As a Freshman in college, the responsibility and burden of taking eight to eleven daily medications for my condition was, quite frankly, too much. Remembering when to take the medication, how much to take and what to do when I forgot a dose, was worse than any final I had to take in school. One day my doctor came up with a brilliant idea: “What if you got a service dog?” I looked at her like she had three eyes and responded, “Why? I am not blind.” Shortly after, I learned that dogs are used to support individuals with a variety of disabilities, including my own. Thus began the quest of finding the right dog.
Goose came in to my life as a grey puddle of spots from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. I had just lost my Great Dane 3 days prior and was at the clinic to pick up the ashes. The shelter manager told me to go look in the back at the puppy that had come in. I initially refused, but once I saw her, my heart melted; she has been by my side ever since. She allows me to live life with a certain level of independence that I would not have without her support. Goose has woken me up in the middle of the night when my heart rate has dropped to a deadly level. She rubs her head on my legs to decrease the chances of blood clots and to increase circulation. And on the days that my heart rate is low and I have difficulty getting out of bed, she is there with that Goose smile to encourage me to get up. I know that when needed, I can lean on her both emotionally (in struggling with a disability), and physically when I have trouble walking.
Goose was the first dog to show me how having a dog to interact with was healthy for not only my life, but for others’ lives as well. In college, our adjustment was a little difficult. I found myself constantly warding people off from petting my dog. My co-workers ask me (when they are having a bad day) if they can spend some time with Goose. I often find my daughter, curled around Goose’s paws napping together. I witnessed an elderly woman in a skilled nursing facility that we visit sit up and smile when Goose walked into the room. The staff said she had not done this in weeks. Children who have struggled with physical therapy for fine motor skills are motivated to use their hands and fingers to stroke Goose’s fur or to brush her. Speaking of children, Goose would not be “Goose” without the help of some very special children.
Goose was not always named “Goose.” When I adopted her she had the beautiful name of Aphrodite, but when I began bringing her to school for children on the Autism Spectrum, they had trouble with her long, Greek name. At the time, the children were studying the airplane called the “Spruce Goose.” Since my dog was large and grey in color they began calling her “Goose.” I don’t have the heart to tell them that “Grey Goose” is really the name of a vodka, not an airplane. So this large, empathetic, spotted grey pup walking around by my side, improving my life and so many others will forever be called “Goose.”