August 13, 2014

Joe Cool

I was just sitting here thinking of all the times I have taken Bridger to the park and he has had children approaching him to join him in play.

Thinking. . . still thinking. . . Um, yeah, that has never happened.

Until now.

Bridger just became the Cool Kid.

Thanks to Ty.

I took the troop for the 45 minute drive to our favorite accessible playground, Clemyjontri.  It is ah-MAZ-ing.  Like, been featured on national news amazing.  Love that place.

What I love about that playground is the piece that it has now played in Bridger's life story.  It was two years ago at Clemyjontri that we met a woman holding the leash of a little Golden Labrador puppy with a yellow "service dog in training vest" on.  She was the park manager and a puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence.  We sat on a bench with her and her pup and she told us all about the organization.  We went home from the park that day on fire with the thought of what a tool a service dog could be for Bridger.  We began the application process, and two years later Bridger was proudly wheeling along side his new service dog, Ty, ready to introduce Ty to his favorite stomping grounds.

When we walked into the park the first person we saw was the park manager.  We introduced her to Ty and got to thank her for the part that she played in changing Bridger's life.  Not only is she changing the lives of the future recipients of the service dogs she is raising, but she changed Bridger's life by sharing about the wonderful organization of which she is a part.

Seeing her brought this experience full-circle. We were so excited to show her Bridger's new buddy and take a picture with her.  It was tender to see her moved to tears. Thank you Rebecca!

We took Ty on his first carousel ride.  I'm sure he was wondering what that dizzy sensation was all about.  He took it like a champ -- both the first and second time we made him ride!

The other kids usually buddy up and run around, joining other kids they meet in play and games.  I always am Bridger's playmate, and I convince him that I am all the fun that he needs.  It makes me a little sad at times, because as I watch all of the other kids laughing and interacting, and I know that I am not.  This afternoon was no different.

Then our playtime gained the cool factor.  Ty and Bridger were playing.  Ty could make the cylinders spin around by using his nose.

Ty and Bridger would play "McDonald's Drive-Thru" at the play house.

Ty would even use his big nose to push Bridger in his swing.

Other children started noticing Ty and came up to ask questions.  I would answer the questions about Ty, but then turn the conversation to Bridger.  I would introduce Bridger as Ty's boss and have Bridger introduce himself and ask their names.  This happened a few times and I turned around to see behind me a growing pack of children following me, Bridger and Ty.  I felt a bit pied piper-esque. I stopped at some play elements and the children would come play with Bridger.  They knew they couldn't touch Ty, but they just wanted to be near him, they said.  So in order to do so they would play with Bridger. See the six pair of the little sneakers in this picture? It was just the beginning of Bridger's growing pack of followers.  

In reality, they might have just been there for Ty.  But, so what. Bridger didn't know the difference.  All he knew was that kids were surrounding him to play next to him -- to play WITH him.

I just stepped back and watched the magic happen and let Bridger play with his peers.

Ty is magical.  He has turned the perception of Bridger from the odd child with plastic things on his legs that wheels around instead of walks into the cool kid that has a ginormous beautiful dog that sticks to his side like glue.  It is also magical for me to feel the positive attention as I walk around with Bridger as compared to the other type of attention we usually draw.

We have had Ty for not quite three months.  It feels like much longer because I think he was always meant to be part of Bridger's life.

Watch out cool cats, here comes Bridger and Ty.