Today, Phantom turns one year old.
He is in training to be a psychiatric or medical alert service dog at Diggity Dogs. He’s lived with Michael and me for ten months. We are his primary fosters. We feed him, groom him, train him, take him with us through the primarily human parts of the world, find spaces for him to be his social-dog-self, collaborate with him in training classes, make his halloween costumes, bake his birthday pup-cakes, freak out about his health, and sleep next to him every night.
One month ago, I wrote an introduction to Phantom that I wanted to share with everyone. However… it was more of a book than a blog post! I find the task of introducing him so overwhelming. I think this is because my existence with Phantom, our relationship, doesn’t have a center of gravity in human languages, or even in human-ness. The center of relationship-gravity is some complex of body language, his growing American English vocabulary, trust, time, presence, and exchange.
Phantom is whip-smart, gentle, kind, and lives for his relationships with his canine, feline, avian, and human friends.
Phantom has taught me about the power and opportunity of the present moment, about fairness, about work, about education, about loyalty, about patience, about never assuming, about maintaining connection, about the power of working little-by-little, about the power of loving little-by-little, and about how to show you care when you can’t just say you do.
He is in advanced training now, learning how to find keys and phones, apply therapeutic pressure, turn on the lights, and so much more. Generally he is being trained to be a psychiatric or medical alert dog, or a combination of both. I know he is going to make a world of difference for someone and their family. I am disabled myself and am working towards getting a service dog, so the family he changes might be our own.
Because dogs bring out the present in humans, or at least that what Phantom does with my sense of time, I can’t tell you the story of his life in a chronological narrative. I can only share the constant swirls of the present that shape our life together. In my epic first draft, I broke the swirls into these categories: collaboration, exploration, boundaries, communication, and relationships. I’ll share posts on each.
In the meantime, here's a slide show--little moments from the past 10 months.