Background: This summer, as part of the Foundation for Blind Children’s Teen-to-Work Program, Ashton Tiffany is hosting Grant Williams and his guide dog, Nebraska, for a summer internship. Grant and his fellow Teen-to-Workers are living at ASU, learning to cook and care for themselves, and working with area employers.
We know how this is working out for us—couldn’t be better—but there was someone else we wanted to hear from: Nebraska.
Our interview follows.
AT: Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today.
Nebraska: Sure. Do I need to clean out my desk? (laughing)
AT: No, of course not. And we’ll get to the Ashton Tiffany stuff in a second. But first, I have to ask, why do you hate cats?
Nebraska: Geez, I just sat down. (laughter)
Look, I don’t hate cats. Dogs in general don’t hate cats. We react the same way to rabbits and squirrels, and nobody thinks we hate them. It’s just a vestigial predator-prey response. It’s hard-wired into our DNA.
So, am I going to chase a cat or two? Sure. But dogs realize it’s 2015. It’s not like we’re going to eat a cat or anything. We’re just keeping them honest.
AT: Were you excited to learn about the assignment at Ashton Tiffany?
Nebraska: Were you excited to learn there was no Santa Claus? (laughter)
Seriously, we had plans to go to Colorado, and then this internship opportunity came up. That means that instead of chasing butterflies in the mountains, I’m here working, and making small talk about the monsoon. So, yeah, my tail’s been waggier.
The other thing is, think about this company, Ashton Tiffany. You do risk management. Risk management. Why couldn’t Grant have found an internship in sports marketing? Or maybe at a craft brewery. Or some hippie green-tech company where half the people don’t wear pants. But no, Grant wants to do risk management. (Puts paw over mouth and makes exaggerated yawning noise.)
AT: How was your first week here? Exciting?
Nebraska: You know, for me, this is just another day at the office. Sure, there are new faces, a new floorplan, elevators, the off-limits bathroom, whatever. Basically, though, the job is the job.
But it’s a different story for the AT people. I’m a novelty to them, so there’s some excitement on their end.
AT: How do you handle that?
Nebraska: Again, it’s nothing new for me. Mostly I just go about my business.
This isn’t the street, though, where you’re around strangers. The people here see me all the time. And you can tell that they really, really want to pet me or give me a treat—like I’m the family dog. But they know they’re not supposed to. So, whenever one of them comes around, I put on the saddest, most forlorn expression I’ve got, like no one’s shown me affection in ages. I like to imagine “Arms of the Angel” playing when they look at me.
Nebraska: No, I’m joking. I’m a pro. I stay focused on the work and what’s going on with Grant.
AT: Speaking of Grant, how’s he doing?
Nebraska: Great. He’s a good kid. Smart. Confident. They’ve got him doing a lot of scanning, and also some meeting room set-up and clean-up. So, he’s not running the place yet, but he’s doing work that needs to be done, he’s meeting people, and he’s learning the ropes. And, of course, we were here for the July 4th potluck, which Grant really enjoyed. He was a little hurt, though, that no one was interested in the canned corn he brought. (laughter)
AT: We usually ask our interview guests to finish with a joke. Have you got one?
Nebraska: Sure. Dog walks into a bar. Says to the bartender, “How ‘bout a martini?” Bartender says, “You got it,” and pours the dog a drink. The dog sips it and says, “Perfect. Thanks.” After a few minutes, the dog finishes the martini and asks, “What do I owe you?” The bartender says, “12 dollars.” The dog pays up and starts heading for the door. Before he leaves, the bartender says, “I gotta tell you, we don’t get a lot of dogs in here.” The dog says, “At 12 bucks a drink, I can see why.” (laughter)
AT: Nicely done. Thanks, Nebraska.
Nebraska: You’re welcome. Just don’t forget to invite me to the Christmas party. (smiling)