Feel “Free” To Go Aww

, , , , , | Hopeless | September 17, 2019

(I train seeing-eye dogs and service animals for a living and have for the past ten years. The number of people who ignore a vest on a dog ceased to surprise me many years ago. On this day, I have three six-month-old golden retriever pups with me who are being trained as therapy companion animals — not seeing-eye dogs — so their training is a little different, and it’s not as strict as it is for dogs who need to be alert animals or guide dogs. I’ve taken them down to the dog park for socialising in their little vests that state they’re in training. When we get there, the dog park is mostly empty, save for a young couple in their 20s and their four- or five-year-old daughter. They’re throwing a ball for a chocolate lab puppy around the same age as my trio of loveable idiots, and mine are whining at me because they want to be “freed” to chase the ball. Sticking to their training, they’re sitting at my feet practically vibrating with excitement. The little girl tosses the ball and it rolls within three feet of my pups, who all amp up their whining. The other family’s dog seems to get spooked by mine, so it hangs back, and the little girl comes to retrieve the ball.)

Little Girl: “Oh! Mummy! Puppies!”

(I’m already impressed that she hasn’t barrelled forward to grab at the pups like most kids her age would do; even adults tend to think that because they’re small and cute they are up for grabs. While they all frantically wag their tails at the thought of a new friend, they stay seated. The little girl cocks her head to the side and starts sounding out the letters on their vests.)

Little Girl: “T… tr… tra… Train! Excuse me, are these train dogs?”

(Her parents have come over and we all giggle at her saying “train dogs.”)

Dad: “They say, ‘dog in training,’ sweetie. What does it mean when a doggy has a vest on with words on it?”

Little Girl: *sadly* “To leave them alone because they’re doing a job. I just wanted to look at them; they’re cute.”

(Her own puppy has sidled forward to sniff at mine, who are all ready to explode by this point but are still seated, waiting for the all-clear. The mum calls her dog back and holds his collar, apologising.)

Me: “That’s fantastic! You’re very clever. But guess what? These puppies are learning to be good friends to kids who need to feel safe and loved, so they can play. You ready guys? FREE!”

(The three balls of golden fluff EXPLODED from at my feet. They started running in circles, pawing at the other puppy, yipping excitedly, and licking the little girls’ shoes. Her face was something I’ll remember forever; a kid getting to play in a pile of puppies is something truly magical. She asked lots of questions about different kinds of helper dogs, and promised me she wouldn’t bother any dogs in vests unless their human said it was okay. Her parents thanked me, but I thanked them, as well, as learning to behave around kids is something very important to support dogs and we got in some great practice that day. That kiddo was so great for already knowing what a service animal was. I hope I can meet more like her in the future.)

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The Only Thing Cuter Than A Puppy Is a Meet-Cute

, , , , , , | Hopeless | August 31, 2019

(I am watching my niece for the afternoon. I work from home, so on days when her parents can’t get someone to watch her, they ask if she can play in my living room while I work. She’s very good about not disturbing me without asking, “Can Uncle can go on break?” so it works out. After I get off early for the day because of working too long the day before, I decide to take her to the park for how good she’s been. While there, we run into a neighbor with a service dog.)

Niece: “PUPPY!” *runs to pet it*

Me: “[Niece]! Stop right there!”

(She freezes.)

Me: “Sweetie, do you see how that dog has a vest on it?”

Niece: “Uh-huh! It’s cute!”

Me: “Sweetie, dogs with vests on them are special. They’re working dogs. That means that the dog is working right now.”

Niece: “Oh. So, I shouldn’t bother it while it’s working?”

Me: “Right! Not unless it’s on break. Just like Uncle [My Name].”

Niece: “Okay!” *walks slowly up to my neighbor* “Excuse me, boss lady. Is it okay for the puppy to go on break so I can pet it?”

Neighbor: “Oh, my! What a little cutie! Yes, sweetie, and call me Miss [Neighbor]. The dog is [Dog]! [Dog], you are now on break! Sit!”

(The dog sits down and looks at my niece.)

Niece: “Yay!” *pets the dog and gives him a hug* “Okay, [Dog]! Time to go back to work! Thank you, Miss [Neighbor]!”

Neighbor: “Oh, no, sweetie. He needs a longer break than that. You keep on playing with him. [My Name], who is this little sweetheart? And why haven’t you introduced us before?”

Me: *explains the situation* “And I just happened to get off early today, so we came to the park. It’s about time for us to head back so her parents can get her, though. [Niece], are you ready to go home?”

Niece: “Okay! Can I walk next to [Dog] and watch him work?”

Neighbor: “Of course, you can! [Dog]! Time to go home!”

(As we walk back, I get a call from her parents who let me know that they are running late, and ask me to give my niece dinner if I can.)

Me: “[Niece], sweetie. Mommy and Daddy are running late so you’re having dinner with me tonight. What would you like for dinner?”

Niece: “I want Miss [Neighbor] to have dinner with us!”

Me: “I.. bu… wha… I guess if she wants to? But we still need to figure out what to eat. Do you want spaghetti?”

Niece: “Okay!”

Neighbor: “Oh, that sounds lovely! Can I bring some wine over?”

Me: “Only if you’re okay with cracking it after she leaves.”

(And that is the story of how my niece chose who was going to be her aunt.)

 

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Mickey And Fairies And Elsa, Oh My!

, , , , , , , , | Related | August 29, 2019

(My girlfriend recently moved in with me. She used to live in New Jersey, but left because she didn’t feel she had reason to stay there. Her family lives across three states, and her friends were always too busy for more than a text conversation. Despite this, she still misses NJ — she lived there all her life — and is depressed for a while after moving in with me. Eventually, I convince her to get out of the house for a while and I take her to the Disney Store, one of her favorite places ever. It works! She leaves happier than she went in, and she buys an Elsa doll. Before we return home, we stop at my brother’s house to get my niece and take her to her grandma’s. Unfortunately, my brother’s mouth runs faster than his brain.)

Brother: “Hey! Did you buy that for [Niece]?”

Me: “No, [Girlfriend] bought that for herself.”

Brother: “What for? Isn’t that stuff for little kids? She should just give it to [Niece], anyway. I mean, what is she going to do with it? People will think she’s some sad person who never grew up. Everyone in the neighborhood will talk about her.”

(My girlfriend has seen my brother only three times — this being the third — so she feels too shy to really speak up and say anything. I just want to leave, so I ask where our niece is and my brother calls her to the door. She hurries with her backpack and, of course, immediately spots the Elsa doll.)

Niece: “Auntie, you got Elsa! Grandma bought me Anna! Want to see it? It’s at her house!”

Brother: “[Niece], grownups don’t play with dolls. Cartoons are for kids like you. Grownups don’t care about that.”

Niece: “That’s not true! Mommy was Wonder Woman for Halloween! And Grandma likes Mickey Mouse! And grandpa likes Superman! And Uncle–” *referring to me* “–likes ponies! And Auntie–” *my girlfriend* “–likes fairies! And I like all of them!”

(My brother seemed like he wanted to say something, but just told us goodbye and we left. I want to think he was embarrassed that a six-year-old was more open-minded than he was, but knowing him, he probably blew it off and only said nothing because my niece said it. She’s the only one he has a filter around since she’s a kid. On the upside, my girlfriend found it funny and appreciated the inadvertent defense. She started smiling more after that day.)

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Bet They Taught Him How To Tie His Shoes After That

, , , , , , | Related | August 28, 2019

When my son was three, he was in his Sunday School class and looked down to find his shoe was untied. His teacher apparently wasn’t paying very close attention to him because he couldn’t get the teacher’s attention to get his shoe tied. So, he wandered off to find Mom or Dad to fix the problem. 

He found me… playing bass on the platform for the worship service. Without a worry in the world, he wandered right up there to get his shoe tied. 

That set a few hundred people laughing and I was mortally embarrassed, but he got his shoe tied and then someone helpful got him back to his class.

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Little Boys Are Complete Tools

, , , , | Right | August 12, 2019

(I am ringing out a mother and her two little boys wearing the cutest raincoats. I overhear the older boy whispering to his mom that the girl didn’t reply when he said hi. Realizing he is talking about me, I wave to him.)

Me: “Hi there!”

Older Boy: “Hi! I’m a fireman! This is my uniform ‘cause I’m a fireman.” *starts smiling and going into detail about firemen*

Me: *turning to the younger boy* “And what are you supposed to be?”

Younger Boy: *with a yellow raincoat* “TOOLS! I’m tools!”

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