Project Unconditional: Kathy & Elias

by Guiding Eyes grad Kathy Nimmer, for Jane Sobel Klonsky’s Project Unconditional 

Guiding Eyes grads Kathy Nimmer and Elias by Jane Sobel Klonsky for Project UnconditionalElias is the fearless beacon in my world.  From the moment he walked into my life as my third guide dog, he has been unflappable. Through times of blessing and challenge, he has remained calm and stable. Though our partnership daily brings us to a crowded public school where over 160 teenagers filter in and out of my classroom each day, Elias has never protested the chaos; instead, he leads me to my classroom without prompting, nestles into his bed behind my desk, and sleeps through my classes, dreaming of what our next outing might be.

I am the teacher, but I have found myself being the student quite often as I have worked with Elias. What has he taught me? How to be persistently curious, endlessly flexible, and blissfully peaceful. As he ages, my heart breaks just a little each day since I know our partnership is nearer to the end than to the beginning. I blink back a tear when I contemplate the day when he retires, a day not far away. An empty harness will mark his absence by my side, but he will never ever be absent from my heart.

Elias, I love you.

Jane Sobel Klonsky’s  Project Unconditional is a book of photos and stories featuring the tender, powerful relationships between people and their older dogs.  We’ve been privileged to have her meet and photograph several Guiding Eyes graduates.  Visit Jane’s website or like her Facebook page to follow her work.