Whenever I tell people that it takes 2 to 3 years to train a service dog, the response I invariably get is "Wow -- it takes that long?" It may seem like a long time, but let me tell you, it really flies by. This really hit me tonight at the Helping Paws graduation, where I saw Keona -- the first Helping Paws dog I ever met -- graduate.
It may be hard to believe now, but I really didn't want to train a service dog. It was Doreen's idea. I thought it would be too much work, but Doreen persuaded me to go to the Helping Paws open house, ostensibly for "research."
I realized as soon as I walked in that Doreen had set a trap. The training center was full of adorable little puppies. I didn't know much about dogs, but I knew it was impossible to do any sort of objective "research" when you have a cute puppy in front of you.
Trying desparately to avoid getting suckered into something, I headed straight for the cheese plate that had been set up in the kitchen. I figured if I were holding a plate full of cheese, I'd have the perfect excuse to avoid meeting any puppies.
As I was greedily piling cheese onto a paper plate, I noticed little Keona lying quietly by the table. She was only a few months old, but she seemed mature beyond her months. She had her chin resting on her paw, and she was looking up at me, somewhat disapprovingly.
"Man," she said, "you have no self-control."
With these well-behaved pups, holding a plate full of cheese would not be a problem. As we all know now, this would not be the last time my brilliant plans would be foiled by a puppy.
Whenever I think of Keona, I think of that perfect little puppy, but tonight on stage, she was a beautiful, poised young lady. She grew up so fast!
I tried taking a picture of Keona on stage, but I forgot to turn off the flash. The result is a nicely illuminated picture of the back of someone's head, with a dark stage in the background. I guess it's no surprise I get outsmarted so often by little puppies.
I did, however, manage to get a few other decent pictures. The first one is of "Larry," who was there to remind people that the Americans with Disabilities Act protects service animals, not just service dogs.
Good point, Milo, but I doubt there are many service lobsters at work.
Here's a good picture of the "Four Musketeers," i.e., the four boys from Dempsey's litter. From left to right are Benny, Hudson, Sawyer, and Dempsey. It may look like I'm choking Dempsey, but I promise no animals were harmed in the making of this picture.
The last good picture I got is of Walter. He is growing up to be such a handsome young man! He's already matured a bit since we last had him at our house, back in July.
Congratulations to all the teams that graduated tonight!