Matey – Unofficial Service Dog
I’m Dani Chaffin, and I adopted Matey from Sunshine Corgi Rescue in 2008. Her foster mom was Maggi Payne, who took care of her when she was surrendered to Rescue. Sam Bates received my adoption application and contacted me, telling me that Matey was then 7 years old and available for adoption. I told Sam that Matey was a perfect companion for Dudley, my first red-headed-tri Pembroke Welsh corgi. I had adopted Dudley from the Humane Society, and I began looking for a buddy for him because I worked long hours and most weekends with AT&T.
Sam approved the adoption, and on October 4, 2008, my friend and I drove from Fort Lauderdale to Maggi’s home in Fort Myers to pick up Matey. Of course, Dudley came along for the ride and met Matey. The first time I saw her, I could scarcely believe how beautiful she was! I was elated that Matey and I connected so well, and Maggi was pleased that I loved Matey right away. We drove home that night and I showed her around my house and yard. She adapted very well to her new home. Next day, I walked Matey and Dudley around our neighborhood. Many of my neighbors came out to see Matey and congratulated Dudley and me. They commented on how beautiful she was. One year later, Dudley went to The Rainbow Bridge. I know that he was glad that Matey was there to follow in his steps. Matey continued to stay close while her duties as my service dog began to evolve.
From the time I adopted Matey, she sensed that I am hearing impaired. She immediately began staying close to me and following me around. Whenever she hears someone drive into our driveway and approach the house, she lets me know immediately by looking up at me, barking, and running to the door BEFORE someone knocks. When my home phone rings, Matey looks at me to get my attention and cues me to follow her to the phone, where she barks at it. Sometimes I drink tea in the evening, and I fill the tea kettle with water and put it on the stove to boil. Matey hears the whistle and puts her paw on me gently, then runs to the kitchen where the tea kettle is whistling. I have an alarm system, and poor Matey hates those horrible alarm sounds. She always sleep with me on my bed. One night, the alarm went off – a false alarm – and Matey nudged me with her nose to waken me. If she hadn’t been with me on the bed, I would have slept right through the night, and the police could easily have broken down my door!
Many times when I take Matey for walk and a neighbor will call my name, she turns around to look at the person to let me know that the neighbor wants to talk to me. How does Matey know my name? I think to myself, Wow, that is so amazing! I didn’t train her to do what service dogs do. Her talents just came with the package when I adopted her from Sunshine Corgi Rescue!
I read a very interesting book about dogs bonding with humans, which explained to me how Matey senses that I’m hearing impaired. I highly recommended that dog lovers read this book, “Kindred Spirits – How The Remarkable Bond Between Humans and Animals Can Change The Way We Live,” by Allen M. Schoen, DVM, MS.
In 2011 we welcomed a hearing-impaired puppy, Bailey, into our household. Matey wasn’t too thrilled with him at first, but we are now a real family, and she has taken him under her wing just as she sensed how she could enhance my life. In January Matey and I were thrilled to participate in the Sunshine Corgi Rescue Parade in Deland, and we were happy to meet some of you there. On May 25th we’ll celebrate Matey’s 12th birthday, and we hope to have many more years together. I couldn’t have a better unofficial service dog or friend!
Special thanks to the SPWCC board for allowing us to republish this article from the Spring issue of Sunshine Themes. 6/23/2012