Service Dogs Deserve Vacations, Too

They help us around obstacles. They prevent us from falling down stairs. They pull us back when cars speed through red lights. And if that’s not enough, Seeing Eye dogs bring us other fringe benefits, too.

I’m writing today from a little inn in Lubec, Maine – I’ve taken a few days away to attend the Iota: The Conference of Short Prose at Roosevelt Campobello International Park.

Picture of Whitney lying at my feet on the plane.

Whitney got to lay across the row instead of scrunching under one seat.

A worker at our gate at O’Hare was so taken by my Seeing Eye dog that she gave me and Whitney our own two seats. “That way she can stretch out.” And I could, too!

At the Bangor Airport in Maine a rental car worker upgraded my husband to an SUV. “That’ll be nice for the dog.”

It was nice for us, too. With my window down I could take in the clean air and breathe in the fragrance of pine trees — Whitney’s nose was twitching a mile a minute, too.

Whitney had eaten on the plane (I measure her dog food out into ziplock-bag-portions at home to bring along on trips) but Mike and I were starving. En route from Bangor to Lubec he caught sight of a roadside trailer selling lobster rolls. We stopped for lunch, and the guy taking food orders there provided us with our first taste of that marvelous Maine accent. “Does yah dahg wahn ice cream?”

Seeing Eye dogs aren’t allowed to eat anything but dog food. Dogs who eat leftover scraps tend to get overweight, and guide dogs need to stay trim to do their work. Eating food intended for people can make dogs sick, which is sad for the dog and difficult for the blind person who needs them in order to get around safely.

”I cahn’t heah ya ovah thayah,” the guy inside the roadside trailer called out. “He shuah looks hungry, does yah dahg wahn ice cream? Free fah ahl dahgs.”

Ah, well. Whitney is on vacation too, right? “Shuah,” I said. Whitney ate it up — she thought the ice cream was supah.


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