Just last week we had a co-worker ask we’ve never met in person ask about me. The question was “What’s he for, anyway?” It is a simple and decent question. Dad answered with the simplest and most distilled answer he can. He simply said he’s for stability. If there are no follow up questions he doesn’t provide any more commentary. I lifted my head with a tilt and gave him my best side-eye. The job is so much more complicated than stability. How about giving a Dane more credit than that? I know he does, but it’d be nice if he talked me up a bit more, right? I mean, I AM FAMOUS after all. I have countless fans all over! Dad said three words: humble, quiet, confidence; point taken. He explained later. It’s like when people ask what Dad does to earn the kibble and kennel money. Dad simply says he works with computers. He doesn’t go into details just to watch eyes glaze over and stare off to distant vacation memories.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. I’ve decided my job is a lot like Dad’s these days. When you start out working there is quite a bit to prove, you take your drive and show off a bit more just so everyone knows you belong and you’ve earned your stripes, or in my case my merle spots. As time goes on the credentials you used to display can be transformed into dependability. Dad says that it’s okay that I get to spend a little longer on the couch, or on my expensive dog bed, and I deserve it! Sure I miss going into the office every day and interacting with hundreds of people sometimes. Like Dad though there is value in being there to do a job at a moment’s notice. His job knows he’s reliable and willing to step up day or night to help them. He helped me realize I have the same deal with him and the family. I forgot, this one because I was technically working for Dad, but one of the human puppies needed us to take her to the hospital. It turned out the symptoms were nothing too serious but we needed to be sure. That night I was his Service Dog, as always, but I also took on extra tasks to make sure the pup was calmer too. Every time the nurses came in and pulled the curtain between her and Dad I put my head under so I could watch and make sure the care was top notch. There was even a time where I received one of the highest service compliments. Two nurses came in rolling a beeping box with wand thingers on it. They were there for a bit, and one of them had a double take moment on the way out, and said I was amazing because she had no idea I was even there!
Most days when we’re home I don’t have to work hard, but I am always available. Some days it’s just to get Dad and his morning coffee to the couch without spilling. Other days, like today, when I wouldn’t normally need to help Dad called. I “came around” to his left and helped him out of a spot when he “locked up” (That’s what he calls it when his brain over thinks how to balance when he has something he’s carrying and he has to stop and stand still until he can move again.) with a sandwich and a drink in his hand. There are other times where I could stay home but we go out together even when we’re not getting out of the car. Dad just feels better knowing I’m with him even if it’s as simple as his hand on my shoulders and my side against his hip to get him to the car. If he falls I’m there to brace so he has something more than a stick to lean on. I’ve seen him fall with a cane, he throws it out of his way, and then he’d crawl to it, even in the rain, like today. There’s no need to crawl for me. How do you explain this to people so they understand what a Service Dog does? Even if I had their ear for that long, they’d probably think of an emotional support peacock on a plane, or wonder why we had so much to say about an off-leash pet in a big box hardware store; yes it happened!
I don’t need everyone to understand. Dad does and that’s enough for me to be humble, quiet and confident. Stability can mean so much more than what you think.