Sybs and Sensibility
Sybs started life destined for the show ring. Fortunately for me, this Labrador Retriever inherited her mother Rena's smarts and kind heart and was not keen on showing. She came to me from her breeder when she was one-and-a-half years old.
For the first few months, Sybs was terrified of everything, especially noise. She grew up in the country and travelled extensively – crated - from show to show. So, we walked at 4:00 a.m. every day, along the Canal and I would bang a steel bowl against the railing intermittently, to de-sensitize her. It worked. Then, I brought her along on shopping trips, to the beach, parks, even golf tournaments!
After a series of obedience classes, it was clear that Sybs was well-mannered, if aloof. Above all, she showed amazing discipline and would not fetch unless I gave the 'ok', no matter how many dogs were in the chase. When she turned five, Sybs decided she could enjoy people, especially children who stood at her height. But there was still something missing. A few years ago, I suffered a head injury. When I recovered, I remembered how Sybs looked after me when I was literally not myself and I realized she would be fabulous at therapy work.
As Providence would have it, our first assignment was Robin Easy, a transitional living center for persons with acquired brain injuries. I will always remember the initial interview: the social worker and Margot (Jazz) described typical behavioural issues at great length: sudden emotional outbursts, verbal abuse, unexpected physical movements, all the while observing our reaction. Sybs waited patiently to say she had been practising on me! We continued our visits there until our last dog-loving client transitioned out of Robin Easy. We were re-assigned to the Rehab Centre, where we are now. Our community work has helped us grow as a team, for which we are truly grateful.