Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Middle of the night musings

Our service dog, Jack, came to us ten months ago as a 10 weeks old puppy. We're raising him to be a service dog for our 15 year old son, Ross, who has spina bifida and uses crutches to get around.

Jack's a big guy now-really big. He has bloodlines that go back to France, and his daddy dog was recently sold for $30,000 to a wealthy family as personal protection. We didn't spend anything on him, though, as he came to us through a brand new local service dog training organization, Paws4Liberty

We were lucky to join the program at it's very beginnings, as normally one fosters and trains a dog for someone else. Jack goes to puppy school once a week with dad and Ross to learn everything he needs to know- all the commands and such. He's so smart. In a few months he will go back to Paws4Liberty for complete training at director Heidi Spirazza's kennel. (If so inclined, please donate what you can to Paws4Liberty.) Heidi is a remarkable woman!

Now, Jack is never allowed outside by himself and he must be on a leash at all times. So Jack takes me for walks in the backyard several times a day, and sometimes at night. We live on a little over an acre of land, and the back yard is very large. I've learned a lot during those walks, about nature, about myself, about God, about the world. Instead of it being a chore to walk Jack, I've turned it into a time of contemplation.

I first realized this was possible when Jack was a tiny little guy, and we were outside to pee (Jack, not me) at about 3 AM. It was a lovely night with a clear sky studded with stars. I was looking up enjoying the view skyward and I started to sing, "Starry, Starry Night."

Jack sat his tiny little butt down and listened to me singing, his little head crooking to the side to hear me, watching me. So I kept on singing to my teeny captive audience. When I was done he came up to me and licked me and wagged his tail.

And there I learned my first lesson of my many walks with Jack. No matter how badly you sing, or how badly you do something, there is always someone who will appreciate your effort. They might not come up to you and lick your face, but do know that someone out there appreciates what you do.

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