Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Long Overdue Leo Post

At the salon, chillin' like a villan. Taken on my iPhone
Sooooo... Leo! I know you all haven't heard much about him lately. But, I assure you he's doing fantastic! Leo will be a year and five months come April 16th and I'm amazed everyday at how far he and I have come along.
As you guys know, Leo goes with me everyday to school and piano lessons. He does extremely well at school. When I don't need him he happily naps or chews on a bone. When I do he is more than ready to do his job. His tasking skills have come leaps and bounds. I can ask him to pick up plastic ware off of the cafeteria floor, carry it, and to drop it in the trashcans. Uber cool. He even leaves food that falls on the floor alone- well, most of the time. Hey, he is a dog first and foremost after all! Other tasks he does easily include, but not excluded, are turning lights on and off, opening drawers, closing them, retrieving and giving me my bag, keys, and anything other items I need him to get off of the floor or tables.
Every week we attend training classes and I'm happy to report those are going along famously. Leo and I have even received compliments from the trainers!! He is now far more consistent with commands and doesn't give in to distractions as much as he used to. I credit age and the fact that we have learned to work as a team. I know how to get his attention and talk to him to get what we need to do done. I am far more patient than I used to be and he understands what I'm saying better than ever. I imagine that is how he and his future partner will develop. There will be many bumps at first, frustrations, but, over time a bond will form and they will 'gel' and become a team.
I have Leo until the end of this year. He will turn two in November and at the point he'll be tested for hip, eye, and elbow problems. If he clears his health checks and does well at his two year evaluation (which I'm pretty sure he will) he will then be partnered at the beginning of 2012. It's a bittersweet thought as Leo has definitely become part of my little 'family' at home and at work and I love him dearly. When one works with a dog hours upon day a relationship develops and you and the dog become connected in a very unique way. I know when Leo leaves home to begin his new life as a full fledged service dog there will be many tears from me. It's going to be hard, I'm under no delusions about that. However, without Leo I would've missed out on amazing opportunities and moments. The kids I work with at school wouldn't have had Leo help to calm them down. I wouldn't have had the dozens of people come up to me and ask me about the program- you never know how that might affect them or someone they know. Without Leo in my life I would've missed out on so much. So, in at least some ways, I will have gained more than what I will loose when Leo goes to his partner.
It's all part of the deal. It's what I signed up for. And I am more than happy to do my part because in the end I'm a better person because of this and someone will have a better life because of this too. Win-win, even if it is a bit heartbreaking in the end.
ps- I will have a better picture of him soon. Technical difficulties with the camera and computer!


Sarah said...

*tears up* What an amazing dog and amazing trainer! You guys have both done and been through so much together... to be able to help someone like that is wonderful. You both rock!

Habebi said...

Sarah- Awww shucks! Thank you! I admit I got a bit emotional at the end thinking about where things are headed from here. Just can't help, but, have a sappy moment there lol.

Sara Louise said...

It's so great to hear how great Leo is doing. Whomever his partner is, will be so lucky to have him.
It's an amazing thing you've been doing :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear that he's fulfilling his "raison d'être". It'll be tough for you when he moves on, but I'm sure there's another little puppy in your future.

Habebi said...

Sara Louise- Merci! It's a great feeing to know that despite my many misteps, I've managed to get Leo trained to an appropriate level. I'm also gald that I get to help someone in such a way. It's really doing good things for me, it really doesn't feel like I'm doing this amazing thing! lol

There are worse things though for sure!

Habebi said...

Dedene- I'm sure that there will be some dogs in there as well! I wanna keep with the program until I figure out moving abroad plans. Still working on Jon with that one, but, I believe there is progress! :-D