Monday, August 14, 2006

More on the Big Apple trip

Pam Loeb has been kind enough to give another perspective on Sanity's first trip to a truly big city.
______________________Pam Loeb's view_________________

Okay, I'm gonna attempt to do this in a narrative sort of way, but may wander off from that and start to speak in sentence fragments. May turn into stream of consciousness, as long as I'm conscious!

The day started dark and early.... I was awakened at 3am (no sun yet, so couldn't be bright and early!!) by a quick lick on my nose by an unseen assailant. I can only assume it was Sanity. I was a visitor sleeping on the couch, but she's known me practically since her arrival in MD, so this was more of an unexpected surprise for her, it would seem!

At nearly 4am there was a knock on the door, and Al Marx was standing on the other side. We loaded our small totebag, some snacks and Margot's scooter into his van. Then, we loaded Margot, Sanity and myself and off we went to the Big City!

Sanity has taken many a car ride, and this was a piece of cake. She settled right in to the back of the van, with an occasional attempt to make herself more comfortable by using the center console as a pillow. We only made one quick pit stop, to allow us all to make our bladders gladder. Margot and Sanity joined me on line at Starbucks for the obligatory breakfast pastry. Rest stops are pretty vacant at 6 or 7am (too bleary eyed to remember what time we were there!), so it was an uneventful stop and we were quickly loaded back into our respective seats and back out on the road.

We arrived in NYC around 9am, and after locating the church that was our destination we found a parking lot with a space to offer us! We all piled out of the van, and watched it disappear into the depths of the garage. Poor country dog Sanity. She looked around and knew we weren't in Maryland any more!

BUT, this was definitely a place worthy of exploration. So as we moved along looking for a place where we could actually sit down and eat (as opposed to the typical morning NYC cart offerings of pastries, coffee or fruit) Sanity drank it all in. We encountered several other dogs during the 4-5 block walk. She glanced at them, and then back to looking at the tall buildings and fast-walking passersby. Wow!! NYC is a very fast place! Sanity just barely fixed on one approaching stranger when another jostled past! And, it's a good thing she knows where 'heel' is, 'cause the sidewalk was beginning to feel rather narrow, between the scooter, the dog, and all those people rushing past in either direction.

We found a McDonalds that offered seating, so we headed in. Sadly, it was not really an accessible location. Margot managed to get the scooter in the front door, then was confronted by 2 steps. We left the scooter in a corner just inside the door, and seated ourselves at the nearest table. George and Al held our table, while Margot and I chose to use the restroom to change into our more appropriate clothing.

As we moved toward the restroom, a McDonald's employee tried to stop Margot, by saying, "Ma'am, you can't bring a dog in here." I explained that this was an Assistance Dog, and the dog could go everywhere her person was allowed to go, by law. We kept right on moving, so I never heard a reply.

Once again, we found out the building was NOT accessible, as the restroom was on the second floor! At the top of an escalator, which was not on. So, we slowly trudged up the stairs. Between her cane and Sanity, Margot was able to scale the very tall flight of stairs the escalator had become. It was actually a good thing the escalator was off, as it is unsafe to take a Service Dog on a moving escalator.

We changed into our nicer clothes in the ladies room, but Sanity just watched. She was already in her fancy dress collar and working attire of shoulder packs.

After breakfast we walked back to the church. There were all new people to watch as they ran off to work, and Sanity was drinking it all in. So many new aromas! So many different people! And all of these tall buildings!

We arrived back at the church, and settled in outside to wait until it seemed time to go in. Another less-than-accessible building, so part of our time was spent trying to figure out how to get in! But, as we waited, several other dog-and-handler teams arrived. One man using a Guide Dog waited nearby. His dog lay quietly by his side, as Sanity did the same next to Margot.

We finally got everyone into the church and found a seat. This was definitely Sanity's first time in a church! Although it was rather loud and echo-y, nothing fazed her. The service began with bagpipes, something many dogs might react to. Then the bugle played Taps, and still, none of the dogs inside uttered a peep. (I counted 5 dogs at the service). We stood and we sat, and we stood some more, then we sat again. If I hadn't known Sanity was sitting two people away from me, I never would have guessed she was there.

When the service ended, rather abruptly (there was a mass scheduled for noon, and it started late!), we all moved into a community room downstairs in the church. Once again, Sanity handled herself like a pro. Curled up under the table and kept an eye on all the feet passing by. She did let Bonnie Brown know she was there when she began licking Bonnie's toes, but I think she was just trying to make a good impression on this new person.

One of the few small favors on this trip was that the ladies room was located on the same level as the community room (almost, there were two steps to get in). We stood on a modest line for a very small bathroom. There were two stalls, but there really should have been only one they were so very small. Margot wasn't sure she and Sanity would both fit, so I offered to hold Sanity while Margot used the restroom. Then, it was decided this was a good training exercise. So they very carefully worked themselves into the tiny enclosed space. I heard lots of praise and encouragement, and the next thing I know, we're working out way back out of this little space and into the main room.

Soon, everyone had shared their stories, as well as their tears, and it was time to head home. We all loaded back into the van, and followed the signs SOUTH. Sanity fell into a deep sleep pretty quickly, as I did later that night.

All in all, it was a pretty amazing trip for a 13 month old dog! I've known an awful lot of Assistance Dog puppies, and not one that could have handled the trip with such aplomb. In fact, I think it's safe to say that there wasn't a soul who would have guessed that Sanity was such a youngster. She handled herself and all of her duties like a seasoned pro. The long ride, the bagpipes in the church, the Lilliputian ladies room, and all the strange new sights and sounds that are NYC.

I wouldn't have missed any of it for the world!

Actually Sanity is now 15 months old. I am so accustom to my dogs behaving a certain way in public by the time they are 6 to 7 months old that I sometimes forget my ideas just don't mesh with most of the world, when it comes to dogs and their behavior.

And before I totally forget, thank you to Al Marx and George Cockrell for all their help. Without them, I don't know what I would have done about all the stairs. Stairs to get into and out of the church. Stairs to get down to the community room and then back out again. Thanks guys for making the trip possible.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

For those of you who knew and either loved or hated Cap Haggerty I share a few of the pictures I took yesterday at his memorial service. A service complete with pipes, horn, flag service took place yesterday to remember and honor "Cap", The Captain, Mr. Clean, Art, Arthur Haggerty.

The memories were as varied as the man himself. Most all of the memories being shared seemed somehow bigger than life. As each cluster of people stood up to remember Cap a few things began to stand out. We all remembered him as argumentative, fun loving, strong, honest, with a depth and breath of knowledge of a sort very few have. He was a warrior, an author, an actor, a dog trainer, a husband, a father, a grandfather. Any one of the careers are considered to be enough for most people. The fact that he did them all and did them so very well tells us just what sort of man he really was. He was one of the gifted and blessed ones and I am so grateful that I got to stand in his shadow for a short time.

Cap'n and self taken about 3 years ago. We were just finishing up an excellent argument. Who know on what, didn't matter, he was such an excellent opponent all arguments were most satisfying.(If you enjoy a good, solid argument.)
Al Marx waiting outside the church for the service to begin.
Pam Loeb on the phone and George Cockrell just coming down the steps. Don't they clean up well?
Looking up at Bob Maida. Sorry, but I couldn't back up any further for this shot because they already had me backed into a corner.

Julia McDonough coming into the church and by george, I do believe that is the cleaned up George Cockrell right behind her.

These next three were taken in the church social hall. Look closely, for you just may see either yourself, if you were there, or someone you know if you weren't there.

Martin Deeley shares a memory of Cap while Dawn Wolfe can be seen taping and Bob Maida is in the background. The entire affair was taped so it could be shared with good friends of Cap's who were unable to travel due to illness. In this next picture, you can see Dawn taping and for some reason the only shots I managed to get of Mordecai Siegal were of his back or the back of his head. Not real sure just what that means, then again, maybe it just means he was always ahead of me. The fellow standing more or less beside me told a wonderful story about how he wanted to have a guide dog and none of the Guide Dog Schools would give him one because he was a street singer. Cap came along and said "no reason why a blind, street singer shouldn't have a dog same as anyone else" Trained a dog for him and then helped him learn how to train his own dogs so that he would never have to be without a guide dog just because he didn't fit the criteria the schools set. And with the end of the story I was once again reminded why I admired that loud, brash, abrasive, giant of a man known as Captain Haggerty. Oh and sadly that's me standing off to the side. I can't make up my mind as to just what I was doing. That open mouth may have just been in the process of catching a fly. I am still wishing I could learn to keep it shut, cause open has caused me more grief. Who knows? Someday that is likely how I will be remembered. "Oh, her? Wasn't she the one who was always talking when she should have been listening?" In this picture you can just barely see his guide dog. You can see Sanity peering around my leg and on my left is Sydney Miller. Oh dear, I do hope I got her last name right. For some reason I just seem to remember her as Cap's student from long ago. How I hate it when my memory plays those types of nasty tricks on me. Anyway, I do know that is Martin Deeley you can see standing in the background.

Remember, this is Sanity's blog and so it is important to see just what she was doing behind/under that table. As you can see, she was busy sucking up to Bonnie Brown of the Dog Trainers' Connection. Any and all naked human toes should be washed, is her motto.

How did she do? This young Doberman from a small town in Maryland on her first trip to the Big Apple? She would have been happier if we had walked slower and given her a chance to smell, taste and really study EVERYTHING. But since that was not be, she managed to take in as much as possible. All in all she handled the city as just another interesting day.