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The Guide Horse Story - Caring for our Life's Partner

 Two Horses

© - 2008 Stanton O. Berg

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If one were to travel up any rural road, one might find a fenced field and green meadows with two horses in it. From a distance, each horse looks like every other horse. But if one were to stop the car to look, or is walking by, one might notice something quite amazing. These may be a pair of very special horses!

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that HE is blind. HIS owner has chosen not to have HIM put down, but has made a good home for HIM. This alone is somewhat  amazing. 

Listening, one will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, one will see that it comes from another horse in the field, a mare. Attached to HER bridle or simply around HER neck is a small bell. It lets HER blind friend know where SHE is, so HE can follow HER or find HER.

As one stands and watches these two animal friends, one sees how she is always checking on him, and that he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk to where she is, trusting that she will not lead him astray. 

When the mare with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, she stops occasionally and looks back, making sure that her blind friend isn't too far behind to hear the bell.

Like the owner of these two horses, God does not abandon us just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or medical challenges. 

God watches over us and brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need.  

Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by a guide horse that God has placed in our lives. Other times we are the guide horse that God has placed in the lives of others needing our help...Husbands and wives frequently find themselves in the position of these two amazing horses...we see husbands and wives in human Guide Horse stories all the time when Alzheimer's becomes a member of a family... 

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Stan's Comments 

 

When I first read a story about "Guide" horses, I was struck by how such a relationship could have and frequently is the comparable story of a husband and a wife during times of intense health and care-giving situations. When I first read about "Guide" horses I did not recall the gender of the horses being mentioned...to me however this seemed to be a natural and to be right and appropriate...accordingly when I wrote the above "Guide" horse story, I assigned male and female genders to the horses!...My photo illustration was a photo I found online with no restrictions on usage...I have no idea if the  photo was a "Guide" horse illustration or just a coincidence of a horse with a bell for the owners convenience...

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Husbands and wives in the role of caregivers are all guide horses, that God has commissioned to care for our life’s marriage partners...

 

in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part!” 

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I am convinced that God placed me in June's  life to care for her knowing that she would be overcome by Alzheimer's. God gave me a life's calling far better than any I have ever had. I have not always done the best, but I have tried. June first helped me to see God. Then I later became June's guide horse for as long as God permitted me to do so. June passed away on October 23rd, 2008 after almost 12 weary years of struggling with Alzheimer's. She was and always will be the light and love of my life. There will never be another to take her place. June was that once in a lifetime find...This guide horse story was prepared and published on June's web site just two (2) months after her passing.

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Stan's Photo Notes

Photo below was taken by Jim Gehrz of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on October 31st, 2007 and published on 24 November 2007.  "Stan and June: To have and to hold for 55 Years." Picture was taken at the Benedictine Health Care Center at Innsbruck, New Brighton, MN. The photo is candid and not posed and was taken by Jim Gehrz on a return trip that day.  This scene is in the little Holy Spirit Chapel immediately in front of the alter. I would usually arrive at the nursing home at 9:00 AM in the morning and take over the responsibility for June's care for the day...following the brunch period, June and I would go down to the beautiful little Chapel and spend some time in the quiet solitude...frequently dozing off as we did here...the reflections of the stained glass side windows can be seen on the floor!

 

God prepared a place for June and brought her home almost exactly one year later. John 14:2 (KJV):

 

"In my father's house are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you..."

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   Stan and June Asleep

(Holy Spirit Chapel, The Benedictine - October 2007)

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 Reader's Comments

 

Claire J. Young - Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom - (19 July 2012): "This is so beautiful." 

 

Amy Stiel  Almas  - Waterford, Michigan - (26 January 2013): "... bless your...for making such a difference in the world."

 

Michele Christie  - Cullowhee,North Carolina - (26 January 2013): "What a great story...also saw the picture of you and June in the chapel at the nursing home.  That is a great, natural shot of you two."

 

Lin Schmidt  - Anoka, Minnesota - (27 January 2013): "Beautiful, ...!  Thank you."
 
Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, Inc.  - St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada - (28 January 2013): "So great to have such a large body of resources available online! I'm sure it is a value to people journeying with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia, and thank you so much for all of your work and efforts dedicated to this cause. - Amelia White, Events Coordinator."
 
Lora Rushing Robinson  - Benton, Louisiana - (11 October 2013): "I love the beauty and love and serenity of this picture of you and Ms. June....thank you for sharing the story also."
 
Marsha McKneely Ault  - Nacogdoches, Texas - (11 October 2013): "Stanton--I have a friend who has miniature horses.  One of her horses is blind.  She has not put a bell on any of her other horses, but he still listens and follows the little herd wherever they go...a beautiful post.  Thank you for sharing."
 
Jessica Tablett  - Fresno, California - (11 October 2013): "That is what love is. A bell jingling so you can follow. Thank you for this beautiful story."
 
Terry Shepherd  - Warsaw, Indiana - (12 October 2013): "You always touch my heart Stanton, with the love you have for your wife, keep sharing."
 
Maura Buddy Bear  - Dublin, Ireland - (11 October 2013): "Touching story brought tears to my eyes, Love knows no bounds. Beautiful photograph of June & you Stanton."
 
Jo Brewster - Hove, United kingdom - (30 May 2015): "Amazing, lovely website, had tears in my eyes when reading."
 
Bill Vance  - Glasgow, United Kingdom - (30 May 2015): "Love matters."
 
Lenny Macion Alexander  - Surigao, Del Norte, Philipines - (30 May 2015): "Thanks for sharing... a lovely piece to read."
 
Jackie Irving - Liverpool, United Kingdom - (30 May 2015):"I enjoyed reading your piece Stan as I always do...its such a touching picture of you and June...even in slumber your holding her hand protectively....so lovely..."
 
Ena Castle - Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia - (30 May 2015): "A beautiful story Stanton.very touching."
 
Gail Weatherill - Charlottesville, Virginia - (30 May 2015):"This photograph makes me weep. Thank you for sharing your journey. And yes, I often think that if humans behaved half as well as animals do, the world would be a better place."
 
Catherine Jones-Hatcher - Richmond, Virginia- (30 May 2015): "The site is like a book. It blends science and medical info with TRUE love story... You will be drawn in if you go here."
 
Elaine Knight - Belton, Texas - (30 May 2015): "Stan this is such a sweet story and reminds me of a childhood memory of mine. In the sixties when I was a small child in rural central Texas there was an elderly blind man that lives close by our farm. Once a week he would hitch up his two mules and drive them to the small community nearby. one mule was brown and one mule was white and blind. we kids could hear him coming down the old gravel road and would run out to greet him as he went to town and then again as he came back . It always amazes me that the one sighted mule ,whom he gave the reins to, got him to and from safely every time . God gave every creature big and small the ability to love. Thank You Stan for the wonderful memories."
 
Bridie Breen - Manchester, United Kingdom - (31 May 2015):"We humans can learn a lot from creatures. Stanton your blog made me think of a couple close to me where it's husband who is poorly with brain changes.That vow to love and cherish in sickness and health is such a struggle, but she gets her strenght from somewhere to carry on each day."
 

 

 

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June's Passing

1994 June Berg

After battling Alzheimer's for almost 12 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008. Her funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label - Click on:

 

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam".

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June's Favorite Home

6025 Gardena Lane

 

For the story of June’s favorite home at 6025 Gardena Lane and the poem I wrote about this home during a day of deep sadness, click on the below link: This was June’s home for almost 40 years. It was constructed shortly after the previous home was severely damaged in a tornado. 6025 Gardena Lane was the first home the June participated in the selection and purchase of a lot on a small hill, helped with the design of the home and watched it being constructed. 6025 Gardena Lane had a special place in her heart.

 

6025 Gardena Lane – June’s Favorite Home”