September was my first whole month living with Stacey and it was a busy one. Something tells me that the life of a Hero Dog in training is an exciting one; fine by me, I am always up for an adventure!
I think I may have mentioned in my last update that I was beginning the month with my first visit to an assisted living facility. The day started out with one long car ride; did I mention that I like car rides very much? Okay, so this one was a bit longer than I would have liked, but there were plenty of things to chew on and play with at Stacey’s feet and they kept me well fed. Grandmother is very nice and she loves me very much. She uses something called a walker to help her, well, to help her walk. She can sit down on it when she gets tired of walking! Stacey said I took everything at the facility “in stride:” canes, walkers, wheel chairs, different gaits, etc. We went to the Olive Garden for lunch and met more “family.” I kind of like the whole eating out thing, as long as we don’t stay too long. I either go under the table right at Stacey’s feet, or if we have an out of the way corner I just curl up and go to sleep or eat my lunch in a kong.
I think I forgot to mention last month that I had started going to school. Yep, not even one week into my time with Stacey and I started puppy class. I was relieved to find out on week one that there was no reading involved for me at all in this class!
I know I mentioned last month all the stuff I was learning. Well, class is one place where much of this occurs. We learn it in class and practice at home. Good thing, too, because I can hardly remember my name when I get to class and see all my puppy friends. My brother Beau is in class with me and so is Archie and several other very nice puppies. My favorite part is puppy play time – I think you humans call it recess. I have learned my name, how to sit and down, come when called, how to walk on a leash (kind of), and lots of other stuff I can’t think of right now. I guess that is why I have to take the same class again beginning the first week in October!
Probably the most adventurous thing I did this month was take my very first metro ride. Stacey and I went to the Pentagon for an event and she figured I was up for the challenge. We had gone to Reagan National Airport before and I had watched the metro trains as they went by, no sweat. We went at the end of rush hour, so I wouldn’t get stepped on and there would be plenty of room. I was fine with the elevators and the noise, etc., and then we got on. As soon as the train started and the floor underneath me started moving, I am not ashamed to say that I panicked. When Stacey tells the story she claims I acted like a scared kitten, clambering and climbing up to her shoulder. She stayed calm, cool and collected; she acted like nothing was wrong, like this was the most natural thing in the world to be on a loud, bumpy thing that shifted under you. She talked me down off the bridge; I mean, she put me down on the floor and spoke calmly to me and started with the treats fast and furious. Pretty soon, I was way more interested in trying to keep up with those treats than worrying about the fact that the floor was moving! We even had to transfer trains, and I walked readily onto the next train.
On the way out of the station, I was too short to reach the elevator button. At the Pentagon, we went through the security screening and then we were escorted outside where we located the Hero Dogs “booth.” It was great fun and very exciting to meet the other Hero Dogs that were there: Teddy, Dolley, Annie, and Mae – but Stacey actually did not want me to merely rumble & tumble with my newest friends. I was picking up keys and credit cards and saying hello for a long time. I got so hot and tired that I hid under the table to take a nap. There was air conditioning inside, so we all took turns taking a break from the heat. By the time we got on the subway to come home, I was so tired it didn’t bother me at all that the floor was moving, and it rocked me to sleep.
Later in the month, Stacey and I drove to Quantico for the Modern Day Marine event. I have never seen so many people in all my life! (Okay, I know that’s not really a very long time.) What I am saying is that this was big! I mean, I go to Stacey’s choir practice every week with 120 people and to church on Sunday with about 200 people, but this place was crowded. Teddy was there again, and despite the fact that he’s all grown up, by the end of the day he was wiped out. I greeted people, picked up keys and credit cards, and pulled ropes for hours. I think we were pretty much a hit; people just kept coming and coming!! We left around 3:30 and arrived home, where I ate my dinner and slept the rest of the night.
On the last Thursday of the month we went to visit another assisted living facility. This one was better because just about every other Hero Dog was there! We crammed into an elevator and went downstairs to a room with a small group of people; Ms. Jennifer told them all about Hero Dogs, and then each of us showed what we can do. At the end we went around and said “hello” to everyone. It was good practice for me to not jump up on people; Stacey says that I am doing more of that recently. The very next day, we went with Donna to Annapolis where I met quite a few new people and picked up more keys, credit cards, and pens for Stacey. (You should see the things she drops around the house and expects me to pick up: spoons, boxes, cans, plastic jugs, containers, tissues, and towels. The list goes on and on.) It was too small an area for me to show them what a great puller I am.
Speaking of pulling, I know I told you last time that I pulled wheel chairs and drawers and doors in the kitchen. This month I actually pulled open the sliding glass door; it’s heavy, but I stuck with it until I got it. I do it just about every day now.
Just in case you might be worried that the life of a Hero Dog in training is all work with no play, I wanted to be sure and tell you about the fun thing I learned this month. Stacey and her daughter Nicole and I were on a lovely walk in the woods one day. We were on our way back to the car when I heard and smelled water – lots of it. I raced towards the source, bringing Stacey right along with me on the other end of my 15 foot leash! I ran down the muddy creek bank and waded right in. After “mucking” about a bit, as Stacey called it, she threw a stick into the creek and I proceeded to go to get it. Wouldn’t you know that floor didn’t just move under my feet – it disappeared completely! It was either forget about that stick or keep on going.
I kept right on going. There was cheering and clapping from the muddy bank as I paddled away with all four paws as fast as I could. I brought that stick back and we played that game several more times; Stacey called it swimming. I call it fun.