Once a Service Dog, Always a Service Dog

Sammy’s trainer told me that once. At the time I didn’t know what he meant by it, but now I do.

As always, things in parentheses are my way of trying to clarify his words because Sammy is usually very simplistic in how he speaks, as well as being a little excited when talking about his new house.

So my mom and my Aunt Teresa found me this really awesome house that we moved into last Christmas that I get to live in for the rest of my life. It’s really awesome and I love it, especially my backyard. I call it my retirement sanctuary because I have nice shady spaces to sit in, sunny spaces to sit and watch the birds in the neighbors trees, space to run and play with the squirrels that come to visit me, but they also they know it’s my yard and to stay up in the trees or on top of the fence once the chase is over. Oh yea, and the groundhog visits, although he’s getting a little cheeky and doesn’t always leave when I tell him to so my Mom has to come outside and tell him before he will leave. 

Anyway, I really love my house, and really am retired, but lately I’ve had to work a bit and wanted to tell you about it.

So I knew my retirement years would be important to me, but I didn’t realize in how many ways that would be. Even though my mom doesn’t need me to be with her all the time anymore, I still know when something’s not right and when she needs to not be doing so much. Sometimes she can get really stressed out about things, like when the basement flooded and they had to dig up the front yard which made the house shake, and even though she can bring herself out of the stress it can still affect her body. That’s when I have to tell her to sit down and do nothing. So you see even though I’m not officially working anymore, I’m pretty much always going to be taking care of my mom.

So if you know my mom you already know she had some emergency surgery awhile back (1/29/2020) that she recovered from pretty fast, but that’s because she has Lupus and it created a lot more antibodies than a normal body would have. That also meant she would go into a flare, which is this nasty thing that happens to her when her body tries to attack itself and makes it hard for her to walk and talk and sleep and think. She was on top of it though! She got on her new routine (protocol) at the first sign of the flare and was back to her old self in no time (six months). 

Then this summer (early July) we had a really bad storm and the basement flooded! I was stressed because she was stressed trying to get the water out and clean up the mess. Then the next week we had another flood (minor backup), and then the week after that they came and dug up my yard and made the house shake (horrible vibration that subsided after they reached the pipes). Then a few weeks ago the washer stopped working and the refrigerator started making funny noises, and the repairman said they couldn’t be fixed. So now mom had to go out and get a new washer and refrigerator. Oh yea, something else couldn’t be fixed (microwave) but mom wasn’t worried about that. 

Anyway as you can see the last two months have been very stressful for her.  On top of having to stay out of the sun because it hurts her eyes and skin (SLE and discoid lupus), she had all this to worry about too. Needless to say she is now in a flare so I am watching her all the time! And yes it is exhausting because I’m older now, and she knows it, so she is careful to stay in one place for enough time for me to rest.

Yesterday I was very stressed though. She had to go to the doctors and she thought it would be quick and it wasn’t. She left me alone for three hours and boy was I excited to see her! She told me right way that she was sorry it took so long but they had to take a lot of blood (three vials) and the doctor had to look at all her rashes, and test her reflexes (left side not as good as right), give her a shot, give her a prescription, schedule another test (bone density to be done later in the year), and talk to her about her protocol (part naturopathic, part conventional). Then she told me she had a big hug for me from our favorite doctor which made me very happy!

So today she wanted to take me for a walk because her joints were doing a little better, but I said no. No walks, maybe later when the sun isn’t so high in the sky (evening). I know her joints still hurt a lot and she was just trying to be good to me, but I need to be good to her too. So after we had our breakfast I had her sit down in the family room and put her feet up and let me do some talking. I wanted everyone to understand what it is to be a retired service dog. Everyone thinks it’s all rest and relaxation and doing nothing but eating and sleeping. That’s a human perspective of retirement I think, not what actually happens. Life would be very boring if it was like that. 

Remember just like you the human is trained to do a job, it doesn’t mean once you retire that you forget how to do it or even want to stop doing it. A lot of humans take part time jobs like the one they had before retiring. Service dogs are like that too. We still take care of our humans, just not every moment of every day now. So if you are lucky enough to have a retired service dog know they are always paying attention and making you aware of what you need to know. 

I think this is about all her joints can handle for a while, so I will have to stop talking now. Thanks for listening! Now go give your retired pup a hug!


2 thoughts on “Once a Service Dog, Always a Service Dog

  1. Sammy, you are a godsend for your mom! Your dedication to her has helped her get through many tough times and even extend her life. Your messages to us help humans understand and appreciate the depth of love and service that you and other service dogs give, even in retirement. I love you. . You have taught me so much! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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