August 10, 2010

King Tut

Our wonderful friends, D&M, invited us (and Ruby, of course!) to join them at the King Tut exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. Cameras weren't permitted in the rooms, so I don't have photos to show, but that's kind of fitting. Because this post really isn't about an outing.

The exhibit was crowded, it was dark, and it was in a smaller space than maybe it should have been, but I found it intimate and fascinating. I studied the intricacies of tiny painted figures, followed the paths of detailed carvings, and marveled at the fibers of the perfectly preserved bed. I read every placard, lingered over mysterious boxes, imagined the weight of impossibly heavy earrings.

And as I got lost in these treasures, I forgot Ruby was there.

She was beside me all the while, at the other end of the leash, right where she's been since she was ten weeks old. But for the first time in our year-long journey, I unwittingly concentrated more on my surroundings than I did on her. That, for me, is monumental.

When you're a service puppy raiser and have a bouncy pup tethered to you for most of your waking moments, you pretty much catch about 20% of what's going on around you. At lunch, you miss entire conversations; in stores, you ask questions, yet still buy the wrong item. You don't mean to ignore anyone, but your attention is focused on one thing, and one thing only: that little yellow (or black, or chocolate, or tan) ball of fur and where her inquisitive snoot is pointing next.

The King Tut exhibit was the very first time I started to understand the feeling of what it might be like to have an assistance dog by your side. I went at my pace and did what I wanted rather than gauge my time to her tolerance level. She was silent and still as I stopped to examine each artifact and when I was ready to move on, I'd look down and she'd look up – each of us reassuring the other – and together we'd navigate around the crowd to our next stop. Having her by my side as I enjoyed the show was one of the most comfortable feelings I've ever experienced.

Our fellow blogger and service puppy raiser, Beth, of Alfie's World, compared a service dog' s education to stitching a quilt; it struck me as a very lovely and apt comparison. There is such repetition in the process of raising a service puppy that it almost came as a surprise on this ordinary outing, no different, really, than so many outings before, when I realized that the thousands of stitches and scraps and bits and pieces had taken on form and shape. What Ruby and I are creating, the potential of what she may someday become, is so very beautiful.


Lori Jablons said...

What a moving post. So, not only are you raising a service pup, you're raising a cultured service pup. Roo is the total package! :)

Heather said...

It's an amazing moment when the dog becomes something that you don't worry about, that you trust to handle herself. No matter what path Ruby chooses, just by feeling that you know she'll do great wherever she is.

KatieEGriffin said...

Great Job Ruby! Glad she allowed you to just enjoy something without worrying about what she was doing. This is a big step for her!

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

That brought tears to my eyes (BEFORE you mentioned Alf & me, grin!) It's really coming together, with all your hard work & patience & love. Ruby's going to be fantastic.

Scout 'n Freyja said...

It's that moment when you realize that they are there and that you trust them - that's when you, and the dog, are doing your job!

Just voted for Ruby in the contest!

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Mom says when she was a senior in HS, she and a few furiends kindasorta hooked out fur the day and went to see the King Tut exhibit in Washington!

Of khourse, that was like LAST century!


Donna Henderson said...

Bless your heart for training a service dog. I kept a pup out of my last litter of AKC German Shepherds but by the time he was six months old, I realized the idea of ever giving him up, even for the most-noble of causes, was an unrealistic plan. My tender heart could not have withstood that. I used to cry when I sold 8-week-old puppies!. So now I have a big-dog family; both parents and the pick of their last litter, who's MY service dog now. He goes everywhere with me, he's been to Florida, New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, Phoenix and many other places, from big cities to isolated back-country wilderness areas. All my early training and exposure has sure paid off -- for me. Good luck to you and remember: What goes around comes around, and giving up a beutiful pup that's stolen your heart has GOT to earn you some seriously good instant-karma points. You'll be paid back tenfold in gratitude from the recipient and you'll have the well-deserved pride of knowing you "done good." But then, you already know that, don't you? Carry on, then. You are making the world a better place, one puppy at a time.

bowsnhearts said...

I have been trying to train a pup lately...not a service dog, just a normal companion puppy and I am totally drained!!

I am having dark eye circles, break outs and basically just edgy all the time!

I am constantly tired at work because I woke up at 5.30am to feed the puppy.

And it still won't respond to me. Sigh!!! I need to go to an obedience class! Any tips?

Ruby's Raiser said...

bowsnhearts: Congrats on your new puppy! Sleepless nights, dark circles, that sounds about right with a new pup in the house. Please don't be frustrated. Puppy class is a great idea and look into clicker training. Remember, she's just a baby -- the world is very new to her, everything is so exciting and there's so much mischief to get into! Just try to relax, be patient with her, and enjoy her!

Anonymous said...

Quote from Raising Ruby:
I'd look down & she'd look up, each of us reassuring the other.
That to me with tears in my eyes says it all. What a wonderful feeling you must of had. We are so very proud of you and Ruby.

1000 Goldens said...

That is so awesome! Your little girl is growing up so fast, and I love that you were able to enjoy yourself and she just stayed beside you like a little lady.

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

Beautiful post. You are doing such a wonderful job with Ruby. Someone is going to have the pleasure of sharing a life with your special girl.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

WOW - that's so beautiful... WAY to go Ruby. Can't wait till we get to that point! Keep up the great work! Glad you enjoyed the exhibit.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

Of course, all those moments, commands, like stitches add up to become so beautiful. You've done such a wonderful job...congrats...for all your hard work!

I know it's such a joy...when I reached that moment with Jilly, when all those little training moments just clicked into was and still is amazing.