Strangers often ask me that question, as though Sir Thomas’ harness is akin to a cubicle. If by ‘just a dog,’ they mean romping and napping and snacking on treats, look at the shine in his coat and the spring in his step for the answer.
If by ‘just a dog,’ they mean snoring the night away in a snuggie bed in the same room with his human, most certainly.
Each night, I tuck Sir Thomas into his bed, his favorite fluffies under and around him, and I whisper, Thank You. I want him to know that not only was he a Good Boy all day – he’s such a good boy – but also that I appreciate what he does.
On one hand, I expect him to do his job and do it well. He’s not ‘just a dog,’ he’s a service dog. He was raised and trained to perform the tasks he does. I remind him what a good boy he is every time he steps in to help me.
My end-of-day gratitude reaches beyond the job at hand, though, the way a beam of sun lights up more than a spot on the carpet. I tuck him in wanting him to know about all the places he warms me and brightens my life. Last night, following an especially shining performance, I sang him goodnight in my off-key way, borrowing from “To Sir with Love:”
… how do you thank a dog
Who has taken you step by step across the room?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try
If you wanted the sky
I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high
To Sir, with love
If you wanted the moon
I would try to make a star
But I, would rather you let me give my heart
To Sir, with love.
Just a dog? I think not.