(35) Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun–Even Service Dogs

Molly, the service dog

Golly, Miss Molly

A blog about a service dog and her veteran with PTSD

(Supporting the veteran and the family caregiver)


Service Dogs are NOT Pets 

A service dog is not a pet, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the enforcer of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Service dogs always work when they accompany their veteran or master into public places. If the service dog frequents public places with you, the dog must perform flawlessly and look his/her best the whole time.

While dogs holding the prestigious title of “service dog” love what they do, they still need down time when they are not working. Being near perfect every time one appears in public, places a lot of stress on the dog. Whether pet or service dog, dogs just wanna have fun!

 Dogs Love to Play

I thought all dogs knew how to play catch, fetch, and Frisbee. After all, didn’t they invent these games? While William’s first service dog, Tigger, loved to play games, Molly not only does not want to play games but she does not know how.

My first playtime with Molly ended in 30 seconds when I rolled her rubber ball right past her. She looked up at me and planted her posterior on the carpet. She gave the ball no notice, no eye contact, and no effort. William tempted her with a large knotted rope attached to a small rubber tire. Molly lost the tug of war by stroking her paw over her nose to erase the tickle from the rope. Then, she plopped down in front of William. He received a similar reaction when he rolled her on her back to wrestle. She simply laid still, and beckoned him to scratch her tummy.

Molly is dressed in her service vestI have witnessed service dogs enjoying their free time, frolicking about, digging in sand, playing with toys, and engaging in games of tag. When work time came, they transitioned nicely into their service dog roles when dressed in their service vests or harnesses.

Worry strikes me when I consider Molly’s constant work mode. Will she overdo it and stress out? Will she suffer a nervous breakdown? Will she acquire so much pent-up energy that she decides to take on the bear one day?

 Molly’s Playtime

Last week, Molly finally revealed her playful side. She paraded past me five times while I worked on my computer. One jowl hung low and the other set clamped shut—a sure sign that she captured some innocent prey. I chased her around the fireplace that sits in between two rooms. She did not run fast so I figured she wanted me to win and make her open her mouth. As she sat, I spotted a thin tail hanging from her mouth. A lizard dropped to the floor. It squirmed and jumped to its feet, giving Molly great joy. She snapped it up a second and a third time before I yelled for William to help me. We rescued the lizard and deposited him outside.

The next morning, Molly left me a lizard that did not make it. She deposited it right by my bedside where my first sensation in the morning squished between my toes. That afternoon, letting her rest on the balcony, a bird hit the window and crashed to the ground. My slow reflex to save the bird gave Molly a renewed chance at the “catch and release” game. She scooped the bird with her tongue and shut her mouth.

“William! Molly ate the birdie.”

“Spit it out, Molly.” He pried open her jaw. It appeared the bird broke its neck on impact with the window.

Neither of us could put the bird out of its misery. The tiny sparrow struggled to raise a wing. He sat the bird in a protected place and gave it water. Hours later, it flew away.

We do not appreciate Molly’s choice of recreation but it does show that she is a real dog that needs relaxation and fun. We talked about taking Miss Molly on a vacation to California to visit my sister and her husband. She could dab her paws in frothy seawater and play with dogs on the beach.

“Not such a good idea,” said William.

“Why not? You like my sister and her hubby.”

“Doesn’t she raise lizards, geckos, and frills? “

Oh, yeah. Sorry, Sis. We won’t be stopping by this year.

Did you know that lizards are considered good luck in the Philippines? Lizards are called “tikis” and are allowed to run up and down the walls because they are believed to bring good fortune into your home. Of course, lizards eat little critters (bugs and spiders) that invade homes so that makes them even more special!

Irwin the frill

Meet Irwin, my sister’s frill. A cutie!


What does your dog do for fun? Please comment below. We love hearing from our readers.

About the blogger

Dr. Penelope “Penny” Culbreth-Graft is a retired city manager and graduate professor. She lives with her husband, William, and dog, Molly, on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. She writes, paints, cares for her husband, and spends time with her grandchildren.