Go Get ‘em, Millsy

By Anne Garretson

A short time from now Miller will move along from his puppy training with me to his service dog training with Caroline. He won’t be my sidekick anymore. The adorable puppy stage is over far too soon. Why does it all go so darn fast? Wasn’t he a squirmy, little imp in my arms just a few weeks ago? It makes me sad, yes, very.

Well, sort of.

I’m so excited – I can’t wait for this 70-pound mass of energy to go!!!

Am I excited to give him back because he’s gotten big and strong? No, that’s not it. It is true that he’s no longer the little pup I can carry away from danger, but we made a pact early on – I only ask him to do things I know he’s capable of mastering and he always tries his best to succeed. He gets it that we’re on the same team. So when we see another dog we work together; we can calmly go on our merry way without a distraction interfering.

Am I excited for him to leave because of my favorite pair of hand-knit socks that he used as a tug toy? It was morning playtime and he was too quiet that day. That’s when I discovered the reason why.  Little puppies are just like little human kids; they make mistakes, and that’s when we teach them right and wrong. He leaves my things alone now, so that’s not it either. Now that he’s grown-up, he endures the frenzy of my morning routine with a hearty chew on his bone – a canine equivalent to a relaxing cup of coffee.

Am I excited to say goodbye because of his silly counter-surfing attempts as a young pup? Miller got tall at a pretty young age and discovered he could reach a whole new world. It took a little work, but now when my bank teller tries to get him to put his paws up on the counter so she can give him a treat, he politely sits instead. He learns these lessons quickly and is really responsive to my cues. That’s a great thing for a dog whose job will be to pay attention to the mood of his kid.

Am I excited to rid myself of this licking machine? He takes in the world around him by kissing it. Germaphobes, be warned. Recently, on a visit to my local special needs pre-school his kisses were transforming. A little boy who’s non-verbal and very disengaged stood near Miller. He was just barely close enough for that giraffe-like neck and tongue to reach the boy’s hand. Instead of jumping away he turned his hand up, stepped a wee bit closer and the party began. Miller licked and licked that little kid, who faced Miller, smiled, laughed and made eye contact with him. The teacher nearly burst into tears. So there we have it.

All his lessons in good manners and partnership are my lead for this…

That moment with that little boy is why I’m so excited for my pup to leave me…

He’s ready.

Go get ‘em, Millsy. Show us what you can do.

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