Posted by: arnoldoneal | July 23, 2011

Oh to be a dog!

Oh to be a dog! Dogs can definitely getaway with things that we can’t.  This past weekend we were hanging out at Guitar Center, one of my favorite places. I love guitars, I can’t play very well, but I am convinced the more guitars I own the better my playing gets. Price seems to also be a factor. The more they cost, the better I play.  Anyway, I was looking at a display of instruments when I heard a little squeal of surprise. I turned to see Brody sniffing the back of a girls thigh, just below the hemline of her short shorts. Now that would land me in jail.  I may be blind, but I still have enough remaining vision to spot a pretty girl.  Maybe that’s just Selective Seeing Syndrome.

Later the same day while shopping at Kohls, I went in search of a restroom. I found the family restroom and went in. I had Brody in harness, but was holding the leash which gave him some roaming room.  I was feeling my way around the bathroom trying to find a light switch when out of the darkness came a hearty slurping sound. When I finally got the lights on, there was Brody enjoying a cool refreshing drink out of a small kiddy toilet, no larger than a doggy bowl. It didn’t occur to me that he might drink from a toilet as he never had before however this one was just his size and at nose level. The water looked clean so hopefully no harm done.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be that laid back?

In my last post I told you about the great job the puppy raisers do. After they bring the pups back to the school the dogs begin their training to become guide dogs.  This training takes about six months. In that time they learn everything from how to pee to finding buttons at an elevator.  How to pee?  You read that correctly. Boy dogs are trained to squat like girl dogs. This way they don’t go around spraying things.

The trainers a Southeastern are amazing.  These folks are very passionate about training guide dogs and they take their job very seriously.  Rick, the director of training, has been training dogs for over forty years, and has been at  Southeastern for twenty-four years. He is a true “dog whisperer” and I hear he plays a mean harmonica.  Rick has a very talented staff of trainers under him, and they are incredible people.

The trainers not only train the dogs but they get to know them.  They learn each dog’s personality and traits.  This is so important so they can match the dogs with just the right partner.  This matching process is critical, because the dog must be able to fit into the lifestyle of his new partner.  In my case, I was not picky about the breed, color or sex of the dog. I just wanted a dog who could go to church and concerts where its loud and crowded.  He needed to be able to go to work at the spa and ride the city bus.

Once they determined which traits that I needed in a dog, the search for the right dog began.  The staff at Southeastern review the training notes of the dogs in the strings they have available and try to find a dog that matches what they are looking for.  Once a couple of good dogs are found, the student can come to Southeastern for training.  The school tries to have more than one dog that can work for a student in case there is a problem with the student and dog not bonding right away. This is rare, but it does happen.

This whole process can take several months, but at Southeastern, they have so many great dogs, the wait was only three months. Though my wait for a dog was not very long, it seemed like a long time because I was anxious  to get my dog.  I will say that it was worth the wait.  Brody is such a huge blessing that words cannot express how I feel.  We make a great team, and he has already become a much loved member of our family.

There is so much to tell and so little time, I will leave you with a joke that we found in the Adair News which is Bobbi Jo’s home town newspaper in Adair, Iowa.

A man was driving through town and a police officer saw him run some red lights.  When he pulled the man over he asked him, “Sir, do you know why I stopped you?”  The man answered, “No officer, I don’t.”   “Well, you ran right through two red lights”, said the officer.  The man reached over and slapped a dog laying in the seat beside him.  “Why did you slap that dog?”, the officer asked.  “He’s my seeing eye dog”, the man replied, “He must have fallen asleep.”

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