Today concludes the "Our Household" mini series. Today's post is focused on another very special boy and I've left him until the end on purpose. Not because he's not important-absolutely not-but because I thought it would be a nice wrap up to our week to learn more about Roscoe on his birthday.
Yes, today is Roscoe's fifth birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. Shaggy Dog. In honour of is B-day, let's get to know him a bit better.
Roscoe is Mr. K's guide dog and was issued to Mr. K on the same day I was matched with Glacier. Roscoe is obviously from Leader Dogs for the Blind as well as that is where Mr. K and I met. Roscoe is a 29 kilogram, or 68 LBS, Black Labrador, and as his nickname indicates, is a pretty fluffy guy. Despite being a bit too short for Mr. K-he has to lean over to reach Roscoe-Roscoe and Mr. K were perfectly matched with regards to their personalities. Mr. K had to try out a few different harness handles until he could find one that was long enough for him to work comfortably with Roscoe. Roscoe also had a few siblings graduate from our class as well, but I can't remember any of their names; except for maybe a Black Lab named Pepper. She may have been his sister. She went to work in Texas.
Roscoe was raised in Michigan by a family and Mr. K had the honour of meeting the wonderful people who taught Roscoe house manners, basic obedience and how to behave properly in public. I don't think puppy raisers realise how much it means to most new handlers to meet the people who helped shape their new life partner.
It would seem that in our household each dog has taken on is/her own role and takes it very seriously. Even though Roscoe is Mr. K's guide dog, he has taken it upon himself to be the protector of the home. He will alert bark if someone knocks on the door, but will stop as soon as Mr. K or I tell him that we know someone's there. He is even more sensitive to this role when Mr. K isn't at home with me and Roscoe had stayed behind for some reason or another. Roscoe isn't as much of a snuggler as Glacier is, but he always has to be near Glacier; touching him somehow. When we are out working, if he and Mr. K are in front of Glacier and I, Roscoe always looks back over his shoulder to make sure we haven't gotten lost. If I go to bed before Mr. K, all of the dogs come with me and Roscoe sleeps at the foot of the bed, closest to the door: I think this vantage point makes him feel like he can be on duty better.
Roscoe isn't all work and no play either though. He loves to run and roll in stinky things. Glacier may look for dirt, but Roscoe looks for the stinkiest thing he can find; like dead, rotting fish for example. He also is quite the talker. If he gets excited about going out to work or getting his dinner, he hops around grumbling. He's quite the character. Roscoe also never does anything half As*ed, if you'll pardon the expression. If you tell him to sit, his butt hits the floor with an emphatic "wham!" That is probably why he takes his protective duties so seriously.
As all of our other animals have several nicknames, so does Roscoe.
Shaggy Dog: because he has a fluffy, wavy coat, with long fur between his toes. If he's out in the mud or snow, I would often have to make an effort to ensure things weren't clinging to his toe hair.
Mr. Rudeness: Roscoe may be the protector, but sometimes he has no regard for anyone else. Once when we were at the vet, I had Glacier go into a down and Mr. K asked Roscoe to sit. Instead of sitting on the very empty floor space, Roscoe planted his rear on Glacier's head; with that emphatic "wham" of course.
Moscoes: This is a name he got early on. Mr. K's niece, who was about two when Roscoe came home, couldn't say "Roscoe." So, when she called him it came out "Moscoes." The name has stuck and is applied to Roscoe when he is being sweet or goofy. As one of our friends aptly said, "Roscoe is for when he is working and Moscoes is for when he is off duty."
Little Bear: This goes back to his fluffiness and that he's black. Not to mention, his little noises he makes when happy make him sound like a bear.
People often stop us to comment on how beautiful our boys are. Glacier's colouring is often the topic of conversation. That, or his gigantic head, but when people talk about Roscoe, they mention how he looks like he came off of the front of a hunting dog magazine. He looks like the perfect gun dog with his huge jowls, blocky head, thick coat and broad tail. I think that if he hadn't been a guide dog, he could have been trained to hunt birds; he just would have to work on his swimming ability.
Glacier is horrible at swimming, but at least Roscoe tries. When he swims out from the shore, he lifts his front paws right out of the water and whacks the waves. He looks and sounds like he is about to drown. The strange part is that when he turns around and goes back to shore, the waves behind him, he swims properly. Maybe he thinks he has to climb over the waves?
Here are a few fun facts about Roscoe.
1. Roscoe loves pillows. If there is a pillow on a couch or bed, it can be guaranteed that Roscoe will be using it. When I was attending massage college, he used to climb up on the bed, where Mr. K was asleep, grab my pillow and take it back down into his bed. A classic example of his love of pillows and why the nickname "Mr. Rudeness" applies.
2. All Labs love food, but you can't even say "supper," "breakfast," "cookie" or "food" around him because he loses his mind. He acts like I've never fed him even if he's just polished his bowl clean. If you say "food" around five PM or when you first wake up in the morning-his two feeding times-the dog nearly comes out of his skin with excitement. He starts talking and prancing.
3. Roscoe's newest trick is learning how to give "five" and he loves doing it. If he sits and you ask him to "give me five" he reaches over with his paw and hits you with it. Remember I said he never does anything without enthusiasm? If he's going to give you five, you're going to know about it.
4. Roscoe is faster than Glacier when out running. When they are running on straight aways, they are pretty evenly matched, but because Roscoe is more compact and lower to the ground, he can take the corners better. I think he knows this because if he is playing with Glacier, he'll run circles so that Glacier can never catch him. Mr. Rudeness is quite appropriate don't you think? Either that or he's too smart.
5. Despite his love for food, Mr. K can put an Oreo cookie on each of his front paws, tell him to leave it and Roscoe will not touch them; even if he is left alone. He has waited for twenty minutes before, surrounded by cookies and never moved. He was quite excited when Mr. K released him from his "stay" and he was given his own cookies. Good boy, Roscoe.
6. To Glacier, I am his girl, his handler, but to Roscoe I am Mom. He does not work for me and because of that, we can have a different relationship. However, it is not completely the same as other owner/pet relationships because, ultimately, he is still Mr. K's working dog.
With that, we have reached the end of our "getting to know you better" marathon. I hope you all have enjoyed it.
Happy birthday again, Roscoe.