It has been one year today since I officially became a recipient of a service dog. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I remember forcing myself awake after spending the night in the guest cabin of the farm. I slept on a couch the entire night with a Great Dane, so I really didn’t sleep at all. I was waiting semi-patiently to go out on another training session with Casper and Megan or Maria (SDP’s resident trainers), possibly all of us together. Really any combination would do in my mind as long as I could prove that I was a worthy handler of this amazing dog. I knew there was a lot going on in the main house and I was only granted limited access because they had a brand new litter of would be service pups. Casper and I wandered the farm, chatted with volunteers, and relaxed on the aforementioned couch. I knew Casper and I were bonded when I went to move my truck from the lower parking area to a spot next to the cabin and he jumped in the cab to ride with me. Later that same day a bed that had been donated to SDP needed to be picked up, it wouldn’t fit in my Ranger so I moved my truck once again, so the full size truck with the bed could get close to the door of the cabin. Once again, Casper jumped in for the 40 foot ride. This time, Megan saw him hitch a ride and asked if he did that on his own. When I said he did, we had a laugh and then she said, “If he wants to go for a ride, take him for a ride and see how he does with you.” I did just that, just a quick few miles, and back to the farm. There wasn’t much time past, maybe enough to get back into the cabin when Megan entered and told me “take your boy home!” I remember it took me a moment to process this statement, breaking it down in my head like an algebraic equation, and then leaving as quickly as I could before someone changed their mind. I was so stunned I didn’t even pause to use the bathroom, and I really had to go! I stopped before the highway to let Lauri know we were coming home and held my bladder to the nearest rest stop.
Every day since I have been so proud to have Casper as my partner, neigh, a member of the family. He has been a helper, a friend, a set of shoulders for me to lean on in every since of the phrase, a teacher, and so much more. Taking a service dog everywhere you go is not always easy. There are times of compromise and frustration, and of joy and elation. There has been exponentially more awesome than suck. He has had so many positive effects on my life, as well as that of Lauri and the girls that I can’t imagine my life without Casper. He walks my path, our path. We are so very thankful for what he has brought to us. I could go on and on but tonight fewer words are needed. So I will leave it at these and say Thank you Casper, I love you with all my heart.
Hi Friends –
This past week was a good one. Dad had what many consider a milestone in his life, he turned 40 years old. Mom told just about everyone we met about it and everyone seemed shocked that he is that old. Dad thinks Mom just told everyone ahead of time so they could all act shocked at the news to make him feel good. (Shhh, Dad’s kinda haggard you guys. Why else would he need me? (Barking out loud!)) Since we all had to work on Friday, the day of his birth, Mom and I decided that Dad should have a “birthday weekend.” We started on Friday night by waiting for Mom to come home and then going out to a special dinner. We drove almost an hour to get down to Stonington, CT but it was worth it you guys. The food smelled delicious and Dad even knew the owners, and of course they loved me! Zack and Lynn are the best you guys. If you are ever close by you HAVE TO go to Zack’s Bar & Grille and tell them that Casper the Dane sent you. You will not be disappointed.
Dad’s nerves were a bit tested by the drive home because it seemed like a long drive back considering that it was raining just enough to make the roads slick. There was also the combination of either no street lights or old lights that are just bright enough to throw up a glare off wet asphalt and hide all the new spring potholes then provide no aid to driving at all. Add on other drivers who went to the extremes of either forgetting they were in driver’s seat of a moving modern vehicle on a major highway, driving like they had a Stanley Steam car or thinking that they had a Porsche 924 Carrera GTR at Lime Rock Park and you get some idea of how much fun that was.
We didn’t go right to bed when we got home though because Mom had a gift for Dad. The gift really surprised him because it was something that he mentioned in passing a couple times but only recently began giving it any thought. On top of that he said it was only really on his mind because Mom said one of the human puppies might be interested. Mom bought him his very own acoustic/electric guitar! It is a very handsome Washburn and he’s quite excited about it! He had told her before how when he was about the age of the human puppies his parents bought him a ¾ acoustic but he got frustrated and never went back to it for his own reasons. In recent years Dad has adopted this “point of view” you may have picked up on this blog when we say that nothing is impossible and the word “can’t” has been stricken from the acceptable vocabulary of our kennel. With this view in mind, it will take some practice but Dad will be able to play the guitar. I can tell you this with confidence because Dad bought a road recumbent tadpole bike a few years ago just because he always wanted to ride and couldn’t balance a traditional 2-wheel bike. (For the record, he did learn to ride and had a blast. If anyone is in the market it’s for sale now and really nice.) Mom bought him a few extra’s too, one of them being a book to start with. He read several pages but with Lucy (the very old basement monster) on his lap he left the guitar in its case. The next day he picked up the guitar and started a lesson. I’m not sure what he learned about the guitar but what he did learn is that I’m skeptical. I backed away as if it had sharp teeth and a dominant presence. I sat halfway up the stairs just peeking around the wall at that thing. Mom and Dad both laughed, so I guess I’ll just have to get used to this thing.
Let me move on to Sunday; this is the day that I had the most fun. The sun came out and the breezes fell off a bit so we joked how we should stay inside, clean and do chores. My pack is really funny, ya know? So we loaded up, went out to breakfast and then talked about what to do for the day. We have priorities people and that is caffeine. After a good breakfast at our favorite place we decided on a drive up to the Berkshires. It’s a really nice area that we’d like to investigate more. By the time we got there Dad was hungry so we stopped at Sullivan Station Restaurant in Lee, MA. It is a really nice converted train station with good food. Mom and Dad kept a close eye when a guitar player came out to entertain us. When I didn’t react at all Mom concluded that I was OK with the sound of GOOD playing and Dad’s playing was the problem. She couldn’t wait to tip the guitarist and share the story. From there we went to October Mountain State Forest, where we found an open area where I could run really fast and play in a small brook. Dad was really happy to see my puppy smile; it was great fun and I’m sure Mom posted the pictures the puparazzi took for you to see on-line. We loaded up again and took a trip over to the Lee Outlets find to Brooks Brothers and get some sweet deals. I know it’s a pricey, and well worth it, label but being at an outlet and adding in Mom’s employee discount my pack can now look as sharp as a Dane.
The weekend was really fun and Dad was happy that I had a chance to run and play. I slept really well and everyone told me that I’m a good boy. I know that, but it’s always nice to hear.