This post is part of the first Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. This month is hosted by After Gadget. Her topic was ‘The first’
I think one of the hallmarks of an important relationship in our lives is remembering ‘our first…’ The first time we met, our first date, our first kiss, our first holiday, his first step, her first word… we remember many firsts during our lives.
Needless to say, I remember many firsts with Hudson. Some of them are sappy-sweet, some of them are funny, some were frustrating, and a few were even a little sad.
I remember when we first met. Hudson wasn’t terribly impressed with me and was much more interested in being close to his trainer. That set the tone for the next couple of days, and it was disappointing…
…but on the other hand, I remember the first time he was happy to see me, running to the end of his leash to greet me on the 5th day of training. It was the first time Hudson showed any real emotion towards me, the first hint that he might like me rather than think of me as an inconvenience he had to obey.
I remember the first time he got upset that I forgot him. I got up and went to the bathroom, which was connected to the bedroom, while I left him tied down at his bed. According to the boyfriend, he stared at the bathroom door the whole time I was gone.
I remember the first time I tried to fit us both into normal sized bathroom. It was a porta potty at my service dog organization. Yeah…that was…interesting. Hudson had his gear on, and his harness is a big bulky thing, and well, porta potties aren’t exactly big things. It was…squishy. Neither of us cared much for the situation, but Hudson still displayed his first weird behavior: he did his best to get his snout between my knees so he could watch me pee. (We have since managed tighter spaces, but I’ll get to that later)
I remember realizing that with Hudson, I didn’t need my crutches – in fact, that I walked better with Hudson than I did with my crutches. It was a strange and liberating feeling.
I remember our first flight. It was stressful for both of us, but especially for him. He didn’t like the small space, he didn’t like the noise, he didn’t like getting on the plane at all, and I can’t say I blame him. I don’t like any of that stuff, and I know why I’m going through it! (We did, by the by, manage to squeeze both of us into the bathroom on the plane. Yes, an average sized airplane bathroom. He had his harness off and sat between my legs, and we barely managed to close the door.
I remember the first time I had to defend Hudson. Introducing Hudson to my parents’ dogs was a pain. One of my parents’ dogs is a bully, and Hudson…well, I think Hudson is NOW learning to be a bit more assertive, but at the time, Hudson had been through 2 years of training to be a good puppy who makes nice with others. Even though my parents’ dogs are very dear to me, dogs that I’d thought of as being ‘my’ dogs, seeing Hudson being bullied made me angry. He was my poor little pooch who didn’t know how to defend himself. I couldn’t explain, on that trip, why I couldn’t allow Cody to bully Hudson. But I knew he couldn’t, and I pinned Cody over and over during that week and argued with my parents when they wouldn’t help.
On that same visit Hudson met my nephew for the first time. My nephew was about a year old at the time, and like most kids that age, he was grabby. The first thing he did on meeting Hudson was to grab Hudson’s nose. Hudson was…not so happy with that. Poor dog spent the whole vacation trying to hide from my nephew and my parents’ dog.
I remember the first time I tried to take Hudson swimming. Hudson decided it was fun, in a shallow lake on a warm sunny day. It was also the first time I lost when trying to defend my right to access with my dog, so it’s kind of a mixed memory. (On my way off the swimming beach, I complained about being turned away, and the supervisor was willing to listen and in the end agreed with me, so it wasn’t even a total loss – she said she’d educate all of their lifeguards, so they’d know)
I remember the first time someone kicked Hudson. It’s something that as a service dog partner, you unfortunately have to expect will happen sometimes. We were on a trolley, and went to get off at our stop, and someone wasn’t paying enough attention and kicked Hudson’s hind leg out from under him. Like most service dogs, Hudson’s reaction wasn’t defensive – he just tried to cringe under/behind me so I’d protect him.
I remember the first time I saw Hudson really having fun with a dog who wasn’t a service dog. It was when we were visiting the boyfriend’s family for Christmas. We joked that he’d met his doggy girlfriend, because my boyfriend’s brother’s dog got along beautifully with Hudson. They tore around the big back yard, pausing to sniff for a while, and then took off again. It was the most running around I’d seen him do – my boy isn’t an athlete. It was also just about the happiest I’d seen him be, up to that point.
I remember the first time I felt like I really hurt Hudson. I slipped with the trimming shears and cut him. I felt all the worse because I didn’t realize what had happened and was trying to continue trimming him, while he was trying to sit down so I’d stop.
I remember the first time he barked…in his sleep. Hudson’s not a barker, it’s been completely trained out of him, so it startled me to hear him making funny barking noises in his sleep. He still barks in his sleep once or twice a week. He has paw-twitching dreams far more often.
Finally, I’ll add a recent first – our first trip to a dog park. It’s embarassing to me that it took us so long to get to a dog park, but it’s a combination of my health issues and only recently discovering that the little corner just a few blocks from us is properly fenced and marked as a dog park. Over our 3 visits there, I’ve watched Hudson starting to learn some entertaining things – that he likes other dogs, that things smaller than the 50-60 lb range are also dogs, and perhaps I’ve even seen the beginnings of Hudson learning to be assertive with other dogs.