I meant this post to be about Service Dogs and what they can do for those of us who are disabled. The number of different types of Service Dogs that exist and they amazing work they do for us is information that everyone with a disability should know. But, as I started going through photographs of my previous Service Dog, I got really emotional. There’s little that brings me to tears but seeing those pictures had me crying. It was a bittersweet experience. So, this post is all about my incredible Service Dog, Houston.
I promise that I will write about the American’s with Disabilities Act and its definition of a service dog. There are many kinds of S.D.’s with Guide Dogs being probably the most recognized. But Service Dogs can be trained to do an amazing number of tasks for their partners. In a future post I’ll go into these incredible animals and what they do in depth. But today I want to share Houston with you.
Houston was an Anatolian Shepherd. These dogs are a livestock guardian breed from the Anatolia region of Turkey. There aren’t a lot of Anatolian Shepherd Service Dogs but, in my opinion, they’re a fantastic choice for a Service Dog.
When Houston and I were out and about I heard some snide remarks about how unlucky he was and how sorry people felt for him that he worked. It always made me smile because there was nothing Houston loved to do more than put on his harness and go to work.
Although he went with me to doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other less-than-fun places, Houston spent most of his working life getting to do things those lucky non-working dogs never get to do. He was with me every minute of every day. Very few dog owners can say that.
Houston was an honored guest at the local restaurants and the market in the village. He loved going out as he knew everyone was paying attention to him. He didn’t solicit attention. That’s a no-no for Service Dogs. But he was definitely aware that he turned heads!
In general Houston was fine with the “no petting” policy but, if there was a baby or little kid around, all bets were off! He did what I called “drive-by lickings.” Anatolians are an aloof breed but kids were his downfall! If I walked past a small child that lightning quick tongue would shoot out and Houston would lick the little face in an instant. Then, when I chided him, he’d look at me as if to say, “What? I would never do that! You must be over tired . Let’s get you home and into bed!” And kids instinctively knew that this big dog was a gentle giant.
This little one crawled up to Houston as soon as she saw him then took a nap on him.
Because of Houston I felt confident in going out in the world.
We vacationed at Virginia Beach…
where he met a horseshoe crab.
He would have seen a shark but he was too busy looking at a little girl!
He went to Ringing Rock Park in Pennsylvania and listened to the rocks sing!
Houston went camping and boating at Higgins Lake.
Houston’s favorite song was “On the Road Again!”
He also liked shopping at the Welcome Centers in each state!
He picked a slot machine on our one and only visit to a casino that paid us $174.83! He got a prime rib sandwich for dinner that night!
Every day Houston, Remy, and Henry went to the dog park for at least a couple of hours. They loved it!
He didn’t like to swim but he loved dipping his tummy in the pond there.
One thing Houston didn’t like was giving up his window behind the driver’s seat. Here he’s sitting on Remy who refuses to move even though there was plenty of room for both. Boys.
When Houston had to leave me I was able to have him put to sleep at home. Our vet and dear friend came here so Houston could drift off in his own home. Now his urn stays by my bed and, when I am gone his urn will be with me.
The relationship between a Service Dog and his partner is like no other. Houston was my best friend, confidante, partner, and often my courage. He gave me freedom to go to the places I would have been afraid to go. Because of him I was able to get out of the wheelchair and begin to walk again. Without Houston I’d be a very different person today and I can never thank him enough.