In 2017, I went to Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, Michigan to train with my third guide dog, Denver. I was so excited because I hadn’t had a guide dog since 2007, and it was a hard road to get me approved for training that third time around.
The school had changed so much since I was last there in 2002. The building was different, and the training was entirely different. Those first few days before I met Denver seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, our trainer was headed into my room with My amazing new partner.
Like people, dogs are all different, so it didn’t surprise me at all when I met Denver and started to get ot know his personality. He was a little shy at first, but it wasn’t long before he warmed right up to me. Immediately, he reminded me of an old man who’d been stuck in a young dog’s body. There was just something about him that said that he was wise beyond his years.
That afternoon, I think we took our first walk together, and we spent some more time bonding. Before I knew it though, it was time for dinner. Unlike others in my class, I’d been through this before. I knew that the first meal with all those people and all those dogs in the dining room was going to be interesting for sure. While I’d never seen anything crazy happen with those well trained dogs, I knew it was bound to be noisy at the very least.
Finding our place at the table went without incident, and we all started to eat our supper. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but I stopped dead in my tracks because I heard a sound. I thought it sounded like growling, so I kept listening. There it was again! It was definitely growling. And the second time, I actually recognized that it was Denver because he had his chin resting on my foot and I felt it through my shoe.
“My dog is growling,”, I said to the group. Everyone else seemed confused. They were trying to figure out if I had lost my mind. “There! Did you hear that? He’s GROWLING!”
Immediately, our trainer jumped up and went around to the side of the table where nobody was seated. She picked up the table cloth so she could see Denver, and then she started laughing.
I was so confused because I didn’t think a growling guide dog was anything to laugh about. Maybe he was giving another dog stink eye under the table or maybe he felt threatened. I didn’t know what had triggered the behavior, but I was certain he was growling and now my trainer was laughing.
“Sarah, he’s snoring,”, she told me as she continued to laugh.
“Yep. He’s sound asleep on your foot and he’s snoring.” Boy did I feel like a dummy, but I’m certain I’ll always laugh about that day because it really was pretty funny!