We celebrate every birthday in this house, dogs included. We also celebrate anniversaries — the date the dogs came to us.
Eight years ago today, Tango was born. He was slated to be a hunting dog, but by nine weeks, the kennel knew he didn't have what it takes to be a successful hunter. So they called Service Dogs of Virginia (SDV) and suggested they come take a look at this very laid back boy.
I happened to be at SDV that day with Lily, our little black Labrador who was then a service dog in-training. I remember seeing Tango for the first time: a roly-poly, squeezable little Labrador. He was indeed laid back. He went through the temperament test like a champ and just like that, he was a service dog in training. It was decided that he would come and live with us for his training and he fit into the fold like he'd been there forever.
He was the fastest house trained pup we've had to date. He came to work with me and soon became a favorite of the Director of the federal agency. We were invited up to the holiday party, even. Well, if I'm being honest, it was Tango who was invited. I was merely the leash holder!
It was discovered that Tango had a bad shoulder. Tests were conducted that eventually led to Tango's dismissal from the program. I was elated!
Tango wasn't elated at all. Being dismissed from the program meant he couldn't come to work with me any longer. No more grocery store runs, no more movie theaters, or dinners out. He was now a house dog, a pet. It was a tough transition for him. I quickly got him Delta certified so he could be a registered therapy dog. We now visit elementary schools where kids read to him – he's happy again!
Tango's my heart-dog. He's mine and I'm his. We're each other's favorites. He chose me and I chose him. He's singled out for all things special. All the dogs have gotten used to the hierarchy and they know that Tango always gets the best or biggest treat, he gets to clean my plate, he gets whatever he wants.
He's my traveling companion. He's happy to do whatever it is I want to do. He doesn't care what it is, he just wants to be included. He's easy, he's sweet, he's a dream. And today he's eight.
His muzzle's getting a little grey. He's slowing down just a little. But he's still a tennis-ball-chasing fool. He still jumps off the dock and swims all day at Lake Anna . We've got a lot of adventures in front of us yet. Here's to many more good years, Tango!