Tuesday, August 17, 2021


After a ten-day adjustment period, Stow and Shiro started their official training this week. Day one got us off to a bumpy start when Shiro sneaked some food that Stow dropped on the floor at Qdoba and then vomited it up the middle of Costco. On the bright side, it wasn't runny, so it didn't go everywhere, but on the less bright side, there was SO MUCH of it and neither the trainer nor I had enough paper products in our bags to deal with it. Saying I needed to clean up a mess, I grabbed a handful of napkins from the nearest food sample station. The napkins were smaller than I expected, though, so I ended up taking more than was socially appropriate apparently, because as I walked away, I heard the employee muttering under her breath about my bad manners. 


Stop number two at Party City didn't go a whole lot better--well, ok, I guess it went better than dealing with a pile of vomit, but there was still a hiccup. When we rounded the corner in our search for birthday plates, Shiro started barking. Nothing sounds louder than a dog barking where they're not supposed to bark (except maybe your baby when it is crying on an airplane), so I was mortified. Turns out she was just really surprised by the giant cardboard stork at the end of the aisle (aren't we all?). I pretended not to know Stow and the trainer and went on with my shopping while they showed Shiro that the bird was not, in fact, real or dangerous. This is clearly why I am not the trainer.

Things have gotten easier each day. Stow and Shiro have trained on campus, at Farm and Fleet, at school, in Walmart, and pretty much anywhere else we can think of. They are both learning what to expect from each other, and Stow is starting to understand what he should do when he wants support from Shiro. The main things we hope she can help with are his anxiety and resultant avoidant and/or impulsive behavior. We are already seeing a big differences with these things at home and when we are out. He is more willing to go places and is less reticent in social situations. Plus, he's learning a lot about responsibility as he works to take good care of his new canine friend. 

Holding hands.

But let’s be honest, Stow and Shiro aren't the only ones being trained this week. Over the past several days, all of us have learned some things. Ren and I have learned that some dogs REALLY love to eat rocks; just how far down a dog’s throat you have to stick a pill so she’ll swallow it; what the appropriate time frame is for picking up poop before it gets consumed (ewwwwww); and that even well-trained puppies need some time to adjust. Falcon has learned that there is enough golden retriever love to go around (times a hundred!!); and that she should never underestimate the stubbornness of her beloved cats. And, Sky has learned that an early morning run with the dog is oddly refreshing and that SOMETIMES it's ok to take a risk and try something new, even if it doesn't seem all that logical.

In the car on our way to training today, Stow forlornly worried that if he grows up his life won't be fun anymore. He cried as he thought about not being able to go places or do things together. I remember being equally scared of change when I was his age, and I still remember what my mom said to me when I had the same conversation with her: "We can never know where life is going to lead. All we can do is be grateful for all of the great things we've already experienced and keep living our lives the best way we know how. " That's what I told Stow in the car today. As a person who never imagined I would be a dog owner, much less the parent of a kid with a service dog, this has been such an incredible experience! I'm really glad my mom was right.
Everybody Needs a Rock

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