The Power of a Peanut part 4

Day 10

As it turns out, Ari’s initial dive into the yard has proven to be his last thus far–which means that J has had to lug him up and down the three steps from our deck to the grass. Ari is just not steady enough yet. He’s still too off balance, leaning to the left.

So this morning there is something new, a harness for support. Thanks to South Salem pet supply, where we have always bought Ari’s food and conventional treats, J has procured a plush, cloth harness which fastens around Ari’s middle with velcro, and has handles like a grocery bag for easy assisting.

Our first attempt: I lead the way to the back door with bites of delicious orange. Ari moves pretty easily, with J holding the handles of the harness. All the way to the door. But Ari becomes a bit nervous as we approach. Additional coaxing from J, and Ari is outside. But the blasted steps are too much, and once more, J must hoist him down and eventually back up.

Attempt 2: Ari is happy to don the new harness, even to walk with us into the kitchen. But he is a smart puppy, a smart puppy, too smart for us to get anything past him. He won’t budge, and since it is obviously not an emergency to get outside, we wait.

Attempt 3: Ari dons his new harness and settles into the kitchen while we prepare our own dinner. He has had his, so what’s the rush y’all?

But of course we can’t go on like this forever.

We eat a pleasant dinner, happily chatting about this and that, and I share a few carrots with Ari. Mmmm, I must be his favorite at the moment since J has had all the unpleasant jobs lately.

The new plan is to try getting Ari out the garage and into the front yard. The back way is simply too treacherous for everyone, and Ari has already associated the front door, or so we imagine, with the less than fun visit of our mobile groomer, drat.

J starts his coaxing. A peanut or two and Ari is ready to cross the danger zone of the kitchen tile. No rug here. Will he make it?

One step chasing a bit of orange, then another, and another. Ari bumps into the kitchen can and skitters for a moment. Oh, no…

But the orange brings him back to task.

I hear J’s muffled frustration as the laundry room and garage steps loom near.

“He has really dug in,” J says through his teeth.

A grunt, a bit of scrambling, and a groan later, and their voices recede into the distance.

I plant myself in sweet, strong thoughts. Love Divine is everywhere, I think. But I’m straining to hear what is obviously beyond my ears at the moment.

Bring the leash,” J calls.

I hurry to obey, then return to my seat in the kitchen, and to my attempt to focus.

Then I remember the little poem I wrote so very long ago, in 1988, when I learned we were expecting another baby. We already had 3 young children, and finances were very tight. How would we manage with another child?

After quite a few panicked tears, I started singing a made-up melody with made-up words:

God will provide

And this I know

The more we trust

The more we strive

The more it has to show

Our Father-Mother


Forever near

God will provide

And His children need not fear

That baby was born 30 years ago last May, proof that things did work out. We all survived, all grew in marvelous and unimagined ways, and we even still like each other as our holiday celebrations attest.

By the time I sing these words three times through, J is coming in the door, Ari tumbling in beside him.

“We did it,” J breathes wearily. “Made it to the grass, and all good.”

Ari settles down on the new rug, and we gush over him, “Good boy, good boy!”

One more day,one more tiny step forward, one more embrace.

4 thoughts on “The Power of a Peanut part 4

  1. Dear Joan,

       I just realized when reading your post this evening that I should have mentioned to you earlier what I used for my second Leader Dog, the Yellow Lab who lived to almost fourteen (my guide dog who lived the longest of the three before Willow).  Nearly two years before Heather’s passing, she, due to arthritis, had growing difficulty with making a quick turn to the left outside our back door, down only three steps, and a quick turn to the right.  I purchased for Heather (the largest of my guide dogs) a “doggie ramp” which was made in Texas.  It had a non-skid surface and did fit the area for its placement.  I had just enough room alongside the ramp to walk down and up the stairs beside Heather who always took the ramp–both up and down.  When the ramp arrived and we placed it, I absolutely knew that I had to convince Heather to use the ramp; otherwise, I could not have kept her as a retired guide dog.  Thus, I will now share with you what I feel is my greatest accomplishment of my life:  I convinced Heather to use the ramp–that is, make a left turn, go down the ramp, and make a right turn to the rock area for her relief.  The first attempt, with only the typical one dog biscuit  with a little cheese as a treat, took a full forty-five minutes.  The second attempt took only five minutes, as did the third successful attempt. Subsequent promenades down and up the ramp took only about a minute or less.  Success!  Heather continued to use the ramp throughout the remaining nearly two years of her precious life.

       During the final thirteen months of Heather’s life, I was overjoyed to have with me both my third Leader Dog Zoe and my retired Leader Dog Heather.  After Heather passed, I donated the very strong and durable doggie ramp to my then veterinary clinic. The personnel there were delighted to have the ramp because it can also be used to assist some dogs with entering and exiting vehicles (although I never used it for these purposes).

       If the front entrance of your house does not work for Ari, maybe you and Ari can consider a doggie ramp for the back entrance of your home.  Just call if you have a question.

    Best always–Alice and Leader Dog Willow

    1. Alice, Thank you for sharing your own experience and recommendations. As it turns out, the front door has proven to be the best…go figure! Leave it to humans to assume things out of habit, and not to think out of the box due to fear, or projected fear anyway. Blessings to you and Willow from Ari and me!

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