Couch Tater Tot Or Furry Speed Bump
by Mark Carlson
12:22 PM, Friday, September 07
Safron, a female yellow lab, will be taking over Musket's responsibilities very soon. She's daddy's little girl as you may tell from this photo of her and Mark Carlson.
Safron, a female yellow lab, will be taking over Musket's responsibilities very soon. She's daddy's little girl as you may tell from this photo of her and Mark Carlson.
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Okay, here’s the deal. I’ve been a working Guide Dog for just over ten years.

In that time my Daddy and I have been all over the country for work and vacation, met thousands of people and even written a book. I’ve done a good job. My daddy knows of two times I saved his life by stopping him from walking in front of a speeding car. There were two other times but it’s better he doesn’t know.

It’s been a wonderful feeling, being a Guide Dog. I took my responsibilities seriously and did it well.

I’m 12 years old, now, that’s like Dick Clark for a Labrador Retriever. But I look good without cosmetic surgery. I’m not as fast and full of pep as I was in 2002. While I’m proud of being a Guide Dog my motivation is definitely on the wane. I’m less eager to get into the harness. It takes me longer to climb the stairs and the floor near the kitchen is looking better and better.

In January Daddy decided it wasn’t fair to make me work any longer. It was time for me to retire. He applied to Guide Dogs to go back and get another dog.

When I heard him and Mommy talking about ‘the new dog’ I was confused. And a little hurt. What was wrong with me? Why was Daddy abandoning me?

Then it dawned on me. Retirement. What would it really mean?

I won’t be going into stores or restaurants, on planes or buses, because that’s something only a working dog can do.

When Daddy is out doing his public speaking it won’t be me snoring on the floor, bored out of my skull.

Then again, I won’t have to deal with airport security or someone complaining that dogs shouldn’t be allowed in restaurants. I’ll never have to cram myself under a bus seat or stand in a long line at Starbuck’s. Hmm. Maybe retirement isn’t such a bad thing after all.

I think I can cope with it.

When some of our friends ask what I’m going to do when I retire, Daddy usually tells them “He gets to be a dog. He’s earned it.”

Boy, you can say that again.

So an era comes to an end. Musket the Guide Dog, the idol of dog lovers from coast to coast, co-author of ‘Confessions of a Guide Dog – The Blonde Leading the Blind’ is going to do what?

Be a couch potato.

Well, maybe a couch Tater Tot. I love Tater Tots.

I’ve been practicing for months now, when Daddy wasn’t looking. Okay, I know, he’s NEVER looking but that’s beside the point. I lie around, sleeping, rolling over occasionally, and when I get a spurt of energy, get up to stretch.

Then it’s back to the floor.  Daddy started calling me a ‘furry speed bump.’

I haven’t mastered the TV remote yet, but Mommy helps me get ‘Animal Planet.’ I also like the Food Network.

Yes, it’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it.

In fact I learned most of this from Daddy. He could qualify for the Couch Potato Olympics. To him sleeping is an art form. I don’t mean that he’s lazy, far from it. He works very hard and is always writing, lecturing and promoting our book.

So I think I’ll get used to it. I’ll still be Daddy's ‘Little Buddy.’ And Mommy and I still have a wonderful relationship based on unconditional love, adoration, belly rubs, kisses and treats. Especially treats. She makes tasty healthy treats at home and they’re the best!

Mommy takes care of her baby.

As for the new dog, for a while when I see Daddy get the harness out I’ll go over to him, ready to do my job. But it won’t be my job any more. Old habits die hard. The new dog, whoever he or she is will guide and protect my daddy.

Daddy has also had some concerns. He hopes I won’t resent the new dog, and we’ll get along. I’m sure we will, as long at the new kid does things my way. That’s reasonable, isn’t it? Maybe I’ll teach him some of my tricks, like how to beg effectively. The key is to suck in your cheeks so you look malnourished.

Daddy knows the new dog won’t be me and that’s the hardest part to get used to. He said “Musket is a hard act to follow.” Ain't it the truth?

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