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.
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
Sir Thomas and Elsie are getting along better than I could’ve imagined. They read each other not only instinctively but with particular care. Play time happens only when they both want to race around the yard. One tests the other or, somehow, even before posing in the forelegged puppy bow, they communicate. Elsie seems to appreciate that he bounds over her and doesn’t barrel into her. Post-playtime, when she wants to lie in her bed (the one with her name on it, of course), she’ll appreciate it when he really learns to read.
Sir Thomas’s brother lives with a twelve-year-old girl and her family. He goes to school with her, both of them navigating the hallways of lockers, onlookers and, unfortunately, jokers. This girl’s story of life with her service dog winds its way around my heart not only because our dogs are related. In some ways, our stories are, too. When blood vessels burst inside my skull, I was twelve-years old. My left side stopped moving and I spent a third of the seventh grade undergoing brain surgery, relearning how to walk and sleeping in the den (my room was on the second floor and managing stairs didn’t happen for a while). Each night, I willed back at least some of my long hair. A shaved head might have been cool to my classmates. The U-shaped scar left over from the surgery, however, looked like a trap door to my gray matter. It was […]