Our Phony Service Dog

The fabric of my days is pretty consistent. Since my goal is to learn to write, I spend all day reading about writing, journaling, blogging and meditating.

Recently I also spend a percentage of the day working with Bronson, the wonder dog, on his obedience skills.

We adopted Bronson from the Colorado men’s penitentiary. He came to us wonderfully dutiful.  Then we proceeded to untrain him. That began when Jimmy began walking him off leash.   For more on that experience see this blog post– Introducing Bronson, our dog trained in the Colorado Men’s Penitentiary  

I wouldn’t be fussing about Bdog’s behavior if we didn’t have to pass him off as a service animal. No, he’s not a service animal. He is, however, Houdini. Bronson can and does escape from hotel rooms.

The first time it happened was in Georgia. We arrived at our La Quinta and checked in at the front office. Then we piled into Stella, my beautiful blue mini-van, and drove about half a mile. This La Quinta was a lot like a college campus. There were several “dorms.” Each room had an exterior door.

We fed Bronson, left him in the place and went to dinner. Following the meal, we stopped at the front office to ask a question. I waited in the car. Jim entered and exited through the automatic sliding glass doors. As he left, he looked down to his right side with astonishment. I peered through the glow of headlights and saw that there next to him was our Bronson!

Sure enough, Bdog had left our room, found the office, and wandered about. The employees said he had come and gone several times, roamed about, put his paws on the front desk. He was looking for us.

We drove back to our building. In the parking lot, we encountered an apparently drunk man. He took a glance at Bronson, then asked, “That your dog? Pretty darn smart dog you got there.”

He continued, “I found him wandering around, asked him where his room was. He led me up there.” (pointed) “I put him back in the flat three damn times and he kept right on escaping.”

The second time he absconded in spite of us rolling a desk chair in front of the door as we backed out of the room. We arrived home from dinner, and Bronson was in the reception area, holding court with employees.

The third occasion I went to fill an ice bucket and returned within minutes to find Bronson bounding down the hall, ears flapping, wearing a giant grin as if to say, “Here I am mom! On the way!”

So we can’t leave him in hotel rooms. Nor can he wait in a hot car while we dine. Therefore I went online and ponied up sixty-five dollars to get Houdini a service dog vest.

My daughter, Mo, is horrified we pass the kid off as something he isn’t.  She shouldn’t be so darned honorable.  I have to wonder how I failed as a mother.

Recently I checked how to have him certified as a service animal. It would take two years. Forget that. So I signed him up for obedience classes to brush up his skill set.

There are five dogs in his class. The handlers use little “clickers.” Each time the dog responds well to a command we “click,” then reward with a treat. He’s a rock star student.

I’ve only been asked once why I need a service dog. I responded, “I’m sorry. Will you repeat that? I’m hearing impaired.” By the time we head to Chicago, the kid will be totally believable as a guide dog to the deaf.

ski lift dog.jpg
Here he is on an Aspen ski lift.

 

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