I’ve decided to retire my companion of 6 years, my service dog, Chewbacca, who I call “Chewie”. I was at Norwescon on Saturday, and Chewie told me in the only way he knew how, that he was ready to stop working. He’s always gone under tables when I’ve stopped my wheelchair to talk to somebody but this is the first time he’s had to be DRAGGED out from under the table so we could go somewhere else.
He just wasn’t listening. It was pretty darn clear what his message was to me. He hasn’t really felt comfortable going into places with me. He loves to go out with me, there’s no doubt about that… leave him home and he’ll find a way to get out. But, going into places, he hides under my wheelchair and gets away from people who only want to say ‘hi’.
This all comes from the fact that for the first year of his life, his previous owner kept him in the backyard with only his sister for company. No socialization with other people or other dogs. I’m not sure how much time the family spent with Chewie either. Probably not a whole lot, judging from his behavior. I’ve had to fight this from Day 1, but usually Chewie will drop into a ‘down’ next to my wheelchair, or if he does go under a table, he’ll come out when I tell him to, and not have to be dragged out. It was embarrassing, and it didn’t just happen once, it happened all day. Since dogs can’t talk, this was the only way Chewie could let me know he couldn’t go out in public anymore.
I only go to two conventions a year, Rustycon, which happens the third weekend of January, and Norwescon, which happens Easter weekend, but this year, Keith is the Vice Regional Coordinator for Region 5, Starfleet, and the Regional Conference is something that we are going to be attending. Chewie would just freak out there. So, with a heavy heart, I’m giving him to a high school friend of Keith’s.
As we were driving home from Norwescon, I started praying. I asked God for help with Chewie. I left it very broad and very open.
The next day, I was on Yahoo Messenger, with a new friend, the Marine CO for the USS Constellation RPG that I am the XO for. I told him what had happened with Chewie and that I was thinking of retiring Chewie. J’Yan told me very bluntly that if I was thinking of doing it, to do it. Don’t second guess myself. About that time, I went into the other room to talk to Keith about what happened, and he made the comment that another friend of ours that was at Norwescon, Mike, told Keith, that he’d take Chewie when he could no longer work. That’s what cinched it for me. He mentioned to Keith that he liked Chewie a lot and that he’d take Chewie when I retired him. I’m pretty upset about the whole thing. Yes, it’s my decision, but to decide to retire a companion after 6 years of having been with you 24/7, is really hard. I posted on Facebook that I was going to retire Chewie because of what happened at the convention, and everyone was really supportive on the message board, but when I’d get into chat, people kept picking at me, wondering why I was retiring Chewie, and doing it on the sayso of a man (J’Yan) that I’d just met.
I wasn’t doing it because J’Yan told me to do so, I was doing it because it was right. J’Yan, who has raised dogs all his life just confirmed it, and Two, I can’t keep Chewie and then try to train a 2nd dog to be a service dog. I tried that when I had Gillis. Gillis would not allow Chewie to do anything. I had to give Gillis up to his breeder. I know the score. Once a service dog, always a service dog.
Chewie will love being with Mike and his family. There are other dogs there. Chewie and I will get to visit each other (after a breaking in period of a few weeks), and I hopefully will be able to find a Doberman breeder who’ll give or sell me a puppy.<p>I still remember Gillis, my service dog before Chewie, he was something else… my service dog of my dreams. I didn’t choose him, he chose me!
Anyway, I am going to start to look for a puppy starting May 1st.
Here’s hoping I can find one soon!