Today I took FLD Mike and Gypsy on a dirt-road walk around Chain Lake in upper Michigan. Andy was off to Gaylord for a meeting.
Both dogs were anxious to go. After a long drive to get up here after puppy-class last night, and waiting around the cabin all morning for the technician from Century Link to connect our Internet access (so Andy can work from here and I won't have to drive to Alcona Park to make my blog posts), the three of us were ready for some physical activity.
Our afternoon excursion was just less than three miles. The shaded road took us close by a swimming beach filled with screaming kids. Gypsy wanted to get into the water too, which got Mike excited, but we passed on. I was proud of FLD Mike. He showed interest, nosing the air toward the youngsters, yet did not pull me off my feet to get to them.
Admittingly, we did a fair share of backwards walking for the first mile or so, but FLD Mike settled in to resist a chasing Boston Terrier loose from its owner (I was surprised how far back Mike's head could stretch), a flock of four wild turkeys strutting across the road in a dance-line, and several Monarch butterflies who seemed to take an interest in us.
Back at the cabin, after waiting his turn behind Gypsy for a long slurp of cool well-water, FLD Mike slid to the green-painted-wood floor with a huge sigh.
In less than one month, FLD Mike returns to Leader Dogs for the Blind. September 13 will be a sad day, but we are hopeful that Mike is destined to "live an exceptional life" as someone else's eyes.
I am ready.
I feel like I've done my best to get him ready. He isn't bothered by thunder, heavy traffic, or other loud noises; he tends to lie under foot, content to wait for me to get on the move; he settles in his crate at night or whenever we leave him alone in the house. He's confident and relaxed in public, although he does get worked up when we approach another dog. Something for me to work on, I suppose, during the next few weeks.
Mostly, these days, it seems we are both just biding time.
I overheard a puppy-raiser describe her Future Leader Dog as "leased" when asked the inevitable question "Isn't it hard to give them up?" That's it exactly! We turn them in on their first birthday when the lease is up. And exchange them for a "newer" model.