You know those crazy stories we have all heard where an unsuspecting woman gives birth without realizing she was even pregnant? I kind of relate to that woman now.
Last Saturday, September 16th, Gizmo and I successfully completed the public access testing required for a dog to become a certified service dog. The test is used to demonstrate that I am capable of handling the dog in public and that the dog demonstrates manners appropriate for public access. He had to be exposed to food in a public arena without attempting to take it, remain sitting while I walked away, stay calm when other animals entered his space, and demonstrate many other skills. Gizmo handled the entire test beautifully, and I was so happy for him! We returned to the parking lot and our trainer, Rob, gave me some pointers in loading and unloading Gizmo. He then handed me the leash and said, “He’s ready to go.”
“Ready to go? As in ready to go home – to my house – permanently?”
Indeed. After discussing some financial arrangements and other details, I loaded up Gizmo and started my drive home in a shocked stupor of thought. I knew this day was coming but had not prepared myself. I was completely unprepared. The house was in its usual state of shambles – a state that I guess Gizmo may as well become acquainted with sooner than later – and I was unsure how hubby and Luke would react. I didn’t know how I would react. I’ve never really had a real pet – aside from a couple of strays taken in and loved for a short time. This guy was literally going to be a new member of the family, and we had nothing prepared to welcome him.
With no small amount of trepidation, I unloaded Gizmo and took him into our home to meet his match. Although Luke has met Gizmo before, we have not done much training directed at bonding the two of them. As I brought them together, Luke threw his arms around the dog’s neck in a nose-to-nose death grip; his eyes lit up playfully and he puffed out his cheeks in his typical greeting to a loved one, then screeched, “DO YOU WANT GIZMO TO DO A BLOWFISH FACE?!”
What do you think, Rob? You down for training this dog to make a happy blowfish face for the man?
We still have a lot of work to do. Gizmo is certified as a public access service dog, but we will still need regular, professional training sessions to help us integrate him into the family. Our greatest accomplishment with the new team is that Luke is no longer trying to poke Gizmo’s eyes out! Booyah for babysteps!