Para muitos norte-americanos, cachorros não são só animais de estimação. Eles são parte da família. Nesse episódio, Randy Pierce e Neil Rodríguez contam como fizeram de tudo para demonstrar o amor que sentiam por seus bichinhos.
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Helena: Era um dia de sol de 2013. Centenas de pessoas corriam pelo centro da cidade de Boston. Estavam chegando na reta final da famosa Boston 5K, uma das provas de 5 quilômetros mais conhecidas dos Estados Unidos. Randy Pierce corria com seu cachorro, Quinn.
Randy: Everyone in the crowd was really excited. People applauded as I stepped across the finish line. My wonderful dog, Quinn, was right next to me. The people who organized the race took a picture of us at that moment. In the picture, Quinn and I both look extremely happy. It really was a great day.
Helena: A foto de Randy e Quinn se aproximando da linha de chegada viralizou. Naquele dia, eles fizeram história. Randy é cego, ou blind, e por isso precisava de Quinn, seu cão-guia, ou guide dog.
Randy: We were the first blind person and guide dog to finish the Boston 5K. No one did it before us. My dog loved running more than anything, so I loved it too. Quinn even inspired me to run one of the biggest races of all: the Boston Marathon.
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Hoje vamos conhecer duas pessoas dos Estados Unidos que amam seus animais de estimação. Amam tanto que tratam seus bichinhos como parte da família.
Helena: Em 1988, Randy Pierce tinha acabado de se formar em Engenharia na Universidade de New Hampshire. Ele tava empolgado pra começar a exercer a profissão, mas sentia que algo não tava bem com a sua saúde.
Randy: I was feeling very sick, so I went to the emergency room. After several different tests, the doctor gave me the results. I'll never forget the look on his face. He took off his glasses and just said, "Randy..." I knew it was going to be bad news. He told me that I had a rare neurological disease and I was going to be blind. I was already losing my vision, and I was only 22.
Helena: Randy perdeu o chão. Ele achou que nunca ia conseguir superar a ideia de ficar cego.
Randy: I was in shock. I was so young, and my future seemed so dark. Walking was also becoming difficult. For a while, I even had to use a wheelchair.
Helena: Nos Estados Unidos, existem organizações que encontram cães-guia já treinados pra pessoas cegas, e Randy entrou em contato com uma delas.
Randy: I couldn't walk, and that was really hard for me. I thought a guide dog could help me walk and become independent again. So, I contacted a local organization that offered guide dogs for blind people. And then I went to New York to get my dog. That's when I first met Quinn. At first, he didn't notice me at all! He was too interested in his toys. Then I knew how to connect with Quinn: by playing!
Helena: Naquela época, Randy precisava de uma bengala pra caminhar. Ele não tinha força sozinho. Aos poucos, ele e Quinn começaram a andar juntos.
Randy: Quinn and I always played after we went on a walk. One day, he got a little too excited. He couldn't wait to play, so we started walking really fast. Soon, we started running. After that, we ran together all the time, and that changed my life.
Helena: A corrida mais especial de Randy e Quinn foi a Boston 5K, de 2013. Essa prova geralmente acontece antes da Maratona de Boston, que, como todas as maratonas, tem 42 quilômetros.
Randy: After we did really well during that 5K, I celebrated with some of my running friends. Then I went back to the state of New Hampshire. But my friends stayed in the city to watch the Boston Marathon, which was going to happen the next day.
On the day of the marathon, I watched the news and heard about an explosion at the finish line.
Helena: Em 15 de abril de 2013, duas bombas explodiram perto da mesma linha de chegada por onde Randy e Quinn tinham passado no dia anterior. Três pessoas morreram e 280 ficaram feridas.
Randy: At first, I was in shock. But then, after that tragic bombing, I knew that I had to run in the Boston Marathon the next year. I wanted to show that horrible violence couldn't stop people from enjoying that amazing event.
Helena: Não seria fácil correr a maratona. Das 30 mil pessoas que participam e terminam a prova todos os anos, só umas 10 são cegas.
Randy: Quinn and I started running a lot. But during some of our runs in the fall, I noticed that Quinn seemed tired. So I took him to the veterinarian, and I got very bad news. The vet said that Quinn had cancer and he was going to die in a few months. At that moment, I realized that I wouldn't just lose my guide dog but also my best friend.
Helena: Randy parou de se preparar para a maratona pra cuidar de Quinn. Mas o cachorro morreu três meses depois, com nove anos de idade. Randy ficou muito, muito triste.
Randy: The day we put Quinn to sleep, I held him in my arms, and I told him how much I loved him. He died while I was hugging him. I immediately knew that the best way to honor my boy, Quinn, was to run in the Boston Marathon.
Helena: A maratona de 2015 seria em abril, por isso Randy teve que treinar durante o rigoroso inverno de New Hampshire, com temperaturas extremamente baixas.
Randy: It was hard to get out of bed and run in the extremely cold temperatures. But because I'm blind, I also had to convince my three guides to run in the cold!
Helena: Às vezes, atletas cegos como Randy correm com a ajuda de guias, pessoas que vão explicando e sinalizando o percurso.
Randy: It's too difficult for a dog to run in a marathon. A dog will become very tired, so most people run with human guides. I had a group of three people running next to me, taking turns. My guides had to tell me where to turn and when to avoid holes in the road. I also had a running stick, which my guides used to help me go in the right direction.
Helena: Em abril, Randy estava pronto. Normalmente, maratonistas não cegos levam 4 horas e meia pra completar a prova, mas Randy queria terminar em menos tempo.
Randy: That was going to be very difficult. I needed to run one mile in nine minutes for all 26.2 miles of the marathon — without being able to see! That's 30 minutes faster than the average person who isn't blind!
Helena: O dia da maratona tinha chegado. E Randy tava muito nervoso.
Randy: The weather was terrible. There were strong winds, and it was also raining! It's really difficult for a blind person to run while it's raining. I knew it was going to be a hard day. But I tied my shoes and put on a shirt that said "Miles for Quinn." And then I went to the start line.
Helena: Randy tinha só um guia para acompanhá-lo na corrida.
Randy: I got ready to start the race. I was next to 30,000 other runners. I was nervous, and my heart was racing, but when I heard the gun…I just thought of Quinn. And I ran and ran. Everything was going well, and I felt strong until we were almost at "Heartbreak Hill."
Helena: Tem uma parte da maratona de Boston que assusta todos os corredores. Chama Heartbreak Hill, que significa Morro do Desgosto. É a última subida da prova, e é superdifícil.
Randy: Each step was painful. But then I thought of my boy, Quinn. I thought about him sitting in my lap. I remembered hiking with him in New Hampshire, and running on the roads by my house. My memories of Quinn helped me get up that hill. And when I got to the top, I shouted, “I love you, Quinn boy!” Quinn made me feel strong. I was able to cross the finish line… in 3 hours and 50 minutes!
Helena: Desde então, Randy não parou mais de correr. Ele já participou de mais de 10 maratonas e até de algumas ultramaratonas, com mais de 42 quilômetros. E agora ele tem um novo cão-guia, mas não pra correr.
Randy: Autumn is my new dog. She's a Labrador like Quinn. We got her from the same organization that helps blind people. But Autumn is not a runner like Quinn. If she sees a squirrel or another animal, she may get distracted. And that can be dangerous for both of us! I still think about Quinn every day. I am so happy he inspired me to start running.
Helena: Quinn tinha sido treinado pra ajudar. Mas, às vezes, são os cachorros que precisam de ajuda. Por exemplo, quando eles são abandonados. Em 1999, Neil Rodríguez decidiu ir a um abrigo pra cães, ou shelter, na cidade de Nova York. Ele queria adotar um cachorrinho.
Neil: My ex-girlfriend really wanted a dog. We argued a lot, and I thought a dog might save our relationship. We went to the shelter and I saw this Labrador and pit bull puppy with big eyes. My girlfriend at the time really wanted to adopt him. And once we did, I fell in love. We named the dog Poh, like the famous American writer Edgar Allan Poe. It was ironic because Poh the dog was very happy and energetic!
Helena: Edgar Allan Poe foi um dos escritores norte-americanos mais importantes do século XIX, famoso por seus contos sombrios de morte e terror. Ou seja, bem diferente de Poh, que era um cachorrinho alegre e bagunceiro.
Neil: In the end, my girlfriend and I broke up, but Poh stayed with me. We really liked each other. Poh always had a lot of energy, and I loved spending time with him. One day, we drove to New York City. We were waiting for the light to turn green on Fifth Avenue.
Helena: Repleta de lojas, a Fifth Avenue, ou Quinta Avenida, é uma das ruas mais icônicas e importantes de Nova York, sempre cheia de turistas e com muito trânsito.
Neil: Poh was still a very small puppy. He was just sitting on my lap, and then he jumped out of the window! He was so fast that he ran across Fifth Avenue to the other side of the street. Luckily he didn’t get hit by a car. I was really scared. I had to get out of my car to get him back. He wasn't trying to escape, though. He just wanted to play! He always had so much energy.
Helena: Neil é um DJ de hip-hop que já se apresentou por todo Estados Unidos e chegou a abrir shows de Jay-Z. Ele viajava de carro pra tocar, e muitas vezes Poh ia junto.
Neil: Poh loved being in the car. He often put his head out of the window and sat next to me in the front seat. Sometimes he even tried to sit on me! At my performances, Poh slept next to me while I was DJing. He was there for the most important parts of my life, including when I met my fiancée.
Helena: Por vários anos, Neil e seu cão foram juntos de um show pra outro. Mas um dia Poh começou a ter menos energia e menos interesse pra brincar. Ele já tinha 15 anos.
Neil: As Poh got older, he lost most of his energy. So I took him to the veterinarian. After a lot of tests, I got the results. The veterinarian didn't look happy, so I knew she had bad news. She told us that Poh was very sick. I asked, “How long do we have? A year? Or a month?” She said Poh only had one week to live.
Helena: Foi um golpe muito duro pra Neil.
Neil: For 15 years, Poh was my best friend, almost like a son. Knowing that Poh only had one week to live, I wanted him to have one last big adventure. My fiancée and I decided to take him on a goodbye trip. Three days later, we got in our car and started driving to the state of California. I always wanted Poh to put his feet in the Pacific Ocean.
Helena: De Nova York à Califórnia são quase 5 mil quilômetros. Pra registrar a viagem, Neil criou um perfil no Instagram chamado Poh the dog’s big adventure, ou A grande aventura do cachorro Poh. A conta chegou a ter mais de 150 mil seguidores.
Neil: We took photos at a lot of famous places. We visited the monuments in Washington, D.C. We also saw the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Helena: Eles dirigiram por cerca de 19.200 quilômetros e pararam em mais de 35 cidades. Tudo isso levou mais ou menos 5 semanas, e Neil realizou o sonho de ver Poh nadando no Oceano Pacífico.
Neil: I loved watching Poh in the ocean in San Diego. Poh couldn't walk very well, so, in Los Angeles, we bought a little cart. We used it to pull him around. He loved that he could still spend time with us outside. At the beach, I would pick him up and put him in the water. Once he was in the ocean, he became like a puppy again! He had so much energy. It was amazing.
Helena: Quando voltaram pra Nova York, Poh, que supostamente só tinha mais uma semana de vida, tava transbordando de energia. Neil não queria se despedir dele, então resolveu buscar o melhor tratamento possível.
Neil: We wanted to make Poh comfortable during his last days. Through social media, we learned about a lot of treatments. One of Poh’s Instagram followers was a wonderful veterinarian named Dr. Buzby. She offered to give him acupuncture if we brought him to the state of North Carolina.
Helena: A clínica era um paraíso pra cachorros. Poh passou uns dias lá pra receber o tratamento e foi embora com um monte de produtos e exercícios pra fazer em casa.
Neil: After Poh was diagnosed, he lived for almost a year! During that time, we had a lot of fun taking him to local beaches and to North Carolina for treatments. When we took him back to the veterinarian that initially diagnosed him, she was very surprised! She said that she would recommend a road trip to other people who had sick dogs.
Helena: Neil e a esposa planejavam levar Poh em outra viagem de carro, ou road trip, dessa vez pro Canadá.
Neil: But, while we were driving, Poh died in my arms. He loved our road trips, so it was the perfect goodbye.
Helena: Desde que Poh morreu, Neil e a esposa cuidaram de vários cães idosos. Eles também criaram uma organização chamada Live Like Poh, ou Viva como Poh, que arrecada fundos para oferecer mais conforto pra cachorros velhinhos em seus últimos dias de vida.
Neil: We expected Poh to only live a week, but he ended up living almost a whole year. He spent his last days doing something very special. And that is the message of our foundation: that older dogs can still have wonderful lives.
Helena: Neil Rodríguez e a esposa continuam cuidando de cachorros idosos em seu apartamento de Nova York, mas agora com a ajuda da filha Lili, que tem 2 anos. Randy Pierce fundou a 2020 Vision Quest, uma organização sem fins lucrativos pra pessoas com deficiência visual. Ele mora em Nashua, no estado de New Hampshire, com a esposa, Tracy, e seu cão-guia, Autumn.
Esse episódio foi produzido por Paige Sutherland, jornalista norte-americana que mora em Boston.
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