Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm Trying to Be a Lady

In my endeavor to become absolutely the best CCI Service Dog I can, I've been doing a lot of "out and about" stuff. I go out here, and I go about there. Nobody takes pictures of me doing it, but I do it anyhow.

We have to be willing to go anywhere and do anything with anybody. No, nothing silly like climbing trees with a MEE-YOW! But since I must use my wonderful manners everywhere I go, I go everywhere to practice them.

I need to get used to sleeping in different houses. I need to go up and down different steps, travel in cars and on buses, sit quietly in noisy rooms. I need to boldly go where no dog has gone before, or - this is harder - where lots of other dogs already are. Can you believe that there are some places where I am not the center of attention?

So I vacationed a few days at the house of some puppy-raising friends, and got to go with them for long walks. VERY long walks! That was a lot of fun. They have dogs but I still behaved like a lady (except, um, when I was playing like a dog).

Then I went to another friend's house, and her dogs and cats declined to play! It's their loss. This lady - Mrs. Gorman, who works at the CCI office - also took me to a meeting so I could help her talk about Canine Companions for Independence. Since lots of folks ask about the four-footed caped wonders they see around town, I was able to show them what I can do now... and then Mrs. Gorman told them what I'll learn later on so that I'll be able to help someone with a mobility problem.

A demo (short for demonstration) like this is a great way to get attention. Of course, you have to behave yourself to get the right kind of attention. Otherwise my PRs get comments and I have more practicing to do at home.

As any teacher of etiquette - that's my new word; be impressed - will tell you, you need to be a gracious hostess as well as a gracious guest. So when my PRs' daughter let us take care of her kitten for a few days, I was all set to make her feel welcome.


She fussed and yowled and spit and growled! Her tail got as big as my pink loofah toy (do you see me in the background with the distressed-hostess look?)...

...and she was using words she never learned at home. She didn't like me, she didn't like the other MEE-YOWs, and she didn't even like my PRs! She would look at us and growl - impressively, up and down several octaves - and then she'd go hide and growl some more.

If this is MEE-YOW etiquette, I don't think much of it.

After a couple of days, the girl must have thought, "Hey, I'm not dead yet." So she started "prowling around, just prowling around," like Sneakers the Rapscallion Cat in the stories.

Pretty soon she was going after tails. (That's the back of Nonny. He's healthier than he looks.)

Then she was popping out from under furniture - to try to scare us, I think.

I guess that's what kittens like to do, so I was a good hostess and let her do it. She still growled at me, but it was under her breath, like, "No matter how I look, I'm bigger than you, you silly-looking cat substitute, you." Good manners is not correcting your guests' opinions even if they need it.

So I let her alone.

A service dog does not offer help unless requested (well, commanded)... so I'll keep quiet about what I think of her!

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