We spent most of the drive to and from Oregon in various versions of this. Cassius, I think, relished the opportunity to cuddle for hours.
He did splendidly on our first long car trip and vacation, and adapted to everything. He loved meeting all my family, although he was so tired by the end of the day both days! Looking cute takes energy, you know.
We even experienced the Black Bear Diner in Redding, with everything bear motif you can imagine. Cassius was not fazed and I think from the look on his face, he’s wondering what the fuss is about!
So Cassius and I goofed in our final certification. At the last food drop, he gobbled down a piece of food. I was kind of surprised, as he has been good at not going for food-but I also don’t purposefully launch food at him! So inspired by a bunch of puppy raisers who are doing this, we successfully did this today! Not so much as a look at the food. Good boy!
In dog-training-speak, proofing is getting consistency performing a command in all kinds of interesting circumstances. It’s a necessary thing to have your dog be solid at to be a good doggie citizen.
Found a whole tree worth of petals on our afternoon walk today, and practiced our down. Someone doesn’t look too enthralled (or maybe he’s moping about the fact that his favorite ducks were nowhere to be found):
I like the idea of proofing. I need to translate the doggie version to the people version. I need my reasonable side to trump my nagging, irrational side. So, as I proof my dog I am vowing to proof myself, too.
Proofing the nearly-perfect under at Peet’s (except those front legs – he likes to stretch!)
But seriously, it’s a curious phenomenon that I’ve observed in the almost two months I have had Cassius: animals provide a reason for people to say “hi”. On morning walks, two people with dogs almost naturally greet each other without thinking about it. None of the awkward “should I say something”-ness that often goes on between people in urban areas.
Sometimes people, even those without any noticeable differences, are just kind of awkward in public. That whole wanting to be friendly but not sure if they should. Add in disabilities or visible differences, and it gets even more problematic.
68 pounds of adorable yellow dog with a perpetually-wagging tail goes a long way to put them at ease.
It’s weird, because the act of having a service dog also definitively marks you as “different” – but I find that freeing, in some way. There’s no confusion, no intermediary between normal and not normal. And I think that puts people at ease in a way. It takes the burden off of them to figure out what’s going on.
So I won’t say that getting a dog is the key to any sort of isolation that people with disabilities experience (since dogs and humans are very different, and while dogs are great… they won’t replace human relationships!), but at least for me, I love how my dog makes me feel just a bit more connected to the people I encounter.