Forgive me, Opal

There are times when I lose my mind for a moment. The consequences?  Usually, I say something, born straight out of anger or frustration, that I regret.  The ‘right thing to do’, would  be to pause, breathe, count, essentially anything… except yell at my girl, Opal.  Sure, dogs can frustrate you just as much as kids can. Similarly, it is not acceptable to yell at  (or god forbid, strike) them either. I’m not sure when ‘uman beans’ started running the Big Power Trip on every living creature other than their own species.  Maybe it all began with the post cave guys who had too much time on their hands and started domesticating animals.  In recent decades, our relationship with animals has gone OTT (over the top). Our children have no idea how that chicken nugget from mickey d’s came to be. They may see it move from a huge  box of similar frozen bits, and into the deep fryer (I feel sick already), where it remains until a ‘ding’ or ‘beep’ signals the pimply-faced teenage fry cook to dump them out into the warming table.  The portion controlled amount is scooped into a styro container and handed over to your kid with ample packets of ketchup to disguise the taste of this ‘treat’ you have just paid an obscene amount of money for.  Does your kid know how that ‘chiken’ got into the Mickey D’s food chain?  Do they have any idea how the original bird was kept confined en masse in a miniscule cage until it met its demise?  Do you?  Not likely.  This is a ‘clean blog’, so it suffices to say that it is not a pretty picture.  I believe that the western world’s love affair with meat (and the animals killed in acquiring it), has created a monster industry.  Of course, there are many who have pet animals and claim to love them immensely.  Maybe so, but some people are delusional in their thinking and rationalization of their treatment of pets.  Buying jeweled collars, funny outfits, paying for spa days, silver plated water bowls etc. is an extension of their collection of status accessories.  The urban dweller seems to have lost touch with nature and the respect and care of it.  We encroach on the habitat of many species and  turn their space into ours on our terms. We create fake forests (better known as parks) and justify killing the lost critter who wanders into the city limits, an area which was once their home.  Our relationship with nature is all out of whack.  Sure, we donate to ‘save’ whatever a marketing executive convinces us we should pay our guilt money for.   We listen to the news:  In the 70’s we learned that we experienced the collapse of the cod fishery in Atlantic Canada because of over fishing and bad management. We learn of global warming and climate change now,   but did not  pay attention to the scientists like David Suzuki who has been active in environmental action for decades.  We elect governments who cater to lobbyists with oil interests that do not want to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.  Then, we watch Paul McCartney and his estranged airhead wife, play with seal pups on an ice flow, as they pause for a photo op in their protest about the seal hunt.  The McCartney’s leave and so does the camera crew, but  the baby pup that Linda fondled is left to die by its mother, because now, it has  human stink on it.   While I do not endorse clubbing baby seals, I  am concerned that some Inuit Canadians should be included in the debate over banning the hunt entirely.  I’m sure that the McCartneys and even people like Al Gore pay for ‘carbon credits’ when the jet around the world in their busy schedules saving this or that. I’d rather they stop crapping up the planet with jet fuel, which no amount of trees planted with ‘carbon credit’ money will fix.  The only fix here, is their public image and personal guilt trip.   But I digress.   Back to Opal and why I need to be forgiven.  I often feel conflicted with Opal as my ‘guide’.  I know she loves her life, and her job. But is it fair? She has no say in it.  She was bred, raised, and trained with the ultimate aim of turning her into a Guide dog.   All I can do, is treat her with respect and kindness.  Therefore, yesterday as she was dawdled and sniffed when I gave her an opportunity to relieve before church, and I yelled, “GET BUSY NOW!!!”, out of frustration and fear that I might need to leave Easter service later if she decided that it was the time to relieve, I checked myself.  As always, when I insist too loudly, my sensitive girl simply sat down and stared at me.  I got down on my knees in the snow and apologized to her. I told her it was ok, that we could “try later” and I was sorry I had yelled.  I explained that her mum is a goof sometimes and we went to church where she had a long nap and did not ask to leave.  


3 responses to “Forgive me, Opal

  1. Wow! What a post! Your so right about people in todays society not really knowing what or where food actually comes from. And is it safe both for humans and our animals whether pets or service animals. I do understand your frustration when it comes to your guide! We all have been there from time to time. Unfortunately! However our dogs are quite forgiving animals as well as conflict problem solvers (ie visual) animals. Dogs are quite social animals as well, which means they need to be around people and other animals.

    As to your question is it fair! Do they actually have a say so! First off I could tell you that if an animal (ie dog) doesn’t like their new life style they would basically just shut down, before, during or after all the training at anytime. Dogs love to have some sorts of job (for the lack of wording) instead of just staying home being bored even if that job was just going out for walks with their humans! In which is why some dogs chew things due to boredom.

    Not every dog is cut out to be a service animal for many reasons but they will say so through their body language. It is up to us as their trainers and partners to recognize such even though it may be hard to say OK I will retire you (ie change of career) even if that career is being a companion for somebody else. Nevertheless it is our responsibility to take on that burden when we choose to have a service animal as our medical aid.

  2. Thanks. You are right about dogs displaying what they think of their job or situation. I do the best I can to ensure Opal’s life is happy. ‘Fairness’ is a concept that is key to how I relate with her.

  3. I could understand that! I have a saying I use! “All work and no play makes for a dull day”! It’s a constant reminder that we do some playing time as well. LOL. We have special times too in which I do massaging which is one of the best ways in bonding! Combining all three elements and we have a well balance happy service dog.

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