While attending a two-week residential training class in England last year for guide dogs and the people they’ll be assisting, Venice, a yellow Labrador Retriever belonging to Claire Johnson, fell head-over-paws in love with Rodd, also a yellow Lab, who belongs to Mark Gaffey.
The two 3-year-olds were inseparable. They “seemed to know something we didn’t,” Gaffey said last summer. “They were always playing together and nuzzling up together.”
Gaffey and Johnson are both in their 50s. Gaffey has been blind since birth; Johnson lost her eyesight due to diabetes when she was 24. The two lived less than two miles away from each other in Stoke-on-Trent, but had never met prior to the training class.
Since their dogs got along so well, Johnson invited Gaffey out for coffee after the classes ended. Soon they began having lunch together. And then dinner. And then, 11 months after the foursome first met, Gaffey proposed to Johnson, on Valentine’s Day 2013.
“We were purely in the right place at the right time. I have never believed in fate, but it does seem like it was meant to be,” Gaffey told the Daily Mail.
He and Johnson were married on Saturday.
Venice and Rodd led their happy pet parents down the aisle and served as ring bearers, according to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
“I have no doubt that our guide dogs brought us together and helped me find my true love,” Johnson told the association.
“Much like our two guide dogs, we really are best friends and soul mates.”