Arizona or Bust!
I have been pondering whether or not I should attempt a new years resolution this year. For several years now it typically has been for me to work on losing weight. I feel like last year was my first successful attempt as I lost 25 lbs so I was considering focusing on something else. The last several months have been on the discouraging side for me and the year 2016 was one of growth and challenges. I have come to the conclusion that instead of a resolution I should have a new years motto instead. The phrase "it is what it is" is going to be my motto for the year 2017.
Gilligan and I spent the beginning of the new year in Arizona. A wonderful family who's 5 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Type 1, upon hearing about Gilly, wanted to meet him to see if he was a good lifestyle fit for their family. So Gilligan and I packed up the car and made the 750 mile trip from the Bay Area to Peoria, Arizona. It was a first for me to make that particular drive alone so I chose to look at it like an adventure. Gilligan and I sang songs together in bay area traffic, we shared french fries through palm springs, and we both got to see the most perfect, complete double rainbow in between rain storms on the Arizona flatlands.
To make a long story short, after a few days, it was very evident that one of the family members was pretty allergic to Gilligan. Everyone across the board was bummed out that it wasn't going to work but on the upside I was so proud of him! He was such a good boy. Besides sneaking a pizza box onto the floor that was left out, he held up his manners fairly well. Even though Gilligan is a accurate alert dog, this was his first time working with a diabetic child. Gilly's M.O. has been to initiate contact with the diabetic when he detects an out of range number. When working with young diabetic children, even though the dog is alerting to the child's scent sometimes its more effective for the dog to go straight to the parents/caretakers to alert so that action can be taken immediately. After a day and a half Gilligan was figuring out to go to Mom or Dad to alert and was building confidence faster than most other dogs I have trained. It was pretty amazing to see!
On New Years day, Gilly and I packed up our stuff again and headed to San Diego for a couple days to visit friends on the way home. I could tell Gilly wasn't a fan of spending hours driving in the car, but he loaded up like a champ and curled up in his bed in the back for the remainder of the drive. From time to time he would come up behind me and stick his tongue in my ear or schnurfle my cheek to alert that my BG was going wrong which I greatly appreciated. Once I checked and took action, he would return to his bed and go to sleep. I had never felt safer on a road trip than when I know my faithful Gilly was in the back looking out for me.
We had a great couple nights in San Diego with wonderful friends of mine who are fellow service dog trainers. Gilligan spent his time either by inciting play with my friend's dogs Hewie and Benry, or demanding cuddles from my two friends by sitting in their laps on the floor or climbing up next to them on the couch. There were a couple times where I woke up to find Gilligan not on his bed next to me but sprawled over my legs on top of the air mattress I was occupying. I tried my first ever California burrito (which was delicious!) and my friends took me to the local dog beach where I got to watch Hewie and Benry run with wild abandon and enjoy just being dogs. It was a lovely time.
So, I'm home again and I still have Gilligan. Of course I'm disappointed that he didn't finally get his happily ever after but I am so grateful to the family for allowing Gilligan and I to invade their lives for a few days and giving him a shot
. Sometimes it's easier for me to focus on the negative in this field and I find myself feeling discouraged but this trip refueled me by showing me that there are still honest, reasonable and good people left in this world. A huge thank you to Joe, Mary, Riki and their family for everything; it was truely an honor meeting all of you!