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Hi.

Welcome to my ramblings. We discuss MSA (multiple system atrophy), caregiving, and life dealing with a loved one with a debilitating disease.

A day in the life of a service dog

A day in the life of a service dog

Hi! I'm Hazel, The Wonder Dog! As many of you know, I'm a service dog for the big guy. I have a busy, glamorous life!

Mornings come early in our house. Mom is up and starting her day early, even before the sun comes up! By 5:30 am, we're off "hut-hutting" for a good walk. Mom's always talking about "steps". I take twice as many as she does! The best part is looking for the deer because they're usually going through the park to the island where they hang out during the day. When the weather is warm, we have to pay particular attention around the walnut trees; the skunks love the walnuts!

After a breakfast of salmon kibble and green beans (exotic, huh?), mom and I enjoy coffee on the back porch before we head in to get ready. We wake up the big guy to say goodbye and mom heads out the door to go to work. Here's where the excitement begins ... there's a fine art to sneaking onto the bed without waking the big guy. Creeping forward, you always have to make sure that you don't get dog hair on mom's pillow (she hates that!). Turn around a few times, snuggle in, and you're "good to go" for a few hours' snooze at least.

By mid-day, we're off for a nice walk, the distance depending on the weather and how good the big guy feels. Two blocks up and three blocks over! If we're really lucky, we'll get to the park about the same time my friend, Willow, is hanging out in her backyard. I love to play with Willow! We can run around the backyard while the guys talk about whatever guys talk about. 

By early afternoon, we take a quick spin around the park and weather permitting, I get to sun bathe on the front porch while the big guy smokes a cigar. Boy, I hate those cigars! I love watching the geese in the park while the big guy talks. He says he's singing to his i-pod and I never know if he's talking to me.

My dinner comes early so we can get into the house and get dinner ready before mom comes home. When she comes home, I like to run circles around her if I'm downstairs. If I'm upstairs near the kitchen (making sure the big guy doesn't need help), I wait at the top of the stairs. Just as mom gets near the top, I stick my nose in her face! I get her every time!

After dinner, it's another "hut-hut" around the neighborhood, looking for raccoons, before we settle in for the night. Sometimes mom makes me do some new training thing, but as  long as I can get it done right a handful of times, it's treat time and downstairs to the big guy!

Sometimes I sneak in the kitchen to see if the cookies are ready to eat ... it's all about quality control, right?

Sometimes I sneak in the kitchen to see if the cookies are ready to eat ... it's all about quality control, right?

The job may not appear to be glamorous, but I have a big responsibility. If the big guy falls, I bring him a rope so that he can stable himself, get to his hands and knees, and stand up. I make him get up and take me for walks because the doctor says he needs to get plenty of exercise (and let's face it, its much better outside than inside). My biggest job is reminding him sometimes where home is (I'm sure he knows, he's just testing me) when we go for a walk. I keep him company when he's lonely, and sometimes I just sit across the room and watch him.

I have a pretty good life. I'm a pro at maneuvering the big guy through the hospital to the doctor's office and love sleeping with the Sweet Boy when he comes at the end of the week (mom says I can be off-duty). Sometimes I get bored and cranky, but it passes when I go visit my friend, Willow at her house. They always have pupsicles!

Continuity of care? Not so much ...

Continuity of care? Not so much ...

Yep, we have shrinkage...

Yep, we have shrinkage...