It happened a couple weeks ago. With a huge leap he landed right on my chest. At least the top half of him did. His owner was mortified. She quickly called him to heel but I asked her to just let him be. It had been a long time since I had a dog, a great big dog, comfortably standing on his back two feet and resting with his top too legs across my stomach and his paws resting on my chest. She relented and let him stay where he was. I got a great big heaping dose of doggy love. I'd tried petting him before but he was always just a tad out of reach. Now, he looked me right in the eye and let me rub his ears and scratch under his chin.
Then, I saw him again yesterday morning. Joe was bringing the car round and I didn't hear the dog get off the elevator. Another plop and he was back on my chest again. I grinned the biggest grin that I have. I chatted with him easily about his day and he eagerly let me know exactly where he wanted to be scratched. His human companion waited patiently aside and when he got down I thanked her for letting me have another moment. I explained that in a world of frustrations due to inaccessibility, it was terrific to have the occasional 'accessible dog moment' in my life.
She explained to me that her dog had learned, as she was very strict, that he is not to jump on people. But he sees me and he knows that there are different rules. She ;marvelled at how smart he was. I marvelled at how the dog understood that in order to relate to someone in a wheelchair, he had to just do the same things but differently.
I've always thought that animals are the perfect trainers for how to interact with those of us with disabilities. Dogs don't bark louder cause they don't think we understand them. Cats are just as resentful at having to move for wheels as for feet. Instead, dogs figure that people who sit are equal to people who stand. And dogs in lobby's fill with excitement when they know that the big guy in the wheel chair means 'break the rules and hop on!'
All the way to work I refused to brush away the hair off my jacket. What the hell, if he can break a rule, so can I.
God, I love dogs.