Don’t have time for some of the longer dog stories in this issue? Here are a few short stories to savor.
Retiring My Leash
Hi, I’m Praline. I’m a yellow lab guide five years old. And I want to tell you that I have a new leash. It’s nice and stiff, and it’s mine. But it’s not the same. It’s the end of an era. You’ve probably had to replace your leash, but this is much more than that to me.
I’m the 6th guide dog for my person Deb. I guess dogs 1 and 2 got their own leashes from the school, but soon after dog 3 came, Deb and her housemate Ann moved to our big house in Seattle. That was 28 years ago. Because they had double-bolted locks, they decided to put their house keys on their dogs’ leashes for convenience. Deb’s dad used a steel cable to attach them. And they were indeed attached.
When dog 4 came, they discovered that it would be nearly impossible to remove the keys. So she got the leash and dog 3 retired with dog 4’s leash. Same with dog 5, and then to me, dog 6.
That’s all well and good except that all of us, including me of course, have chewed on that wonderful leash. We all thought it should have our initials carved into it with our teeth. That much chewing is hard on leather, I guess.
Well, the inevitable happened. We were on our way to the state Guide Dog Users Spring Fling when Deb pulled sharply on my leash because I was distracted. And she broke it. My leash was now in two pieces, one attached to me. I was so shocked, I didn’t even bolt for it.
We rushed to a small-town hardware store where they all gathered around and determined how to staple my leash. Actually it’s probably the biggest event there in the last 30 years or so. I’m surprised it didn’t make the papers. They all agreed it was a temporary solution and I must have a new leash right away. Just like that, they were going to retire our official leash.
When we got home, Dad made a valiant effort and finally removed the keys. Then they gave me my new leash and admired how beautiful it looked on me. But it’s not the same.
It’s ironic that just a few months before we’d moved from that wonderful house in Seattle, and now my leash has retired too after serving all of us dogs since 1991.
So give your leash a good chew for me, and remember to otherwise treat it well!
— Praline (Deb Cook Lewis’ dog)
I Scream, You Scream …
Five hours after returning home with my first guide dog, we went on our first exploratory walk together, my dad trailing several feet behind. On our return home, I heard a kid squeal and run toward us, but my dog kept right on going.
“Good girl!” I said.
When my dad caught up with us as we were turning into our driveway, he told me that my dog had snatched an entire ice cream cone out of that squealing child’s hand — without breaking stride.
“Why didn’t the kid scream or something?” I asked, a bit embarrassed.
“It happened so fast she was too shocked to scream,” he said, trying hard not to laugh.
Thus began my adventures with my first guide dog, a Weimaraner named Heidi.
— Peter Altschul