Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hardy Demonstrates his Public Access Manners at Julie's Memorial Service

 Hardy went with us to my friend, Amy's Memorial Service for her service dog, Julie, this evening. It was held at a local funeral home, DeJohns (they are building a separate facility for pet services but it isn't completed yet). Laurel has gotten used to staying at home and generally doesn't mind but this evening, she really wanted to go with us. I'm guessing it was because she recognized that I was upset. We arrived about 15 minutes early to make sure we could get a van accessible parking spot and so that Hardy would have time to relax before everyone arrived. 
Amy's five other dogs were there and from time to time one or more would whine and bark. DeJohns has a therapy dog who was also present. At one point prior to the service beginning, their dog came running in off-lead to visit with Hardy. He was friendly but obviously, I would have preferred to not have a dog run up to Hardy while he was doing his job. Once again, Hardy's basic temperament and early socialization shone through and he was amazing! 
We sat at the back of the chairs so that we wouldn't block the aisles. Hardy's default down served him well and he settled nicely while Amy's dogs processed in. We sat with friends from Canine Affair so he was surrounded by people he knew but he handled that beautifully. He whined softly once while there wasn't much going on and occasionally, he would get up as if to encourage me to leave but he went right back into a down with a hand signal. 
The service was lovely and emotional - a fitting tribute to an amazing dog! When I got emotional, Hardy kept his eye on me and during the service, he alerted. At first I thought it might be because I was upset but he was insistent so I took my meds and then he relaxed. Sure enough, about 45 minutes later, I developed muscle spasms in both legs. But because Hardy alerted and I took my pain medication and muscle relaxants before they started, I was able to stay. 
Immediately following the service, everyone went outside to write the names of our pets who had passed before onto balloons so that we could do a mass launch. Hardy enjoyed watching the balloons as they disappeared in the air and then Amy launched a balloon which represented Julie. That balloon was mylar and didn't take off very quickly which made it very difficult on Amy - it seemed as though Julie didn't want to leave and of course, Amy really didn't want to let her go. Everyone in the parking lot was thinking about the beloved animals we had lost and that was the most emotional moment  of the evening. 
Following the balloon launch, we headed downstairs to have a reception with food. Hardy and I got to ride in a wheelchair lift just barely bigger than my chair. This particular lift was very slow and noisy and shook as it moved. Hardy was less than thrilled with it so I did lots of treating while we were riding and when we finally arrived, he didn't want to back out before I got my chair out. With a bit of coaxing, he handled it nicely though. 
Hardy under the table at the reception

Hardy asleep under the table
The tables at the reception were large with enough room for Hardy to get under (normally that isn't true, especially since my power chair takes up so much space). When I asked Hardy to go "under" the table, he did so like an old pro - laying down without sniffing or licking and staying there for the entire time. The food was wonderful and we were seated right next to the buffet line. Several people came with Amy's dogs and they sat at the table right next to ours. Although one of the dogs came to say hello to Hardy and invited him to come visit, he did a great job staying under the table. 
Even though he wasn't excited about the prospect of getting back into the chair lift, he did so with just a bit of hesitation and since I gave lots of treats during the trip back upstairs, by the time we got there, he had relaxed and was enjoying himself. 
All in all, it was a long evening - about three hours spent at the Funeral Home and I couldn't have asked for more from my one year old young man! It was a beautiful service and a loving, emotional tribute to a special service dog!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Y'all,

    Your post made my Human all teary.

    It's so nice that y'all were able to have a memorial service for Julie.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog