In the past, I have told you about many of the physical tasks that I do to help my mom. The tasks that give her the ability to be more independent. These are all very important skills for me to have but there is another skill that is also quite important. That skill is having patience and good self-control or in other words being patient!
Being patient means to endure delays in a calm, even-tempered manner. Waiting quietly and not being disruptive in any way would be good examples of being patient.
Do you know why a service dog needs to be very patient? And have good skills in laying quietly for long periods? In between doing the physical tasks, there can be a fair amount of time just hanging out and waiting.
My mom says a service dog should be invisible! That sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it? By this, she means that a service dog should be quiet and in no way be disruptive. And whenever possible tucked in out of the way so that people won’t step on them or trip. I should always be unobtrusive which means my demeanor should be such that I don’t attract attention.
At home, I can relax and rest or play with my sister, Roo, whenever I’m not helping my mom. It is okay if I move around throughout the house and do regular dog things. But when we are out in public I need to be composed and attentive to my mom. When we go places I spend quite a bit of my time laying quietly by my mom’s chair. And waiting patiently!
A while back, in my post Waiting for my mom!, I shared with you how I sometimes can wait beside or near my mom’s wheelchair and other times I wait by myself. I talked about waiting quietly but didn’t really talk about the importance of being patient. So I thought I would share about that now.
My mom has appointments with a variety of doctors on a fairly regular basis. She also has some procedures and infusions every few weeks. And, as needed, she gets different tests, such as x-rays, bloodwork, and scans.
Resting on my blanket while my mom has a procedure done. I am further away from my mom’s chair so that her doctor has room to move about as needed.
This means we are often sitting patiently in a waiting room until it is our turn. Or waiting to be seen in an exam room or procedure area. And do you know what I do while we wait? I lay quietly near my mom. And listen carefully just in case she needs my help!
When we are going for longer appointments, like her infusions or procedures, my mom brings a special blanket that she made for me. On one side it is a thick black terry cloth fabric and on the other a soft plush red fleece with a pattern of cute dogs. It isn’t too big but has enough room for me to lay comfortably. And it is soft enough to make it a comfy place to be.
Resting on my blanket close to my mom’s wheelchair while she gets her infusion. I like being close to my mom!
Whenever I see my blanket being put into its bag I know that I will be waiting a longer time than usual. Do you have something special that you bring along with you when you have to wait? I love it when my mom brings along my special blanket! For regular appointments or times when the wait will be shorter, I just lay on the floor next to my mom’s chair.
Another time when I need to wait patiently is when we go to a restaurant. When we get seated I need to go underneath the table so that I am out of the way. And you know what else? If there is any food on the floor I ignore it. Even if it is close to me when I lay down!
Here I am lying under the table at a restaurant. Do you see that piece of food on the floor that I’m ignoring? It is right next to my face!
In some restaurants, they have tables that don’t have much room for me to go underneath. Sometimes this is due to the larger size of the pedestal that the table sits on. And other times it is due to it being a smaller table with not much leg room underneath. This is especially true if there are more people than just my mom and dad, like when friends join us.
In these cases, I need to lay right along the side of the wheelchair and be in as close as possible. My mom watches closely as people go by to make sure they don’t trip or step on me. She even has a little light she can clip onto my vest if it is extra dark. Since I am black this can help to make me a little more visible. But the light is small and not too bright. I certainly wouldn’t want to be distracting!
The clip-on light that can be put on my vest if needed.
Sometimes we need to wait for an available table. If this happens it usually means that the restaurant is busy. And the area where we wait is crowded.
Remember how I’ve told you that my mom’s wheelchair is kind of big and takes up a lot of room? Well, when we wait in crowded areas, like in the restaurant, I must stay very close to her chair so that I’m out of the way.
When at a restaurant I often receive many compliments on my behavior. If we are waiting in the lobby area to be seated other patrons will comment on how quiet and well behaved I am. And do you know what the very best compliment is that my mom and I hear? When we get up from the table and are getting ready to leave we hear other patrons saying “I didn’t even know there was a dog in here!” That is an example of me being invisible!
There are many other times when I have to patiently wait. Like when we go to Mass on Sundays. Or when we are waiting for public transportation. Or having coffee with a friend Or when my mom is spending a long time looking at books in a bookstore!
For me, it is easy to be patient and wait quietly with my mom. It was a big part of my early training. And my mom has worked to maintain that skill as well as all of my other skills. She feels strongly that when we are out in public we should set a good example for the way a service dog should behave. And I have to say that I agree! I love hearing people compliment me when they see me doing my job!