Saturday, June 15, 2013

Stop Right There!!!

What is it about puppies that draws us - like moths to a flame, like flies to honey, like iron to a magnet?

Last Sunday I made the command decision to take 10-week Piper to church. With much thought and deliberation, my strategy was laid out. I would not take him into the main service (Piper can bark with such a shrill note it sends shivers up your spine). I would not linger in the foyer, where my sweet and very well-meaning church friends would engage me in indefinitely long puppy conversations. No, with tunnel vision we would quickly stride through the foyer, and down the hall to the very end where I usually help with the kids.

Like any good strategist, I was properly prepared and armed. Piper had recently relieved himself and now had his little service jacket on. He was in my arms. My tote-bag of supplies included a blankie, various toys of different textures from chewy to prickly to fuzzy, clean up supplies, some treats, AND my secret weapon, the rawhide chew, approved by St Francis Service school.

At the very end of the hall is Kingdom Kids, a big colorful room with a stage and long benches of different heights for children small and tall. This summer all the regular church kids, from pre-school thru middle school, are meeting here for one hour Sunday morning to practice a play. The play is a musical with lots of singing, some dancing and quite a bit of loudish music.

Piper sports his new service vest at 10 weeks.
Slightly late and with Piper-in-arms, I walk into the kids' room. The children's director, facing the door, sees me enter first and her face spontaneously lights up with that delight that puppies elicit when they enter a room. The children, all seated on the benches with their backs to the door, in unison turn around. As one they start to rise with a collective, longing sigh - "Awwwww!"

But thankfully, a puppy love-fest was not in the making. With an amazing command of Children-ese, the director snaps them back to reality. "Stop Right There!!!" she says in her most authoritative tone. The children freeze. "Remember, this is a service dog, just like the last one that used to come here. He is being trained to help people. You cannot pet him and Stay in Your Seats!" As one, with a small groan, the children sink down on their benches. I mouth a "Thank-you" to her and proceed to settle little Piper well over to the side. Piper was very good and quiet and took all the noise, clapping and squirmy kids in stride. He was busy with his toys and chews. As if he were a movie-goer more interested in his popcorn, he would occasionally glance up to see what was on the screen. Later he sprawled belly down on the cool linoleum and rested.

As the play proceeded the director blocked out where each child should stand or move. During the lulls, an occasional child would look over longingly at Piper. One little boy softly said, "That sure is a nice puppy." I smiled and winked. After the hour was up, I let a few say hello, but very soon I had Piper whisked away, down the hall, past the busy entryway and out to the parking lot. He was in good spirits.

It was a successful outing. As the trainers say, set them up for success. Next week I plan to bring Piper again. After all, I am the stage manager and need to gradually get him squared away, so I can actually start helping with the play again. Piper and I will go it "One Step at a Time", which is one of my PR mottoes. Another one, adopted from Search and Rescue is  "Semper Gumby", meaning...Be Flexible!

No comments:

Post a Comment