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Friday, May 21, 2010

A Walk in the Park

I wondered if something was wrong with FLD Mike.  It was mid-afternoon.  We had not taken our daily walk.  By now he should have been bugging me to do SOMETHING, yet there he was, lying on the cool kitchen-floor tile.  Content.  I planned to take him to a Leader Dogs for the Blind puppy-group outing at Dodge Park after dinner and in defense of his excitement to be around the other puppies I wanted to make sure he was tired.  (By now you must remember my adage:  "A tired puppy is a good puppy.")

Hey, Mike, want to go to Sam's with me?  He lifts his head to gaze at me, then plops it back down on the tile.  Come on, let's go!  I urge.  He pulls himself up and lumbers over.

At the truck, FLD Mike takes his time to jump into his place on the passenger side floorboard.  It's curious to watch him think about it.  Today he doesn't take any longer than usual to finally make up his mind.  He hops in.

There are only a few things on my list, so our shopping trip shouldn't take long.  FLD Mike heels easily beside me until we get into the store.  He plants his front paws, locks his legs, ducks his head, and glances up at me.  I can see the white crescents at the bottom of his eyes.  This is his typical request to "park," but we took care of that already.

Mike, heel!  I encourage, bending slightly to tap my left leg.  He heels, but at every aisle-turn (Mike, left.  Mike right.), he resists in the same manner.  I elicit my "baby-talk" voice for more encouragement and we make our rounds.  Whenever I pause to select an item, FLD Mike takes the opportunity to lie down.  I take the opportunity to work on our STAY command while filling my cart, as it is unlikely he'll be motivated to move on his own!

After dinner, I wonder if I should even take Mike to our Future Leader Dog (FLD) puppy outing.  I decide it's okay to do so when Mike has no problem scarfing up his food.  He's fine; maybe he's just worn-out from our recent trip to North Carolina.  At least he'll be easy to handle.

FLD Mike snoozes on our drive over to Dodge Park, but when he sees the other FLDs gathering at the shelter, he turns into "crazy dog."  Well, crazy for laid-back Mike, anyway!  We backwards walk a bit on our way over to meet the group.  I'm not worried any more that something is wrong with him.

Once assembled, our puppy-counselor Kathie tells us, "Today we are all going to switch dogs!"  As we trade leashes, I can almost read our puppies' minds.  "Cool, I wonder what I can get away with walking with this new person!"

We puppy-raisers rise to the challenge!  We heel our FLDs single-file down a paved path along the banks of the Clinton River, working to keep our puppies' focus in the midst of difficult distractions:  bicyclists, joggers, roller-bladers, dog-walkers, kids, and ducks!

Puppies and raisers alike relax at the end of our walk, and enjoy some drinks of cool water.  Our FLD puppy outing proves to be a delightful experience.  I'm glad we came, and I'm sure that FLD Mike would agree!

If you are interested in becoming a puppy-raiser, please don't hesitate to contact the Leader Dogs for the Blind, either through their website here, or by calling 888-777-5332 for more information.  (Tell them you read about it on this blog!) Leader Dogs is in need for more puppy-raisers--you'll meet a lot of great people, learn more about dogs, have fun, and help someone to boot. Don't delay, call now--you'll never regret it!

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