A Guiding Paw – my faithful ‘brethren’

I recall when I learned of the transition of Senator Dole, Mason and public servant, to the peace that passes understanding.

Let all of us enjoy the strenuous life and adventure advocated by Brother Theodore Roosevelt and lived by Brother Senator Dole.

As part of this, we should recall how animals and the outdoors have influenced many of our public leaders.

Indeed, I gather from the historical record that Brother President Theodore Roosevelt considered his time ranching to have healed him after the death of his first wife.

My Masonic leadership training concomitantly tracked my rising responsibilities on the public square with two of my guide dogs: Brother Pilot and more recently Brother Bowie.

The Dole Institute, or his public library, and the conversations or lectures I delivered profoundly shaped me as a public servant with a disability.

The collaborative efforts with each of my three dog partners have enabled me to have a broad, active life in Masonic circles and on the public square.

A burgeoning one I hope honors the investment of time and treasure the Institute placed in me.

Notably, working a guide dog implicates and signifies the need for inter-dependence. I must know my route and my general surroundings.

A well trained and experienced guide dog can alert as to many elements of the built environment and even recall many a route, such as the return path to a conference room, or often, to the coffee cart.

Differing factors may complicate this mutual effort. For instance, Brothers who congregate within doorways – as much as we want this warm fellowship – make travel difficult for me.

Because of the intentional investment society has decide in the form of a guide dog, I feel more confident and elevated as a lawyer with a disability.

Working one of these guide dogs involves many positives, and as seems true of life in general, inevitable sadness’.

 

Here is a photo of Brother Pilot, who transitioned to the lodge above on 13 December 2019. I worked Pilot from June of 2010 until November 2017. Taken on a visit to the Republic of Ireland.

Brother Pilot and I joined the line of officers together, advancing through the chairs quickly.

I then served as Vice Chair at the Commission with Brother Pilot, educating staff and other civil rights leaders as to service animal access.

Brother Pilot and I traveled to Kansas to serve as Visiting Fellows together at the Dole Institute.

At the height of his career, Brother Pilot, my wife, and I enjoyed a private tour of the Grand Lodge of Ireland.

I admire a military based television show that has depicted the relationship of a military dog handler and two of his dog partners: SEAL Team.

I recall the transition from Brother Pilot to Brother Bowie when I returned from guide dog school – both in residence in New York and then in the Washington D.C. corridor.

Like the television program, SEAL Team, many guide dog handlers hope to partner with a dog that has an interesting name.

The Grand Architect has blessed me with three great dogs each with a fantastic name that has tracked somehow my life.

I recall the program also depicting the reactions of the team to a new dog. In his early weeks at lodge and in public life, I could sense Brother Bowie feeling secondary to the influence of Brother Pilot.

As crude biological matter, each of us possess a divinely inspired expiration date. If one believes some form of the Christian faith tradition, the Grand Architect may have this specifically rendered in a ledger of sorts.

No less true than for the animals we belove. In 2019, my wife, our friend and veterinarian, and I decided the difficult choice for each of us just days before receiving my Past Master’s degree – to conclude the suffering of Brother Pilot from his cancer.

I recall standing in the corner after receiving my Past Master’s degree at the Grand Lodge. Where I told Brother Pilot, he was supposed to have served with me in the East.

In 2020, Brother Bowie served with me in the East. Where he asserted his authority. Even sighted people could observe Brother Bowie happily laying on the ground near my master’s chair, overlooking the crowd with admonition.

Neophyte and seasoned dog handlers alike may make a mistake, when they approach these dogs as perfect, non-living objects.

Each of my three dogs have inevitably navigated me into some form of laughter, or trouble. Langer, Brother Pilot, and Brother Bowie have mutually trekked in pursuit of crumbs, sometimes stewarding me at a kitchen, or at a bistro.

I recall an occasion where Brother Bowie departed the East while I closed lodge, so he could remonstrate Past Masters.

On a social level, each of our honorary brother guide dogs have accompanied me along to memorable fellowship opportunities.

When at a dinner held in honor of Brother Pilot and me at the Dole Institute, I sat next to this amazing African American professor, who lived through the initial Civil Rights Era.

I recall her having this equanimity as well as a level of grace. She inculcated to me that, while it can be simple to disdain others who do not look like us; we are called to more as leaders.

As Masons, we are called to great civil and non-partisan public service beyond the walls of our lodges or the Grand Lodge.

As a student of history, I possess this knowledge. My outcomes as a Mason public servant encompass questions for history to evaluate.

In conclusion, when one has experienced an active, or strenuous life, one has the chance to have forces larger than himself evaluate his footprint.

Brothers Pilot and Bowie have shaped every Masonic and public service adventure or misadventure I have enjoyed.

Each of them has made me a better human, equipping me to have some legacy.

About The Author

 

 

Gary Norman, a 32nd Degree Mason in Maryland, is a resolute public servant gifted with the ability to bring people of unrelated interests together.

He started his public service career as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2000 with the federal government after graduating from Wright State University and Cleveland State University.

Mt. Moriah’s brethren raised Gary Norman, in October 2013, and then installed him as W.M. in January 2020.

He has the unique brand of serving the public with a special sidekick, his third guide dog Bowie.

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