When it comes to hygiene and grooming, the relationship between a dog and its human caregiver is not unlike that of child and mother. Mums (and dads) take great interest in the body odour of their kids. Kids are popped into tubs as funkiness sets in. Parents absently spit onto tissues and clean off gooey messes on the fly. They pick at, clean off, wipe down, wash and rinse the various creepy, smelly substances that append themselves to their loving tots. They change diapers or examine their kid’s poop in the toilet bowl, not with revulsion, but with the inquiring mind of a scientist. Ditto the dog owner with their pooch.
Recently, someone at church casually mentioned that Opal “has a little bit of a smell”. I dismissed it with. “She smells like a dog”. I went home and ruminated on this comment. I love Opal’s smell, but I’m her mum. That pretty much makes me incapable of objectivity. It wasn’t always like that. The very first time I ‘picked up’ after Opal at CGDB, I nearly hurled. The first time I experienced her distinct ‘wet dog’ odor after we had been out in the rain at the training centre, I really began to wonder how I would survive life with a dog when we got home to Nova Scotia where it rains A LOT. I once worried about my clothes having dog hair or goober (saliva) on them. Now, I seem oblivious to any of it. On the contrary, like any mum, I inhale her smell and it makes me smile. However, I am not impervious to rational public opinion. I called up my sweetie immediately after the church lady’s comment and demanded the truth. “Does Opal smell funky?”, I asked. LA. spoke to me as cautiously as a hostage negotiator would. “Umm, well darling, she does have a little stronger smell than usual these days”. I was shocked…and worried. It’s November. I hadn’t anticipated a bath ’till spring.
The happy news is that the forecast high for tomorrow is 14 C. With a lot of planning, I have arranged for a ride home from Metro Dog Wash, so that Opal (who is terrified of dryers), can get home without getting a chill after her bath. Metro Dog Wash is the best little business in town. You take your pooch to their storefront location on Cunard street, and for a modest fee, use one of their numerous waist-level sinks (dog walks up a couple of steps) to wash your own dog. If you have an old, arthritic dog, you can use the walk-in tub at floor level. There is a device to tether the dog so that there is no Great Escape from the sink. You use their shampoos and conditioners. There is an endless supply of temperature-controlled water coming from the hand-held hoses and sprayers. They provide rubber aprons for the washers, and Zoom Grooms to use on the washees. Then, when your fido is all clean and rinsed, you can use as many towels as you want to dry him off. There are dryers for dogs who are braver than Opal. You leave with a clean dog, minus the mess you would have at home. Metro Dog Wash offers grooming services and sells lots of dog gear too. Best of all, they offer a 50% discount off of their bathing fee for service dogs. I highly recommend it. (Visit via link on blogroll) If all goes according to plan, Opal will smell lovely to me AND my church friends next Sunday.
Posted in Advice, animals, dog grooming, dogs, Guide Dog Schools, Guide dogs, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Opal, personal, seeing eye dogs, Uncategorized
Tagged dog bath, dog grooming, dogs, funky dog, Guide dogs, Metro dog wash
As a follow up on my last blog entry…
Some days, it is NOT all about the dog, but the dog AND handler instead. Such was the case yesterday in Montreal, as Guide Dog Users of Canada held their Annual General Meeting and conference. As a member of this organization, I would have loved to have attended the conference, but financial circumstance dictated otherwise. Instead, I joined the group from the comfort of my home, via my computer and the ‘live stream’ on the Internet. Remarkably, I listened to the familiar voices of some of my friends as business was conducted and presentations were made (dog first aid and dealing with dog attacks). I guess I can let the dog out of the bag and announce that I was elected to the Guide dog Users of Canada board as a member at large…all from the comfort of my home! I missed out on the supper at ‘Guido’s and Angelina’s’, an Italian restaurant on Atwater, but it sure was nice to get a feel for the event from this great distance. Great job you guys!
Yesterday, I was trying to get into my cab at the local Sobey’s grocery store when a man called out, “Excuse me..” I thought I was blocking his path (it’s a narrow squeeze on the sidewalk by the store entrance). I hustled my heavy bag of groceries into the back seat Opal and myself into the front. Again, I hear, “Uhm, excuse me”. Now I am wondering if I dropped something. Or, maybe I’m supposed to recognize this guy’s voice and the body attached to it? No, none of these. He continued speaking to me through the open taxi window. “Is your dog from Ontario or the USA?” It suddenly became clear to me. This was a ‘Dog Stop’.
At the training centre of Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind in Manotick, Ontario, one of the topics we covered in the ‘theory’ part of the training, was our responsibility as Guide dog handlers to maintain a positive attitude with the public who observe and question us as a guide dog team. I understood the rationale of educating people on guide dog etiquette and of being an exemplary representative of CGDB’s program. I did not have any idea how significant a part of my life this would become. People with pet dogs often comment that their dogs are a vehicle for social interaction, even a means of getting a date. But guide dog handlers? We are a curiosity that gives rise to an open invitation for interrogation, conversation and commentary. Mostly, it’s all about the dog. The top questions? “How old is your dog?”, “What’s your dog’s name?”,”How long have you had your dog?”, ” Is it a female or male”, “Is that a Seeing Eye (NO!)/ Guide dog?”, “Is that a black lab?” Top comments? “What a beautiful dog!”, “What a smart dog”, “I bet she’s your best friend”, “that’s a well-behaved dog” and so on. I am often approached by people who want to tell me about their dog, sometimes one that is ill or that just died. It seems people think I would ‘understand’ about the loss of their special friend, even though we have never met and are in a public place when they bare their souls. I have had strangers (on buses, in malls etc) ask me if they can take our photo, though I suspect that I am often cropped out of these images. People who meet us, and do not see us for a year or more will often not remember my name. that’s understandable. They might not remember MY name, but Opal’s? you bet!
The man standing outside my taxi went on, ” My wife raised puppies for Canine Vision….” I listen politely as the driver waits (meter running) for me to give him a destination.
Posted in animals, blindness, Canada, dogs, Guide Dog Schools, Guide dogs, Halifax, humour, Opal, personal, seeing eye dogs, Uncategorized
Tagged dogs, Guide dogs, humour, Opal
Ladies and Gentlemen, service dog handlers, dog lovers, friends and readers; I am pleased and proud to announce that HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) has approved funding (via a recommendation from the HRM Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities) in the amount of $20,000. towards the creation of an off leash dog park which service dogs and their handlers will have priority use of. What does this mean? Guide dogs, hearing dogs, special skills dogs, other service dogs and their mums and dads will have a safe, fenced place to go and exercise OFF LEASH. An existing site, already partially fenced has been secured. The funding will allow for total fencing, clearing of the area, addition of some seating and refuse bins and posting signs. The location is more than suitable, with bus and ferry service routes nearby. Service dog handlers who require parking will be accommodated as well. Use is not exclusive to service dogs, however signs will indicated that pet dog owners must vacate when a service dog handler wants to use it. A public awareness and education campaign will hopefully ensure that this is a workable stipulation. The parks department will take care of maintenance.
I have worked on this proposal through its various incarnations over the last two years that I have been on the ACPD, and more so in recent months as the committee’s chairperson. When this dog park is finally established, it will be a first in Canada. We are the city to watch. We will be the model for all other initiatives seeking to establish similar facilities in Canadian cities.
When I finally pronounced the outcome of the motion today, Opal rose and stretched. Sure, I know that she was bored, but I like to think that she was showing a little interest. I KNOW she will when I take her to the dog park next year (hopefully fully functional by then) and let her free run. She will go foolish!
Posted in Accessibility, advocacy, animal rights, animals, Canada, Disability Rights, dog quiz, dogs, Guide dogs, Halifax, news, Nova Scotia, Opal, opinion, personal, Responsible dog ownership, seeing eye dogs, Uncategorized
Tagged animals, Canada, dog parks, Guide dogs, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Opal, Service dogs
Thanks a whole heck of a lot there buddy…(I mean the dude at a local publication for “seniors” aka anyone over THE AGE OF 50 like me, called The Senior’s Advocate). I write an article on guide dogs AT YOUR REQUEST, obtain photographs AT YOUR REQUEST, send 2 signed release forms AT YOUR REQUEST, and YOU CAN’T EVEN ADVISE ME THAT THIS RAG IS OUT? YOU CAN’T MAIL A FEW COPIES (LIKE ANY REPUTABLE PUBLICATION WOULD) TO All THE CONTRIBUTORS who provide you with stories (without any monetary compensation) that keep you in business? You did not return any of my phone calls or e-mails…VERY NICE! You also did some fancy editing there pal…like changing ‘ opportunities to relieve’ to ‘bathroom breaks’ (referring to Opal’s daily cracks at going outside for a pee or a dump)…do ya think the old geeks who read this thing are so anal retentive and ‘sensitive’ that they need to read some childish euphemism like, “bathroom break”? Sheesh! give ME a break! Good gravy, old people talk about their bowels, bunions and bad backs in great detail all the time! It comes with the territory. And frankly, if I was the photographer (Cyndi Burns of Pet Country Magazine), I’d be calling you up to complain BIG TIME that you printed my photographs without CREDITING THEM!
Posted in dogs, Guide dogs, Halifax, humour, Nova Scotia, Opal, personal, Uncategorized
Tagged articles, Guide dogs, Opal, rant, senior's advocate