This weekend was a very busy weekend for all of us, let me start by saying that. As with all long weekends it went by way too fast. Friday, Arrow dealt with a stomach bug, which means by association WE dealt with Arrow’s stomach bug. All was well on Saturday but we played it safe and hung out around the house. Then Sunday rolled around. Sunday we had a barbecue. I was unaware that it was actually a surprise graduation party for me as I graduated with my undergraduate degree in December. Family came over that I haven’t seen since Christmas. They had only heard of Arrow, but never met him. He was the talk of the party! We spent all afternoon on the back deck grilling and enjoying the gorgeous weather that Michigan FINALLY had to offer.
With every new face that approached him, Arrow offered an enthusiastic tail wag before he sat down on his new friend’s foot and slid down to offer up his belly for some belly rubs. When his new human got tired they walked away and he just… stayed there! No obnoxious chase game, no barking, running or typical 13 week old puppy behavior. He just wistfully watched them walk away and put his chin on his paw and fell back asleep. All afternoon this continued. Really. The whole time. Now, some people may think I am still in the “honeymoon phase” of puppydom. I beg to differ. I’ve worked with enough puppies to be realistic. Arrow has by far exceeded my expectation in disposition and temperament. Now, I wont say there aren’t times where he bites my hand instead of his toy or he barks at me with no other purpose than pure mischief. Those times are far and few between from his good and calm afternoons where he basks in any attention that comes his way. This particular attribute being so boldly tested all day only reassured me that I made the right decision.
You see, I had a bigger intention in getting Arrow than to just have a puppy. As I mentioned earlier (or did I?) I trained Arrow’s father. His father, Chance was the best dog I had ever been close to. He is smart, well-mannered, gentle and overall happy. He is happy all the time! So, when my dad told me he was thinking about breeding Chance to our other dog (also a silver lab) I had to have a puppy. A couple of years went by and BOOM it was puppy time!! My boyfriend and I had discussed the possibility of using our puppy as a therapy dog for visits to children and seniors. At the time we had no idea of our pup’s disposition so it was just a passing pleasantry. Boyfriend is very fond of children and I volunteer (whenever I can) with a camp that is specifically for ventilator dependent children. I know what those kids do for us and I want to be able to do something for them. It’s been a goal of mine to have a greater purpose, to give back something. I know that seems very cliché’ but is very near and dear to my heart. Up until this weekend the idea of Arrow as a therapy dog had been marinating in both of our brains along with the doubts that accompany such a huge responsibility of character. Does he play too rough? Will he grow out of that? Will his eyes scare people? Will he be too big? And the list continues.
After Sunday afternoon’s activity and lack of anything more than some vigorous tail wagging it’s been decided. I think Arrow will make a splendid therapy dog, once he’s an adult with some reliable training, that is. He has proven to be tolerant and well-mannered. He is affectionate and cuddly. Now, let’s get one thing straight. He will be the kind of therapy dog that visits children and others in hospitals and homes but he will most certainly stay with us. I think training a service dog for adoption is one of the most honorable professions I can think of, I give nothing but credit to those brave and strong soldiers. I am by no means ready for that emotional roller coaster. Baby steps… Baby steps as Bill Murray’s character Bob once repeated while entering Dr. Leo Marvin’s elevator.
Our first baby step will be attending the anniversary celebration to the camp that I volunteer for on this upcoming Sunday. Here, Arrow will see medical equipment, tons of people, wheel chairs, activities, food and anything else you can imagine at a large function. I can’t wait to see how he reacts. Our next baby step will be attending a puppy play class that our local pet store sponsors which he will learn the difference between good and bad play. I am so excited to see where our journey takes us. I think I have been blessed with an amazing puppy that will make a difference in other people’s’ lives.