I’m popular wherever I go. But wherever I go, I’m not alone. My handler, Christy, always has her hand on my leash, making sure I don’t wander away from her side. I would never wander. I’m so attached to Christy that while at home, if I’m sleeping in the same room with her and she gets up to leave, it isn’t long after that I go looking for her.
I go everywhere with Christy. One thing always happens when we go into public places. People talk to me as if Christy weren’t even there! It’s like she’s invisible.
I’m a service dog and we are not to be bothered by anyone while we are working. Working means I am wearing my jacket and I’m attached to a leash from my handler’s hand.
No one should acknowledge me while I’m on duty. But they do. People call out to me things like, “Hello puppy,” “good doggy,” and my favorite, “Hello beautiful,” to which Christy responds, “Thank you.”
Christy’s response usually gets the person’s attention, and she can tell them I’m working and should not be bothered, or to always ask before you reach out to pet a service dog. But for some reason, people continue to ignore the fact I’m not walking my person, my person is walking me.
Or maybe Christy has invisibility as her superpower and hasn’t told me yet?
In any case, please acknowledge the handler before the service dog. They are not invisible.
I grew up around Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. Every night the fireworks blast away. I got so used to it, I never gave them a second thought.
In fact, my mom brought me to Disneyland (before COVID), where I experienced loud music, huge fireworks booming in the sky, crowds of people pressing in on me and a light show flashing around us. All of this craziness going on and it didn’t bother me. Magic even happened when it snowed on Main Street! I tried to catch the flakes on my tongue, but they didn’t taste good at all.
However, I’ve been with Christy four years and lived away from that noisy scene. I’d forgotten about all the bangs and rumbles.
New Year’s Eve 2020, we were visiting Auntie Cindy. She lives down the street from Knott’s Berry Farm. Although it was closed due to COVID and there would not be fireworks, Orange County still allows people to use fireworks and an hour before midnight, the loud noises started.
BANG! I cowered in the corner.
Mommy did everything she could to console me for three hours as random booms, sizzles and light flashes happened around the neighborhood. Mom held me, petted me, and put cotton in my ears, yet I still trembled. It was around 3 a.m. when we finally fell asleep.
Mommy’s heart was breaking, but she has a plan if there is a next time with loud bangs and flashes. I’m thankful it doesn’t include wearing any of this weird stuff I’m wearing in the photo.
If you have a fur-person in your family, make sure you have a plan set up for loud celebration times to keep them calm.
A year ago, we flew to Orange County to visit my auntie Cindy. The flight is a little over an hour I love flying because if I’m lucky, I get to meet the captain. This time was no exception as Christy made sure of it.
As soon as the plane came to a stop at the gate, people stood to gather their things and wait in the aisle to leave. In a few minutes, we’d be in the terminal, getting our luggage and I would give my auntie a hello slurp.
No one is moving forward to leave. The air inside the plane is getting warmer and Christy has sweat beading on her forehead. The captain announces there is a problem with the hydraulics and the front door is not opening but technicians are working their hardest to get us off the plane. Christy sits down, people groan and a man across from us is talking on the phone in an angry voice. He gets louder and angrier and now everyone on the plan can hear his conversation.
Christy talks with the nice lady sitting behind the angry man saying, “I’d rather be inconvenienced a few minutes than be in a plane wreck. At least the door didn’t blow off while we were in the air.”
Angry man, with his back to us says for the whole cabin to hear, “Gee Beaver, I‘ve got, (bad word) Pollyanna behind me.”
I know Christy loves being positive and this angry man is not going to squelch her demeanor. Thirty minutes later, the door is still not open, and arrangements are made for all to deplane from the back. Angry man kept his back to us, never looking Christy in the eye, as he pushed past others to leave, cursing all the way.
We waited until everyone had left because Christy wanted to meet the captain and encourage him for his valiant care of the passengers. I showed him my gratitude with sloppy slurps. Sorry, angry man. You missed out.
Thank you, Captain Chris Hansen of Horizon Air, for a pawsitive experience.
Mom is heartbroken. Tears come to her eyes as I snuggle close and give her slurps. She holds me close and whispers, “I miss him.”
I remember meeting him on a trip to Minnesota for a family reunion. He always greeted me with a big smile and happy praises, marveling at how good I am at my service dog job, giving me lots of-pets. I loved my Mom’s dad, Grandpa David and gave him many dog kisses in return, which he didn’t mind one bit. I loved snuggling with him on the old leather couch.
Identifying dog lovers can be done with a single sniff. They usually talk in sweet tones and call you “good boy.” Sometimes they have a treat to give you too.
Grandpa David was a dog lover. He went to Heaven on Christmas Day. Mom had been praying for him to get home from the hospital by Christmas and I guess God had other plans. She has since told me she needs to be more specific in her prayer requests to God.
Dog is GOD spelled backwards. Since my Mom is sad, I want to be like God and give her comfort. I’m constantly at her side, doing my service dog job. But when I look into her eyes and beg for attention, she cheers up. I guess I’m doing my other dog-job; one I didn’t have to train for. One that God gave me to do by nature.
I may not understand Mom’s tears, but I know she needs me, and I am there for her.
If you want to read about Grandpa David, Mom wrote this about him:
Did you know that September sixth was ‘National Read a Book Day?’ It seems on the United States calendar there is a day to celebrate everything under the sun.
My tail wags at some of the day themes. Days like ‘National Donut Day’ or ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day.’ You name it, there’s a day for it. Some days memorialize famous people, some not so famous people. Christy honors National Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day to remember a little girl who died from cancer.
‘National Read a Book Day’ should make elementary teachers happy as it gets children excited to explore reading. I’ve heard that some human schools even have ‘read-ins’ where the entire school at a certain time, stops what they are doing, sit down and read for at least 30 minutes.
I may not be able to read human books, but I have enjoyed being read to by first graders learning to read in the classrooms I’ve visited.
For National Read-a-Book Day, if I could read, I’d choose The Rubber Band. It mentions diabetes and my job involves diabetes by sniffing out low blood sugars for my diabetic Mom. Did I tell you my mom wrote it?
Alas, reading is something I can only dream of doing, unlike my Mom. She achieved her second grade dream of being an author. I’m pretending to read it, but Mom decides I need some help.
This is her first book in a series and as I listen to her read it to me, my tail wags. She pets my head and tells me a certain diabetic alert service dog will soon be appearing in the book series.
I wonder if being a character in her book series will make me famous? I hope so because that means I’ll get to meet people and give more happy slurps and chomps. With that thought, my tail wags at super speed.
People always tell me how handsome I am. They comment on my brindle coat and think I’m a crossbreed. I am one hundred percent black lab with a little bling! Strangers see me before they notice I’m attached to my handler.
I hear them say, “Hello, beautiful,” to which Christy responds, “Thank you.”
I may be good looking, but my nose is my greatest asset. I wish I could explain to you how it works, but being a dog, I can’t speak human. Christy thought you might like this Ted Talk on how a dog’s nose works.
I smell a lot of things, millions to be exact. But, the most important scent I detect is when Christy’s blood sugar drops. She can’t feel it happening. When it does, I spring into action by grabbing the bar that hangs from my collar.
When she sees me holding it in my mouth, she knows to immediately test her blood sugar. I get a JACKPOT reward for doing my job. Jackpot rewards include high value treats saved for that purpose only. So far, duck jerky is my favorite.
I promise to tell you one day how I learned this super power. But until then, just call me by my superhero name.
You might be wondering how do I know my mom’s blood sugar is dropping?
I’ve been raised since birth to be a working dog. I lived in a great puppy raiser home, learning basic good behavior skills until I was almost two years old. Then I went to Guide Dogs for the Blind where I was trained to learn skills necessary to assist a visually impaired person.
I have one problem that stopped me from placement: I like to slurp everything and when I do, my mouth makes a chomping sound.
I may have been intelligent enough to work for a blind person, but being too friendly was a distraction. A service dog must stay 100% focused on the handler, but I loved greeting people.
Please note I DID NOT FAIL…I was “career changed” and sent to Dogs for Diabetics (D4D) to specialize in scent training. A dog’s nose can smell millions more scents in one sniff than a human can. When Christy’s blood sugar drops, I can SMELL it long before it becomes dangerous and alert her to the problem.
Since she can’t feel the side effects of low blood sugars anymore, we were placed together. We were meant to be a team as she loves my happy slurping and chomping. In fact, one of my nick-names is chomper.
I’ll tell you more in future posts, but for now, I must go…do my business. Slurp you next time!