August 22nd, 2007

Cut cuddle and be Cute

Happy birthday Julio

I woke up this morning, took my long acting medication and warmed up my
heatable herbal pack
then promptly went back to sleep. When Mom came home, Julio was there to greet her. Afterword, Mom told me to get up, and I just laid there a bit. It's hard to get up when you were just drifting back to sleep.

Julio came bouncing back to my room, and jumped on the bed. His wiggling, riggling and (I believe) giggling made it hard to be grumpy. He laid on my chest and stomach (at least I could breathe this time), and wagged his tail while licking my face. I finally got out of bed, and his bouncing and wagging provided amusement.

We looked in the pet toy aisle at Target after breakfast. You see, it's Julio's birthday, and I had no idea what to get him. None, whatsoever. What can I possibly give to such a wonderful, caring, silly, humorous and happy dog? How do you say thank you for someone who, on the worst of days is there to wake you up, and give you a reason to smile, all while interpretting a "right" command, a left hand guesture and alook behind you? How do I say thanks for the times he guided me flawlessly around obstacles I never knew existed until I heard the "Wow!" from the others around me? How do you explain how hard it is to not laugh when he does something naughty and looks at me like "I know I shouldn't, but you love me. It's okay this once, right?" Even though, you know, and I know it isn't "Just this once"?

And how do I quantify the times he's read body language and adjusted guiding speed accordingly, or kissed me after a painful exam, injection or encounter of the automobile variety? And how do I explain to others that he does "take care of me", but it's equal footing, as it were? The truth is, none of these things would fit on a birthday card. All I can give him is another year of love, hugs, kisses and clicks.

I can do my best to learn from him. I can click when appropriate, I can allow him to guide. I can give him the hardest thing to give; my trust.

Post Script: Julio got a Kong with peanut butter and carrots. He loved it, and when I wanted to make sure Baxter wasn't trying to steal it, Julio wagged his tail and playfully smacked my hand away "I got it Mommy. Don't touch," he seemed to say quite clearly. And, after all I just wrote, I discovered he'd eaten some people food out of Baxter's dish. What can I do? I scold, and that's it. But, later (much later), I have to laugh. As he runs up to me, with fries on his breath, a wagging tail and sloppy kisses, I go off to order another Nylabone, and pray for many more years of guidework.

Post Script 2: Julio is five today, but this is also the three year anniversary of the day we came home. Watch for further reflections from me or Julio soon.

Related Link:
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Julio and my book, which includes parts of our story.