Chaos loomed large inside so, for the first time since Thomas came home, I left him out on his own. Translated: The Service Dog Project mama-to-be is enormous — 37 pounds more than her usual weight of 140. Her name is Chaos. At this farm full of fabulous Great Danes, a fence surrounds the many acres where they can get exercise and supervised play. Up at the main house, they can get treats, pets, naps and supervised mingling with their canine and human friends. But for now, the house belongs to Chaos. The other Danes are not to disturb her for she has an important job: She ‘s due any moment. I enjoyed the pleasure of laying my hand on her head and stroking her down each round in her belly. Her breath heavy, I watched her eyes drift closed. If I’m lucky, I’ll be on hand to witness those […]
Outing #2: Yoga Class How We Did: Sir Thomas, a natural yogi, got into a down-dog pose before class started. He found it difficult to relax into savasana, though. He popped up a few times from his down-stay. I realized that he was listening to me as I guided the class through poses, my voice the same tone as when I cue his commands. He couldn’t rest easy because he kept waiting for a word he knew. I hadn’t anticpated his focus on my voice; he hadn’t experienced being in a down-stay with a string of unfamiliar words. What I Learned: Bring a chew toy not only to keep him busy but to emphasize that during class, he’s on call not on active duty. Pleasant Surprise: He’s a quick learner: By the end of the week I was teaching my third class with Tommy in attendance. He fell sound asleep. […]
I was not a wedding planner as a girl. The date the marriage began, I figured, was not the end of a fairy tale we’d live Happily Ever After. It seemed more of a beginning where the reality of quirks and habits and miscommunication meant we’d agree to ‘Hard Work Hereafter.’ Now that Sir Thomas is home, our work is beginning. I’m discovering that, like with a marriage, with each adventure we gain a little understanding, become better partners. The yogi in me is keeping me from judging our actions and letting them be what they are, including added bits of insight and humor. Outing #1: The dentist (exciting, I realize…but, even though pictures of service dogs and their handlers often show them at restaurants, the reality is we more often have mundane errands and appointments). How we did: ST performed admirably. He had to squeeze into a tight spot […]
My sister stayed with my husband and me for the first week after we brought home our son. She helped ease us into our new life of overwhelming responsibility. Ten years later, I’m feeling that way again. I recognize that same wide-eyed focus, that obsession with what-does-this-new-being-under-my-roof need? All other responsibility fades. Emails go unread, news occurs whether I read about it or not, meals get skipped. This time, I’m on my own this time with a 125-pound new arrival. Similarities exist between a little baby in the house and big baby in the house: – The ‘baby’ and I check on each others’ whereabouts 24/7 He keeps an eye on me for security, I for him for safety. – A fully stocked bag travels with us. The size of a diaper bag, I keep it filled with a fold-up mat (for him to lie on during long down-stays, especially at […]
Dear Carlene, I’ve been enjoying the reports of the December calendar shot. I can picture the sleigh and eight Dane deer, Santa off-screen voicing her commands. To me, the scene sums up what the Service Dog project is all about. Danes, yes. Teamwork, yes. But beyond all the skilled trainers and trainees lies a bigger story. The real story of Rudolph. As a kid, Rudolph topped my list of TV Christmas specials, second only to the Grinch. Frosty had no real issues and the Peanuts gang aaw-shucked their way through life – not very realistic. But, despite the sometimes disturbing claymation expressions, I could relate to Rudolph. He was different. As an adult, however, the TV special has lost its ranking. Rudolph was different. So diifferent that others laughed and called him names. In fact, they bullied him. At one point, even Santa asked him to tone down that unfortunate […]
Welcome home, that is! Sir Thomas has been home for 24 hours. We haven’t finished the training yet. We’ll simply commute in to class now that Tommy is in his off-campus housing. The photos say so much. I’ll fill in the details when the fur settles.
I attended my grade school reunion last night. Interesting how this get-together reminiscing about old times marks a new time for me: This is my last unaccompanied trip. It ends up that, but for visiting with two dear friends — my best-of-best pals all through those years of wandering the instututional-green hallways — the event paled. On the plus side, the void gave me room to continue the thought chain that started linking together back at the start of my trip: How would my service dog fit into this travel scene? To the Airport: As I boarded the bus, a comfortable and convenient means to the airport, I determined that we’d need to climb the steps up single-file. Hmmm, who goes first? If I do, I can select a seat, but I can’t watch that he’s with me and not scarfing muffins from people’s laps. No, he goes first and I need to […]
Big Day: Tommy came over for a visit to meet Elsie and check out his future house and yard. He sniffed, sniffed some more. Big Hit: Elsie refrained from her usual Nice-To-Meet-You barking-while-running-in-increasingly-tighter-and-tighter circles. He strolled into the yard in a calm fashion, unfazed by the size of her visitor. Much sniffing ensued. Big Dog: Thought I was getting used to the Great Dane size. Apparently not as I heard a little gasp escape from my throat when Sir Thomas stepped into the dining room and rested his chin on the table before sniffing in all those food smells. Big Hugs: Having Thomas in my home made it that much tougher to take him back to his doggie digs. I was sniffling as I drove away.
Who can forget a first kiss? My very first: fifteen, at the beach. First with my husband: second date. First of a college roommate’s: she threw up on his shoes. Each memorable. Each pivotal as well, marking a turning point in the relationship. When Sir Thomas leaned in for a surprisingly delicate and unslobbery show of affection, I knew I wanted more time with him. He’ll soon be coming home with me. But not as insta-service dog, all programmed to my every need. No, like with any strong partnership, we’ll need time to begin the dance of making room for one other, disrupting routines that reveal our charming as well as annoying quirks. And just as best friends and lasting marriages, we’ll gracefully step around toes and occasionally trip over feet. I’m sure we’ll face things we’ll need to work out. I can’t predict what they’ll all be. I’m pretty certain […]