13 November 2011

Another Gotcha Day for Thane

Anniversaries are things to hold close to your heart and celebrate- each and every time they come around (for the living). Today is just such a day for Thane and I. November 13, 2007 Thane took a very long trip across the country by two planes to become my successor to Met.

I will remember that moment with his muzzle resting in my hands for eternity. It was that connection I needed to resolve my sorrow of the lost partnership and companionship of Met. It was as if Thane knew what I needed. Not in terms of service, but in terms of healing my broken heart.

I'm trying today to think about who Thane is to me- all we have achieved and experienced together instead of about the uncertainties I feel about whether or not this partnership will survive. That's not for now- not because of the date but because its too soon to be making any decisions about our future.

Thane is fast, agile, and if I'd let him, he'd be jumping out of the starting gate all the time! We still work on containing this over-zealous side. He prefers hide and seek be that he hides and I seek- then when I can't find it (which is about 99.9 percent of the time) he comes and points his nose and body to where he left it. If I still can't find it he comes in for a close up of the same stature. He is definitely a herding dog. Sometimes I wonder what he would be like with sheep and wonder if this life was the right one for him. Then he breaks hard when a car is ready to plow us down and I know that he is the best gift I could have imagined.

I love the memories of all of our firsts- from obstacle avoidance in training, to saving my life when drivers forget what a crosswalk is. From the first trip to the toy store once he was comfortable riding the bus, to learning to ride max (something never done with Met), to trips on max to the trail, to the transit center for a nice walk around the community there, to trips into Portland and beyond- yes beyond. Of the recent experience where I wasn't focused enough on his alert of an Emergency Vehicle so he blocked me until I paid good attention. From the first time he did a solid retrieve, to the first time he actually tugged a door or the fridge open, to the first time he nudged the fridge door closed with power instead of a slight nudge that let gravity complete the task, to the time he recycled his ball because it seemed the thing to do after a bit of training with bags and baskets- all of these things (and there are many more) put smiles on my face today because I know without this day (November 13, 2007) there would not be all these awesome firsts and experiences- there would not be a dog mitigating so much.

This year put great limitations on our partnership. Our summers are usually spent with many pleasure trips where we can enjoy life and each other. This summer did not allow for that- in fact it was late fall before we made it to the trail. I have to admit though, that outing was one of the happiest days in our partnership as we took back our life that Lyme stole.

I wasn't going to talk about all this today, but every time I tried not to include it, I realized just how much its a part of who we are. This day is special. Perhaps I feel how special it is because I realize how close we really came to losing it all. Thane was diagnosed just days before he went into a complete collapse. This wasn't early onset, it was late onset and my hope for a quick resolution faded fast. Its hard to fathom what would have become of him, of me, of us had it not been for a very special friend battling this disease for a number of years. Today, Thane and I owe her this day of ours!

Thane has been my rock for four years. He had been offered to me when he was just two months old. Met was struggling and I certainly did not feel I had what it took to help him and raise a puppy. Of course I also had no idea that within six months of turning down the puppy, Met would be gone. I have heard that he was offered to others, but just like me, it was not the right time. This all played out for a reason- so Thane could still be there when it was the right time. Boy I'm so glad for how things worked out!

I thought I would close this entry with a poem I wrote for Thane in 2008. Though we have re-worked some alerts such as the one for emergency vehicles, it basically shares where my mind/ head was at the time- trying to move on with Thane but realizing part of me was still with Met.

May I have this dance?
I can work this job
Youth on my side--
spunky yet agile
I halt in perfection
steel on wheels

Differences of style
not mistakes
attributes of me

I zag
where he zigged
sway as a boat
on calm seas
try to pace traffic
just my immaturity

head turns left
watch that cup tossed aside
cart blocks the way
hedge protruding
a twig or a branch
oh my--
construction ahead

Hard Halt!
that speedsters way fast!

Sirens approach
Hard Halt, quick sit
as 9-1-1 I instruct

Each outing new
as a competitive course
head turns slightly
be it right
be it left
directional cues
the path I must choose

High alert
be they patient
or rude
no need to hurry
your safety
my concern

Entrances a puzzle
single door
double door
buzz us in
new challenges await

Each turn of my head
a distant world I relate
Through eyes, ears, paws, tail
every movement a cue
in my role for you

Girthed in harness
or just fur
my role as your guide
as a nose nuzzling friend
unconditional love
a bond tightly formed
time, training, and trust
comes with each step

Accept me, for me
it's time for my chance
give me this job
I really can dance!

by Karyn E LaGrange
copyright 2008