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, but I do it anyhow.

We have to be willing and able to go anywhere and do anything with anybody. No, no anything silly like climbing a tree 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 busses, sit quietly in a room full of noisy people. I need to boldly go where no dog has gone before or - and this can be 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 for a few days at the home of some puppy-raising friend, and got to go for long walks. VERY long walks! That was a lot of fun. They have other dogs, but I 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 didn't want to play! It's their loss. This lady - Mrs. Gorman of the CCI office - also took me to a meeting so I could helpher talk about Canine Companions for Independence. Lots of people ask about all 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 be learning to do later on, so that I can help someone who has a mobility problem.

This is called a demo (short for demonstration), and it's a great way to get attention. Of course, you have to behave yourself in order to get the right kind of attention. Otherwise my PRs get long notes 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 and she was using words I don't think she 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 started going after tails. (That's the back of Nonny. He's healthier than he looks.) And then she was popping out from under furniture to try and scare us.

I guess that's what kittens like to do, so I was a good hostess and let her do it. She still growled a little at me, but it was under her breath. It was like, "I'm bigger than you, you silly-looking cat substitute, you." Good manners is not correcting your guests' opinions even if they need correcting. So I let her alone.

A service dog doesn't offer assistance unless requested (well, commanded), so I'll keep quiet about what I think of her!

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