Today was a monumental day. Ross and I were invited by our CEO to be the guest speakers at the Board of Directors' meeting this morning. Well, I was the guest speaker, Ross was the guest sleeper.
The meeting was earlier than we usually arrive to work, and Ross was feeling it. When I sat down at the table, he sat in front of me, rested his head in my lap, and looked at me as if to say "It's too early to socialize." His act was received in turn with "oohs" about how sweet and engaging he is. It took no more than those heavy eyes to win The Board over instantly!
Ross presented as a perfect Guide Dog puppy, sleeping silently at my feet as I told the many incredible stories of the work he does and his effect on the kids. Frequently, The Board members leaned and bent to sneak a view of Ross sleeping peacefully, and I was politely interrupted with comments about how well behaved he was. It was a perfect opportunity to tell The Board about Ross' primary job as a Guide Dog puppy, and how he knows the difference between his work as a Guide Dog (sleeping through meetings and ignoring adults) and as a "therapy dog" (cuddling with and covering kids with kisses).
Ross and I then assisted with taking The Board members on a tour of the campus. Ross of course was on his best Guide Dog behavior, walking calmly next to me, ignoring the bustle of people around him who were now bombarding me with questions about Ross and telling me of their experiences with caring dogs.
When we entered the second residential unit, Ross stood calmly next to me in the hallway as The Board members listened patiently to the tour speech. After a few minutes, Ross turned to his right, then pulled eagerly towards the family room door. Inside sat a group of kids and staff. Ross immediately approached the children on the floor, saying "hi" to each one, and covering their hands and faces with kisses. These were kids we hadn't met before, but Ross recognized the moment. His ability to distinguish between his two jobs is amazing. For it is in this particular room that Ross has soothed many children in distress.
Like a good Guide Dog, Ross easily redirected his attention to the tour upon my command of "Let's go." He again stood quietly with the adults. As we entered the main living space of one of the units, Ross waited until the touring adults moved on, then with permission, visited with more children. These kids he knows, and they are old enough to remember to ask permission to visit with him and to wait for my OK, and Ross knows the routine as well. As they approached to visit, Ross licked them lovingly. One boy sat on the floor, and Ross stood in his lap, covering his face in slobbery kisses.
We continued on the tour, and Ross continued to present as a model Guide Dog, waiting patiently and ignoring the distractions around him. As children he knew passed, he watched them as if a protector, ever the while maintaining focus on me. Frequently, shouts of "Hi Ross!" were heard across the campus, and occasionally a child stopped for a quick visit. With only an ounce of understanding of the work that has occurred for Ross to become the incredible dog that he is, the board members smiled as they watched Ross carefully balance his two very important jobs - presenting as if nothing less could be expected.