Sunday, December 13, 2015

Life with Trooper

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.
Living with a new service dog “is like having a baby in the house,” Debby observed as we sank wearily into our recliners shortly after lunch yesterday. “Except that Trooper sleeps straight through the night.”

True. Our day began with a quick whiz-walk at 6 a.m., then after breakfast a brief working session in which Debby stood in the kitchen and called my name. Trooper alerted me in the TV room, then I followed him to the source of the call. Three times he nailed the task to fulsome praise.

Just before 8 came a nine-block trudge around the neighborhood, making sure the dog sat at every crosswalk. He still pulled eagerly at the leash. But he did his business.

At 9 we stopped at Office Depot to ship a couple of packages to our elder son’s family in Virginia. Trooper of course accompanied us, and I worked at getting him to do a down-stay for more than ten seconds while we did our own business. He improved to about 12 or 15 seconds, and earned a treat.

Then it was off to our doctor’s office in downtown Evanston to drop off some papers for my internist to sign. The day before, I had taken Trooper to City Hall to get his ten-dollar dog license, and on a whim asked the clerk if service dogs were maybe exempt from the fee. 

She asked her boss, who asked his boss, who asked his boss, and in about 20 minutes the clerk came back with an application for a service dog tag. No charge. 

But I had to take the application to my internist so that he could attest that his patient indeed was deaf and thus eligible for a service dog. In a few days I’ll have it back to take to City Hall with Troop’s rabies vaccination papers.

Having an official government collar tag that specifies its wearer is a service animal ought to help in any dispute over Trooper’s right to enter stores and restaurants. Not that there ever will be one.

After that we visited PetSmart and bought Troop a couple of collapsible bowls for traveling and a martingale collar for obedience training. That collar applies a gentle squeeze to the neck if the dog pulls on the leash.

Finally it was to the local Jewel for half an hour of hunting and gathering. Navigating a small dog and a heavily laden shopping cart through a busy suburban supermarket on a Saturday morning is  a wearying job. Shopping carts just don’t steer well one-handed; I needed the other hand to keep Trooper from being trampled in the scrum.

Note to self: Shop early in the middle of the week when there’s a lot less traffic. Then I can use the two-handed grip on cart and leash the way trainer Laura taught me.

Then came lunch, and Trooper’s early afternoon stroll. We napped for a while, and just before 5 p.m. I took him for a quick walk before his supper. He heeled much better with his new martingale collar.

At 9 we had our pre-bedtime outing, then collapsed.

I think I’m losing weight from all this activity. That’s a good thing. Trooper may be even better for my health than I’d thought.

Crashing on his personal futon at 9 p.m.


  1. Looks like you've made a terrific start. Do you ever look back and wonder why you didn't get a service dog earlier?

    1. I agree. And getting to follow along with the growing relationship between the two of you is fascinating. I was wondering how long before a train ride happened but you took care of that right away.