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Sunday, April 10, 2011

FLD Gus at the Library

Andy and I do a lot of reading now.  Well, even more reading than we did before our move north.

The only way to get more than two local television channels here is to pay for satellite TV (can't get cable).  Not interested, so we enjoy quiet evenings.  I curl up on the couch under my mom's hand-made afghan with a book.  If I'm lucky, I even get a foot-massage from Andy, who relaxes with his own book (or Kindle) at the other end.  And at our bare-bones townhouse (when commitments bring us downstate) there is no cable, no Internet.  We read.

Our trip south last week was short--down on Monday morning, home by Wednesday afternoon (on-spring-break nieces in tow).


Monday evening after dinner Andy said, "Let's go to the library.  I need some new books."

Yippee!  One of our favorite "dates."  Book browsing.

I hustled FLD Gus (and Gypsy, our van-guard) out to "park."  The busy main branch of the Clinton-Macomb Library offers excellent training opportunities for a Future Leader Dog puppy:  two sets of automatic sliding glass doors at the entrance, shiny floors next to carpeted floors inside, a gargantuan revolving globe that hovers over a sparkly granite staircase, and a kid's section upstairs with statues--and real kids!

FLD Gus practiced SIT, DOWN, and STAY as I browsed the Fiction section for Jane Austen's  book, Persuasion.  I have to admit that I don't remember ever reading Austen and after watching The Jane Austen Book Club DVD on a good friend's recommendation, I felt it was time that I did.  (I selected Persuasion for much the same reason the movie character "Grigg" was accused--it is Austen's shortest novel!)

Persuasion in hand, it was time for me to "work" FLD Gus up the wide staircase.  At the base of the first of two flights I said, Gus. Sit.  Leader Dogs for the Blind advises puppy-raisers to have our puppies SIT before stairs in order to bring their distract-able attention to us.

FLD Gus sat and immediately stretched his nose to sniff the first step.  Gus, leave it, I said, then began our ascent with, Gus, heel.  At almost every step an invisibly delicious-smelling something drew his sniffer--he cared not a whit about the slipperiness of his footing, or the groaning globe looming above the landing.  He sat again before the next flight, after my command and a finger-poke to refresh his attention.  Upward...

I paused before the top step, a quick restraint until FLD Gus accepted slack in the leash.


"Is that Gus?!"

FLD Gus stepped up to the carpeted second floor on a loose leash, but instantly jerked toward the librarian waiting for us.  I stopped, and took a (very) short step backwards; Gus got a move on back to my left side.  Gus, sit.

Yes, I finally replied, comfortable with Gus sitting calmly.

"He has gotten so BIG!" She said.  "He was SO little that time I saw him trying to come down those stairs!"

I was surprised that she remembered FLD Gus from his first trip to the library last September, only five days after I brought him home from Leader Dogs.  He had done a fair job coming up the steps to the second floor, but was nervous coming down, so I sat on a step below him to encourage him with my wiggling fingers.  The librarian spotted us from her station behind the first-floor information desk, clattered up the stairs in her high-heels to see the cute little guy up close, and sat on the steps (in spite of wearing a fashionable skirt) to chat with us.

Yes, he certainly is!  I agreed.  And stairs aren't nearly so scary to him anymore.


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