Written By Samuel Habib*
I love animals and especially dogs. But most of the dogs I know jump and lick my face, and I hate that. Since I use a wheelchair to get around, it’s hard for me to get the dog off me. At the Canterbury Fair about four years ago I met a dog that didn’t do that. It was a puppy being raised by a Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) puppy raiser. Even with the drums and dancing and bells at the fair, this dog was calm. The puppy raiser had the dog visit with me, and I could pet it without getting licked. We decided right there to see if I could get a CCI dog. If I had one of these dogs, I could play with it and have lots of fun. And it could help me feel better when I am sick and have to go to the doctor.
I’ve had my dog Proton for seven years now. He is funny – and awesome. He loves to run with his friends and to play tug with other dogs. (He usually wins.)
Service dogs are allowed to go into places other dogs can’t, like stores, restaurants, airplanes, doctor’s offices, even schools! When Proton goes in the car, he sits on the back bench, and his leash gets clipped to the seat belt so he can’t run off into the parking lot. When he flies with us on a plane, he lies down on my feet in the bulkhead row.
These days, one of my favorite things to do with Proton is read with him. I also like to play with him in our backyard, sometimes with other dogs. He helps me relax, especially when I have to go to a doctor’s appointment or get blood work. And when we are out in the community, everyone wants to say hi, so I am meeting lots of new people. At Concord football games, he helps me meet a lot of girls J. Proton has traveled with me and my family to Red Sox spring training, to the “Big House” for a Michigan football game, Cape Cod, Chicago, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, to my brother’s college graduation in Prescott, Arizona and to the Grand Canyon.
One tip: If you meet Proton, please call him by his nickname, Mr. P. That way he won’t get confused with too many people calling his name.
It’s awesome to have Proton as my companion dog.
*This is an update of a piece originally written for and published in the Concord Monitor.
Read the original article here.