Thursday, November 29, 2012


This  morning, Isaac killed Barney.

Last Chance to Shop and Support Isaac

Just a reminder for those that still have some Christmas shopping to do (is anyone done yet? Nobody gets done this early right?), tomorrow is the last day you can order from Amazon, Netrition, or Quest on and help to support my service dog Isaac at the same time. Come on, who doesn't like a good excuse to go shopping?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Isaac Is All Worn Out

This is his favorite place to sleep, with his favorite blankie.

Unfortunately, I am not sleeping.  But it's nice to watch Isaac sleep and listen to him snore.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Playing in the Leaves

Mike is blowing leaves today, you know, instead of raking them.  I thought Isaac would enjoy playing in them but he wasn't that excited about it.  He did pee in them, though.

I got Mike to take some pictures.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Isaac with His New Toy

Here is a picture of Isaac with the stuffed bear we got at the thrift store today.

And here is Isaac with his bear 30 minutes later.

Yep.  He killed it.

Today's Victories

It's just past noon and Isaac and I have had some great experiences already today.

Of course, the day started with him spilling my coffee, which was my fault because I put it on a nightstand where he could bump it, and it got on one of Mike's books and he was a bit unhappy about it, so I felt that the day was off to a poor start.  But it did get better.

Isaac and I went to the thrift store to get some stuffed toys, since he killed the two he had last night.  Totally gutted them.  I figured we could find some cheap ones at the thrift store, plus I wanted to look for some jeans and shirts.  The thrift store, as you might imagine, is full of things that smell.  Isaac did really, really well.  Twice I had to tell him to stop sniffing merchandise and once I had to tell him not to sniff another shopper.  Otherwise, he was perfect.  And I pushed the cart and carried my purse and looked at items and everything, all with just two hands.

When we got home, we went for a walk up to the mailbox.  Isaac is doing better about not pulling on the leash when we walk.  On the way home, I spotted a cat up ahead and I saw it before he did.  I got a good grip on the leash, then instructed him to "watch me," giving him a treat when he did.  We need to practice "watch me" some more, I think.  But he did look at me when I told him to, and when he finally did see the cat and started to pull on the leash, I was prepared for him.  I corrected him immediately and told him to "watch me," and he did, and I gave him another treat.  Meanwhile, the cat sauntered away, so we could finish our walk without him trying to catch the cat.  That is such great progress for us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Attention, Black Friday Shoppers!

If you are like me and wouldn't be caught dead in the stores on Black Friday (I just hate the crowds), maybe you want to do some shopping online instead. No crowds and you can do it in your jammies with a cup of hot chocolate next to you. It's better that way, I promise. And if you're going to order online, don't forget that you can order from Amazon through the Bariatric Foodie website and some of the money will go to support my service dog (who is close to half-paid for now).  You can also order Quest protein bars and all sorts of tasty and nutritious things from Netrition through the same site, and support Isaac at the same time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Today Isaac Did His First Real Task to Help Me

Oh, he's been doing tasks since I got him.  We've been practicing all his commands and he's been turning on lights for me and stuff like that, but it hasn't been something I've really needed him to do, if that makes sense.

Tonight, though, I was feeling really anxious and upset and started to cry.  I was able to tell Isaac "get meds" and he got them right away and brought them right to me.  He was in such a hurry, he dropped them once but he picked them right up and then put them in my lap.  I told him what a good boy he is and took my meds.  Then Isaac climbed up on the couch beside me and lay down with his head in my lap.  And he just lay like that for a long time.  He was warm and the pressure of his body against mine was really comforting.  He hasn't been trained to do that, by the way, the lying down beside me with his head in my lap.  He just did it.  And it was exactly what I needed.

Now, he didn't get the meds without me telling him to, but that's because he hasn't seen many of my anxiety attacks yet.  So he needs to learn what those look like and when to get the meds.  But I was able to tell him to get them and he did it right away.  He was actually on his way over the windowsill to sniff the cat that was lying on the sill, but he turned around right away to get the meds when I told him to.

And I feel OK now.  Without his help, there is a good chance I'd be lying on the couch crying right now instead of writing on my blog.

I am so happy and feel so blessed.  This was just a little glimpse of how Isaac is going to change my life.

I'm still fundraising, by the way.  Even though he is with me, I haven't paid the full amount I owe for him.  The program is allowing me to make payments, but I still need donations, if anyone is able to help.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Here is one of Isaac playing with his Kong toy.  He loves it.  Especially if I put a little peanut butter inside!

And here is one of him with another toy.  This one has small holes where you can put small treats or pieces of dog food, and then they fall out randomly while the dog plays with the toy.

And finally, here is one of Isaac passed out on the couch after a busy day of playing.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Isaac Has Arrived

The trainer brought him to my home this afternoon about 3:30 pm.  It's now almost 9:00 pm and he is resting in his crate and I am exhausted on the couch.  It's been quite an evening!

He was very wound up and excited to see his new home and ran around like a little tornado, sniffing everything.  He chased one of my cats into the bedroom, where she hid under the bed.  The trainer brought a treadmill for him and showed me how he loves to go for a run on it (yes, it's adorable to watch, and yes, he really does love it).  She gave me all sorts of stuff for him, including this light switch extender-thingies that make it easier for him to turn on the lights, his service dog vest, three collars and a leash, ear drops (he has a fungal infection in his ears), some dog food, some chicken treats, a certificate that says he's a service dog (not required by law, but used by the state of Ohio to verify he is a service so I get a free lifetime license for him), a stuffed toy, and a blanket he's been sleeping on at her house.

After the trainer left, Mike and I took Isaac for a walk and then went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.  Isaac did well at the restaurant.  For the first little while we were there, he kept wanting to get out from under the table but I was able to keep him under control.  Then he settled down, lay down, and dozed off.  There were some loud, squealing little kids at the next table and he ignored them.  When we left the restaurant, we had to walk really close to another table with food on it and he ignored it completely, didn't even look in that direction.

No one at the restaurant questioned me about him.  I know I've only gone a few places with him so far, but so far, no one has ever asked me about him or tried to tell me I can't bring my dog into their business.  When I was staying at a hotel for three days and working with him and the trainer, the hotel did try to charge me a $27.12 "pet fee," but all I had to do was explain, "He's a service dog, not a pet," and they deleted the charge right away.

We've had a few difficult moments already.  At one point, I was taking him outside to pee and he saw something (I don't know what, it was dark out and I didn't see anything but he must have because he took off after it) and took off running, pulling the leash right out of my hand.  I was walking down the steps that lead from my front door and it almost made me fall down the steps.  It also caused my back to go into muscle spasms.  Mike had to come outside to help me because I didn't even know where Isaac had gone.  He was over at the neighbor's house, it turns out.

Then, later, he actually started to pee in my house!  That is not supposed to happen.  He is housebroken.  I was horrified.  Mike said it was probably just an accident, probably because everything is so new and he's so excited over everything.  I really, really hope that doesn't happen again.

Larry is in the house somewhere, but hiding.  I think Indigo is outside; I haven't seen her since Isaac arrived.  Cayenne is sleeping in the living window right now, apparently not too concerned about the big dog that has invaded her home.  As long as he's quiet and doesn't run at her, she is OK with him getting within a foot or so of her.  He thinks she looks like a really fun toy and doesn't know why I won't let him play fetch with her.  But I don't think she'll have much trouble adjusting to his presence.  The other cats, though... well, hopefully they don't decide to run away from home.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More on Why You Can't Pet a Service Dog

As I've mentioned before, you actually can pet a service dog, if the service dog's handler gives you permission.  However, service dog handlers often prefer that people do not pet their service dogs.  Why not?

Well, here's why I will usually be telling people no, sorry, they cannot pet Isaac when he is working.

  • Isaac is a young service dog.  He's just completed his training.  He's just getting to know me and to fully understand what his job entails.  He's just beginning to learn the signs that I'm beginning to have an anxiety attack, for instance.  He needs to pay attention so that he can learn his job well.  I need him to be good at his job; otherwise, what's the point of having a service dog?
  • Isaac also wants to be good at his job.  He is happy when he succeeds at a task and is rewarded, whether that reward is a tasty treat, a scratch behind the ears, or an enthusiastic "Good boy!"  If he is distracted and has trouble learning to be good at his job, he will become frustrated and unhappy.  Look at this face.  Do you want him to be unhappy?
  •  Isaac really likes meeting and greeting people.  I actually enjoying letting people pet him.  However, he needs to learn when it is and when it is not appropriate to greet people.  If he gets used to random people in stores coming up and greeting him, he might begin to think it's OK for him to go up to random people in stores and greet them.  That's not OK.  Some people in stores don't like dogs.  Some are afraid of dogs, some are allergic to dogs, etc.  If Isaac learns to go up to random people in stores to say hello and this bothers people (and it will bother some people), store managers do not have to allow me to bring Isaac into their stores.  That would create a huge problem for me.
  • Since having a service dog in public is new to me, it actually requires a fair amount of effort and concentration on my part to do what I'm supposed to do.  I have to maneuver through a store holding a leash while pushing a cart or carrying a basket of groceries, paying attention to the items on my list, making sure I don't run my cart into other shoppers or store displays, paying attention to what Isaac is doing and correcting him immediately if he starts to walk too fast or sniff an interesting spot on the floor or approach another shopper.  If that sounds easy, well, it's not.  My hands are full; supervising meet-and-greets with other shoppers is just too much for me to easily handle at such times.
  • It's important for Isaac to understand that when he's working, different rules apply than when he's just hanging out and "being a dog."  It's similar to the way you behave differently at work then when you're out shopping with friends.  One way Isaac knows it's time for work is that he wears a red service dog vest while working.  To help prevent confusion for him, ideally I would stop and remove his vest before allowing people to approach and pet him.  Of course, this takes a little time and if I'm trying to get my shopping done, I may not have time to stop and remove his vest every time someone asks to pet him.  In addition, I have to bend over or kneel down to remove his vest, which is very difficult for me to do these days due to my back problems (I put on his vest before he gets out of my car, while he is standing on my backseat, so I don't have to bend down or kneel to put it on before we go into a store or other public place, but once inside a store, there is usually no convenient place for him to stand so that I can remove and replace the vest without bending or kneeling).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Updated Thank You List

Just wanted to update my thank you list.  Thanks so much to all who have helped in some way.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eating Out With Isaac

Isaac and I have been to several restaurants in the past few days: Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, McDonald's inside Walmart, and Penn Station (a sub shop).

Here's what I've learned so far:

  • Get a booth if possible.  In a restaurant, a service dog is supposed to go under the table if possible and if you get a table instead of a booth, the table legs sometimes get in his way and make it hard for him to go under the table.  Booths are usually easier.
  • If you have to sit at a table, try to get one in a corner.  Move one chair out of the way and let him go under the table there.  He should be closer to the wall, if the table is against a wall, so that my chair/body blocks him from getting out from under the table (which he should not try to do anyway, but just in case).
  • Give the dog an opportunity to potty BEFORE going into the restaurant, even if it's only be a short time since he last peed.
  • Isaac seems a little less comfortable in very crowded, noisy restaurants (like Cracker Barrel at lunch hour).  I am less comfortable in very crowded, noisy restaurants, too!
  • Tell him to lie down but if he really doesn't want to lie down on the floor for some reason (maybe there is something about the floor of a particular restaurant he finds uncomfortable?), just tell him to sit and stay.  He will get bored/tired and lie down on his own soon enough.
  • Isaac tries to be sneaky.  He will be lying calmly under the table, then slowly, an inch or two at a time, start to slither toward the edge of the table, as if hoping I won't notice.  Next thing you know, his head is poking out.
  • If a service dog is behaving properly (quiet, under the table, etc.), other diners will not even realize there is a dog in the restaurant.  When you are leaving the restaurant, however, they will be surprised and excited to see him, especially kids.  Be prepared for squeals and cries of, "Oh!  There's a doggie!"

Friday, November 9, 2012

Things I've Learned about Life with a Service Dog

The last two days have been very enlightening.  I've learned all kinds of things about dogs in general, about service dogs in particular, and about my dog Isaac.

In no particular order:

  • Labs are kinda big dogs and they poop a lot.  Not a lot as in often, but a lot as in big amounts at a time.
  • Male dogs seem to have an endless supply of pee and they feel the need to pee on every bush or tree they walk past.  At least, my male dog does!
  • Life with a service dog would be easier if I had three hands.  Or maybe four.  I need a hand to hold the leash, which means I am trying to do everything else with just one hand, like paying for purchases, eating a meal in a restaurant, using the bathroom in a public restroom, carrying things from the car to the house, etc.
  • Kids like seeing a service dog in a store or restaurant.
  • Strangers have no qualms asking what kind of service dog Isaac is.
  • Many people do seem to be aware that they should ask before petting a service dog, and they are polite about it if told not right now, he is working.
  • Occasionally someone will pet him as they walk by, without asking.  Isaac doesn't mind.
  • Employees at local businesses seem to know service dogs are allowed in.  No access issues so far.
  • Dogs drink a lot.  Guess it goes with the endless supply of pee.  I brought a fairly small plastic dish for water for Isaac and I have to refill it about ten times a day.  I need to buy a BIG water bowl.


I'm still working on fundraising. 

Are you familiar with the site Wish Upon a Hero?  Visit my Wish there, and while you're there, check out some of the other wishes posted.

One More Cute PIcture of Isaac

Doesn't he look exhausted?

He loves having that belly rubbed!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Pictures of Isaac

Isaac and I have spent the whole day together.  It was a very busy day!  We went to Meijer and walked around, then ate lunch at Bob Evans, then went to a dog park, then spent some time at the hotel, then went back to Meijer, then went to pick up some carryout for dinner, then went back to the hotel.  We also took a long walk, during which he peed no less than 11 times on various trees, bushes, clumps of grass, two lamp posts, and a fence.

Here is a picture of him outside.

He loves sniffing things.  Apparently there is all sorts of really smelly stuff in the grass around our hotel.

He also loves the toy football I got him and we played fetch with it for a while.  He also loves his Nylabone.  Here is a picture of him gnawing on it.

And finally, here is a picture of him sacked out on the bed.  He was absolutely exhausted!  Me, too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Surprise, Surprise... Cayenne Likes Dog Treats!

I bought these venison chewy treats for Isaac and was breaking them in half so they'd be smaller pieces, and of course Cayenne is nosy so she wanted to see what I had. I gave her a tiny piece to see if she'd like it, and of course she did. So I ended up feeding her lots of little pieces. She was practically attacking my hand, trying to get them faster than I could give them to her.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shopping for Isaac

Yesterday I went shopping for Isaac.  I bought him three toys and four kinds of treats.  I spent $63!  But I figured it was worth the cost to buy good toys, toys that should last a long time, and toys that he won't be able to chew up and eat.  Emergency intestinal surgery to remove bits of cheap toys from his stomach would likely cost a lot more than a few high quality toys!

Here's what I got.

This is a Kong toy.  It's very durable, good for chewing, and it's hollow in the middle so you can put treats in it.  As the dog carries it around and chews on it, treats will occasionally fall out.

This is a Nylabone.  It's supposed to be bacon flavored but I didn't chew on it to see if it really is.  It's also hollow in the middle so you can stuff it with peanut butter or cheese or other yummy stuff.

This toy feels a lot like a tennis ball but it's shaped like a football, as you can see.  It's a bit bigger than a tennis ball, too, and it's just slightly squishy.  This is for Isaac and me to play fetch with.

And finally, here are Isaac's treats.  The can is some sort of peanut butter flavored stuff to spray in the hollow Nylabone.  Then there are Fruitables apple bacon flavored treats, which are good because they are small and only have three calories per treat, which is important because Isaac needs to be rewarded frequently because he's still in training but I don't want to feed him so many treats that he gets fat.  The Charlee Bear cheese and egg flavored treats are also only three calories per treat.  I couldn't find calorie information on the Nature's Recipe venison treats, but I assume they are higher in calories.  I'm going to cut them in half so the pieces will be smaller and just use them occasionally.  Actually, I think I'm going to mix some of each kind of treat in one container, kind of like a doggie trail mix, so he gets a variety and never knows what type he'll be getting when he follows a command.  Hopefully he likes them all!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Does Your Dog Chew Your Shoes?

Or your socks, your wallet, your television remote control, etc?

Here's a tip I read yesterday.  One reason dogs like to chew their owners' belongings is because those items smell strongly like their owners.  I'm guessing shoes are particularly smelly, in a way that dogs find attractive.

Want to encourage your dog to chew his chew toys instead of your belongings?  Rub them between your hands, sit on them for a while, make them smell like you.  Your dog will find them more attractive.

(Also put your shoes away where your dog cannot easily get to them!)

I'm off to the pet store later today to buy Isaac a few toys.  I will be seeing him on Thursday and I want a few days to make them smell like me before I give them to him!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thank You Ashland Road Animal Clinic

Ashland Road Animal Clinic (in Mansfield, Ohio) has offered free veterinary care for my service dog.  They are offering to provide all their services at no cost, with just a minimal cost for things like vaccines and medications. 

I was planning to talk to the vet I take my cats to and ask if they would be willing to offer a discount for Isaac.  I know some vets offer a discount for service dogs.  I think one person told me her vet gives her a 30% discount for her service dog.  It never occurred to me that anyone would be willing to provide free care.  And as you may know already, I spend a fortunate on veterinary care already, for my cats.

This is fantastic.  It will make caring for Isaac easier and more affordable for me.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shop and Support my Service Dog

For the month of November, you can order Quest protein bars, all sorts of nutrition products from, and anything at all from through the Bariatric Foodie website and a donation will be made to my service dog fund.  Nik Massie, author of Bariatric Foodie, has generously offered to help with my fundraising by donating revenue earned when people order products through her site.  So please take a moment to check it out, and consider starting your Christmas shopping online sometime this month.