SIDECAR #05 - May 26, 2004
Hey Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore. Woof!
Sorry for the outburst, but I've always wanted to say that. Not that there's anything wrong with Kansas. I actually thought the place was pretty cool. But, I was a little disappointed because Max and I never saw a scarecrow, lion or tin man. Do you think Dorothy was making all that up in the Wizard of Oz?
Now, I can tell you that the Wicked Witch of the West still lives in Kansas. She gave us some pretty dangerous weather for several days; Max and I were dodging severe thunderstorms and killer tornadoes all the way across the state. I'm a tough dog and all, but I'll admit that I was looking for a basement to hide in for safety a few times.
But, all that is behind us. Max and I have now traveled 2500 miles through five states since leaving Raleigh on May 1st. Do you know which five states we've passed through? And if you do, can you name the state capitals of those states? I stumped you, didn't I? Heck, I'm a dog and I know the answers to those questions. Come on, if you're going to join me here every couple of weeks, you have to keep up!
Don't look at me for hints. I'm just a dog. Remember? So, let's catch up on some of the cool stuff we've done since the last time I wrote. First, we stopped in Knoxville, Tennessee to visit with the students at the Knoxville Montessori School. They were super great and even gave us money that they raised to help people with disabilities get a service dog of their own. Those little guys and gals raised nearly $300 dollars - Whoa, that's a lot of kibble! Max and I licked a few of the little tykes in the face to say thanks, but I'm not so sure they understood us. Something about all that screaming and yelling, "Yuck" was my first clue.
Since then, we stopped by a few other schools in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Our humans, the sidecar chauffeurs, always talk about Assistance Dogs for the first half of our visit, so Max and I just lie around waiting for them to finish. Once they finish talking, the fun really begins. Max and I get to visit with all the kids. And, as I've said before, there's nothing quite as nice as having hundreds of small hands massaging your back - if you're a dog.
We also stopped by a neat place in Washington, Kansas called KSDS. It's like college for service dogs. The dogs arrive when they're almost two years old, then they study real hard for six months to a year to learn all kinds of ways to help people with disabilities. Some dogs focus their studies on how to help a blind person, some to help people in wheelchairs and others to help people stabilize themselves while walking. When they graduate, they get to go home with a special person who will love and rely on them for many years to come.
One of the dogs that graduated from KSDS is named Justice. She's a black lab that Max and I met in Washington. When she's wearing her working harness to help her owner, she's all business. But when that harness comes off, watch out. She's a regular wild woman - and I like that in a dog. Max wasn't too interested, but Justice and I really hit it off. We exchanged toys, shared a few naps together and got along perfectly. I never thought a college dog would find me interesting, but I think it's safe to say that she's smitten with me. I do ride a motorcycle, after all.
I also met some of the biggest dogs you've ever seen. Our owners took us into a small roadside park for a little potty break. Don't laugh - everyone has to go sometime. Anyway, right next to this park were all these HUGE black dogs. They must have been too big to fit in their owner's houses because they were really dirty and some of them were covered with flies. They were nothing like the clean-cut, beautiful Justice. But I still thought it was rude when my owners called them cows. That was until I learned that they weren't dogs at all. They really were cows.
And then there are all the smells and new places to sniff. This road trip has been one big 'Smellapalooza'. There are trees, fire hydrants, farmer's fields, those huge cows and even the occasional skunk. Okay, so the skunk smell isn't so great. But how would I know if I never had the chance to cover my nose because the stinky little guy got scared and sprayed his foul odor nearby? I wouldn't, which is exactly why this trip is so cool. It's all part of the adventure.
Which brings me back to my questions about the capitals. You can't go through life half-awake. You have to experience things for yourself, ask questions and learn along the way. Max and I are learning about all these cool places because we're traveling through them. You can learn by simply following along. Get out your atlas (that's a fancy word for map) and track our progress. Maybe your parental units (those are the taller people in your house) can buy a map and some pins to help 'pin-point' our location. Then, start learning about the people and places where we're traveling. It will be like you're coming along for the ride with us. Then, when we get close to your town, beg your parents - those tall people again - to bring you out to meet us. We're always happy to meet new friends. You can even send us emails and we'll keep posting notes from our journey right here on the Hogs For Dogs website.
You can also take a few minutes to ask your teachers and parents about service dogs. The more you know about these special dogs, the more we can do together to help them help their owners. People with disabilities often rely on service dogs to do the things that they can't do for themselves, like picking up things or helping to open doors. Once you know more, you can help us spread the word about the great work they do. Maybe you can help us raise money to train more dogs to assist people with disabilities. People of all ages can get involved, even you.
I'll end this journal with a question for all you math experts out there. If a dog (me) is traveling east at 55 mph and there is a 15 mph wind from the south, how fast will a bug be moving when it hits me in the nose while I'm minding my own business and enjoying a ride in my sidecar? Max and I have had an ongoing argument about the answer to that question, but we both agree that those little buggers hurt when they go spat on our unsuspecting noses. It makes me thankful that I wear goggles to protect my eyes.
Until next time, remember to sniff with your eyes open and always make good choices when you have the chance.
Answers to Capital Questions: North Carolina (Raleigh), Tennessee (Nashville), Arkansas (Little Rock), Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), Kansas (Topeka)