Saturday, November 23, 2013

The perfect service dog for me

I have written and rewritten this post for a week, both in my head and on my computer screen. Nothing sounded right. Either too sappy or too mean, too adoring or too dismissive. (Although the part about me being named Super Awesome Galactic Emperor was gold!) So here it is with as little schmaltz and as few modifiers as possible.

Which of us looks younger?
On Tuesday, I began transitioning Claren to stay-at-home pet from Service Dog. She is not sick or anything, so it will be a long transition, giving us both time to get used to it. She will eventually be a pet for Mom and Dad, but she will stay with me at night because Mom and Dad sleep upstairs and Claren dislikes stairs.

Claren has been telling me for a while she is tired. She is a little slower, but I am a bad wheelchair driver, so it is good for me to go slow. And when there is food or play involved, she is anything but slow. She still leaps over the wall to get to her ball. She is a little hard of hearing, but she hears my commands or knows intuitively what I need. She sleeps a little more soundly, but wakes when needed. She has recently also become reluctant to pick up metal, like my keys or a binder clip. I assume they bother her teeth.

She may be tired, but she is grumpy when I leave her, hence the slow transition. I am leaving her with Mom and Dad  Tuesday and Thursday morning. I have physical therapy on those days in the afternoons so Mom brings her with her when she picks me up to go to therapy. Eventually, I'll leave her more and more. I may also ask a work friend to keep her.

Claren is not the perfect service dog. She picks up just about anything I ask her to, but she holds it at arm's length so I have to bend to get it. I have always figured she is just trying to et me to stretch and exercise so I never asked her to change that. She sleeps on my bed only for as long as I pet her. She is distracted by other dogs. When we go to puppy plays, it is like I don't exist. After almost failing service dog school because of a reluctance to speak, Claren never speaks easily … unless she is playing or released or I am holding a treat. She is also a big fan of swimming -- once jumping in a friend's fish pond after a day of play.

She knows how to be perfect. Someone who knew her from puppy plays was astonished at how good she was the next day on duty. Being perfect just isn't as fun. And it isn't as fun to be with.

She is perfect at one thing: Being the service dog for me. I cannot imagine a better dog for a sorta lonely, semi-depressed, very quiet 32-year-old.

I will get another service dog. I'm not sure when but I am sure it will be the perfect service dog for me.


Anonymous said...

thank you matt

Anonymous said...

Nobody is perfect, whether a pet or person. I can't even begin to relate, but any transition is hard, especially a transition with a person or a pet that has been with you through so many adventures, ups and downs and experiences. The good thing is much of it is cataloged on this blog. My father has a saying that "when one door closes another one opens." While I can certainly be accused of calling it trite, I have found throughout life that he is actually very wise. So through this transition, however difficult it may be, the future ahead with the next puppy will assuredly have amazing things in store. In the meantime, your "not so perfect" soulmate will still be with you. We are thankful.

Matt Trott said...

thanks all

Terri said...

Matt, I was turning in my 3rd pup, Orser, when you graduated with Claren… was it Feb 2004? Her puppy raisers Mary Ann and Charlie were so proud and so happy you were going to be her forever guy. Congratulations on a successful partnership and give Claren a pat on the head for me.
Terri Laundon

Matt Trott said...

Hi Terri, thanks so much for remembering Charlie and Mary Ann. They were so important to me and gave me such a gift with Claren.

Susan said...

Absolutely beautiful and soul-touching post. Yay, Claren!

Matt Trott said...

She is awesome!

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