Tag Archives: service animals

Being Awesome (as usual)

Hi friends –

I’m sure we’ve shared this somewhere along the way, so forgive me if I repeat myself. I’m a Dane of habit and I like my routine, well…any routine. This goes for just about everything from my meals to my butt scratches and back rubs while I sit on Dad’s lap. Yes, I get lap sits just like the cats. (Formerly “basement monsters”) I AM still a Widdle and I figure I can milk the puppy thing until I’m at least five or six. (You should see what the human puppies get away with!) This routine even extends to rides in the car. Now that Dad and I are starting to figure out our new environment the DPS (Dane Positioning System) is back in effect. For all of you who don’t know what this is; well, it’s where I decide I know where the car is supposed to be going and when I see we’ve taken the wrong road I pop up and get my face as close to the windshield as possible.

The DPS was in effect earlier this week when we passed right by a turn for Lily’s school and went to a brand new building. I insisted that Dad took a wrong turn. I even left a puddle of drool on the center console. Nuthin’? Alright, I guess we’re doing something new… AGAIN! I asked what we were doing here. Dad said that we were at the dentist’s office. I didn’t think I needed to go in so I smiled big and asked if I had something in my teeth. He said I could relax; the visit was for him, not me.

We entered the office and were handed a packet of paperwork. Everyone at the office was really nice and respectful of our space. I think Momma might have tipped them off because she’d been there weeks before to get an ache fixed. Either way, good work. As we were called back we noticed Blue lady (the hygienist in her blue scrubs) looking back at us as we made our way down the hall like we may not make it under our own power, but figured it was just the fact that I make a service vest look amazing! As we entered, I noticed the chair prominently in the center of the space. The first assessment is, which side do I take to get us both around everything safely? I take the left side while Dad is busy deciding where to place my fluffy so that I can relax and be out of the way. He places my fluffy in the far right corner and is ready to ask me for a down-stay. Easy ‘nuff. While we are handling our business we can’t help but to be amused by the Blue Lady. The poor girl was so sweet, as they say in the South, Bless her heart. She was describing where the chair was in the room with relation to Dad. We quickly figured that she thought I was a sight dog and Dad has vision impairment. (Too funny to call her on and no need to embarrass our new friend, especially since she would soon have sharp things in Dad’s mouth. Pick your battles people, that’s all I’m sayin’.)

We both get settled down after a few minutes. I don’t drift off though; we are not on my couch with a stuffie. I had my eye on her. She opened up the box on the wall to pull out a robot arm (X-RAY machine). Then she put a big blanket on Dad’s lap and stuffed things in his mouth. I couldn’t help but think that Mom might like some of those to shut him up sometimes. Blue Lady then points it right at his face and repeats several times moving the mouth thing each time and talking to Dad. It seemed like some interrogation tactic to me, but Dad must have done OK because she put the robot away. Blue Lady calls in Blue Man and they both look at his mouth and Blue Man leaves. I got nervous again. She apparently didn’t know what to do. (I asked later, dad said that Blue Man was the dentist, and he said that once the deep cleaning was done Dad was in great shape otherwise. What a relief, not even a cavity.)  Blue Lady carried on, first with a needle to numb his gums and then with the tiny pressure washer, man was that annoying, it was a very high pitch. (Editor’s Note: This was a scaling so it was much more in depth than a regular cleaning.) I did get worried about him a few times, so I got up to check on him. When he could he would verbally assure me and request I return to my fluffy, which, of course, I did. There were a couple times though that he was “orally occupied” and overly reclined when I felt the need to get a closer look. When this happened dad put either his right or left hand out, depending on the side I chose for approach. Dad allowed me to gently touch his hand with my nose, so that I could make contact and really be sure he was alright. Then he would snap, point to my fluffy and then point his finger to the floor with purpose. Being a smart boy, I knew that meant for me to resume my down-stay.* (See, Miss Maria I always listen to him in public – when Mom isn’t there…) Finally we were done with the area she set out to clean. Blue Lady then asked if we wanted to continue or pick up later. Considering all the extra steps of a first visit, Dad asked if we could just go home. She agreed. I think she wanted to go home too since it was late afternoon.

We allowed those that asked early in our visit a chance to pet me in the waiting room so that I wouldn’t get confused between work and greeting time. On the drive home Dad apologized for the noise and said he didn’t know what to expect, but we’d bring my Mutt Muffs for future visits.

*Editor’s Note: This is long one so I am adding it way down here. We all know that Casper is amazing but sometimes he even amazes us. When Casper first came home with us we had an issue with down-stay at home. In public he was great, but while we ate dinner at home he wanted to get up and sniff what we had. We started emphatically pointing to the ground when we told him down and that worked. When he was being really stubborn we just added a point and Voila! Eventually we found that in public it worked to just point when we either couldn’t speak, like in this case, or are in an area where we shouldn’t speak, like church or a play. It works! Of course we still use a vocal command often because there are times when our hands are occupied. He has both down pat. 
I was worried about how he would handle Dan’s cleaning and thought he might end up having to come back home and stay with me next time. Nope. He was a pro as you can see. I was super impressed and I wasn’t even there to see it. 

One Year Later…

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.