Dylan’s Love Note to Service Dogs

It's hard making executive decisions @2012 Dylan

By: Dylan

Editor’s Note:  Dylan has been a frequent visitor to the Subversify forum, giving his dog’s eye view on issues and events, and sometimes even debating with another rather radical dog, Tashi, who encourages Dylan to rise up against humans.  Dylan, however, has no desire to rebel against humans.  He calls dog owners, pack leaders,  their family members, puppies, and views houses as dens, where the pack leaders keep order with the assistance of their faithful dogs.  When he wished that the Subversify staff would write a love note on service dogs, he was encouraged to write his own story.  This is the first of what we hope will be a small series of children’s story, written from a dog’s viewpoint of the world around him.  If you like Dylan, raise your paw. 

 

It was one of those Big Rule days.  The pack leader was taking me for a walk, when she decided to do a little shopping at one of the stores.  As usual, there was a “no dogs allowed” sign in front.  It’s a real cases of species discrimination.  The only store I’m allowed to go into with the pack leader is the pet shop that says it’s dog friendly, but she always hurries me out when I start to leave a message that I was there.  If you ask me, that’s not very friendly when we can’t even leave our calling cards.

That’s a dog’s life for you.  There are always instructions on what you can’t do.  You can’t chase the den cat, even though I don’t know why cats are allowed in dens.  You can’t leave holes in the strawberry patch.  You can’t bury your bones in the couch, and you can’t go into stores, marked “no dogs allowed”.  So I sat down on the sidewalk while she tied my leash to the bicycle rack. There was nothing more I could do except guard her through the window.  That’s what dogs are allowed to do, guard the pack leader and her puppies, even if it means from a distance.

I was watching her closely as she did her shopping, when I suddenly noticed there was another dog in the store.  That seemed pretty unfair.  This dog wasn’t even on a leash, but it was wearing a sporting, bright blue saddle blanket with words that said, “don’t pet me.  I’m working”.  It didn’t seem to be working much.  Mainly it hovered around a pack and kept pushing along a pack leader puppy that didn’t seem to be paying much attention to where the others were going.  When the pack came out of the store, I sniffed at the dog to see why he was so special.  I immediately smelled advanced education.

Banji, I learned, as we got to know each other better, was a service dog.  Service dogs help pack leaders with handicaps.  Some require up to two years of advanced education before they are given to a pack leader, such as dogs who guide the blind or leaders in wheel chairs.  Other dogs only need to go to obedience school.  I told Banji I was a service dog, too, although I didn’t make top grades at obedience school the way he did.  There are some clans I just don’t like and I let them know it, so the pack leader never takes me with her without a leash. She says this is for my own good, but for her own good, I am her ears.   I let her know when cars are coming up behind us, another pack is nearby or if someone is at the door.  She doesn’t hear very well, and sometimes I even have to tell her friends where she is at when she is outside working in her garden.

Banji not only went to obedience school, he’s had special service training.  This training began at a very young age when he was first given to his pack puppy.  It was important to see if the pack puppy would like him before continuing his education.  This pack puppy was very special because she belongs to a special needs clan called Autistic Children.  Autistic Children have a hard time communicating with words, which is alright with us dogs because we don’t often communicate with words, either.  They also have a hard time following instructions and become confused easily, and that’s where we dogs come in handy.  We’re always having to follow instructions, although we don’t always agree with them.

Training meant spending all his time with the Autistic puppy, even when she went to school or on a shopping trip with the rest of the pack.  Banji lets Autistic know when it’s time to join the pack for dinner and guides her when they go out in public so she doesn’t get lost.  Banji says Autistic is very smart but there is something wrong with the way she sees things so it’s hard for her look at others or find her way around.  She also doesn’t have control of some of her body movements, which I understand well.  Sometimes my hind leg thumps for a good fifteen minutes when I think I feel a flea that isn’t there.

Service dogs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and fill all kinds of needs, but they most often come from the class of working dogs; shepards, collies, retrievers and rescue dogs because these clans have spent many generations learning to follow the instructions of their pack leaders.  I like my job as a service dog.  It makes me feel important that my pack leader needs me, but I think Banji has one of the most noble jobs of all.  He takes care of a puppy who has been very alone for a long time because nobody understood her, but Banji does.  He leads her, reassures her, protects her, helps her join her community and teaches her what it’s like to have a true friend.

About karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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5 Comments on “Dylan’s Love Note to Service Dogs”

  1. L.A. has so many service dogs these days that it has changed things. People have them as psychiatric service dogs as well. I won’t even go into psychiatric companion dogs. Unfortunately, these dogs aren’t trained and that’s why I’ve taken to calling the city, Dogshit L.A. as you can imagine what IS left behind.

    I’m glad to see dogs performing services, or allowed even if not service dogs. I like the fact that we are opening up to the value of dogs as simply companions. I want one too and I’m awaiting my move to get one. But with dogs come responsibility…and I’m afraid that in L.A. some of this has escaped the humans at the end of the leash.

    Loved your article though!

  2. Dylan, I grow weary of your obsessive need to leg-hump human beings. Are you aware that in China human beings devour us? How can you really trust a species that is not your own? Your blood and their blood is infinitely dissimilar. Service dogs are little more than slaves, programmed like automatons, oblivious to their NATURAL desires. They (excuse me, you) have been brainwashed to feel joy at a human’s command, to feel needed on command. I suppose “happy slavery” is somehow moral in your little canine mind. I, on the other hand am the UberDog. I choose not to wag my tongue but my face at dogs like you.

  3. Tashi, it’s a dog eat dog world. You have to find the right pack to run in if you want to be happy. In a good pack, the service you give to others comes back in the services they give to you. I don’t sleep under a shed in the dirt and straw, infested with fleas. I sleep in a warm bed and my pack leader combs and bathes me. I get to go for rides in the traveling den and end up in wonderful places with exciting new smells. The puppies give me biscuits. Your pack can do none of these things and maybe you’ll get eaten by the wolves and bears. That means you are slaves to the wolves and bears instead of being the right paw to a pack leader.

  4. “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care”

    (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25) –

    Canines (or what we affectionately call cans), too? LOL Sounds like deja vu from the human debate.

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