Tag Archives: service dog project

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.

SDP, Again! (Finally)

Hi Friends –

I have to take a few minutes and tell you all about yesterday. Mom & Dad got up and Dad asked what Mom wanted to do for the day. Mom said we could stay home since Dad’s back has been a bit stiff and she doesn’t like the way he’d been moving. Dad grinned and said: I’m fine. (Mom says Dad is the King of Fine.) Mom asked about the weather forecast; Dad said, mostly clear but only in the low 30’s. It only took a couple of minutes to decide that we were going to see our SDP family. I don’t know how long it has been since our last trip up. I do know that the last time we were there my friend Tony was probably weeks old and behind the puppy gates, now he is doing overnights as part of his social training. (…and it feels like forever.) I can tell you this for sure, nothing lights a fire under the human puppies like yelling, “Hey kids, come up and get dressed, we’re going to see the dogs!” Before we hit the highway we did stop and try to get the girls some foul weather boots because Dad says they are growing like a Dane and they seem to outgrow things weekly, especially the eldest. (She can fit in some of Momma’s shoes now!) We didn’t have any luck so we asked that they not aim for the puddles. I don’t know why. I think that is the best part! (huuhmf… humans).

We hit the road with the required stop at Dunkin’ for coffee. (Have I mentioned Dad runs on Dunkin’?) With the typical traffic caused by the questionable merging skills of most drivers, Dad getting frustrated, Mom pointing it out, and then calming him with a look (she has that effect on him, it’s kinda funny), we were off. The trip up was rather uneventful except for the fact that Dad unknowingly missed his exit and landing us in Boston for a trip past Fenway Park, through a couple of tunnels and over an amazing cable stayed bridge (the Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge). Mom turned on the GPS to get us the fastest route and Dad took his mistake in stride and when questioned by the human puppies he told them that doing the same thing all the time was boring. (I was proud; what in the past would have turned him to ranting, he had fun with and enjoyed the detour.) Mom also mentioned that we should come back later in the spring and check out the Freedom Trail. Dad and I thought that this sounds like fun! Long walks outside and history, what’s not to like for a pack like mine?  Ghahh, geeks, whaddya gonna do?

We finally made it Ipswich and Dad rolled down my window so could throw my head out and sniff the way. Once we got to the farm I could hardly contain myself. I always feel like a puppy when I’m surrounded by my extended pack and can run free. It really was a chilly day so we found the humans all in the main house. Dad knew that there could be all sorts inside so we entered cautiously by asking if we could all come in. (There is always a possibility of conflict so Dad and I would have gladly stayed outside and played.) As it turned out, when Mom asked “Can Casper come in?” everyone was so happy to see me that I got so many pets and kind comments that I felt like a star.Carlene lit up and even gave me a hug! That was great! I’m sure my tail wagged for an hour straight. Dad went over and talked to Miss Carlene, and when she complimented both of us I could tell he was proud. Dad thinks very highly of her and her approval is important to him. (He told Mom on the way home that those two minutes made the entire drive worth it for him.) I knew he was doing just fine so I went on to play with my young brothers and sisters.  I didn’t know this, but we also got to celebrate Miss Maria’s Birthday! Of course, I gave my piece of cake to Dad; it was a fudge chocolate layer cake so I couldn’t have any but he did give me a sniff. (He’s cool like that.) Happy Birthday, Miss Maria!

When we felt like we had enough of the house we headed outside and down to the barn. I had to say hello to Clementine and meet Tangerine, the resident donkeys. Mom and Dad fed them apples and gave out pets. I was preoccupied with the training that was going on in the arena, so I was locked out until Dad could pay attention to me. We watched for a break in the session and I asked Dad if we could join. I felt like a couple of examples may help them. Dad said we could, but I needed to be on lead. I was happy to, so we leashed up and kept our distance by trying some of the agility setups. That was easy kibble. Soon after we approached the training group and I showed them some smooth moves like how not to pull on lead and how to stay attached to my handler on a slow walk. I also showed them how to stay still during moments when it is easier to be distracted and play. Dad made a joke and said I was so good I should be a service dog.

Not too long after this I went with Mom back up to the house to say our farewells while Dad visited the wash room and moved the truck up to the top of the hill. I was off lead and really listened well to Mom. If I saw someone I wanted to see she said to stay and I did! (Sometimes I don’t listen to her as well as I do to Dad.) As we came around the house I saw our truck and wanted to run down to see Dad, but he was still parking and someone else was in the driveway so I stayed with Mom until she told me to go get ‘em. I happily ran down the hill straight to him, gave him a once over to sure he was in good shape and we loaded up for the trip home. We did stop for some dinner at a local restaurant. As our server came to the table she told us how happy she was to be serving my family; she thought I was handsome.  Dad quickly shared our card and we told her how she could volunteer at SDP. She seemed real excited about the whole subject so I hope she does gift some of her time to the pups. I know the future recipients will appreciate it just the same as we do. After the family ate Dad fed me in the truck, holding my bowls of course. We hit the road soon after and everyone napped on the way home. (Except for Dad, I hope, since he drove) It was such a good day that the human puppies took their baths and asked to go to bed early! I don’t think there is a pack leader in the universe that would deny that request.