Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Watch Dog

Today was a beautiful sunny fall day. When I received the page that one of Ross' kids was in a restraint, I woke him from his nap, put his Halti on, and took him to do his magic. The boy was having a very difficult time calming down and being safe around other people, so staff assisted him to the yard, where he could run around and get out his frustration without hurting anyone. We supervised from the other side of the fence, waiting for him to be ready for us to come talk with him. As I gathered information from staff about what was going on, Ross sat at the gate, watching the boy, patiently waiting until the time was right.

As other kids walked by, during school recess, family visits, or crossing campus to go to appointments, they shouted "Hello!" to Ross. I looked and waved, but Ross sat, carefully watching his kid. A couple of kids calmly approached us and politely asked to pet Ross. Ross continued to sit, acknowledging his visitors with a rub of the Halti and a kiss on the face, politely saying "hello." When the kids moved on to continue with their activities, Ross remained sitting, watching his kid in the yard.

When the child in the yard calmed and sat down, I told him that Ross was waiting to visit him. For many minutes he didn't respond. After a while, he shook his head that he wasn't ready for anyone to come in. Finally, he said, "Ross and his owner can come in." As we approached him, sitting on the patio with his back to the door, I remembered the last time Ross smothered his face with kisses and his ambivalence to Ross' demonstration of affection. I asked him if he would like me to put Ross in a down so that he wouldn't lick his face, and the boy nodded "yes." I moved Ross into position next to the boy and told him to down. Like a good Guide Dog puppy, Ross obeyed. Then, faster than I could catch him, Ross popped up and gave the boy one good lick up his face, wiping the tears away. The boy turned his face away, and I caught a glimpse of the smile he was trying hard to hide.

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