August 1, 2008

World's smallest assistance dog

by winecountrydog

Today's the birthday of Carolina, a special dog-mom who, like her dog, lives on in our memories. We're remembering Carolina and Wishie, her "assistance" dog, by re-pawing dog-ma's story about them.

carolina photoshopped wishie dog in winter 2005In dog-ma's words, here's the little story.

The first time I walked through Carolina's front door, Wishie spotted me. He was my friend Carolina's arthritic Boston terrier.

I'd hardly taken a step inside the house when Wishie — outfitted in a dark-red sweater to keep him warm — came rushing right at me in a determined but unsteady run.

I fell to my knees on the living room rug. My heart raced. I reached out my hand to my adorable new friend. I forgot why I was at the house. And I didn't care, because I wasn't ever going to move from that spot. Wishie was radiating too much charm and love.

Wishie liked hitching a ride on the foot platform of the mobility scooter Carolina drove. Carolina's legs didn't really work because of a spinal cord injury. Wishie's legs didn't work well because of his arthritis. And Toby, Wishie's little terrier housemate, liked to hitch a ride, too, because he was half-blind and timid.

One night, we all went out to dinner in San Francisco. On the way into the restaurant, Carolina had Wishie and Toby tucked away on the foot platform of her scooter.

Somehow Carolina got the dogs into the restaurant. I then noticed a woman at the next table who looked very unpleasant. The woman looked down and saw the dogs, then looked up at Carolina. Uh oh, I thought. But the woman's serious expression dissolved into a huge grin, and she started talking away with Carolina.

I later asked Carolina whether people ever reacted negatively when she took Wishie into places with no-dog policies. She responded by sliding Wishie's special dog collar off her scooter handlebars. She leaned over to me and held out the collar for me to see the big tag hanging from it.

The tag read Official Assistance Dog.

I giggled and said, "Oh, c'mon. What kind of assistance dog could Wishie be?"

"He's a Seeing Heart Dog," Carolina replied.
paws up for tevya!Many different breeds of dogs — usually bigger than Bostons — make great assistance dogs. Big Golden and Labrador retrievers are trained as service dogs and skilled companion dogs at Canine Companions for Independence in Santa Rosa, California.

If you're a hearing-impaired human and need a signal dog, paw-leeze keep in mind that we Welsh Corgis are very good at signaling.

Pawdon me, though, if I assert that nobuddy could be a better Seeing Heart Assistance Dog than Wishie.

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

What a sweet story. When we lived in a small town in Bavaria (southern West Germany) a couple of decades ago, we often saw people in restaurants with their dogs lying politely at their feet. I doubt if that has changed. The Germans do love their dogs. I don't believe we saw that as frequently in Berlin.