I am loving September :) It feels like all the little pieces are falling back into place. Despite the relentless drizzle and autumnal weather setting in, it feels a whole lot more sunny to me. Lucie is back on full form following her ordeal over the summer, and her cheekiness is back with vengeance. After a few weeks of restricted walking, she has gained a few pounds, so we are upping her exercise routine, and she is responding with vigour. I keep thinking I will find her limit and she will say, yep - tired now, can we go home? But not found it yet, even a 2 and a half hour walk still kept her in full spirits - guess those legs needed stretching! But mine do to, so its a win win. She is doing great with her work, and last week earned every second of her worth in a tricky moment.
I had to pick up Tom from school and needed to take Alex, so we walked down, with Alex attached to Lucie. Its a country lane on the way, so not a walk I would have been able to take Alex on prior to Lucie. Alex decided to launch towards a passing vehicle and tried to grab its tyre. He has always been attracted to moving vehicles, loving the motion, but when you least expect it he throws all his weight into a lunge to grab the car passing, or throw himself in front of it. With two kids and a dog my attention was split several ways, but did manage to react in time to stop Alex getting a hold, but what was fantastic is that Lucie totally held her ground. Without her attached to Alex, it would have been a very close call with the car. She gave me the extra pair of hands I needed, and the lead length meant Alex couldn't quite make contact with the car. Lucie knew to stay with me, and we reigned Alex back, with my heart thumping hard. You can go for months without Alex leaping into a car, then out of nowhere he decides one looks good, and you have a split second to make sure you can control him. We have had some frights over the years, but now with Lucie, I have a little more help, which may just be the difference between a scare, or a real problem.
And so when I occasionally get asked 'is it worth it?' I suppose yes, there is a whole lot involved in taking on a dog - but if you asked me five minutes after that incident, yes, every day it is worth it to keep Alex safe. A real moment of sweet relief.
And so now normality creaks into place. Each day I get a little closer to feeling I am moving forward. I am doing lots of jacket work with Lucie at the moment to prepare for my big test in November. I can't wait to get rid of my 'In Training' lead and jacket, which I hope will finally put an end to endless 'Aww - look - a guide dog in training!' Mind you - even when Alex is attached people say that, so I am not sure if they think he is in training too! I look forward to a time when people see a labrador can mean more than just a guide dog. Till then I will smile sweetly and shuffle on. After the test, our label will say Autism Assistance Dog. It will be interesting to see what interaction that brings with people. All in a label... I had to smile this week when a couple of old ladies stopped me with Lucie while she was working and said, 'You have an assistance dog'. Statement of fact, no question or comment. Err - yes, I replied, thinking - well I am glad you let me know as I wondered why she was following me around :) Honestly, a knack for the obvious...you gotta love the public :)) I was just loving the Paralympics this summer, taking a huge leap forward in normalising differences between people, and celebrating such astonishing achievements. I think Britain just took a big step in the direction of understanding and integration....kids have always been good at it, maybe we are catching up.