August 10, 2010
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.