Tuesday, July 5, 2011

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Jam Meets the Original Jam: Joseph A. Merluzzi

On Sunday we took a drive over to Tampa to meet the man who Jam was named for: Joseph A. Merluzzi, the former headmaster at Berkeley Preparatory School who retired in 2011 after 24 years. Some of you may not know this, but a huge part of why I was able to raise Bingo and Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley is because of Joe. I went to him three years ago and told him I wanted to raise a guide dog puppy and I would like to bring it on campus. He didn't have to say yes. There are plenty of employers who say no or who make it difficult.

As many of you blog readers know, Bingo and HRH Berkeley were completely incorporated into the fabric of school life. The opening of school now is not complete without a presentation about the new puppy on campus and a refresher of the rules of engagement with the puppy (which the kids ALWAYS remember!). And it all comes from the top. Without the headmaster's steadfast support of me, of the puppy, of Southeastern Guide Dogs, we would not have been able to give them the wonderful socialization experiences that they received. And we wouldn't have been able to train an entire school of children on the proper way to greet and treat a service dog in public. And trust me, those children teach their parents!

So, before I say anything else, let me say,

"Thank you. Thank you for letting HRH Berkeley bark at convocation. Thank you for letting Bingo chew (just a little) on your rug in your office. And thank you for giving them the time to develop into young dogs who know better (well, at least in HRH Berkeley's case, Bingo was a lost cause!)."

When we got there, Joe was waiting outside for us. You would have thought he was a bit excited about meeting Jam. ;-) He was quickly joined by his wife Lorraine, who is also a huge dog lover.

Their backyard is a wonderland for dogs, full of great plants to sniff, interesting corners to explore, trees to house squirrels, you name it!

They even have a fountain, which Jam quickly took an interest in.

While Jam is just a puppy, there are many ways in which he reminds me of Joe.

  • He is fearless: he has already mastered the small staircase and the outside deck and would be trying to master the big staircase if we didn't say no.

  • He is athletic: for a puppy, he has quite a fast pace almost a run. I imagine I will lose some weight walking this pup!

  • He is very intuitive: when dealing with Willow (our personal dog, a chocolate lab) he didn't do like most puppies and run up to her, jump on her and bite. He watched her, walked over, when she moved away, he stopped and waited for her to become calm and welcoming.

Here are the ways in which he does not resemble his namesake:

  • He is addicted to food: he thinks the door to the garage is the magic door that holds all the food and will stand and stare at it for long periods willing it to give up the goods in spite of his fat tummy indicating that he has no need for more kibble.

  • He whines: he has a bit of a separation anxiety problem and doesn't like to be alone. The only way to get a quiet night's sleep is to start the evening by sitting by his kennel until he falls asleep. I think of it as the doggie equivalent of reading your child to sleep. 8-)

As you can see from the photo above, they already have a pretty good bond.

I think that Jam is well named.