July 14, 2011
Most of Echo’s training sessions are pleasant, but today — “Bastille Day” –was a little different. I had decided to take Echo to the park to do a little “bikejoring” with him. During previous trainings, my son Emile was with us, riding ahead on a bike and coaching Echo to follow. This time, it was just Echo and me. Risky! But after a few dramatic experiments, Echo slowly figured out that he must be in front of the bike, and not on the side or behind me. To my surprise, things were looking good!
Now, the next step was to teach him that he didn’t have to mark every tree, bush, or rock along the path. This was a little annoying because he marks even when he runs out of urine. On the plus side, when he got tired of me disturbing his ritual, he started pulling at a nice, steady trot. That was really fun! Then a rabbit crossed our path, and a high velocity ride through the foxtail field ensued. We survived the chase, and I bet Echo thought the rabbit was lucky — if he hadn’t been attached to a bike and old guy, things would have been different. But all in all, we had a good time and I felt like we both learned some lessons.
When we got back to the car, this pleasant morning took an unpleasant twist. The back window was smashed, and all of Echo’s equipment gone — his backpack, service dog vest, leashes, and other stuff. I was fuming! I called my wife Nina at work to help me calm down, and she did. Then I started making all the necessary follow-up phone calls. Everyone was so helpful, and it made me feel a lot better. First I contacted Auto-Glass in San Francisco. They were very nice people and they fixed the window in record time. Then I contacted REI for a replacement dog pack, and again, the customer service rep was very helpful. But the crown goes to Ruff Wear Dog Equipment’s Customer Service Rep, Chelsea. I told her the story and she said she was genuinely sorry about the events. She offered to replace the missing part of the dog pack at half price and ship it for free, plus she told me about this great program at Ruff Wear that offers a 50% discount if you have a disability and a service dog. Okay, there are a few bad people out there, but there are more good ones!