Although Argo had been gone about a month, he was still the last thing on my mind at night and the first thing on my mind in the morning. I asked Phil for the hundredth time if he thought Argo missed us. I suppose we were becoming used to his absence in some respects, but it wasn’t as fun coming home from anywhere anymore. A house is just a building without someone there to greet you when you come in.
As soon as we knew that we were adopting Argo (due to his hip dysplasia), it became apparent that it might be difficult to arrange his return from Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. (SEGDI) which is in Palmetto, FL, about 750 miles away, 1500 miles round trip. Phil could not take any more days off from work and Butterflies of Tennessee had just been published—it was a busy time of life. We just could not return to Florida right away. So he stayed in the kennel at the facility until we could arrange a ride for him.
When Ron Landbeck and his wife, Joyce, got wind of our predicament, they volunteered to pick Argo up and keep him at their house about an hour north of SEGDI until a ride could be arranged. We quickly agreed since the Landbecks had raised puppies from SEGDI before and knew what to do. There were three other dogs already there—Yaz, a career-changed dog who is now a therapy dog for people in hospice, Artie, a guide dog in training, and Suriel, a new guide dog puppy in training.
Meanwhile, in north Georgia, Dottie and Robert Langham had decided to travel to Palmetto in order that Dottie’s guide dog, Uno, who had developed cataracts, could be evaluated by SEGDI. The Langhams had graciously agreed to pick Argo up at the Landbeck’s house and meet me in Ringgold, GA for the exchange. Sometime during that trip, the Langhams decided to bring Uno back home with them.
I saw all four of them standing in the parking lot at the bank—Robert, Argo, Dottie, and Uno. Soon, Argo recognized the car. He pulled on the leash when I got out of the car. I shook hands with Robert and Dottie and petted both dogs. Within 15 minutes, I was on my way to Franklin and they were on their way home.
As we drove back to Franklin, Argo slept the whole way for about three hours. Near our subdivision, however, he popped up and looked around as we neared the roundabout in front of the clubhouse. His nose twitched and his nostrils opened and closed as he tried to figure out the scents. I drove slowly and he looked at each house. We drove into the driveway. I took him through the door. He went into every room, sniffing around, went upstairs, finally landed in our bedroom-maybe remembering where he used to sleep? Then, he went to sleep on the foyer floor. It seemed as if he was not only physically, but mostly emotionally, exhausted.
For three days, he looked sleepy and dazed. At first, he was a little aloof so we just fed him and let him adjust. Soon, he wanted to be with us again.
Now he loves to go outside and play, take walks, go to the dog park, go hiking, and just chill. He has been to the Cumberland River with Jack who loves to fetch in the water though Argo doesn’t yet. He runs around with Murphy. He is starting to learn to retrieve which he was not allowed to do when he was in guide dog training.
Now, Argo has settled in to life here at his forever home. He can no longer go to the grocery with us or to church or the bank because he is no longer a guide dog in training, but he seems contented and we love having him here. There’s a missing piece though. He needs to work and all of us know that. It is a matter of finding the right fit for him and getting him involved in a therapy program.
Recently, Phil and I taught Argo to fetch the newspaper. This should come in very handy on cold winter days when we’d rather stay in pajamas and when our former guide dog in training needs to be needed. It’s in his blood.