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- Planting Day. Start an herb or vegetable garden together at a community garden or in your own yard. Grow things that can be eaten by not only yourselves, but also your service animal. Certain garden choices are great for our pets, some not so much: apples, blueberries, watermelon, carrots, celery, broccoli, sweet potatoes and cucumbers are all winners.
- If you haven’t tried geocaching, now’s your chance! Geocaching started in April, 2000, when Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, filled a container with software, money, a video, a book, a recorder, a can of black-eyed peas (in geocache jargon, OCB = original can of beans), a slingshot handle, and a logbook with the notation “GPS Stash #1.” He hid it in the Oregon woods, made note of the coordinates using his GPS, posted it on a website, and called it “The Great American GPS Stash Hunt.”
His only rule: “Take something, leave something.”
The idea took off like wildfire. The word stash changed to cache and a website, geocaching.com, was born. Our take— make it about others who know the companionship of a service dog, and leave something specific to your world for others to find. Think “LET THE DOG WIN!” You can let people know you’ve tracked that way online or through your own social media pages, if you use those.
- Sidewalk Chalk Love. Grab a box of sidewalk chalk, and drive around after hours to a business district. Write messages on the sidewalk to greet people as they start their day the next morning. (“Good morning Joe!”, “Smile! It's going to be a good day!”, etc.)
- We know it’s a “real” part of your world, needing people to not interfere with your service animal. BUT, should you opt to put that aside for a couple hours by choice, load yourselves up and head over to your closest hospital and go to the Surgery Waiting area, then let your partner on four legs lend a hand in lightening the atmosphere. Bring along some treats for your “star of the show,” and just mingle, letting people cuddle, pet, dole out a dog biscuit, and de-stress, compliments of your willingness to share. Pets bring down stress levels; it’s been proven a thousand times over. But during an often really tough time for those waiting, it’s not like they can bring their pets along to help… You can do a really good thing here, with this date, to help other couples, and you’ll leave feeling good yourselves. (*Note: We’ve seen a couple people actually photocopy prints of their dogs and put a paw print signature on it, with an encouraging message for those they’re visiting. These make a great source of conversation afterwards as a secondary distraction for both the one recovering and the one who met your service animal.) This date allows all three of you to serve together…
- Find your local photo booth and create some one-of-a-kind moments on film of the three of you. Get goofy. If it's appropriate for you, think ahead to holiday card time, and consider sharing these in that format. Create a Facebook or Instagram page that you’ll only share with specific people, and make it from the perspective of your service animal. Get into a sarcastic frame of mind if you want, or let them speak from a different angel as to what they’d say you look like as a couple, according to their opinions. Maybe they’ll offer other couples hints on things where they think humans need help, having nothing to do with what they perform daily in their regular job capacity. These can be a real riot.
- Go garage sale-ing! Explore your own neighborhood, or a new one. Enjoy looking for treasures together. Make sure your service animal has an allowance too, though, to be fair… These are great ways to find extra dog bedding or car seat-protector blankets, stuffed toys for dismembering (if you allow that), disposable bowls for outings, etc.
- Go for a hike with a small side agenda. Get out into nature and enjoy a slow stroll together. Pack a picnic. And as you do it all, take pictures for your furry friend to send to their family and friends. Make it look like some grand adventure. Odds are, they’re someone else’s Fur-Grandchild or some kiddo’s favorite buddy when you bring them around. Actually print them off and leave their footprints on the back, then snail mail or scan and email them as a way to make someone else’s day.
- There are several places in our world's social settings these days that cater to our furpals. Starbucks has their Puppucchinos. Dairy Queen will give out level ice-cream cones from the bottom of what’s fallen into the ice-cream overflow well, and banks, gas stations, and coffee shops often have dog biscuits ready and waiting. Look for restaurants or pubs that have water bowls outside their establishments. Spend a moment mapping out what places you can find in your area, (BringFido.com can be a great starting point) and bare those in mind as you head out for your dates. Might as well make your buddy look forward to date days too.
- Host a backyard dog-only swim party for others in your world who have socially-inclined pooches. Pick up one or two inflatable pools and line them with a tarp for extra protection. Encourage everyone to bring plenty of towels and/or blankets for afterwards, and let the frolicking begin! Maybe add a BBQ with it all, or a dog biscuit cookie-exchange.
- Designate it MASSAGE night, and download a YouTube video on how to massage a dog. Learn the craft together, and afterwards, reward one another with your own massages. Neck, shoulder, hands, feet. You’ll be warmed up, so it ought to go fairly well. Find some great background mood music to make the atmosphere that much warmer. You can even do a mani-pedi for the pup AND your special someone if your partner enjoys getting those done as well. You may not do a perfect job, but the hand contact is pretty bonding.
- Have you ever been to a dog agility competition? Fun stuff. Very dog friendly. (Service cats won’t be quite as into this one, though, just sayin'…) Google your local areas for agility, dock-diving, or herding competitions.
- How about hosting a mini fundraiser in order to help get someone else a service animal? There’s no small number of folks who can’t qualify for a service animal or emotional support animal due to finances, but who genuinely would have a tremendously better quality of life with one. Consider one in an entirely different service focus from yours, if you want to acquaint yourselves with someone else’s world. Host a dinner, or invite your inner circle to come get a pic of themselves with your service animal partner for a donation, bake some homemade pet treats for those who commit to sponsoring some bags???? Plenty of ways to help in this arena.
- How about skipping a dinner or movie out, and using those funds to sponsor a dog, cat, horse, etc. that is homeless? Spend an hour looking at local shelters for someone who catches your eye, either in person or online, and do them the solid of pre-paying for their adoption fee in your service animal's honor. If you can get there in person to meet them, stop and write out a small note listing the qualities and potential you see in them. Maybe leave the note as if your service animal was the one writing it along with you. Every little bit helps.
- Pick up some child-safe paint, and then let your service pal paint a masterpiece for you. Then you and your date try to re-create it on your own canvases. If it’s marketed safe for young children, it’s going to be safe for your pets too.