We’ve always thought of Gilbert as a special dog. He not only faithfully serves as a service dog, but also has those little quirks in his personality that makes him unique.
However, it still took us by surprise, when our grandson, Hunter, 4, chose Gilbert to be a special guest for his preschool class. His teacher must have been surprised as well, expecting the usual grandparent or relative.
On the big day, after a few arrangements with his teacher, Tonya Keim, Lu and Gilbert arrived at the Harmony Kids Learning Center with Hunter and his mom. Right away, Gilbert was a huge hit with the kids. Later, over supper, Lu described the gloriously happy expressions on the faces of the children, as they watched Gilbert do high-fives, shake hands, take a quick bow to the command “ta da” and a longer bow when asked to do so. And of course, they all wanted to pet Gilbert’s glossy black coat.
“All the while, Gilbert had a goofy look on his face, the happiest dog in the world look on his face,” Lu said. “He just loves to perform.”
Lu tried to keep up with the questions, as he explained Gilbert’s role as a service dog and how he alerted him so he could get something to eat if he needed to. By the time they visited a second class, Hunter pulled out the card from the service pack on Gilbert’s back, with information on it, and a tube of glucose to take when his grandpa needed it. Lu was impressed with his grandson’s explanation. Afterwards, pictures were taken of the children with Gilbert.
A few days later we received a thank you signed, “Love, The HKLC (Harmony Kids Learning Center) Family.” It read, “Grandpa Lu, we wanted to thank you for coming in with your service dog, to be our special visitor. The kids had a great time and loved the learning experience.”
On another occasion, Gilbert showed his fun personality when we attended a gourmet-themed dinner and concert of George and Ira Gershwin’s jazzy tunes at Luther College. We decided to leave Gilbert behind on this occasion. When we returned home, we discovered Gilbert hadn’t been idle. He had nudged aside the top of the wicker hamper and missing Lu, settled for the scent of first his T-shirt, then a sweatshirt, and finally a smelly sock, all deposited on the old couch in the family room. He greeted Lu at the door with his orange Kong in his mouth, a toy with spaces that Lu often fills with apple bits for him to dig out with his tongue. Gilbert looked up at Lu expectantly, hoping for a reward for his night’s work.
Over the years, we’ve often laughed over Gilbert’s antics. He certainly has his own special brand of humor.
French Onion Soup
4 large onions, sliced thin
4 tablespoons butter
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups dry red wine
6 cups beef broth
Cheese of your choice, grated
In a large kettle, cook the onions in the butter over moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 40 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Add the broth and wine slowly, and stir the soup constantly until it comes to a boil and simmer it covered, for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. In the meantime, place the grated cheese on the sliced bread and toast. Put two slices of toast in each of the six heated soup bowls, pour the soup over the toast.
If you do not have wine, just use the same amount of broth instead. You can omit the bay leaves and thyme as well, and the soup will still be delicious.