Taken By Surprise!

Discovering a large dog CAN be a lap dog! My 18-year-old with Chloe

My daughter, Kyersten, has developed an interest in hiking. Perhaps it is because her boyfriend is a “super hiker”, and she is learning to enjoy some of the things he does. Irregardless, on Memorial Day she took advantage of the fact that she had “mom and dad” all to herself, and drug us to Harper’s Ferry.

Harper’s Ferry is one of our favorite family “hang outs” and it takes less than 30 minutes to get there from our house. Kyersten recently went on a hike with Mark and his mother, discovering a trail we’ve never taken before as a family. She was anxious to show us the view, and so we were “game” to let her drag us up there.

Taken by surprise #1: As females are wise and practical, Kyersten and I took turns going to the bathroom so that we could watch each other’s dogs. She had her show dog, Pegasus, along for the hike and although Chloe can go to public bathrooms with ME, Peg cannot go to public bathrooms with Kyersten. (Besides, he’s a BOY dog – smile) Peg attracts a lot of attention. He’s umm… UNUSUAL looking.

Left alone as hubby was parking the van, Chloe, Peg and I made ourselves comfortable at a picnic table.  It didn’t take long for a family to make a bee-line for me and started asking questions about Peg. (Chloe is quite use to this and normally rolls her eyes and lays down to wait while all the questions like “was he born that way?” are answered). The “mom” of the family was standing on my left, and pointed to my head and said, “Amy, come look at this!”

I was taken by surprise by the delight and attention that was now directed at ME. “Mom” explained that Amy was waiting to get her first hearing aid. She was born with a bi-lateral hearing loss and was waiting for the “pink swirly” ear mold to come in before going to her audiologist for her last fitting. Amy looked to be about 6 or 7 years old. They were very interested in my cochlear implant and “bling”, and I also showed her my orange/red ear mold on the hearing aid in my right ear. Amy seemed excited about the prospect of putting “bling” on her own hearing aid when she began wearing it.

I get a lot of “looks” in public, but rarely have the opportunity to discuss hearing loss as much as I did with Amy and her family. When they walked away, the mother mouthed, “thank you“. I was under the impression Amy hadn’t met a lot of people with hearing loss. I was glad to be an impromptu role model.

Taken by surprise #2:

Finally ready for the hike, my daughter led us across the road and up the path to the railroad bridge. It’s a good thing my 17-year-old son, Chris was NOT along. He has “acrophobia” and would have never made it across! Chloe was not in vest as it was a hot day, and our goal was the top of a mountain! She stayed in a proper heel all the way across the bridge. When we got to the other side, we were to take a metal, spiral-staircase down to the path next to the Potomac River. I stepped down and made it down 3 steps and realized something with sudden clarity. Chloe wasn’t moving and I was on the verge of losing my balance. I think I may have screeched! Terry took my bag for me, and I turned to look at Chloe while holding the staircase railing with a “death grip”.

She was quivering from head to tail, and although she made it to the 2nd stair, her toes were curled around the rungs on the iron steps and her eyes were as wide as saucers. She was scared “drool-less”. (Chloe, being a hound does not have “spit”, she has “drool”… one kiss from her and you’ll agree fairly quickly!)

Hubby said, “Uh… Denise! I don’t think we are going to be able to do this!”

Kyersten and I both swung our heads to look at him with consternation… “Honey! A working dog doesn’t “not” do something new just because they are scared! I can do this! SHE can do this!”

I began talking to Chloe non-stop and used her name over and over again. Kyersten told me later that people coming UP the stairs were murmuring, “Poor Chloe!” “You can do it, Chloe!”, etc. Slowly but surely, Chloe came down the stairs. I’m sure seeing the ground underneath her from THAT high up, totally rattled her. But with shaking paw after shaking paw, she made it all the way to the bottom. We all praised her like crazy, and her tail gave one or two VERY small wags! Peg, who was CARRIED DOWN, looked at her like “what did she do to deserve so much praise?”

All of us needed a “breather” after that scare, and I had to admit to my family that I was totally taken by surprise that those stairs scared her. I’m so accustomed to her being in public with confidence and just being happy to be by my side, I was not ready for her to be frightened by something! I learned a valuable lesson… new things should be approached with caution.

Taken by surprise #3: My third surprise was that my daughter’s idea of a flat, wide path with compact mulch through a shady forest, is REALLY a 6.3 mile hike that is labeled by the park service as “difficult”. She did get the “shady” forest part right. She was also right about the view at least!

Chloe? Well today, she seems to have recovered…

Denise Portis
©2008 Hearing Loss Diary

4 thoughts on “Taken By Surprise!

  1. LOL! I love the picture of Chloe at the end!

    What a great story. 🙂 I’m glad Chloe made it all the way to the bottom (brave girl!) and it’s so cool that you were able to show that family your CI and hearing aid.

    It sounds like a fun day & a great workout too!

    ~ Wendi

  2. Chloe – you are a smart girl! – and a VERY brave girl, too! You are wonderful to be able to cross that bridge and then do down those steps! Everyone needs some help to do things from time to time. Your Mom knew just what to do to help you.

    No wonder you were tired! But now you are fine – you are all rested up and doing great!

    What a wonderful adventure to tell your friends about!


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