I was not planning to write this today. As a matter of fact I did not plan to write anything at all. (This may not even make the blog; I’ll leave that up to my editor, Lauri.) My career has been keeping me busy. That word, career, seems odd to me right there, to think of my paying job as a career, but in reality that’s what it is. I think about it when I’m home. I even have remote access and work at times after I’ve put in a full day in the office or on weekends. Officially I’m on-call 24/7, as an IT Engineer if you can believe that. Some days I can’t, but it’s true; that’s my official title. It turns out that having a job is a good thing. It really beats pushing 40 and not being able to provide for my family. Ask almost anyone, I’m not afraid of much, but the thought of not being able to provide for my family scares me to my core. I try not to hold that thought often, because what you resist persists. But I’m human and my ego or conscious mind, does get in the way at times. I’ve been stressing lately over what I know are insignificant life events mostly, not the least of which is my job. It’s not in jeopardy, just evolving.
I can hear it now, what’s your point? What does this have to do with Casper? Good questions, and as it turns out, it has everything to do with a service dog. Actually, it has everything to do with all of our companions, but especially a service dog. If any of you have been a dog handler or even caught an episode of a Caesar Milan show (pick one, he’s had more than one series) you know that what you emote travels down the lead. (Leave what you personally feel about his methods; he’s just someone that comes to mind for me.) I have known this simple fact since childhood but it always seems to come back for pleasant reminders.
The simple facts of life with dogs are amplified when that dog just happens to also be a tool that is there to assist you. In my case, he replaced a cane. Know this; I hate strongly dislike (hate is not part of my vocabulary), thinking of my lovable secret service Dane as tool, but that is one reason why he has come to me and my family. Truth be told, I don’t even like “service dog” as a label. To me, he and I have entered into an agreement to work together. He provides me a better life by assisting me with my stability issues, and in any other way he can. To me, by that definition he is simply: family. I strongly doubt I’d have an easy time getting him into buildings with patches on his service vest that read “Family Dog” “Do Not Pet”, so legally service dog it is.
Over the months that he has been a partner to me, he has shown me when I need to check my frustrations, worries or the like, at the proverbial door. I have found that he is a second barometer for my emotions. (Lauri is my first; there is no way for me to hide anything from her either.) **Editor’s Note: This is true. His first reaction when I ask, “What’s wrong?” is “Nothing. I’m fine.” Between you and me… that is a load of Dane Poop! Casper and I are always feeling the tension when he is stressed even when he does his best to act like he is doing fine. He is the King of Fine and that title is just rubbish.** When I’m happy, so is he. When I’m sad he is there leaning on me, literally, he leans on me! When I’m frustrated, mentally drained, or otherwise letting myself be a grouch he doesn’t respond to me in the ways I need him to as a service dog. I can’t even be in a hurry for him to “do his business” or he won’t. If I get upset, now things take as long as they take period, end of story. If I’m anywhere near angry, he will keep his distance. He never runs, just stays about three feet away and looks at me backing down until I can not only change my tone, but truly change my feelings behind the tone. Think about that for a moment…If you have a pet that you leave home you can walk out and leave him/her there. I cannot do this. We have a contract that we both refuse to break (the term dogged determination comes to mind). When we encounter a new environment I have to be calm and steady. If I’m not, neither is he. When he reacts to his surroundings differently and gets “spooked” he is not working for me.
This is really a reflection of the way I think we need to align our thinking. If we dwell on the apparent negative moments in life they will erode your well being and not allow you to enjoy the positive. Casper has given me an appreciation for that bumper sticker or meme we’ve all seen: DOG is GOOD. For me, Dog is great! Dog is unconditional love. Dog also shows me when I need an attitude adjustment. Maybe, he’s also showing me that even though I may be Alpha in his world, that doesn’t always mean I am a great leader. Maybe Danes are really life coaches on four paws? **Editors Note: I think this goes for most, if not all animals, but I also believe a service dog, when properly bonded to his/her handler is a guru. **
written by DFS
edited by LJS
Tagged: balance and stability, big dog, cerebral palsy, disability, disability awareness, dog, family, great dane, guru, human puppies, life coaching, mobility, mobility dogs, mood, positive thinking, service animals, service dane, service dog, service dog training