22 August 2009

Gator, the Service Dog...+ Mia Update

Pension Milou welcomed two American 'allergy' dogs this week. One to visit and she'll stay here shortly. The other - Gator - he arrived yesterday. Both are Goldendoodles. Labradoodles and Goldendoodles - and other mixes - are dogs specially bred for people with allergies. How it is that the Poodle manifests itself in the coat and not the Golden Retriever (which is the allergic bit) I'm not clear.

And then I learned that one of them - Gator, the beautiful two and a half year old dog you see in these photos, is also a registered Service Dog.

Gator is trained to visit sick people in hospital and retirement homes - in other words, a therapy dog. He also does rescue work. His owners hoped he'd also be trainable as a water rescue dog but unlike poodles and golden retrievers (of which he's both) he's not crazy about water!

One of the massive side benefits of owning a service dog in America is that the dog is permitted to go everywhere with the owner - this means restaurants, hotels, shops, all places normally forbidden to a dog in that country. And airplanes. So when Gator flew first class with his owner from Florida to Nice, he flew in the cabin, lying at the feet of his owner. Now you know why he's called Gator...he comes from Florida.

Today, his family are taking a cruise from Monaco to Corsica and were really surprised Gator wasn't allowed on board. France and Monaco doesn't recognise the American Service Dog badge - or at least the owner of this cruise ship didn't. Apparently a small dog would have been allowed (Gator is a BIG boy) and perhaps a Guide Dog for the Blind (not sure about that tho) - so that's why he arrived at Pension Milou yesterday and he's a pleasure to have around. He's so good, so obedient - as you gather, I'm all for Service Dogs staying here...he's one beautifully behaved dog, yet he's having great fun playing with a little Westie pup who is staying here. As you can see from these photos, he settled in immediately.

Update on Mia: Mia has now been here for 8 months and you'd not recognise her. She is in great physical condition - adores playing with the other dogs. Sometimes I think she's a puppy, she so loves playing. She's still scared of strangers who call, but is getting better and better - rarely barks at them and 'wants' to come into the house when they are here but isn't quite brave enough. But still there is a vast improvement. And now, when I go out, I can leave via the front gate, rather than lugging up the back garden and out the back way. Such progress. And best of all, she is the most loving adorable dog when we are all here together - just the dogs and me - finally, she's happy. Again, thank you so much for all the comments and support during the last months with Mia and earlier with Mistral.
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