Saturday, January 26, 2013

Peter Pan Puppy

Disney's Peter Pan

As a repeat puppy raiser, you quickly discover each puppy is uniquely different.  One puppy is serene and laid-back. Another is constantly busy. One is assertive and tries to take charge. Another is happy to be told what to do. One sticks like glue to your side, another wants to explore - far! One pup may never dream of hopping on the couch, the next just knows couches are for him. The bottom line is each puppy teaches you as much as you teach it. What works teaching one puppy may not - often will not - work with another. Each puppy takes you to new heights of puppy raising.

Dorian, my current guide puppy-in-training, is my Peter Pan Puppy. Peter Pan was one of my favorite storybook characters. Wild and free, he never grew up. Peter was happy to stay a boy forever. And just like Peter Pan, my guide pup does not seem to want to grow up. Dorian is curious, playful and full of life. Even as I patiently drill him to be calm and not jump and have good manners and listen to me and the numerous Good Things that a service dog must be, there is a part of him that still insists he wants to be a puppy. 

A shadow image of Peter Pan, standing in the open window of a London house. The city of London is lit up behind him by the full moon.

I am trying to be patient and give Dorian time. I enjoy the sharp sparkle in his eyes, his wild skitters through the house, and the comical way he pounces on his toys just for fun. His zest for life answers a deep call in me to not want to grow up myself! As Peter Pan called to Wendy, Michael and John, so Dorian calls to me. And I love him for that. 

Dorian looking up and grinning.

Gradually, I know, he is growing up inside. As I work him week-by-week I see the subtle changes. For the first time in three weeks, Dorian and I join the therapy dog group and visit a nursing home in Danville. That's when it dawns on me that I am not working as hard to keep him in line. He accepts the distractions of the therapy dogs working nearby in stride, whereas before I had to use all my wiles and skills to stop the curious sniffing and his trying to play "catch up" with them in the halls. I see the glimmer of possibilities of the service dog Dorian will be some day. With only three months left before Dorian goes back, I know time will fly - faster than Peter to Never-Never Land.

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