December 27, 2014

Little Man's Best Friend

He has an official title -- Service Animal.

That is a different species of animal, not to be confused with your everyday domesticated dog.

Once in a while, however, we enjoy presenting him a subtle reminder to him that underneath that proper vest and serious facade, that he is still a dog.

Christmas was one of those moments.

His toy box looks like a pile fitting for a circus elephant.  "Indestructible", "Large Breed", "Lifetime Guarantee" his toy labels all read.  Ha.  He has disproved every such claim.

'Ty the Dog' has a fierce obsession with squeakers.  He believes that they don't belong in toys and will work with his invisible opposable thumbs and tips of his teeth to remove every one.  Ty's puppy raiser sent him a fun stuffed toy that had 16 squeakers in it!  He only gets to have at that challenge on select weekends and he has 13 out already which we wrapped up and sent back to her with a 'thank you' note to show her how very loved that toy was by Ty:)

For Christmas we received a sweet package from his puppy raiser containing another stuffed squeaker toy.  I no sooner handed it to him then he had the first squeaker out already and was finished with #2 and 3 before I could put my camera down.  He was a dog on a mission! See the squeaker carnage peaking out in the first picture and the one already discarded in the second pic as he goes in for another kill?

Ty also has a rule that no toy is allowed to have hair or ears.  He made quick work of both and is seen below scalping his new toy.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Alan had a *gulp* "successful" deer hunt this year. When he came home from the hunt and walked in the door, Ty's Labrador roots immediately came to the surface.  His nose was plastered against Alan's pant leg for a solid hour taking in all the smells that had. . . er . . . what's the word I am looking for . . . 'sprinkled' over Alan's pants as he was handling his deer.

Ty remembered at that moment that he was a dog.  

We now also have 40 pounds of the most amazing jerky you will ever taste.  I have learned that makes for some amazing motivation for Ty.

Everyday we have a small training session.  We have to keep his mind fresh and learning new things for Bridger's benefit. He also needs to stay exacting on commands that we don't currently use very often so he doesn't forget them.  When I have a small piece of jerky in my fingertips instead of kibble, Ty is practically bouncing into position and jumping to perform the command.

On Christmas morning, we let Ty enjoy the morning being a dog.  Ty could sense the excitement and somehow figured out just what to do.  Just like the other kids, he had presents scattered under the tree and he would sniff around until he found one that he knew was for him.  He would bring it over to me to ask my approval or to show it off, I'm not sure which, and then would run off to the foyer where he would enjoy it for a few moments alone - which is his SOP for special treats.  He would then come back and plop down next to Bridger until he felt the fancy to go hunt out another present for himself.

One of his treats was a Kong ball that I filled with jerky bits.  He was frantic to figure out how that ball worked.  He learned his usual protocol with his other Kong treat dispenser of pushing it around with his nose didn't work.  I could feel his blood pressure rising as he was desperate to figure it out. . . which, he did!

After that, he found his present of a ginormous indestructible gummy bear which Bridger had chosen for him in his favorite color of green.

He maimed that bear in no time.  The first problem, it had a squeaker.  Ty thought his job was to break through the super duty plastic and help that bear out by removing his squeaker.  First, after 30 minutes of very frustrated chewing, he did away with its leg. 

Then, he had to remove the ear (remember - nothing can have ears).  After that, the squeaker gave one last groan and gave up the ghost.  I had to trash our "lifetime guaranteed" toy after that to keep it safe for Ty so he wouldn't pick apart and ingest any plastic.

Then, the magic dog dust wears off and he goes back into service, caring for his boss and he becomes 'Ty the Service Animal' once again.

As wonderful as that title is, his best title will always be:

Little Man's Best Friend.

 What a gift this extraordinary animal has been this year for our extraordinary boy!