The other day, my friend Tamara tweeted a touching little story that I was lucky enough to catch:
"Saw something special on my way to work this am...an elderly golden retriever walking with her mom. Mom was very patient with her slow walk. I thought now that is a lovely relationship. :o)"
The vignette made me smile and stayed with me. My friend's words inspired me to share a very important part of this journey I'd always meant to write about.
Kiva was 11 years old when I made the decision to raise a service puppy. I had debated for months about bringing a new dog into my one-senior-dog household. Kiva is tolerant, very well socialized, and she's met hundreds of other dogs in her lifetime without issue, but she had never shared her home with anyone. I wanted very much to be a service puppy raiser, but I worried if my gentle oldster could accept a toddler superball bouncing all over her space. If they did bond, would Kiva have trouble with the loss when it was time for the puppy to move on? Would she feel threatened or jealous of all the attention I'd need to devote to training a service puppy? Was I asking too much of my precious girl?
I worried constantly in the weeks leading up to the puppy’s arrival. I should have known that I didn’t have to. As soon as our service puppy, Ruby, arrived, Kiva accepted the puppy without reservation, scattering my shadowy doubts to the breeze like dandelions. She always turns my worries into wishes and makes them all come true.
Kiva nurtured Ruby, guiding with her gentle nature and the experience of age. She imparted a calmness into the puppy that only a dog can convey to another. Kiva’s invaluable lessons will serve Ruby well as she becomes a service dog whose actions are careful and deliberate. And, throughout that year and a half, Kiva gave me as many gifts as she gave Ruby. She accepted Ruby with a level of patience I can only ever try to live up to. She let me delight in the whole experience, enjoying it with me. And the morning after Ruby left us to move on to advanced training, Kiva glanced around the bedroom for a moment or two...then flipped a toy in the air and never questioned me.
These days, at nearly 13 years old, Kiva needs me to walk a little more slowly with her, too. But no matter how long it takes her to get me there, she still always leads me where I need to go.