Those of you who know me know how much I hate water.
When I first came to live with Christy, she had to smear peanut butter on the shower wall in order for me to get in the tub. Recently, we went on a long road trip where I encountered some water.
Christy’s BFF Janell took us and my furry friends, Cody and Frankie, to a place called Lake Superior. I stood, paws at the edge of the water and looked it over.
This lake thing reminded me of the ocean except there were no waves crashing and roaring.
I was having so much fun running in the sand, chasing my friends, when…
…I suddenly found myself in the water up to my knees! Mom was surprised. I was too.
A couple of days later, Mom insisted on taking me to the Mississippi River Headwaters at Itasca State Park in Minnesota.
She told me I could walk in the water to cross the Mighty Mississippi. That didn’t mean anything to me. All I heard was “water” and she wasn’t talking about getting a drink.
When I saw the log bridge, I knew walking across the trickling water would be easy, but then we went down a trail and I spied a row of rocks sticking out of the water. Uh-oh, I think my paws are going to get wet. What if I slip?
Mom told me she slipped the last time she was here, but she made sure the rocks weren’t slippery this time. She stepped in the water, tennis shoes and all, and I followed willingly.
At every rock, Mom gave me a treat.
I was in water again and my paws were soaked, but I was walking in the water to cross the great Mississippi River.
Having conquered two water attractions on this vacation and enjoyed them, I can call myself a true Minnesota tourist.
Exploring is fun and filled with new smells. My nose goes on overload, but no matter how many different scents I smell, I keep focused on the main scent to keep my Mom’s blood sugars from dropping dangerously low.
I joined Christy on a ladies weekend trip to the Atlantic Ocean, a place called Myrtle Beach, where I met a pirate.
Running on the beach was a lot of fun.
Mom’s friend Tammy took us to a beautiful place called Brookgreen Gardens. I was on sensory smell overload for the greenery and fountains we encountered. The garden is known for its statues and artwork.
Many of them were of dogs. Christy pet one like it was real since it reminded her of Faith, a Great Dane mix she had when I first came to live with her. I gave her a big slurp to lick away her tears.
My favorite statue was the mama and baby bear.
Nearby was a sitting bench that Christy insisted I sit on. I’m not sure why, but she said she couldn’t resist making me look cute. Does this bench make me look cute?
I’m told we were staying in touristy town. I’m not sure what that means, but Christy took lots of pictures of me, including this one that reminded her I’m a lifesaver, no matter where we might find ourselves.
Even if we were swallowed by a shark – but that won’t happen because I do not like water!
I am finding that in Tennessee, the people celebrate everything. A dog could walk around a different festival every weekend and fill his nose with all kinds of good scents.
Recently Mom took me to a street fair in our new hometown of Morristown. While minding my own business and doing my job, my nose led me to a very large furry creature.
At first, Mom thought he might be a famous Star Wars character, but upon closer investigation, we found out Bigfoot was advertising another festival celebrating the big furry creature himself. And I thought he was supposed to be elusive.
On yet another day trip, Dad took Mom and me to a huge store called Bass Pro where I got close to some huge fish. In a giant aquarium.
The place was so big that I got a lot of exercise and took a rest on this crazy fish bench.
I could tell you I caught this huge fish using only my jaws and paws, but that would be what humans call a ‘fish story.’
Besides, if you know me by now, I’d never hurt a living creature. Also, I only eat dog food.
As I eat my breakfast, Mom promises me we are almost there. It’s still more driving, but we cross into Tennessee, landing in a place called Memphis, where mom got her Starbucks and I got a pup cup.
I was happy, but spent yet another day on the road to a place called Cookeville. I’m hoping it has cookies for me, but unfortunately it doesn’t. Oh well. I know I’m a good boy and Mom has the only kind of cookie I can have, which I’ll get later.
When the humans got hungry, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel where I warmed up by the giant rock fireplace. So far, Tennesseans are friendly and that makes Mom very happy.
But after a shorter drive, tears of joy fall from Mom’s eyes as her good friend, Tammy, greets us at the end of her driveway. We have arrived where we’ll stay until the big truck arrives with our belongings.
I’m happy to have a yard to play in with my friend, Todd the cat.
After one night, something wonderful happened. I have a new, permanent home. No more all-day driving. I have lots of new spaces to explore, but finally, I can curl up in my own bed.
I really don’t like wearing raincoats or warm, winter jackets, but I wish Mom would put one on me now.
Wherever we are, it’s cold. But worse than that, the wind blows so crisp, it cuts to my bones. I don’t take long to do my business because of it.
Today has been more tumble weeds and some pretty rock, but mostly, flat ground that goes on forever. I’m glad I sleep a lot because it’s boring. I don’t know how my humans can stand so much of it.
Mom passes the time counting Amazon trucks. I think she’s up to 35 of them, but I can’t count so I curl up and go back to sleep.
Somewhere along the line we made it to a place called Tucumcari, New Mexico. Brrrrrr. I’m thankful for a warm room to sleep in for the night, but really miss my bed back home.
The humans and I went to get pizza and found this cool memorial to veterans that made Mom cry.
Waking up the next morning, it’s no surprise to me that I’m on the road again. It’s another long day of sleeping through the states of Texas and Oklahoma; both were just more flat land and tumble weeds, but I did see a lot of weird trees with wings.
If I were able to speak words I’d ask, “Are we there yet?”
I see the sun set as my tummy grumbles. We pass the bright lights of a tall building Mom says is a casino and Dad slows down because there’s a speed trap ahead.
A little time later, Mom tells me we’ve arrived in Port Smith, Arkansas, and we stay in yet another strange room. Oh, how I want to be home.
This is one long road trip! I’ve been in the backseat of the car next to a pile of stuff that takes up the other half I usually stretch out on.
I wonder when this is going to end. Every day after I wake up in a strange room that is not home, I get my usual routine of business, then food. But soon after, I’m back in the car, curling up on my donut bed and we’re off again.
Today we drove to very cold place, just in time to see the sun set on a giant hole in the ground. I didn’t like the big rock I sat on, but the scenery sure was beautiful.
Sometimes Mom switches vehicles to share driving and it’s just the two of us cruising along in the pickup truck. She pats my head and assures me this long drive will soon be over. But most of the time I snooze in the back seat of the Jeep as the journey continues.
Whenever we stop, Mom makes sure I’m taken care of, usually before she takes care of herself. I’ve been watching out the window and ever since we left the great big pretty hole in the ground. I saw a few giant hills, but mostly now all I see for miles and miles is rock and tumble weeds.
Mom says we have to hurry along because of some big contract that has to be signed soon. I don’t know about that. All I can think about is will I ever see home again and where in the world are we going?
One thing about having a great sense of smell: I can tell when we are blocks away from one of Mom’s favorite places. Even if we are not stopping there, my nose starts working overtime and I may drool a little because I know we are nearby.
Mom gave up coffee after finding out she is allergic to it. But that doesn’t mean she can’t have her favorite Chai latte. Since things are crazy at home with moving, we take breaks to get out of the house and have been visiting the Starbucks drive-thru. Mom rolls down the window for me to see the barista, and they love to see me, too.
The other day we were running errands and Mom’s blood sugar dropped because she skipped lunch and didn’t bring emergency sugar supplies. I’m going nuts alerting her from the backseat. We made an emergency stop at Starbucks in Larkfield/Wikiup.
We went inside the store since it didn’t have a drive-thru, but I knew exactly where we were. I usually only get a Puppuccino on special occasions, but Mom has been spoiling me lately due to, as I mentioned before, the craziness of moving.
My treat for alerting this time was, you guessed it, a puppuccino – my favorite. The baristas were so nice. I particularly like Gianna.
I’m pretty sure we will visit this Starbucks again because Mom says out of all the Starbucks she’s taken me to, Larkfield/Wikiup has the best customer service.
Whatever that means. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as I get that tasty little cup of wonderful flavor called a puppuccino.
I’m proud to be a diabetic alert dog for them, serving Christy. NICST gave me a second chance at serving after being career-changed from Guide Dogs for the Blind.
It’s through them I met Kermit. Kermit was Dr. Steve Wolf’s diabetic alert dog for ten years.
Kermit loved to play tug. He loved snuggling in the car loaded with dogs and people heading to events together with our handlers.
Kermit is the first diabetic alert dog Christy met and she was highly impressed. Because Kermit worked for a doctor, he had the opportunity to help more than just his handler. Thousands of people were touched by his life.
Kermit served Dr. Steve up to the last minute of Kermit’s life here on earth, alerting just before he passed.
I don’t understand what passing means, I just know I won’t get to play with Kermit again until I see him in Heaven. I had to comfort Christy when she cried at the news.
I only have a short time on this earth, and I want to make the best of it by enjoying every slurp, snuggle and alert I give Christy.
Have you ever been separated from someone you love for a long period of time?
For a dog, a few minutes can seem like a lifetime to be gone from your master. Recently, my handler, Christy had COVID and tried to get better at home, but after a week of struggling, she left for the emergency room.
I was left at home because she was too sick to have me by her side. A few hours later, her husband Kevin joined her in the ER. Christy made arrangements for me to be taken care of by friends.
I wasn’t sure what to think.
I felt like I was on vacation because at our friend’s house, I was allowed to be just a dog, whereas at home, I’m a working dog. At this house I had no one to alert on.
Later, when our good friend and trainer, Sarah, was able to take care of me, it was like being at a doggy spa.
Yep, she gave me a bath (I hate baths). But at Sarah’s I had my girlfriend Woflie, my good friend, Kermit, and two other dogs to play with, not to mention two diabetic people for whom I could do my job as a service dog and alert them to low blood sugars.
But what happened to my mom, Christy? Where is she? Would I see her again?
Dogs can’t tell time.
We only know that we miss our people. I really missed my mom. It felt like forever since she kissed my nose and said goodbye. It turns out both Kevin and Christy had to stay in the hospital to get better. In people time, it was four days later when I was reunited with my mom.
I was so happy to see her, I think my tail almost wagged off.
In dog time, a few minutes can feel like forever. Dog people know what I’m talking about. We dogs just want to be with our people and miss you no matter how short a time you’re gone.
Yes, that’s me, dressed as Elvis. Before Mom wrote The Rubber Band Stretches: Rocky’s Story (Rocky impersonates Elvis in this book), she dressed me as Elvis for Dogs for Diabetics annual fundraiser, which had a Las Vegas theme. Her costume was the iconic Las Vegas welcome sign. Everyone wanted picture with the sign, so she shared it as a prop.
Guess what? We won first prize in the costume contest.
The sign was made with lots of glitter. If you know anything about glitter, it gets everywhere and there was no doubt where we had been that day.
Every once in a while, Christy will dress me up in something. I’ve been a pumpkin for Halloween. Together, we once were Batman and Robin (I was Batman). It’s not my favorite thing, wearing a crazy costume.
My favorite thing to wear is my service dog vest. At home, it may seem like I’m off duty because I’m not in my vest. I am always on duty, sniffing out blood sugars, alerting Mom when she’s low, saving her life.
Nothing can stop me from doing my job. I even do it while impersonating Elvis, so Viva Dog Vegas!