Hi Friends –
I wasn’t planning on following up Mom’s PSA Monday post but there seems to be popular demand. There is also a point of view that I’d like to acknowledge.
There seems to be some concern on both sides of the argument over where I spend my time with my family. I am here to say first, Thank You. The mere fact that any of you have taken time to either agree or disagree with us in writing means that we are reaching readers and causing them to feel strongly one way or another and this is wonderful. You’ve heard Mom and Dad say how narcissistic this blog feels at times. Often one reason it feels that way because many of the responses we get to posts are positive and one sided. Don’t get me wrong I love to hear how wonderful I’m doing with Dad and how much everyone loves me, but there are times Mom and Dad need to know that people do not agree with them. We all appreciate opposing viewpoints, so don’t be afraid to speak up. I like to hear everyone. Mom and Dad may not agree with me here for their own reasons, and that’s OK too.
Some of you may know that many still consider me TOO young to be a service dog. I appreciate that point of view. What some may not know is that my experience is different than many. You see, I was not raised the same as many service dogs. Several service groups, especially the ones we’re used to in the Northeast, use what is known as “puppy raisers.” These volunteers take home pups that are about eight weeks old and raise them until they are 14 to 16 months old. During that time they do participate in training and socialization activities, but their formal training does not begin until that 14 to 16 month old milestone. In my case I was born, raised and trained on the same farm. My training started as soon as I began weening from my birth mother. It is a very intense program. Dad says it’s much like how he received his early education, at a technical high school, where you are held to a very high standard and essentially must learn your job alongside the standard growth and socialization of a “normal” high school. It is very intense but for some of us that is what we need to allow us to thrive. Others may chose a more traditional route of high school then college and that isn’t wrong either, just a different path. So, when you say I’m not ready I thank you, but respectfully disagree. I have, in fact, graduated my program and do have my service dog registration numbers and diploma to prove it. This does not mean that I don’t have room to grow; I do. Does this mean that when you get your first job you don’t continue to learn and grow, or are you expected to know all the intricacies of your environment? My guess would be you are given the freedom to learn as you go. That being said, let’s move on to this past weekend and my perspective.
Many of our dear readers know that we love Salem, Massachusetts. We love the small New England town feel of it (even if you have to look for it at times) and we love Halloween so this is “one stop shopping” for Dad. Dad has been there in October several times and he loves the craziness that descends on the town. You may not be aware that my Dad is the king of OK, (…it’s a rubbish title) and he has decided that failure is not something to be afraid of. He says he tried that in the past and it brought too much fear along with it. I don’t know if that makes me fortunate or not, but it is now a fact of my life. Mom and Dad knew what we were in for when we made the plan to go there. We did not count on the number of people present, but we think it’s great that either the economy is getting better or more people need to escape for awhile. What this did was provide training opportunities for all of us. There is no way for us to know that drums, bagpipes, rushing crowds, barking dogs or kids with balls throws me off my game a bit if I never experience them. Learning this would never happen if we just went to Dad’s office and stayed home all the time on the weekend. If this is all we did I’d be bored and so would Dad. History has taught us that the more opportunities I have to learn the better I am the next time in a similar situation. Dad may not be a perfect trainer but he is willing to try and fail, so that we can succeed in the future. As long as he is willing to take me out I am proud to stand by his side.
There will likely always be people who say that I’m not trained well enough to be in a certain place at a certain time (Editor’s Note: As a mom I feel I am allowed to say this, but most children are not trained well enough to be at certain places either, including our own sometimes, but that doesn’t stop parents from taking them!!) but Dad says it’s like learning to ride a bike, or drive a car, success may not come the first time or the fiftieth, but it will come. Please remember: if you believe you can’t, then you’re right. What happened the first time you thought you couldn’t and you did? I hope you learned that maybe you need to change your mind and decide that instead, you can say: “I haven’t yet” rather than “I can’t.” I am as determined as my family to be a role model and if this means your first impression is that I’m not perfect then I invite you to see where I am this time next time next year. I challenge you all to be better next year than you are today. I will be.
written by DFS
Tagged: balance and stability, cerebral palsy, dane, disability, disability awareness, dog, great dane, leash, mobility, mobility dogs, puppy, sdp, service animals, service dane, service dog, service dog project, service dog training, training