I have been trying to psych myself up for the eventual occurrence of Bunny’s retirement. She’ll be eleven in November and the past year has been tough on her. I’m trying to just take an easier pace for her and let her slow down, but she’s not really down with the plan. If I’m getting ready to go somewhere, she’s not missing out. This makes it a lot tougher to start working with Flattery, even though I know that we need to start switching off so Bunny can rest. She just doesn’t seem to recognize that she has any limitations and she’s not taking “no” or “stay at home and rest” for an answer.
Mr. Taleteller and I started talking about taking an obedience class together with Flattery and Küster as a reinforcer for the things they already know and a way to bring it all together in Flattery’s case. She also has a few blanks that we need to squeeze in. It’s time to get serious about having her take the therapy dog test and the first step is going to class. After that, we’ll get her Canine Good Citizen certification and then move on to the therapy dog test. It’s a process, and I know she can do it if we work on it. I just have to stop stalling and actually do the work with her. The big impediment is Bunny not wanting to give up my time or part with me as a partner.
It’s not that I want to quit working with her right away. It’s that I remember when Treat was my partner. She passed away very quickly and I found myself without a canine partner. It was really tough, and I know that if I work with Flattery now, I can make that transition easier for myself down the road. So, I’ve started to work in that direction.
The other night at the nursing home, we started out as usual with Bunny with me and Flattery with Mr. Taleteller. At one point, someone wanted to see Bunny and it was easier to hand her leash to my husband than to jockey around the chairs, walkers and wheelchairs to get her there. I took Flattery and he took Bunny. That’s not an unusual move for us. What was unusual was that Bunny didn’t seem to notice much and so I decided to just keep Flattery with me for awhile.
For all her mischievous ways, Flattery is such a good nursing home visitor. She has that gentle touch with the residents that everyone loves. She’s a flirt, pretending she’ll give them kisses but in the end only blowing a tiny puff of air on their cheeks. She leans in close, soaks up attention and praise and genuinely seems interested in what the residents tell her. When we visit the nursing home, she’s all ears and puppy dog eyes and everyone loves her. As a matter of fact, on nights when I visit alone with Bunny, I get interrogated by a few of them about where Flattery is. She wins people over without even trying.
I realized that I’ve been holding back to my own detriment. Flattery is an excellent visitor and she fell in beside me like it was second nature to her. She wasn’t the least bit concerned that she wasn’t with Mr. Taleteller anymore. It was just a chance to bask in the glory of walking along the halls with me. I think one of the things I love the most about Flattery is that she always sees opportunity.
I didn’t go into it expecting to be switching off on dogs, but I think it worked well for us. Now, if I can just figure out a way to sneak out of the house one night a week for eight weeks with Flattery and not Bunny, I think I’ll be in a good spot. I know that Bunny will let me know when she’s tired of visiting, but when that day comes, I think we can make the transition pretty smooth. I want her senior years to be fun and relaxing for her, and I want Flattery to be able to have her time to shine, too. I finally feel like we’re on the right track for both of those things to happen without anybody being upset, which is a huge relief for me.