Gabriel the Guide Dog

By Jon Moray

This story was first published in 2017 for Grey Wolfe’s Write to Woof anthology. This piece was inspired by watching a guide dog respect traffic signals at a New York City intersection, regardless of others that didn’t, and his owner that had total faith in his animal.

Michael nervously surveyed his wristwatch while sandwiched inside an over-crowded city bus. It was his means of commuting to his place of employment, doing tech support for a large banking firm. The stench of collective morning perspiration compounded his fidgety anxiety as he violently pulled on the rope to alert the driver he would exit at the next stop. Before the bus came to a full stop, Michael began pushing past people to get to the side exit, amid colorful, choice words from the perturbed passengers.

“Sorry, I am behind schedule,” was his empty apology, as he jumped off of the bottom step of the bus. Behind schedule for Michael, meant thirty seconds to one minute lost off his calculated life. He was actually two city blocks from his job and had forty-five minutes to get there, short of taking a pit stop to purchase his morning bagel at the bakery.

He made a dash for the intersection to cross the street as if a football was in his hands and a Super Bowl victory was hanging in the balance.  He huffed at the realization he would have to lose a few more seconds and really making him late for an early arrival at work.

He and a crowd of other pedestrians waited under a toasty sun as a blur of cars screamed by. While stomping his feet in a fury of impatient theatrics, he noticed a blind man accompanied by a guide dog wearing a bright red identification vest, standing beside him. The flurry of cars vanished, and the crowd began to cross the street against the green light.

Michael rushed across and made a right at the sidewalk, but also noticed the man and the dog still waiting for the light to change in their favor. With curiosity peaked, he slowed his motion enough to see the man and dog cross with the signal change. His demeanor warmed momentarily as he jolted into the bakery.

If the bus running late didn’t cause a five alarm fire in his head, the line of seven customers ahead of him should, as he cussed under his breath.

An elevated heartbeat and a constant peak at his watch dominated his emotions until the man and dog approached behind him.

Michal looked back with a smile at the Labrador Retriever, who was looking up at him with a tilted head, temporarily distorting the triangle flap that covered his ears.

“That is quite a dog you have there. Very disciplined. It wouldn’t move until the light turned green.”

The man adjusted his black shaded glasses and nodded. “Yes, he is very disciplined, very loyal, and very loving. I trust him with my life, as you can see.”

The chocolate colored dog, with a smooth shiny coat, began investigating Michael with his nose, sniffing in the scent of his loafers and up to the knee of his Dockers slacks.

“Gabriel seems to like you,” smiled the blind man.


“Yes, my dog’s name is Gabriel. If he sniffs you, he like you, and he has been sniffing you non-stop.”

Michael returned the amicable gesture by gently petting Gabriel’s head.

“He likes to be scratched behind the ears,” the man added.

Michael obliged hurriedly, while noticing he was now next in line.

Suddenly, Gabriel shook uncontrollably for a moment.

“Yes Gabriel, I can feel it too,” commented the man. “Gabriel has noticed you to be quite impatient, Sir. His shaking alerted me to it.”

“He’s got me pegged, alright. Gabriel is also very smart.” Michael placed his order, toasted sesame seed bagel with extra cream cheese. The man ordered a plain bagel with nothing on it.”

The welcoming aroma of fresh baked bread soothed the blind man with inhaled-filled satisfaction, in vast contrast to Michael’s lip biting ignorance of his sense of smell.

The blind man received his order first, to Michael‘s dismay, mentally calculating time wasted.

“Have a good day, Sir,” cheered the man, as he and Gabriel headed for the exit. Michael received his order shortly thereafter, and scurried out the store.

Michael dashed past the man and the dog while trying to make the light that was now turning yellow. Just as the light turned red, Gabriel barked loudly and his powerful alert stopped Michael in his tracks as a vehicle raced by in his projected path.

Michael gulped audibly and staggered towards a lamppost to break his fall as the thought of what might’ve happened left his legs quivering under him.

“Are you okay?” asked the blind man.

Michael took a few moments to gather himself as Gabriel began licking the back of his hand. “I am okay now. Your dog might’ve just saved my life,” he gasped.

“That’s why it is very easy for me to trust him with my life.”

Michael smiled and gripped the man’s hand. “Perhaps, I should slow down. I don’t have a dog to save my butt when I hurry out of control.” Michael bent down to scrub the back of Gabriel’s ears, while rubbing his nose against the dog’s.

“I wish for you and your loyal companion to have a great day. I hope we meet again,” beamed Michael.

The blind man returned the sentiment, Gabriel stood focusing on the signal, and the trio waited patiently for the light to change.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s