Be My Valentine, Vote No
February 14, 2018

It’s Time

    Sir Thomas greets each morning with a romp and rip through the yard, his tail high and happy. Dinner continues to be met with a lot of wagging. As does breakfast. As does snack time. As does the opening of the plastic container with leftover ham in it.

Recently, however, by day’s end, the spring in Tommy’s step has sprung. Late  afternoon, he’ll saunter up beside me and I notice that I have to slow my pace to his. It might just be that my mighty boy is telling me he’s getting tired.

Perhaps that’s what the ‘tire’ in retirement means. The word conjures up images of golf clubs, very white sneakers and dinner reservations by 5:00 pm. The actual definition is retreat, withdraw, leave service. So, when should a service dog leave service?

Google the question and hundreds of varying recommendations appear on screen, none of which derive from any standard Canine Resources Manual. A part of me wishes that a mandate—or, rather, dogdate—existed. Surely there’s a formula to factor when our four-legged partners are due their gold watch and bottle of aftershave.

I think I already know Tommy’s dogdate. It’s not something I looked up. I found the answer by looking at Sir Thomas. His head seems just a little heavier while in the checkout line, the floor a bit slipperier.

It’s time for him to get out of bed when he wants to, not when I need him to. No more tolerating toddlers with sticky hands, strangers who stick their hands on him and family members at home who’ve been following the hands-off rule while he was working. Best of all, his Retirement Home is right here at home.

How fortunate am I that he remains one of the pack. How extremely fortunate I am that, like me, he adores my husband. Our transition can be more gradual than sudden, just as all our shifts always have, starting with when he first came home. We all shimmied to one side or the other a bit as we got to know each other, worked out the quirks. The shifts continued for about a year as we encountered our first time to a concert, the first airplane ride and airport experience, the first friend’s home with a cat, the first doctor who wouldn’t stop petting him. And even after those settled into a regular rhythm, there were the ever-changing symptoms of a degenerative disease that required continuous shifts in training.

And while logic and synchronicity have played out more smoothly than I could have asked the universe to provide, I have been intermittently sobbing for the past fourteen months. To retreat, withdraw, don super white sneakers is a life-changer choice that I and any handler must face for ourselves and for our partners. For fourteen months, a pup has been growing and training and preparing to be my next service dog. For those fourteen months, I’ve been delighted and in puppy love. I’ve been dedicated and forever in Sir love, too. As Brycen learns the nuances of balance, Tommy steps in practiced sync. For one to take over means the other is taking his vest off.

Through the tears, I see them both, listen even though the drops drip into my ears. Tommy told me he’s tired. Brycen has told his trainer he’s ready for his human. In June, I’ll bring the new guy home. Meanwhile, I need to let Tommy know that I heard him, that it’ll be okay, that I’ll be okay. Yes, it’s okay for you to retire. And Brycen, I’m ready for our journey, too. How fortunate am I? You two dogs don’t split my love, you multiply it.

 

16 Comments

  1. Diane says:

    Wow, the end of an era. So hard to believe. So glad he can stay with his family. All my love to you and the new pup.
    diane

  2. Billie says:

    Oh Renee! How beautifully written! Hard to read through tears, but well worth it.

  3. janet says:

    Aw, Renee,
    Bittersweet, I guess.

  4. Pam says:

    Beautiful… and bittersweet…and happy… and sad

  5. Nancy Hirsch says:

    I wish you great success with your new service dog. To Sir Thomas: Job well done! Enjoy your retirement you handsome boy.

  6. Colleen says:

    Bitter sweet Renee sir Thomas is a great dog and has a great mom who knows him so well, hope you both have a easy transition, always nice to see him on Facebook ❤️

  7. AJay NY says:

    A lovey tribute to an incredible force of nature. Enjoy your retirement and your golden years sweet boy, you’ve earned them. Welcome to the family Brycen!

  8. Susan Hutchinson says:

    You, Sir Thomas, Lynne & Willow were kind enough to meet me at a Mall when I first became interested in SDP and the life changing ability of a Dane as a SD. I thank you for your time and kindness and continue to use the pamphlets the two of you published. The insight you provide has helped me to do my tiny part in educating whenever the opportunity arises. I learned a lot that day.through your words but even more by watching the interaction between dog and partner. Both of you had different ways of communicating with your partners to achieve what worked best for all 4 of you. The love and respect shown is not taught—it is comes from a bond only ;you can truly know. Thank you again for changing a small part of my life and feeding my passion. My wish for you is many more years with Sir Thomas at your side enjoying his loving retirement home and a young whipper-snapper for Sir to watch over as you develop a different special bond once again.
    My Luke Crumb FF PP reminds me a lot of Sir Thomas as it should be since Bumpy is also his Father. My Zeus is 8 this Aug. and I see in him the very things you see in Sir Thomas.. The love changes for our older boys–it deepens in a different way. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt words. Walk on in your new partnership with eve more love in your life.

  9. kbtz-AZ Sharon says:

    In one respect so sad, the end of service but another door opens and now life for Sir Thomas will be the same in some respects yet different. Prayers for a smooth transition for all.
    Thank you, Renee, for keeping those of us who have followed your journey via SDP up to date on your journey w/Sir Thomas.

  10. Karen says:

    Sir Thomas…THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE….you earned a gold star in my book! Renee….I hope the transition isn’t too difficult for you. In no time I bet you and Brycen will be the fine oiled machine that you and Sir Thomas are.

  11. Sharon Halter says:

    Beautiful and priceless

  12. Mary McManus says:

    “Such a good boy” ❤️❤️🐾🐾

  13. Jody says:

    Renee, I was fortunate enough to have met both you and Sir Thomas at SDP as you were overseeing the installation of your wonderful art piece that graces the laundry building. I learned much from your videos and the Q&A that you and Lynn did a couple of years back. Sir Thomas has served you well and the bond you have is undeniable. As you two face yet another shift, I know it will be handled with grace, peace and laughter. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with us all.

  14. How beautifully written. Sir Thomas is entitled to his retirement and how wonderful he can be with you to have that and you can have the help of another sweet Dane to help you thru your needs! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Barbara says:

    Sir Thomas – well done good and faithful servant.

  16. Aurore Groult says:

    Such a beautiful relationship, wishing Sit Thomas the best – he should be very proud of himself!

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