Recently my husband, Jim, my Seeing Eye dog, Quan, and I climbed a mountain. The experience of this particular climb taught me lessons about teamwork I never learned in guide dog school. The beginning of the hike was fairly routine. Quan guided flawlessly and I followed his lead, turning when he turned, stepping up onto ledges as he indicated, stepping over downed trees.
Then the challenges began.
We hit one rock face after another and there was no way Quan could guide me in the usual way. After consideration and consultation with Jim I unclipped Quan’s leash, draped it over my shoulder and turned him loose. Jim went first and, as he arrived at the top of each rock face, he called Quan who scrambled up after him. Then Quan turned and whined gently as I made my own way, hand over hand, up the rock face until I joined him. Sometimes Jim reached out a hand to help me up the last bit. Then Quan moved to his proper place on my left side and we continued.
What did this teach me about teamwork?
It’s great when the way is smooth and everyone does their job.
Sometimes you have to let a member of the team go and figure out their own way forward.
When you’re in the lead reach out and help the team member coming along behind you.
Oh, and, when you climb mountains be prepared for sore muscles the next day!