Today is a melancholy day for me. Helaine went into season exactly a week ago, and today is her first birthday! That means that she isn’t here to celebrate with. I won’t get to go home and snuggle her and give her a birthday present. And I won’t get any cute birthday pictures with her! Thus is the life raising a female puppy I suppose. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I cannot believe that she is one already. That means in seven short months, I’ll be in Santa Rosa handing over her leash and watching her walk away to her next adventure in this crazy service dog life. I know she’s bound to do some incredible things. I just have an extra good feeling about it, and I have listened to my extra good feelings in the past. They tend to not lead me astray.
Today, to celebrate her 12th month of life, I’m going to share 12 of my most favorite things about Helaine and the adventures we’ve been on together.
1. Helaine is quite possibly the smartest puppy I have ever worked with. She picked up all her commands with ease, and knew what all of them meant by the time she was five months old. We’ve been working hard on proofing her now and so far that has been the most challenging part. She anticipates all her commands, so we’re working on slowing down and actually thinking before acting.
2. She is so incredibly gentle. She has always had a soft spot of kids of any age and plays well with them. It doesn’t matter if they are screaming in her face or pulling on her tail, she loves it and will remain as calm and gentle as can be.
3. She is an easy traveler. When we first started this journey together, she thought being in the car was going to be the death of her. She would scream at the top of her tiny baby lungs the entire way to puppy class. Now she will prance to the car and hop in the back seat. She will snuggle in and sleep in the strangest positions all the way to our destination.
4. She is reliable. I never have to worry about whether she is going to “hurry” in a public scenario. She tells me when she needs to go outside when we are home, and when we’re in public I just…know. Kind of weird to think but, I just get what she needs and when she needs it.
5. She self entertains. When I recieved Helaine in March, I came down with strep throat four days later. For three days I was laid up in bed, sicker than I’ve ever been. She didn’t get nearly as much attention as a new puppy should have, but she played and played and slept and played and didn’t need me. To this day she still plays really well by herself.
6. I trust her. Entirely. She has NEVER once been on a tie down in my home. She will either follow me from room to room, or I will give her the “bed” command and she will go there and stay there. If I am in the other room, I don’t worry that she’s being naughty. She doesn’t take things that aren’t hers. I have even gotten to the point where when I’m in the shower (definitely not even close to being able to keep an eye on her) I will leave her in the living room on her bed. I’ll come back and she’ll still be there. She’s so trustworthy.
7. She is so great in public. When I put on her vest, she is ready to work. She instantly knows the difference with it on. Most people have no idea she’s even with me unless they see her. That’s the best part. Going to restaurants is a breeze. She curls up under the table and blends in with her surroundings.
8. She is so funny. She does the wackiest things sometimes and she just makes me laugh. Between her straight up and down jump (all four leave the floor but never touch anything or anyone) and her “huffing” sound she makes when she’s excited, she always has me laughing.
9. She will work for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Regardless if I am in the room or not. Whomever has the leash has control of her and she knows it. It has been especially helpful when I’m out in public with my dad. I can hand the leash over if needed and she will listen to him. Every word. Every time.
10. She likes when I sing to her. Yes, I sing to her. Remember what I said about number three when she used to scream her head off? Well, I would turn the music up a bit and I sang to her. Every week. She’s gotten to the point now that if anyone sings to her, she will come to them and place her head somewhere on them, whether that be my brothers lap at home, or my arm in the car, and she will just stare at you. She will actually fall asleep on my arm in the car.
11. She doesn’t need me. She is completely content going off to other people’s houses for days or weeks. She doesn’t need to be with me all day, every day. Separation anxiety has never been an issue.
12. My favorite thing about her is that she’s mine for now. I love that I was given the opportunity and the honor of being her puppy raiser. I love that I get to spend every day of these 18 months knowing that she is the product of my heart, of my hard work, and of my time and love. She will forever be my Little.
Happy birthday my sweet Little. You are the best little dog I have ever had the pleasure of raising. I am so excited for the next seven months and beyond that. I cannot wait to see what you do with you life. You will always be my heart dog, my love.