I’ve been asked that question about O.J over and over again during the last few weeks. The answer is, I don’t think he’ll mind one bit!
It’s not that O.J is totally tired of working and ready to retire. He could still easily do another six months or more of good work. But recently he’s definitely become more distracted while working, sniffing a bit more than he usually does. And trust me, that’s a lot of sniffing!
Like many guide dogs, O.J has always made a huge distinction between work mode and play mode. He sniffs while working, but generally he’s very calm and quiet with his harness on. Take it off when we’re at home though, and he’s like a crazy puppy who just wants to play. All the obedience he ever learned while working was totally forgotten the other day, when he jumped up on my parents’ kitchen and tried to steel a slice of bread, with his harness on! He’s never ever done something that naughty while working. To my mother’s disgust, all I could do was laugh! Sometimes I’m convinced he knows he’s retiring, and just thinks, “I can do what I want now, who cares.”
Other times though, he does some amazing work, and we’ve made the most of it this week because the weather was so good. I’ve walked the legs off the poor dog!
The schools are off on their Easter break, so I only went into the office one day this week. O.J slept on his bed and snored like he was part of some snoring Olympics.
On Thursday I went to Derry to get a couple of things, but more importantly to take O.J to visit some places for the last time. We went to Cool Discs, which is obviously somewhere he’s spent a lot of time, and I bought some new music to keep me entertained in Cork. Then we went to the arts centre where I worked for over two years after I trained with O.J. This would have been one of the first routes he ever learned with me, and we hadn’t walked there in around five years. It’s pretty straightforward, but O.J was so excited and enthusiastic, I was very impressed. He chilled out in the cafe and enjoyed being in the recording studio again.
It’s strange walking him places and knowing that it’s probably for the last time. I found myself taking my time on our walks this week, not rushing him, and letting him dictate the pace at times when we weren’t in any hurry. On our way to meet some friends and their new babies for dinner yesterday evening, I purposely took a longer route. I know I’m very lucky that he still wants to work and that he’s still enthusiastic. I’m also lucky that my parents are keeping him, so I can see him as often as I like. He knows their house well and is completely happy (if a little mischievous) there. They know how well I’ve always looked after him, and that I wouldn’t give him to anybody to keep unless they can physically care for him in the same way that I did. He has never been a clingy dog, so as long as somebody is giving him attention, he’s happy. He will be living in a quiet area, two minutes walk from the beach. What more could a dog want?
So I think I can almost say for definite that O.J will really really like being retired.
He just has two more very busy weeks to get through before he can earn that freedom.