Juno, my now-retired service dog, has been working Christmas since she became my partner in 2011. It's very different than working in public. You don't always take your dog "dressed," because you're with family and may want to allow more socializing than is normal for your dog when on duty. It's easier to tell strangers to leave your dog alone than well-meaning family members. You can also end up in close quarters for much longer than normal, with more tempting food in easily accessible places. For some dogs, the whole thing can be a little confusing.
|Juno doing Serious Work Face even without her vest on.|
Kaline's first Christmas was a lot of fun and probably the most hectic one I've experienced with a service dog. Four more people than usual came, and four young children were running around. Gift-opening was kind of chaotic and ended up being overwhelming for me. So in the midst of all the noise and excitement, Kaline calmly did deep pressure therapy on me, ignoring everything going on around him. He also did a great job resisting the tempting morsels all around during dinner.
I kept Kaline in his harness for most of the time we were there, since he has a harder time than Juno transitioning to working behavior while he's out of his gear. Especially at an event like a holiday celebration, it's important to know your dog's individual quirks and set him or her up to succeed as much as possible.
Juno is the kind of dog who doesn't much care about socializing and will dependably pad just behind you no matter what is going on or what she's wearing (or not wearing). The only thing you have to worry about is her wagging her long tail near low tables or children.
Last year, even though Juno was retired from public work, I let her work Christmas because I knew I wouldn't need assistance that she was incapable of providing (like counterbalance). This year, there was just no way I could have had anything resembling a good time without Kaline's help. He did a lot of counterbalance, which would have hurt Juno.
|In addition to his work, Kaline posed for silly photos with good grace.|
Kaline did an excellent job. I was really proud of him. Because of him—and my wonderful family—we had a fantastic Christmas. It wouldn't have been possible without his help.
|Kaline got some cozy and well-deserved rest after the festivities.|