Sunday, July 03, 2005

"An Alert Dog?"

Time and time again, Rowena has let me know that she does not like people who are active alcoholics. She sometimes walks wide circles around certain individuals when we pass them in the hall of the apartment building. The whole time, she watches them like she is scared to make sure they do not move towards her. If they try to pet her, she backs away as if she were like a timid wolf. This is totally not like her regular personality. She is normally very outgoing and loves people. I call her my little social butterfly.

One time, a friend from the Venture Crew came by to let me load his first bunch of photos from his camera onto my computer in order to make prints for him. Rowena wanted nothing to do with him and I couldn't figure out why, until later. At a Venture meeting, we were informed that he had gone into a half-way house type thing. Apparently he had been drinking again and had suffered a full blown relapse. Rowena sensed this in him. I felt bad for him because he is a nice guy and reacted to Rowena's shunning by saying "Story of my life." I wondered why she had acted that way, and now I know!

Last Sunday, I was out on the front lawn with Rowena and we saw a man walking down the street. Well, he had a bandage wrapped around right below his knee and appeared to be having a hard time walking. I thought either his leg hurts or he has a physically disabled. Rowena saw the man and began "woof"ing at him. Actually it sounds more like: "WWfff." I doubt the man could hear it. I was hushing her, but she kept up her woofing. As the man passed on the sidewalk in front of us, He looks up and says "Hi pup!" at which Rowena woofs. I watched as he uneasily made his way past our driveway and as he stopped at a bunch of trees just beyond. He kind of looked like he might be trying to rest, grabbed a branch. However, he was really staggering a bit and eventually fell backwards while holding on to the flimsy branch. He landed in the center of this tiny stand of trees, sitting rather awkwardly, but seemed as if he was trying to look like he meant to sit there in that stand of trees. That is where I left him... sitting in the stand of trees. Nervous, I ran inside and called the police department. Maybe he was ill, or had passed out or something. When I went back out, he was gone from the stand of trees. I walked out to the sidewalk to see him staggering on a block away. The police showed up like 20 minutes later.

One of the drunks in the building was sitting on a chair on the first landing of the back steps that lead into the building. He was speaking to a woman and drinking what appeared to be a liter of beer from its brown bottle. I had to get in so Rowena followed me up the stairs. Sure enough, this guy reaches out and tries to pet her. She immediately backs away and hides behind me. She walks in dashing over to the opposite side of where she is supposed to go in. The woman responds to Rowena by saying "Shy one, huh." I just kind of smiled and continued indoors. How do I tell someone that the reason Rowena is avoiding them or is afraid of them is because they are active alcoholic? Is this a bad characteristic for a service dog to have?

I trust animals and their reactions to people. If Rowena walks a wide circle around someone on the sidewalk, I trust that she knows something that I don't. I stay away as well. I do not personally believe anyone should squelch that reaction that animals have. I also think that Rowena has my best interest in mind as she leads me around these individuals.

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