Wednesday, October 12, 2016

That's a Well-Trained Dog!

I had to go to the ER today for a cut that I thought needed stitches (ended up with just steri-strips instead). Isaac was lying on the floor beside the gurney when the doctor came in.

The ER doctor said hello to Isaac and held out his hand for Isaac to sniff him. Isaac just looked at him.

The doctor said "Are you shy?" and of course Isaac did not respond.

So then the doctor said to me "Is he a little leery of strangers?"

I said "No, he's just not supposed to say hi unless I tell him he can." And then I told Isaac "You can say hi" and Isaac jumped up, tail wagging, and sniffed the doctor good.

The doctor was like "Oh, that's a well-trained dog!"

I'm like, well, yeah, he's a service dog. It always makes me wonder what kind of service dogs they are used to seeing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Off Days

I often hear people talk about how dogs are not robots and they can have off days. That's true (although if a dog has a lot of off days, the dog might not be suited to be a service dog). I think the important thing as a service dog handler is how we deal with those off days.

Today Isaac had an off day. I had a doctor appointment first thing this morning and as I was stepping onto the scale to be weighed, he tried to sneak a sniff of the medical assistant's feet. He doesn't do that often, but it happens occasionally. What was different about today, though, is that he did not leave it immediately when I told him to. 

I stopped everything to deal with my dog. When I first got Isaac, I would have felt rushed by the MA waiting for me to get on the scale and felt like I should put off dealing with my dog and just get the weigh in over with. But I've since decided I have to deal with dog issues right away. So I put him in a down stay, while the MA was saying "Oh, it's OK, I don't mind, he smells my dog," etc. Once he was lying down, I got on the scale.

And then he got up before I told him to. He never does that. I was getting concerned, but the rest of the appointment went OK. Had he continued to sniff and not follow commands fully, I would have rescheduled the appointment and left.

When I got back home, I had some cleaning to do. He was whiny and kept asking for attention while I was cleaning, which is not really like him. I had planned to run some errands later on, but decided not to since he was clearly having an off day.

 I don't know why he was having an off day. He does this sometimes when he hasn't had enough exercise but he's had lots of exercise the last few days. He has a minor ear infection, so maybe his ears are bothering him. I don't know. But I decided not to take him on any errands since he was indicating he would have trouble behaving. Instead, we went for a long walk.

If I hadn't been able to put off my errands until tomorrow, I would have left him at home. And if he still seems off tomorrow, I think we'll go see the vet to make sure his ear infection hasn't gotten worse. He can't tell me when he doesn't feel well or needs a day off, except with his behavior. It's up to me to pay attention to that and make sure his needs are being met.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Tales from the Dog Park

When we got to the dog park today, no one was there. It was very cloudy and foggy and damp. However, there was a squirrel running along the top of the fence and Isaac was very excited to see him and chased him a bit. Then Iris arrived, so we all headed down to the lake together.

Isaac and Iris did a lot of fetching and Isaac shared one of his purple squeaky balls with her. Then other dogs started to arrive. Isaac got to play with a six-month-old Newfoundland puppy named Rosie that is already bigger than he is, who also really really liked his purple balls. I think we gotta buy some more of those! A Golden named Milo showed up and he grabbed one of the purple balls and did not put it down until we were ready to leave, at which time his dad made him.

Candy and Wilbur came with their remote controlled boat, and Milo swam after the boat with the purple ball in his mouth. Rosie and Isaac took turns fetching the other purple ball, when Rosie wasn't trying to figure out what that boat was. Iris had no interest in the boat and just wanted to fetch.

Then Jamie arrived and Isaac was very excited to see him because he'd tried to play keep away and wrestle with Rosie but she didn't quite get what he was doing. However, just like last Sunday, Jamie ignored Isaac in favor of chasing the boat. Isaac swam along side him, barking loudly in his ear, and when that did not get his attention, Isaac decided to hump him.

Now, Isaac tries that occasionally and Jamie says no way. Jamie also tries to hump Isaac occasionally and Isaac says no way. They don't try it very often because they are pretty equally matched and neither are willing to be the humpee. Both prefer to be the humper.

But today Jamie really, really wanted to go after that boat. So he ignored Isaac on his back. It did slow him down some, but he just did his best to go after the boat, with Isaac riding on his back. Pretty soon all the other dog owners were all yelling "Isaac! Leave it!" And of course, Isaac was not leaving it.

So I caught my dog, took back my purple balls, and we went home.

The Final Journey

August 26, 1996 ~ September 28, 2016
To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born and time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which was planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Godspeed to you on your journey, Hobbes. Until we see you again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Another Cute Encounter

Today I had to go to my doctor's office for my weekly allergy shot (I can't do the shots myself at home in case I have a severe allergic reaction, so I have to go to the office once a week, which is a pain). I am working Isaac naked because I left his vest in my van, which is in the shop.

There was a little girl about three or four in the waiting room and she informed her dad, "There's a dog. I like dogs."

Her dad said, "Yes, but we can't pet that dog. He's working," which was especially nice since Isaac was working naked. I've found people can often tell he is a service dog by how he acts, even if he doesn't have his vest on. And Isaac knows he is working even if he doesn't have his vest on, based on where we are and how I am acting, I think.

I asked the little girl if she'd like to say hi to Isaac and she did. She sat down on the floor and petted his head very gently and spoke softly to him and it was really sweet.

Her dad told me she is learning about service dogs and that if she sees dogs in places where there usually are no dogs, they are working and she shouldn't pet them unless she asks first. I reminded her that she should always ask if it's a dog she doesn't know, even if it's not a service dog, just to make sure the dog is friendly and wants to be petted.

I almost asked if I could take a picture of the two of them, they were so cute. Isaac had his head on the floor, relaxing, and she was just stroking his head and talking really softly to him.

And then the medical assistant opened the door to the waiting room and called my name. Isaac has learned that when she calls me name, we get up and go into the back. So she called my name and Isaac jumped to him feet, all ready to go. Practically ready to go without me, he jumped up so fast. Sweetness over.