then raced home to be with my husband, Burt, and Sasha when Doc Brown arrived. It was one of the saddest days. The next morning I went over to be with June and she handed me a story she had written and printed out. Believe me, I could hardly get through reading it.
‘Cindy’s Journey,’ by June Evans
When Cindy was 9 years old, God had an important job for the best guide dog on earth. He searched all over and finally chose Cindy Sue Waggletail and called her up to heaven on Feb. 19, 1992. It seems that Earth’s loss was Heaven’s gain.
As if she were coming out of a nap, Cindy looked all around and saw a lovely countryside. There were brightly colored trees and flowers, and a luscious green lawn where Cindy was standing. She could not resist rolling on the grass, as this was one of her favorite things to do when she wasn’t working.
Suddenly, Cindy realized she was not hearing June’s voice. “Where is June?” Cindy asked herself as she went to the top of a hill to look around. Nearby was the ocean with a beautiful sandy beach. “June must be down on the beach,” thought Cindy. “We both love the ocean so much, but June should not be on the beach without me. She is blind and might get hurt. I’d better find her right away.”
Cindy hurried to the water’s edge and looked as far as she could in each direction, but June was not there. Just as Cindy was about to panic, another dog approached her. This was the most beautiful dog Cindy had ever seen, tall and slender, with long white silky hair that glistened in the sunlight. “Hello,” she said. My name is Cindy. I’m looking for June. Have you seen her?”
In a warm, friendly voice, the lovely dog said, “Hello there. My name is Sasha. You must be a little confused, Cindy. We are in Heaven, and our loved ones are still down on Earth.”
“Oh yes,” Cindy replied. “I was forgetting for a moment. God called me for a very important job, but I wonder how June will get along without me.”
Sasha was reassuring as she said, “I’m concerned about my Burt and Bobbie, too. But really, they and June are survivors and will get along all right. Do you know this is the first time I’ve ever seen you Cindy, but I feel like I’ve known you all my life.”
“I feel that way, too,” agreed Cindy, as the two new “old friends” romped along the beach. “I couldn’t run like this yesterday. I was so sick and hurt so much that I did not want to move. I guess there is no pain in Heaven.”
“You’re right because I don’t feel old and miserable like I did yesterday,” Sasha said.
Cindy was amazed at the beauty and poise of Sasha. “I wish I was as pretty as you are,” she said. “I know you have been a model with your Bobbie in fashion shows.”
“Well,” offered Sasha. “All my life I have been told how beautiful I am. But Cindy, you have been called beautiful, too, and also how smart you are. Not many dogs are intelligent enough to be guide dogs, and people admired you as you guided June. Just think of all those times you were alert and kept June from being injured or even killed.”
Cindy was thoughtful as she said. “You’re right, my good friend, Sasha. We were both respected on earth as we did our jobs and got all the love we could handle.”
“You’re so right,” agreed Sasha, “but speaking of jobs, we had better check to find what our new assignments are.”
“Let’s go,” said Cindy — and the two friends ran off together shoulder to shoulder.
There is no Cinderella ending to this story. June got a new guide dog named Bubba, but he just wasn’t Cindy. When June was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a volunteer hospice team was organized to help in her final journey, and we were all with her the day she died.
The other night was extra special sharing memories of Newport history and of a sweet blind lady named June and her guide dog, Cindy.
Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with Waldo, her robot. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor” (Dancing Moon Press). She can be contacted at [email protected]