Today is day three of my training with my gorgeous service dog Ben. Well, I think he’s gorgeous I’m pretty sure Chris disagrees. But I mean come on look at that face. So far team training has been absolutely amazing and at times breathtaking. Today is our first day of real training and we spent it going over the words Ben knows. Right now he knows about 40 different words. Some of these are to be expected such as sit, stay, down but then he also has words that signifies different tasks he will perform such as over, front, paws-up, lean, rest, cover etc. At some point I will tell you what each of these mean (probably over at With Ben but I want to do that after I’m a bit more familiar with them). I learned a little bit about these tasks today but Ben was not exactly cooperating (he’s a hot tired boy) so we will work tomorrow. It was a good lesson. Ben is a dog. He has good days and bad days and times when asking him to work really isn’t fair.
Having said that I think some of that might be an act. As soon as Darcie left Ben became rumbustious bring his ball for me to throw and wanting to do some of his tasks. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a smart boy. Perhaps too smart perhaps. He reads people quickly. He knew automatically when he met my mother that she was more likely to let him on the couch than the rest of us and he should go to her for pets. He also is bonding with me quickly. The first day that Darcie left Ben he whined and cried. Today he raised his head to watch her go and then lay back down for about five minutes before he started to play.
Our bond is former faster and stronger each day. He is learning that he will heel with me and stay with me. He is testing me some. He knows I don’t know all the guidelines yet but that changed today. I’m learning more and he’s going to have to be on his best behavior. 🙂 Tonight Ben will stay with me overnight for the first time. I am so excited to have him around. I don’t know where he will end up sleeping (I’m aiming for my bed – don’t tell Darcie :D) but wherever it is he already puts me at ease.
I just feel so….safe around him. I trust him already to help take care of me. And even though I haven’t been handling him all the time I can feel my anxiety lower. And when I do handle him I feel like (and this is going to sound stupid) that someone has me in their hands and is cradling me. Okay that sounds weird but that is the closest I can explain the safety, comfort and warmth I with Ben. Don’t judge me please about that really weird analogy.
And I think Ben feels that comfort too. He likes taking care of me and I like taking care of him. Looking after his needs and making sure he is where he is supposed to be, doing what he needs to do and providing plenty of love and playtime gives me the greatest feeling of joy I have felt in a long time.
I’m not naive. I know there will be challenging days and probably days where I could just about strangle him because he isn’t behaving (remember he is a dog not a machine who works perfectly. He is a living and breathing being who has good and bad days like the rest of us). But I’m glimpsing a bit of what my life will look like and that is HOPE. And oh how it feels good to have hope again.