Sit!

The question from the other day reminded me of another humorous story with Dolly that I thought I’d share here.

I can’t say for certain since I don’t have kids, but first working with a guide dog is a lot like dealing with a toddler. They don’t run shouting “no” at you constantly because wisely we don’t teach dogs how to speak, but the obstinate is there all the same.

One resounding memory I have from training school is the morning ride to our destination. It was filled with a chorus of “sit” as everyone battled their dogs in the ongoing fight against lying down. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with lying down in a vehicle — I’m always glad when my girls decide to because otherwise they’re just using me as a leaning post — it’s that there isn’t enough room for the whole group of dogs to lie down so no one gets to.

Dolly was one of the main offenders in this because she was just not a morning dog. And I think she took this demand to sit up on her own power as a personal affront because she was always a bit reluctant to do so when we were in public. One particular day I was in a restroom stall trying desperately to get her to sit because she was In The Way. She was having none of it despite my repeated and increasingly frustrated command to “sit!”

Her stubbornness made exiting the stall something of a production and was none too graceful. At the row of sinks a woman was watching us through the mirror and let out an audible sigh.

“This whole time I was wondering why you were telling me to sit,” she said. “I mean, I already was.”

Funniest Moment

“What is the funniest thing your guide dog has done?”

Well, Uschi is a almost constantly hamming it up, so picking the funniest is pretty much impossible. She stands on her head for goodness sake!

However, I do have a humorous memory of Dolly.

As you all probably know I was in college during most of the time I worked with Dolly. Since I transferred so many times I ended up having to fulfill general education requirements twice and at some point I took a mandatory History class. Like most gen-ed classes it was large enough to be given in a lecture hall. By this point I’d been working a guide dog long enough to have come to the conclusion it was best to sit farther back in a classroom. People were less likely to trip over her if we weren’t in the major flow of traffic and often they wouldn’t notice her at all in the back of the room.1

It was early enough in the semester that I hadn’t yet had the chance to introduce myself to the professor. It could well have been the first day of class. In any case, on this particular day he was droning about something or other. I found my mind wasn’t quite on the lecture because I was watching him pace back and forth at the front of the classroom. Now and then he would stop and glance up at us. It wasn’t exactly odd so much as it made it difficult for me to focus on what he was saying.

Meanwhile, Dolly was sprawled out at my feet. The classroom was routine for her by now. To her it was basically a cue to take a nap. I’m sure I’ve mentioned Dolly snored, though, I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten it across that she was loud. Really, I cannot stress this enough. I have some pretty epic snorers in my family and Dolly gave them quite good noise competition. Her puppy raiser told me that Dolly’s crate got moved to the hallway because even as a puppy she was obnoxiously loud. When I trained at GEB the girl on the opposite side of the room next door to mine, through a solid concrete wall, could hear Dolly snoring.

About midway through the class, her snoring got so bad I was starting to notice students rustling around, glancing back at my deeply sleeping dog. Her snores were to a point I was literally having trouble hearing the lecture. So, I lightly poked her with my foot, intending to get her to reposition herself and hopefully stop the lawnmower imitation she was doing in her sleep. Instead she woke with a loud snort, jumped up from the floor and noisily shook herself off. I’m sure every eye in the lecture hall was on us, including the professor’s.

“Oh!” He exclaimed as I tried to get Dolly back on the floor as inconspicuously as possible amid a classroom of gaping students. “That’s who was snoring.” I turned beat red on the spot, fully expecting him to have a fit about the disruption. “This entire time,” he continued, “I’ve been trying to figure out who would dare fall asleep in my class.”

There was a rather long beat, and then the professor just burst into hysterical laughter.


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  1. Students were often driven to distraction by the dog and it was incredibly unnerving to have them stare at us throughout the entire class.

Watercolor

It dawned on me that I never shared the oil painting rendition I did of Dolly’s GEB portrait that I made for my dad’s birthday. And then, while searching for the file to upload and share, I spent a ridiculously lengthy period of time rebuilding my Lightroom catalog because I really should have been doing many other far more constructive things. Which led to me editing some stuff in Photoshop because knowing that needed to be done would just gnaw at my mind whilst trying to accomplish the aforementioned constructive things.

Of course, I can’t do anything in Photoshop without playing around with things, so then this happened:

Portrait of Uschi edited to appear as a watercolor painting

Now away I must for there are many constructive things yet to be done that I am not currently doing.

Cone of Shame

The first time I ever put boots on a dog was also the only time Dolly ever wore them. We made the unfortunate mistake of having her in the kitchen1 where the linoleum floor provided no traction. There she stood in the middle of the kitchen, feet splayed out under her, slowly sinking to the ground with a look of pure hurt and betrayal on her face. It was evident even as we were putting each boot on that Dolly didn’t think we were adding a layer of protection to her feet, but rather methodically removing each paw.

That’s pretty much how Uschi is reacting to having an E-collar. She can’t understand the rest of her body is still around. It’s the most pathetic and hilarious thing ever. She literally can’t comprehend how to do the most basic tasks, like turning around or lying down. And when she isn’t utterly baffled by her missing body parts, she’s desperately trying to outsmart the collar in attempts to rid herself of it. She’s tried backing up through the entire house, rolling over and being adorable, and just looking disgruntled:

Uschi lying on her bed in my bedroom, looking rather disgruntled about the E-collar she's sporting

Lucky for her she’s only forced into the dreaded thing at night. The hope is that she’ll not only stop licking and chewing and scratching the various places she’s irritated because of her allergic itchiness, but also allow the new ointment I have some ability to settle in on that raw patch by her eye.

  1. Because it was one of the larger open areas in the house

Welcome Home, Dolly!

One of the main reasons I hate moving is because inevitably something always gets lost. Case in point, I’ve been trying to locate a box of pictures for something like ten years now. Among the photos in this box are the portraits taken during my training at Guiding Eyes.

Well, I still haven’t found the box, but Dolly’s puppy raiser did send me this:

Portrait of Dolly in harness

I’ve been rather persistently pestering her for either of the portraits she has copies of to make . . . well, you’ll find out when the intended recipient does. For now, I am ever so pleased to say this lovely lady is hanging in my dining room.