Last night Debby and I returned from two weeks touring Iceland and picked up Trooper at son Conan's house.
We couldn't take him along on the trip because Iceland, a country very careful about the critters it allows over its borders, said Trooper would have to spend 30 days in quarantine at Keflavik airport. His status as a service dog in the United States made no difference.
We'd arranged—and paid for—the trip well before Trooper came to live with us last December. Similarly, we'd also booked a week's trip last January on VIA Rail's Canadian from Vancouver to Toronto, but we canceled that one on the suggestion of his trainer. She said it was too soon in our budding partnership to subject the dog to the stresses of travel while at the same time he and I were learning how to work with each other.
So: Did Trooper forget his training? Did he bond with Conan's family and turn his furry back on Debby and me?
No and no.
When we picked him up he greeted me with the same exuberant Facebook-video joy a returning soldier gets from his beloved pooch.
This morning we tested him on his service-dog tasks, alerting me to various sounds and leading me to their sources, and he aced every one.
After six months, Trooper and I are at last a team.
This dog seems to be extraordinarily adaptable, taking new experiences in stride. We've taken him on train trips to the Southwest and East Coast. He now divides his time between suburban Evanston and wilderness Upper Michigan, switching easily between city dog and country dog.
Our next mutual adventure very likely will be a November flight to Florida, then a week's Caribbean cruise to see how he adapts to shipboard life. As Debby and I get deeper into our seventies, cruising may take up more of our travels.
Cruise lines accommodate service dogs with four-by-four, wood-chip-filled "comfort stations" built on an outside deck. It may take a little effort to get Trooper accustomed to transacting his business in such a strange contraption, but if his recent history is a guide, things will go well.