The ID card the Ontario Attorney General made for us has come apart. It looks like a mess now. Nobody would believe that was a real ID card. I never managed to get it re-laminated in time. Now I’m not sure if someone could. Also, her harness got two frayed spots on it. We got those repaired, but that was a new experience for me. At least the shoe repair guy could do them quickly on the spot.
But I feel like maybe those are omens, indications that her career may be nearing its end. Thankfully, Tansy is coming to retirement much more slowly and gently than Trixie did, but there are definitely things that make me go “hmmm.”
There are the little things, like some days she walks slower than she used to. I don’t notice that as much when we’re walking alone, but it becomes obvious when we’re in a group. What I do notice when we’re walking alone is she’ll stop and I won’t know why. Sometimes it is for a good reason, but sometimes it’s for an obstacle that has been moved. But because we stopped there before, she will decide we have to stop there again. It’s like sometimes she’s running on autopilot and she has trouble doing that bit of problem-solving that used to come so easily to her. She’ll also sniff more stuff and be more easily distracted. Sometimes I find her unpredictable. I’m never sure if I’ve got focused Tansy or distracted Tansy, and because of that, I don’t always trust what she’s telling me.
There are other little things, like sometimes she does not seem thrilled to work when I call her. There have been a couple of times when she tried to stay away from me when I had the harness. There were always other possible reasons for her to do that, like someone she really loves was right there and she was wanting to spend more time with them, but it makes me think.
Don’t get me wrong, we still have lots of good days. But there are lots of bad days sprinkled in. I’m keeping a log, like I did with Trixie, to keep me honest. But we haven’t reached the point where I’m having to cut back her work (for more reasons than “Hey! Everybody stop because Coronavirus!”), and she’s only refused to go out once, and I could perfectly understand why. So hopefully, we have some time and hopefully I can get all the right signals at all the right times.
I especially hope we can hold on, now that Coronavirus has put our whole application on hold. The application has a medical component, and the doctor has said she will not fill out nonessential forms. Plus, since everyone is staying put, including our guide dog school’s follow-up people, if they can’t come see us, we can’t do the home interview that’s required for the last bit of the application. So for now, everything has been put on hold.
At least with all this staying at home, she has been getting lots of rest, which should hopefully give her some more energy to work a bit longer once things start up again, but we’ll just have to take it one day at a time.
But even with the best possible circumstances, I know the end is closer than the beginning. She will turn 9 next month, and a lot of dogs retire between 8 and 10. We have had a good time together so far, and hopefully I can retire her before she’s unhappy working. Shmans, I am going to miss the heck out of you, that’s for sure. But I want you to have a time in your life when you can just enjoy it as a pet.