Patty L. Fletcher
August 17 2016
Hi, Campbell’s World Readers! Patty and King Campbell back with a topic not many like to talk about. I can only speak about Seeing Eye Dog Guides, but I’m thinking it’s pretty much the same for all owner/handlers of service animals in general. So working on that assumption let’s begin.
What topic is so forbidden you ask!
‘Service Animals+Family and Friends = Hard Choices’
Yes ladies and gentlemen sometimes, I’m faced with really difficult choices where my dog’s not being able to go where I go has caused me a hard time. I’ll give you my most recent example.
As many of you know, Campbell and I recently took on a house mate, and her two children. A girl age 9, and a boy age, 2. Both are very well behaved, my roommate and I get along great. We agree on how the house should be run for the most part, and are learning great compromises for the few things we do differently, as we go along. I have to say, that as roommates go, this one’s the best of any I’ve ever had, and I’d like to stop right here, and give a shout out to Victoria, and her 2 legged pups!
For both Campbell and me this has been a bit of an adjustment. Not very long before Vicky and her 2 legged pups moved in, Bob Cat passed from this world, to the Rainbow Bridge. Thus making Campbell the only being living in the house with me, and the absolute core of my world. Not that he pretty much isn’t anyhow, but you get my drift I am sure.
On this particular evening, my roommate, some friends of hers, my nephew, niece in law, their 2 kids, as well as Campbell and I were making a big dinner. When things became busy, with everyone from the downstairs bunch in the kitchen, I called Campbell to me, and he lay down in his place with no argument, and remained there until the meal was completely prepared.
Even with the kids running to and fro and food being carried in and out right past him, he did not get up at all. I couldn’t have asked for better obedience had I tried, and I am not exaggerating. Remember, I do have witnesses. Soon, I began to get Campbell ready to go into his crate. We had made him a small treat, and were going to give it to him. Then we were going to all go upstairs, and eat at my nephew Aaron’s house. Taking Campbell there is not a great idea. They have a dog, and although the 2 get along fine, having 2 dogs, 2 toddlers, and 2 tweens, along with 5 or 6 adults, is well…? Challenging.
Sometimes a big dog like Campbell, who is not allowed to beg at table, do tricks for treats, etc is better off at home, and normally I’d have gone up with no question. Stayed an hour or two, come down checked on and walked Campbell, and after a bit, might have even gone back up again. This time, just was not one of those times. Just when I was about to put Campbell in his crate, I knelt down to praise him for being so very good, and when I put my arms around him, he leaned into me wrapping his upper half round my neck and shoulder. I knew immediately I would not leave my boy. He was saying to me as clear as day, “Mom I’ll get into the crate, but please? Don’t leave me?” I couldn’t have eaten one bite had I left him in that crate, treat or not.
Campbell had given up quite a lot when we took on Victoria and her kids. Before their arrival he’d been using the room across the hall from me as his room. We’d dubbed it “The Chewing Room” and he even had his own bed in there, and he’d done it with little to no complaint or problem. He was flat-out telling me he needed me to spend some one on one time with him. I heard, understood, and did as he asked. Just as my instructor had told me would be the case, I’d known just what my boy needed when he needed it.
I remember that conversation clear as day. Drew had assured me on the very night before “Dog Day”
“Honey you’ve everything you need to know right here in your heart.” I can’t help thinking that even Drew would’ve approved of and supported my decision to stay home with my boy.
I’d really like to think that at least, he is proud of my dog handling if nothing else. That is after all, one thing I have not screwed up.
What do I think would have been the result had I chosen to leave Campbell and gone with everyone upstairs? Well, I think he’d have been hurt, and I’m not 100 percent sure it wouldn’t have caused some trust issues that might not have resolved very well at all.
Ladies and gentlemen, when I wrote in the afterword of my book Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life that sometimes having a Guide was hard, and at times not fun, I meant it. I explained to Vicky what the trouble was, and she and her friends seemed to understand.
I texted my nephew and told him of the trouble, and other than his texting back with a quick “OK!!” we never really talked about it. The thing is, Campbell is more than just your everyday average dog. He is my Guide. My companion, keeper of secrets, and guardian of all that is important in my life.
When he and I walk out this door and start down the walk, it is just he and I against all that is around us. The public at large. Cars, that weigh tons. People who might not be having such a great time of it, looking to do fuckery to anyone getting in their way, etc. I depend upon him and he me, and to make damn sure that is done correctly, safely, and above all lovingly all the time, I sometimes have to make choices like the one I made that night.
Did I partake of food? Yes, sure did. Did I partake of the making? No, but I helped with the clean-up and that my friend is important too. I did not feel that anyone was upset, and saw no bad affects from what happened, and Campbell now knows when he truly asks, I’ll listen.
Have there been times when he pouted and tried to get me to not crate him when he truly needed to be? Oh! Absolutely. Campbell is the same as any child would be. He tries me on a regular bases. The trick with him, is just as with any child, ‘know your pup, and be willing to pick your battles.’
Have I made incorrect choices in the past? Sure. We all do, and there’s no shame in it. Because I always follow up even a harsh correction with love kindness, and by making sure to, set him up to be praised Campbell is a happy well adjusted ‘Service Dog.’
There are many of you who are at this moment cheering me for what I did. Knowing just as I do for that particular situation the choice I made was the correct one. There are, however, others who are shaking their heads saying, “I’d have crated the dog, and gone where I wished. Darned if I’d let a dog run my life.” To you I say this. Either A) you don’t have a ‘Service Animal’ on which your life depends on in some way, or B) you just don’t give a dittally Shit about your dog or for that matter yourself.
Of course this is my opinion, and for this article I may get hate mail. I cannot worry about that. Campbell has on many levels and occasions saved my life, and if this means that from time to time I say no to an invitation out or to a large gathering in my home, then so be it.
As I say at the beginning, ‘Service Animals+Family and Friends = Hard Choices’
I hope this has helped to bring into a better focus for you visiting Campbell’s World who do not have a ‘Service Animal’ to understand a bit better about the commitment that is required when taking on such as owning and handling a ‘Service Animal.’
Until next time, this is Patty and King Campbell Seeing Eye Dog saying, may harmony find you, and blessid be.
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