Our new puppy, a 14 year old in human years actually, is home for good now that service dog training with Geoff down at NEADS in Princeton, MA is over. Last weekend was a tease; he came home on a 48 hour furlough and then had to leave again. But he is here– or wherever Geoff might be at the moment, probably at Loon in the Snow Sports School or riding shotgun in his car. He has celebrity status– even more so than Geoff. He is THE famous Emerson Gronk Snowy Krill, copilot for life, service dog extraordinaire. He also happens to be damn cute. And loving. And awesome. And finally home.
When my alarm when off this morning at 5 AM, Emerson followed me out to the kitchen, his snapdragon tail pounding off every solid surface, demonstrating his own excitement for the day. He intuitively seems to understand we are early risers, and so will be his life. He also has experienced our full days of adventure, exercise, and activity and obvious need for early bedtimes. Emerson has clearly settled in nicely, finding no shortage of cozy places to lay down his sweet yellow lab head when he recognizes we are in for the night. Last night, I could hear him snoring peacefully while Geoff tried to rouse him for one more chance to pee or poop before bed. You know what one cool thing is about service dog training? He can pee and poop on command– anywhere– at anytime. “Better go now,” is all Geoff has to say. Impressive to say the least. I wish the same could be said for our children’s training.
Geoff and I are dog people; we grew up with great dogs and have been waiting patiently for the day our own kiddos could handle a pet beyond fish and turtles. They already love him for different reasons and understand that when the vest is on, he only belongs to Daddy. When the vest comes off, he belongs to the rest of us too. He hops around, tossing chew toys and loveys in the air, pushing his big lab head into your hand or lap or between your legs. He is a dog after all, albeit a super smart, well behaved, and helpful man’s best friend. Literal. Man’s best friend.
“What is the dog going to be able to do for Geoff?” The most asked question so far in this process of bringing Emerson home to North Woodstock. Our stock answer has become, “We aren’t sure yet because he can do a lot of things.” He shuts the door when Geoff says, “Nudge.” He picks up items Geoff drops. He comes with an EXTENSIVE list of commands, behavior expectations, skills and rules for family members to follow; if only new parents received the same guidelines!
What’s been awesome is that people, so far, have really respected the “Work Vest” and haven’t let their children run up to him to pet without first asking, “Is your dog working?” or “May we pet your dog?” As long as we tell Emerson to sit first and then “Say hello” he can give your kid a friendly lick or nudge of his head. No doubt, he is a friendly, charming, high energy, adventure enthusiast– just like his new dad. Actually, his entire new family is pretty spirited. Carver has suggested Emerson is so smart and athletic he could also probably learn how to ski. If he asks you to borrow baby ski boots or skis, please discourage him. Greta has been reading to him at night or in the morning before school, and his listening skills are en point, and truly appreciated when I’m running around like a crazy lady making lunches or putting away laundry or yelling at everyone to brush their teeth. Gone are Emerson’s days of peaceful quiet and solitude. He has a full on family now– and we are full on, at all times. We are hoping he can provide some in house training for Geoff’s parents’ new puppy Willow and for my brother and family’s new puppy Juniper. Could be good video footage over February vacation! For more technical information about service dogs, stay tuned for my next Christopher and Dana Reeve blog to be published sometime next week entitled “When One’s Service Dog Becomes One’s Co-Pilot for Life.”
Side Note: one of my professional writing goals for 2018 is to read some of my work aloud in cool places and publish on my NEW YOUTUBE CHANNEL called “Writing from the Front.” I chose this title because the line between surviving and thriving in motherhood, parenthood, education, and the writing life is very thin most days, a line easily crossed back and forth even within minutes, sometimes even moments.