True to an earlier post, I have been living my life out. My partner and I have simply been us... where we go, we hold hands. We interact with the general public, retail and otherwise, holding hands, arm in arm, or some form of ritualistic together symbol. To be sure, we aren't making out in the street or the middle of Wal-Mart, but we are together nevertheless.
Often, no one seems to notice. They are either oblivious to our presence in its entirety or they just simply don't care. Occasionally, people try to stare without being noticed, and when I make eye contact and smile, they tend to whither away, turn away, or suddenly realize the lint on their sleeve is the most important thing in the world to them right then.
Last night was a little different.
We walked into our regular Subway last night, hand in hand, as usual. And we were received with snickers from a small table. Two guys and one gal. I hesitate to call them boys and girls because they were older than that. But I couldn't call them men and women, because they were giggling as we walked by and that doesn't seem to fit men and women. At any rate... they were giggling and as we got right next to them, one of the guys fully laughed out loud. I suspected that we were the topic of their humor right away but didn't want to be so conceited as assume it was us. We ordered our food and paid and my partner needed to use the bathroom,so I stood and waited. The group got up and one of the guys commented to the sandwich artist how much he really enjoyed the sandwich she made him. They threw their things away and stepped out the door. Then one of the boys - and yes, now he is a BOY, turned, opened the door again and yelled...........
And off they went. They had yelled it loud enough that my partner in the bathroom heard it.
I walked out the door, intending to defend my honor in some way I suppose, and they were gone. I don't mean off in the distance in the parking lot, but flat out gone. They must have run as fast as they could to get around the corner of the building to be out of sight in case we followed.
To her credit, and I suppose, Subway's credit as well, the sandwich artist confirmed with me what had just been said and she said, with seemingly sincere conviction, well, THEY won't be allowed back in THIS store again... how rude!
What WOULD I have said, if they were still out there, perhaps waiting for my response?
I thought of several replies:
It takes one to know one! (sound familiar?)
Perhaps I would have tried to engage in and intelligent discussion on the meaning of the word faggot with them....after all, I am not a bundle of sticks.... or a sewing stitch or a meatball dish from the UK.....
Thoughts of penis size comments came flitting about my brain.
In the end, I am sure it was better to not have engaged these particular people at this particular time. After all, it was just a word. And words can never hurt me, right? So I have been told.
But it did bring up a question for me.
When would be a good time? A "good" circumstance?
I don't know the answer to that.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Didn't realize how much I would miss noise. To be sure, the riot that was exiting the house, isn't missed.... The demands for breakfast RIGHT NOW and dinner RIGHT NOW.... also not missed...
But the tap tap tap of the feet behind me everywhere I went.... the sighs of disgust or pleasure as she laid on her bed... the cute little howl she would sometimes make.... the 'whispers' she tried to please me with... the harumph as she finally gave up following me around and would lay in the middle of the room to track me anyway....
All that noise... I miss it. There is so much more I miss. I know I grieved the loss of her working life a few years ago, but even that is feeling fresh and new again.
Time. It will take time.
I know that.
But still, the tears fall.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
There comes a time in every dog handlers life when you must say goodbye. Sometimes it is sudden, sometimes it is not.... but say goodbye you must. They give us so much... their heart, their dedication, their love, their work ethic.... they teach us so much.... and they are never around long enough. 3 years.... 13 years... it is never long enough. We ask them to do so much for us.... and they gladly do it... just show me how, they ask. And if you do your part, they do you proud. They want nothing more back from us than love, protection and care. From beginning to end.
She came to me at 6 weeks of age... I had watched her from the day she was born to the day I took her home... I was going to make her into a SEARCH DOG. I had been down the road before, and had made my mistakes. Now, I KNEW what I was doing. So she was going to be IT. At 6 weeks of age, we were up at 5 am playing ball, so she had play drive. We were doing puppy run aways at 8 weeks old to instill in her the work that I wanted from her - to make it second nature. I didn't inhibit any behavior so I could find out what would be HER alert. And I got... a jump alert that she added a bark to. I let her pick her reward, so I knew which paycheck she wanted - we went through a tennis ball (fantastic toy, but not the end all be all for her for search....) a soft frisbee - worked great until she some how injured her mouth and refused to touch it again.... finally she chose a kong. Actually, she stole a kong from the vet office from our 'forgotten toy' bin.... I still have it. And then from there we were set for adventure.....
Her first find was a set of keys. My friend had left them in the grass at softball field one evening and then they turned the lights out.... after many people searched for them, I brought her out and she took all of 5 minutes and she found them. Her first live human find was of an alzheimer's man that had walked away from his home in the city of Chico. They had been searching for him for hours before they finally called Butte SAR. We had been working only a short time when her head popped up and over the small rise she flew. Then she was coming back to me, but she kept looking over her shoulder. I could then see our missing person, continuing to walk from yard to yard and she was trying her darndest to keep him in sight, and still keep coming to me to tell me what she had found. Her most memorable find, for me, was of a suicidal subject that had hidden himself in a van, and passed out. The night was dark and I was so focused on my dog that when she alerted, I didn't understand what she was telling me. She kept taking me to a clump of grass... that was all I could see. And when I didn't understand what she was telling me she finally flung herself up against the back of the van that I was standing next to and never saw. I got the message then.
In her life, she was mission ready with CARDA, Tehama County, and Butte County. She was mission ready in Wilderness, Water, Cadaver and BUDD (Basic Urban Disaster). She made an impression everywhere she went, and her voice wasn't soon forgotten. Many a boat driver who had experienced her before cringed with they saw us coming because she never shut up on a boat... except when she was pin pointing scent. Any thing that remotely looked like it could be a search area, brought out the barking monster that I created. No trip was for 'pleasure'... there had to be a search at the stopping point..... just ask her, she told you.
When I thought I wanted to quell her barking, and discovered a veterinary behaviorist was conducting a research project on barking dogs and the best method to control the barking, right here in town, I jumped right up and said PLEASE pick me! Dr Yin did... and then, within a week, rejected her for the research project, saying she was too well behaved... she never barked for Dr Yin.
Time, age and infirmity caught up to Please. I can't say she live a short life. Who can complain about nearly 14 years? Her working life was cut short due to joint problems, but her life with me was long and full.
In the end, I had to give to her the respect she had given to me over all the years we had together. I had to allow her her dignity. I had to say goodbye and let her exit gracefully. I couldn't be selfish and keep her around for me, knowing she was uncomfortable and in pain.
So, on December 5, 2009, I said goodbye to Please. The search dog that showed me what a search dog should be. The search dog that taught ME more about search dogs than I ever taught her about being a search dog.