Friday, April 15, 2016


Debby, Ellie, Trooper and Henry during a Show 'n Tell earlier this week,
Chalk up another first for Trooper: His maiden performance in front of an audience.

My ten-year-old granddaughter Ellie had asked me to bring my service dog to her suburban Washington, D.C., school for a little show 'n tell about how a deaf grandfather/author and schnauzer mix service dog team work together.

Ellie proved to be an adept mistress of ceremonies, introducing the subject and eliciting questions from the fourth graders.

We talked about the books and deafness, and Ellie held up copies of my nonfiction titles. She told about lipreading and explained the meaning of the title of my memoir What’s That Pig Outdoors? The children seemed especially interested in that.

The youngsters clearly had been thinking about deafness when they asked, “If you could not hear, how did you learn in elementary school?” They also wanted to know if I played a musical instrument (yes, very badly) and participated in sports.

Then we took up the subject of service dogs.

The class wanted to know where Trooper came from, how he was trained, and what he did for me. Their questions were remarkably penetrating for fourth graders, and even the bumptious boys paid particular attention. Nothing holds a kid’s attention like a small dog.

Through it all Trooper lay quietly at my feet as a well-trained service animal should.

Then it came time for him to perform.

Partly to insure his cooperation—he had never before encountered an audience of any kind, let alone youngsters—Ellie and I had decided that she would do the name call and door knock simultaneously. We’d practiced it several times at home.

While everyone held their breath, Ellie went behind the classroom door, closed it, and knocked while calling “Henry!”

Trooper immediately leaped up on me and at my “What? What?” led me straight to the door.

He absolutely nailed it. 

We were all proud. Including Trooper.

Afterward came a round of petting, and then we made our goodbyes.

Trooper's a star.

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