I have a dog friend who lives in another part of the country. We try to talk by phone at least once a year.
And how does one get a “dog friend,” you might be thinking.
Back when I first started experiencing dog aggression problems between Kiera and Molly, many years ago now, I researched, joined dog training lists, and read prolifically. In the course of one of my online travels, I met Heidi. She was a PhD Psychologist turned professional Dog and Service Dog Trainer. And she was an immense help to me.
We became friends and stayed in touch over the years. When I first “met” her, she lived with eight dogs and one cat.
Last night, when we talked, I learned that the summer had claimed the last three of her animals. For the first time in a few decades, her house has no animal hair, no dirty dog prints on the floor, no food bowls to trip over, no “hot water bags” in bed with her at night. She is alone.
Any dog person knows the full weight of the above paragraph.
It is also a pivotal moment of change for her in other ways. So I was not inclined to ask the question that everyone who knows her has already asked: “Are you getting another dog?” I knew I didn’t have to; I knew she would come to share her thoughts on that question on her own. And so she did. She is inclined to wait. To take things slowly and see how life unfolds as a dogless person. In the next breath, she lamented the losses and expressed the profound loneliness she feels.
I understand exactly. Having three aging animals, I know I will be facing her predicament before too long. And I have thought about it a lot.
Part of me is looking forward to having the freedom to travel again. And a house that stays clean for longer than 5 minutes. And most of me is dreading the thought of not having that kind of bond. But I am also getting older and wonder about having the time or energy to properly exercise a dog.
So I was thinking about how I might be able to have a dog, without having a dog. And then I hit upon this.
I can train and or foster adult Service Dogs! It would only involve a couple of months of dog time, and then I would have time off until I was ready to host another Service Dog. I’d get to have a dog, without having a dog.
So that’s my plan at the moment. I like the idea of helping other people to get the dog of their dreams to help them with their special needs. I like the idea of having an already trained dog that I am helping to keep trained until they go to their final home. And I like the idea of being able to choose when and how often I would do this.
Okay, now that I have that figured out, I can move on to fantasizing about all the places I’ll travel to.