I wonder what his placard would have said if he had one.
I WANT FREEDOM. WHEN DO I WANT IT? NOW?
1 HOUR WORKDAYS ARE TOO MUCH
YOU MUST OBEY THE KING
I BARK, YOU LISTEN
Many may have thought that this sit-down protest came out of nowhere but I, his maid, knew him well enough to know that I was obviously asking too much of him. I was asking him to pass a place of play that he loved to cause mischief in. His on-duty Harness wearing persona Minster was out doing his guide dog duties but his Munch like side was triggered by the sight of wide-open grass. What was a dog to do?
As his pace slowed down, I knew we were in trouble. His gentle leader clad head softly turned to his left as his heart began to long for some freedom. He wanted to bound around like a leaping lamb in the place where he has spent many a morning leading Elle the golden Labrador astray. A place where he has accidentally on purpose run off with a ball or two from some poor unsuspecting dog just for the banter. It is here that he has had many an unsuccessful attempt to jump up into the trees that may have a squirrel or two. Basically, this is one of the places that he can be free to be the clown that he was born to be.
The problem that I had on this day was that I did not have my cane with me or his bell collar that I use to hear where he is as opposed to seeing where he is so I could not really let him off his harness. He had already had a run in the morning and a 3 mile walk so was far from exercise deprived but his cold shoulder was telling me different. His sit down protest lasted a good 15 minutes and despite my reasoning with his rational side, he refused to budge. He was going in that field one way or another and I was just going to have to deal with it.
During our pointless one-way conversation, a person had passed by twice commenting “oh, you are still here then” on the way back. I really wanted to say “yes, my owner has decided he is not budging until he gets his own way” but I settled with the little fib of “Yes we are just having a rest in the fresh air”. Not wanting to be reported for loitering with intent (although I am not sure what harm a blind woman and a stubborn guide dog could be accused of), it was time to compromise. He would get his own way, but he would have to stay on the lead to help me avoid any trip hazards.
Slipping his harness off his body, I could sense his hopes getting up. When I failed to unclip his lead from his collar, I sensed his hopes fall. Not a good thing for this drama king to experience as I knew that although he thought had got what he wanted; he was not wholly free. His sulking shoulders were reluctant to move his legs at a quickened pace to begin with, but he soon warmed up to the compromise that we had come too with semi freedom being offered.
Over the last two and a half years, he has trained me very well. It was clear from the start that he was the one in relationship that called the shots and I was daft enough to obey. He works so hard for me and has allowed me to return to work and live independently again so it is only fair that there is a lot of give and take in the relationship. Learning to compromise in any relationship is essential to be able to hear each other’s needs be it a romantic relationship, family relationship, friendship or a relationship with animals.
If I had a guide dog that totally obeyed my every command out of fear of being disciplined, I would feel utterly heartbroken. He dedicates his life to helping me get around and fills the hearts of people that he meets with pure love and joy, so if he wants to have a little tantrum now and again so be it. We are equal beings with equal needs that need to be heard. If your animal is training you well too, be grateful that he/she feels comfortable enough to ask you. When we learn to listen and let go of control, we learn to love unconditionally.