Saturday and Sunday the Best Mother Ever held down things here at the Manor while Daniel and I headed north to drop Constantine and Coriander in their new homes. Siddy went along in his capacity as Official Service Dog In Progress, although I also took a cane because we would be staying overnight right downtown in Philadelphia.
Sid is, after all, a country dog. He doesn’t often see large crowds of people, huge amounts of traffic crawling by right next to him, all the natural occurrences of downtown big-city living are pretty foreign to him. He’s accustomed to being told to ignore squirrels and cats; pigeons were an all-new fascination. He has been to the mall in Fredericksburg, but that didn’t prepare him for the downtown canyons where it got dark early because the buildings blocked out the sun, resulting in the weird light you get from the glow of a thousand beckoning store displays, changing traffic lights, the headlights of cars, the spinning and blinking lights of emergency vehicles. Being a country dog offers him an exciting wealth of smells and sounds, but they are nothing like the sensory overdrive that comes from a crowded city.
So I was a little worried that I might be primarily using the cane while we were there, but figured that the visit alone, even if he didn’t work through it, would provide some excellent experience. As it turned out, though, Siddy was a superstar. He loves high-stimulation, high-activity surroundings, and in fact they let him do his job even better than he normally does because during the endless times when his job consists of “stand still and hold Mom up” or “lie down next to Mom’s chair and don’t bother anyone” all the activity gives him something to look at. He never shied, although he did require a couple stops so he could stare hard at something and try to figure it out (buses gave him pause, and then he decided they were nothing to do with him and ignored them).
The hilarity of the situation is that what I really need to work on, apparently, are his leash skills when he is off-duty. We made multiple trips to a little park so he could relieve himself (his pottying-on-leash skills remain viable, hallelujah, although I think we need to practice them more and I definitely need to get that behavior on cue) and each time he wandered into the person holding his leash, or decided he wanted to walk next to the OTHER person, or decided he really needed to go into shoe stores for reasons that he did not divulge.
In harness, Siddy continued working well above where I’d expect him to for his age and experience level; out of harness he was exactly what you’d expect from a dog just over one year old who doesn’t have city experience: distractible, slightly obnoxious, and inclined to chase pigeons.
He was even excellent on restaurant outings, which was encouraging after our disaster of a trip to Joe’s Crab Shack here in town — we had an excellent dinner Saturday night (Coriander’s new person gives good food recommendations) and a pretty good lunch on Sunday before we picked up some chickens and then headed for home.
Constantine and Coriander, incidentally, are doing well and have settled right in, but we knew they would, didn’t we gentle readers. Constantine was up and exploring and hanging out with his older (at least half-) brother Juniper within a couple hours of being in his new home. Coriander didn’t wait that long, while her new person was giving us restaurant recommendations she wandered out of the room he’d set up for her, touched noses with her two new big brothers, and then explained to her person that he needed to get with the program of petting and tummy tickling because a kitten can’t tickle her own tummy, you know.
All in all, a vastly successful trip from all angles.