Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Relaxed Doggie

Does he look relaxed or what?

I love when he sleeps with his hippo.  Or his tiger.  It's so cute.

Notice how many toys you see in just this picture?  Think he's at all spoiled?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Isaac, a.k.a. Casanova

One of my neighbors has started calling Isaac "Casanova."  Isaac has a... well, I don't know what to call it.  A group of little girls that live down the street that adore him.  They are like Isaac groupies.  One of them is his friend K, whom I've mentioned before.  She is his biggest fan.  She loudly proclaims to everyone that "I love this dog!"  But there are three other girls, ranging in age from five to seven, that also adore him.

When they see me walking Isaac, they run to greet him.  They have begun asking if they can walk him.  I let them, but I keep a hand on the leash, too, in case he decides to take off after a deer or something.  He is way too strong, there is no way they could hang on to him if he bolted.  They are pretty good at taking turns walking him.  Most of the time, they are able to decide among themselves whose turn it is and when it is time to let someone else have a turn.  Occasionally I have to step in and help with the turn-taking, but most of the time they are able to work it out themselves.

K wanted me to meet her mom tonight.  I actually spoke to her mom one day when she and her mom were out walking and I was out walking Isaac, but she wanted me to walk to her house and meet her mom this evening.  I'm not quite sure why but I figured it was a good idea.  If a nine-year-old kid is hanging around with an adult, the mom should know that adult and I wanted to make sure it was OK with her mom that she was walking with me.  One of the other girls in Isaac's fan club is K's sister, and the other two are neighbors.  I met one of their moms, too.

I am thinking of asking K's mom if it would be OK with her if K helped me with Isaac sometimes, things like giving him a bath.  I have a hard time doing that sometimes because when my back is bothering me a lot, it's hard to bend over the tub to wash him.  I bet K would have a blast bathing him, though.  I mean, I would be there to supervise, but she could easily bend over and wash him.  I think she'd love doing it.  And it would be great to have someone to help sometimes.

Isaac loves her, too.  He loves all the girls, of course, but I think K is his favorite of all the kids.  He gets so excited when he sees her.  The reason my neighbor is now calling him Casanova is because this evening Isaac was standing there, surrounded by these four little girls, with one rubbing his ears, and one rubbing his back, and one rubbing his belly, all at the same time, all telling him how pretty he was.  He is so spoiled!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Silly Dog Rolling in the Grass

Of course you can't hear it, but he is making happy grunting noises while he rolls and wiggles.

Fundraising Opportunity

This afternoon, the pastor of a local church is coming to visit  me to talk about the possibility of her church doing some sort of fundraiser for Isaac.  Remember, I still owe a couple thousand dollars to the program I got him from.  I really like the idea of a church doing some sort of fundraiser.  I don't know what kind of fundraiser she has in mind.  Maybe a car wash or rummage sale or bake sale or something.  I like the idea because I feel like it's something I could participate in and I feel a little better about that than just asking for money.  I really hate asking for money.  I just do it because I have to for this purpose.

But something like a car wash - or hey, what about a dog wash?  Wouldn't that be fun? - would be something I could help with, and maybe Isaac could be there to visit all the people, and it seems like a great idea to me.  I'm excited about the whole idea.

I have to do a little cleaning this morning before she comes over, though.  I did some cleaning yesterday but didn't get around to vacuuming.  My living room floor is a mess where Isaac has been working on that big nasty bone I got him the other day.  Yuck.  I guess it's good to have some motivation to clean, though.

If anybody has any good fundraising ideas, please share!  And if anyone wants to donate, it would be much appreciated.  Donations to Isaac's program are tax deductible (it's a non-profit).  Email me at poet_kelly at yahoo dot com for more info about how to donate.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Isaac and the Deer (That He Wants to Catch but Can't)

The people that lived in the house next to my apartment building moved out a few weeks ago and now that the house is empty, there are deer in the yard all the time. Three times in the past two days, Isaac has taken off after them, pulling the leash out of my hand. He generally comes right back as soon as the deer outrun him (which takes about two minutes, they are way faster than he is) but the third time, he chased them into some woods, where his leash (which was dragging behind him) then got tangled up on some branches and he got stuck. 

So he sat there and barked for help until I reached him.   Some big tough hunting dog, huh?  "Mommy, come help me!"  To reach him, I had to go through these dense woods with no path and lots of thorns. 

I think for the rest of the summer, we are going to walk in the opposite direction of where the deer now like to hang out. I imagine the deer will appreciate that, too.  I felt sorry for one of them this morning.  There is a mother and two fawns that like to hang out in that yard now, and Isaac ran at the mom and one fawn, who took off.  Then the second fawn appeared from somewhere and was like, "Where did my Mom?!"  The poor thing looked so confused.  Apparently they found each other, though, because half an hour later, they were all back in the yard (and then Isaac chased them again).

Monday, July 22, 2013

Arresting for Barking at a Police Dog

Did you read about the football player that got arrested for barking at a police dog?

People bark at service dogs all the time.  They bark at them in the grocery store and places like that.  They don't get arrested for it, either.

One would think these immature people might behave a bit better around police dogs, though, since police dogs are generally accompanied by police officers.  But apparently not. 

Do you think this means I can make a citizen's arrest the next time someone barks at Isaac in the grocery store?

Actually, you can only make a citizen's arrest if someone is committing a felony.  Did you know that?  I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that barking at a dog, even a police dog, is probably just a misdemeanor.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Spoiled Doggie Got a New Bone

Isaac got a new bone today from the farm supply store, when I was picking up dog food.  It's from the leg of a cow.  It's huge and it's disgusting.  It smells like... well, I don't know what.  It's stinky.  Isaac loves it, of course.

He spent a very long time gnawing on it.

Can you see the end of it, by his foot?  It looks like it has toes.  Ick.

After he'd worked on it a while, Isaac tried several times to share it with me.  He's a very friendly doggie and likes to share.  I really, really did not want to touch the thing, especially after he got it all slimy and slobbery.  Ick.

Heard from my Mother Today... Sort of

This is probably gonna be one of those long, rambling posts and I'm not even sure why I'm posting about it, except that I want to tell someone, and no one is here to tell except Isaac, and he's not particularly interested.  He got a new bone today from the farm supply place, which is the only place around here that carries his brand of dog food, and he's busy chowing down on it, making a big mess on my living room floor.

I haven't heard from my mother since November of last year.  That's when she got angry at me because I said something on Facebook about how I didn't think my nephew should be left alone with my father, since my father was so abusive while I was growing up.  My parents have been divorced for many years now, but for some reason it still upset her a lot that I would announce publicly that he was abusive to me.  Apparently in her head, somehow, the abuse itself is not such a bad thing but talking about it is just terrible.

So she hasn't spoken to me since then.  Neither has my sister.

A couple years ago, the transmission went out in my car.  Transmissions, as you might know, are really, really expensive.  Mike and I didn't have the money to get a new transmission at the time.  My  mother was speaking to me back then, and she loaned us the money to get a new transmission.  She didn't actually give us cash, but let us put it on her credit card, and we agreed to make the payments. 

Well, before I moved out of Mike's house, he was taking care of paying all our bills.  I don't mean he was paying all the bills with his money.  I was contributing financially, as well.  But he sat down each month and wrote out the checks and made sure they got in the mail on time.  He did the bills, he mowed the lawn and shoveled the snow, fixed the leaky roof, etc.  And I did the laundry, the dishes, the cooking, and took care of that cats.  That's just how we divided up the labor.  So he made sure my mother got a check every month.

When I moved out, of course, I had to start writing my own checks and paying my own bills.  Only I had forgotten all about the money we owed my mother.  That probably sounds stupid, but I just hadn't thought about it in a long time because Mike took care of it.  I handed him one check every month and he took care of all the bills.  So when I moved out, I started getting my own bills in the mail and I've been paying them... but my mother never sent a bill.

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a friend that needed to take her cat to the vet and was short on cash and I was trying to brainstorm ways she could get the money.  I asked if a family member could loan it to her or if perhaps a family member could let her use their credit card and then she could make the payments.  And that triggered my memory and I thought about the money my mother loaned us for my transmission.

So I called Mike and asked him if we'd finished paying for that or not.  Of course, we hadn't.  Transmissions are expensive.  I asked him if he'd been sending her money since I moved out, and of course, he hasn't.  He said he thought since it was my mother and my transmission, it should be my responsibility.  Well, I think that's reasonable, but I wish he'd said something about it to me when I moved.  I had no idea how much he'd been paying each month or how much was still owed or anything.  He told me how much he'd been sending her each month, and took a guess at how much we still owed, but he wasn't sure of the remaining balance.

I feel bad about missing a couple of payments, and I immediately sat down and wrote out a check.  I also wrote a little note, apologizing for missing a couple of payments and explaining that I hadn't realized Mike wasn't sending them and he hadn't realized that I wasn't sending them, and promising to send them every month from now on.  I also asked her if she could please let me know the remaining balance.  It was a short note, and I didn't include any personal information or chitchat in it, but I tried to be friendly and polite.

As far as I know, my mother doesn't know I've moved.  I haven't talked to her since well before the move.  Maybe she reads this blog and then she'd know, but otherwise, I don't think she would.  The address on the check I sent her was my old address, because I had just gotten new checks right before I found out I was moving, and I'm still using those checks because I didn't want to pay for new ones when I'd just bought some.

Today I stopped by Mike's for something, and I had a couple pieces of mail there.  The post office is supposed to be forwarding my mail, and they usually do, but occasionally they somehow miss a piece and it goes to the old address.  One of the things that was there was a letter from my mother.  She didn't have my new address, if she even knows I've moved, so she sent it to my old address.

I opened it right away, curious about what she would say.  Well, she didn't say anything.  It was a typed up statement, listing all the payments Mike and I have made and showing the remaining balance.  That's it.  No "here is the information you requested" or "thanks for the payment" or even "please make sure you pay on time from now on."

Maybe I should be grateful she didn't say anything hurtful or mean.  I guess I am grateful for that.  Maybe she was just practicing the whole "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" thing.  I guess I'm not surprised she didn't include a note.  I guess I'm just disappointed.

It's hard to stop wanting some things, even when you know darn well you're never going to get what you want, you know?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Saw My Psychiatrist

This was actually a couple weeks ago.  I just didn't get around to writing about it until now.

I decided to go for two reasons.  One, I was close to running out of my medication for anxiety, and I thought that would be a pretty bad situation.  I thought I was doing OK without my antidepressants and wasn't interested in getting back on them, but I was worried about dealing with the anxiety with no meds.  I haven't been taking my anxiety meds as often lately because I haven't had such severe anxiety, which is good, but I still didn't like the idea of being out of the meds altogether.

And two, I am on SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance).  Social Security periodically reviews disability claims, to make sure a person is still disabled and unable to work.  They don't exactly do it on a schedule, so you don't know exactly when they will review yours, but you know they will at some point.  It had been a few years since they reviewed mine so I figured I had a review coming up at some point.  I figured that if my case was reviewed and I had to say I wasn't in treatment at all, no therapist, no psychiatrist, Social Security might question whether I am still disabled.  Beyond that, they ask for the name and address of your current treatment providers, and they can contact them to verify that you are still disabled.  I figured it might turn out bad for me if I didn't have a doctor that would confirm my disability if asked.

And it turns out I was wise to consider the fact that my disability claim might be reviewed soon, because right after that appointment, what do you think I got in the mail?  Paperwork from Social Security, including forms for me to fill out, regarding my review.  I was really relieved that I'd just seen my psychiatrist when I opened that envelope, let me tell you.

So anyway, I saw my psychiatrist.  I explained why it had been seven months since I'd seen him.  I told him how the emergency room doctor had stapled my arms with no anesthesia and no pain medication, and he looked all confused, and said, "But wasn't that painful?"  I said, "Yes!  Of course it was painful.  That's why I'm so upset about it."  At least he confirmed for me that the doctor should have used lidocaine and that yes, the procedure would have been painful.  I mean, I know it hurt, but when I complained to the director of the ER, she kept telling me staples aren't that painful.

Of course, my psychiatrist told me that I should not avoid seeking medical because of that one negative experience.  He made some goofy analogy about how everyone had different fingerprints so somehow that means not everyone will respond to me in the same way.  I understand that most health care professionals will not respond the way they did at that emergency room, but the problem is, they can respond that way.  He just didn't seem to get that part.  He started explaining my rights to me, including the right to refuse treatment, and I know what my rights are.  I also know that, when dealing with a patient that has been deemed mentally ill, health care professionals don't always respect their legal rights.

I am a writer by profession, I know how to research.  I did my research.  I spoke to not one, but two different attorneys.  What happened in that ER was wrong, it shouldn't have happened, but unfortunately it's not that unusual.  And what's worse, and scarier, is that there is no way to protect yourself to make sure it doesn't happen again.  The best you can do is hope you have better luck next time.

Seriously.  I mean, you can also have a psychiatrist you trust and hope he's not out of town when you have a crisis.  I had a psychiatrist I trust, but unfortunately, he had a death in the family and had to go out of town for a funeral at the time I had a crisis.  It's not like you can schedule your breakdown for a time your doctor will not be out of town.  It's not like he can schedule the deaths of family members to make sure he's available when I need him.

And you can have someone you trust go with you to the ER to help advocate for you.  I did that, too.  See how well that turned out for me?  I'm still angry that Mike wasn't more help, but I really don't think there is anything he could have done to change things.  It's just that I would feel better if he'd tried.  I wouldn't feel abandoned and betrayed by him.  But I don't think he could have done anything to prevent the doctor from stapling my arms without any pain medication. 

Maybe if you are rich, you could keep an attorney on retainer and have your attorney accompany you to the ER in a crisis.  Alas, I am not rich and my SSDI is not quite enough to cover that.

Anyway.  My psychiatrist talked me into trying Cymbalta.  Cymbalta is an antidepressant, but it's also used to help with chronic pain, including back pain.  That's how he convinced me to try it.  I decided I would give it a try and see if it helped my back.  And I think it is.  I don't know if I feel less depressed, but I am in less pain.  I think I feel less anxious, too.  Maybe that's just because I'm not in so much pain all the time.  I still have pain, it's just more tolerable now.

He also told me I looked stressed.  You think?  He said I should take a vacation.  Think I can get Medicare to pay for that?  I bet he'd write it on a prescription pad for me, if I asked him to.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Walmart Employee Fired for Advising Customer Not to Leave Dog in Hot Truck?

A recent article reported that a Walmart employee was fired for advising a customer that he should not leave his dog locked in his truck on a hot summer day while he shopped.

And no one should leave a dog (or any pet, or a child, for that matter) locked in a vehicle on a warm day.  If it is 72 degrees outside, the temperature inside a closed car can reach over 100 degrees in just half an hour.  If it's in the mid-80's outside, the temperature inside a closed car (or even a car with the windows down a bit) can reach over 100 degrees in just 15 minutes, and that's hot enough for a dog to have a heat stroke and die. 

Less than 15 minutes.  When have you ever run into Walmart, purchased something, and been back to your car in less than 15 minutes?  Me neither.

I think it was kind of the employee to warn the customer about the danger, because not everyone realizes it can get so hot so quickly inside a car.  If people realized it, they wouldn't leave their dogs in the car.  Good grief, people leave kids inside cars.  Every summer, children die from being left in closed cars.  If people realized it could get so hot so quickly, they wouldn't do that. 

So the employee was being kind to warn the customer.  Let's assume the customer wasn't trying to kill his dog and that he would have been unhappy to return to his truck only to find his dog dead.

In many parts of the U.S., it's illegal to leave a pet in a closed car under dangerous conditions.  This actually took place at a Walmart in Canada, but I bet the laws are similar there.  So the employee could have simply phoned the police and/or animal control, and they would have come to rescue the dog, and animal control might have taken the dog away from its owner, and he might have been fined or even charged with cruelty to animals.  Personally, I'd rather have an employee warn me about leaving my dog in the car than have animal control take my dog away from me and be arrested for cruelty to animals.

But apparently the customer didn't appreciate the employee's advise and complained to the manager.  The manager didn't see it my way, either, and the employee was fired.

I contacted the Walmart corporate office, just to let them know how disappointed I am to hear they would fire an employee for attempting to protect a helpless dog left in a potentially life-threatening situation.  I was told that the employee was not fired for advising the customer not to leave the dog in the truck on a hot day, but for other reasons.  They said they could not share the other reasons with me, however. 

I'm skeptical.  I didn't expect them to admit that an employee was fired for warning a customer about the danger of leaving a dog in the car in the summer.  I'd have been surprised if they did admit that.  What do you think?  If you'd like to share your thoughts with Walmart officials, you can email them from the Walmart website.

Hippo Love

Isaac finally chewed a couple of small holes in his hippo, so I had to perform a little reconstructive surgery.  He lay down and stared at me the whole time I was sewing with his big puppy dog eyes.  As soon as I handed the hippo back to him, he smothered it with kisses.  He sure loves his hippo!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Super Simple Summer Treat for Dogs

I made these for Isaac today.

All you do is fill an ice cube tray with chicken broth and freeze for a few hours.  Apparently dogs think chicken-flavored ice cubes are delicious, delightful treats.

I told Isaac it was a chicken-sicle.  He gobbled it right up.

Isaac Has a New Friend

Isaac is good at making friends.  His newest friend is a little girl, who I'll call K here because I don't want to post her name online.  She's about ten years old.  She lives down the street from us and we've seen her outside when we go for walks.  She often comes over and asks if she can pet Isaac.

Last night, she was with two other little girls and one of them asked if she could pet him.  I said yes.  K said, "I petted this doggie before," and I said, "Yes, I remember."  She said, "I asked if he was friendly and you said yes, very friendly."  I said, "Yes, he is super friendly."  She got down on her knees in the grass so Isaac could give her kisses.  She also asked his name.

This morning, Isaac and I were walking and she spotted us from a distance and yelled, "Hi, Isaac!"  Isaac was delighted to see her and practically knocked me off my feet in his rush to greet her.  She said, "I think he remembers me," and I said, "Oh, he certainly does.  He likes you."  Again, she got down on her knees so he could give her some kisses.

Then she told me that later today, she and her mom and a couple of her friends are going to the animal shelter to walk some dogs.  I think that's absolutely wonderful and told her what a nice thing it is for her to do that.  I told her I bet the dogs really, really like it when she comes.  She said yes, they do, and that she really loves dogs.

Those of you that have kids, do you ever do volunteer work with them?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Things That Have Helped My Back and Things That Haven't

I was talking to my  new primary care physician recently (I decided to find a new doctor closer to where I live now) about my back and all the things I've tried and what's helped and what hasn't, so I decided to make a list.

Things that made it worse:
  • Chiropractic treatment
Things that barely helped or didn't help at all:
  • Tylenol
  • Oral steroids
  • Physical therapy (two courses)
Things that helped some but not enough:
  • Steroid injections
  • Medial branch nerve block and radiofrequency neurotomy (procedures to block the nerves from transmitting pain)
  • Oral pain medications, including Vicodin, Percocet and Tramadol
  • Flexeril (muscle relaxant)
Things that help a lot (if done regularly):
  •  Heating pad
  • Hot bath with Epsom salts and eucalyptus essential oil
  • Turmeric (herb with anti-inflammatory properties)
  • Cymbalta (antidepressant that is also used to treat chronic pain)
  • Energy work (like Reiki)
  • Having a service dog (because he eliminates the need to do a lot of bending to pick things up, get clothes out of the dryer, etc.)
Notice how a lot of the things that help are actually cheap, easy-to-do-myself-at-home things?  With the exception of Isaac and the Cymbalta, that is.

Guarding the Pickle.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Have a Hippo, You'll Feel Better

Today I got upset about something and started to cry.  I sat down on the floor and called Isaac over to me.  He put his head on my shoulder and sat there sweetly with me for about a minute, then abruptly got up, trotted off, and returned with his favorite stuffed hippo, which he dropped on my head.  It was like he was saying, "OK, enough crying.  Have a hippo, it'll help you feel better."

So I squeezed the hippo's butt to make it squeak, and Isaac picked up his tiger, whose butt also squeaks, and we began a game of what an online friend of mine refers to as "co-squeaking."  I squeak the hippo, Isaac squeaks the tiger, repeat, repeat, repeat.  Only Isaac couldn't decide which toy he wanted to squeak and which toy he wanted to let me squeak.  Every time I squeaked the hippo, Isaac decided he wanted the hippo and snatched it out of my hand.  Then I would squeak the tiger, and he would decide he wanted that, and drop the hippo in order to snatch the tiger away from me.  He's like a little kid that thinks whatever toy someone else has must be the best one.

He was right, though.  After ten minutes or so of co-squeaking the hippo, I did feel a bit better.

Things You Might Not Know about Service Dogs

I thought it might be fun to post some facts about service dogs that aren't real well known.

Did you know?

  • Any breed of dog can be a service dog.  While golden retrievers, labs, and German shepherds are perhaps most commonly used, any breed can be a service dog, including small breeds.
  • Service dogs can help people with many different kinds of disabilities, including visual impairments, hearing impairments, physical disabilities like trouble walking, autism, seizure disorders, and psychological disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. 
  • Service dogs are not required to wear any kind of special vest or harness.  Many do, some because the special harness helps the handler (like a special harness used for someone that needs a service dog to help with balance), and some just because it reduces the likelihood of access disputes when going into a public place that doesn't allow pets, but it's not required by law.
  • Service dogs don't have any special rights under the law.  It's the person with a disability that has special rights, like the right to take their service dog into a store or restaurant.  It's a small but important distinction.
  • It is a violation of federal law for a business owner or manager to ask a person with a service dog what kind of disability they have or to ask to see documentation proving the dog is a service dog.  They are only allowed to ask two questions: Is that a service dog required due to a disability?  And what tasks is the service dog trained to perform?
  • It takes about 18 months to train a service dog.
  • In most places, people with service dogs are required to obey laws that say dogs have to be on leashes and that people have to pick up their dog's poop.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Great Idea for Dogs That Don't Like Bath Time

You all probably know Isaac does not like bath time one bit, and he's certainly not the only dog that feels that way.  I bribe him to get into the tub with bits of hot dogs, which he thinks are the greatest food in the world.  He gets a couple bites for getting into the tub, then I wet him down, then give him another bite of hot dog, then soap him up, then give him another bite of hot dog, then rinse him off and let him out of the tub, and reward him with a couple more bites.

Well, today I came across a great idea for doggies that don't like bath time and I can't wait to try it with Isaac.  You know what  Easy Cheese is?  It's that squirt cheese in a can.  Kinda like Cheese Whiz, but you squirt it out of a can.  It's not even real cheese, I don't think; it's some sort of "processed cheese food."  But it tastes good.  It's yummy on Triscuits.

Anyway, here's what you do.  Squirt a little design of Easy Cheese on the bath tub wall and let your doggie lick it off while he's getting his bath.  Isaac loves cheese and I'm sure he would fine that to be a good reward for getting in the tub, plus it would keep him busy for at least part of his bath time.  With the hot dogs, he swallows a piece in about half a second.  But it would take him a little time to lick off all the cheese.

Still Need Help with Medical Bills for Injured Dog

Cash had surgery two days ago. He had to have a metal plate put in his jaw and his jaws are basically wired shut for four to six weeks. During that time, he can only eat very soupy wet food and is not allowed to play with any toys that involve chewing (which is almost all dog toys, of course). He will have to have at last one more operation later on to remove the metal plate when his jaw has healed. Thanks to everyone that has donated so far, and if you haven't donated yet, please do. Even a few dollars will help.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Saving Money on Service Dog-Related Expenses

Service dogs are expensive.  All dogs are, really.  But in addition to things like food, toys, and veterinary care, service dogs require training, vest, other special gear, maybe other things pet dogs don't require.  They are expensive.  And people with disabilities often, though not always, live on rather limited incomes.  So how does someone afford a service dog?

Here are my tips for saving money on service dog-related expenses.  Many of these tips can help you save money even if your dog is not a service dog, though.
  • Feed your dog a good quality food.  It doesn't have to be the most expensive food on the market, but don't go for the cheapest food available, either.  Paying a bit more up front for a quality dog food will save you money in the long run because your dog will be healthier.  Shop around for the best price on the food you decide to feed your dog.  
  • Use coupons.  If you contact manufacturers of dog food and dog treats, they will often send you coupons if you just ask.  You can also get coupons on many manufacturers' websites (Purina has lots of coupons available on their website for dog and cat food and treats, for instance) and one their facebook pages.
  • Check dollar stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar for dog treats.  They carry many brands and they are much cheaper there than at pet stores.
  • Invest in quality dog toys, like those by Kong and Nylabone.  They cost more up front but last a long time, saving you  money in the long run.
  • Take your dog to the vet yearly for a check up and vaccinations.  You'll save money in the long run by keeping your dog healthy.
  • Ask local vets if they offer, or will offer, a discount for service dogs.  If your dog is not a service dog but a service dog in training, an emotional support animal, or a therapy dog, go ahead and ask if local vets will offer a discount for that.  If your dog is simply a pet but you're on disability, ask if they will offer any type of discount.  (Isaac gets free office visits and free "labor" from his vet; I pay for medication, vaccines, medical supplies, stuff like that, but the vet works for free when he sees Isaac).
  • Ask vets if they will offer a discount if you have more than one pet or if you pay for more than one thing at once.  For instance, the vet I take my cats to (not Isaac's vet) offers a discount on flea prevention if we buy several months' worth at once.  It costs more up front but saves money in the long run. 
  • Groom your dog yourself if you can.  It's much cheaper than paying a groomer.  If you need to take your dog to a groomer, ask local groomers if they will offer a discount for service dogs.  Also ask if they will offer a discount if you pay for several grooming sessions up front; for instance, if your dog needs to be groomed once a month and you pay for six months up front, will they offer a free grooming session after that?  Pay more up front, save in the long run (see a pattern here?).
  • Walk your dog yourself if you can.  It's much cheaper than paying a dog walker.  If you need to hire a dog walker, it will probably be cheaper to post an ad on Craig's List or something like that than to hire a pet sitting service, but the person you hire from Craig's List may not be as reliable as a pet sitting service.  In my experience with Isaac, I've found college students to be the most reliable and they are willing to do the job for a reasonable fee (I pay $15 for a 45-minute run).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Need Help with Medical Expenses for Injured Service Dog in Training

Cash is a ten-month-old service dog in training.  Last night some relatives of his handler took him outside, without the handler's knowledge or consent, not on a leash, and he was hit by a car and injured.  Frightened and hurt, he ran into the woods.  After searching for him all night, he was finally found today.  He has multiple cuts and infected insect bites, is dehydrated, and has a broken jaw.  He needs surgery by a specialist to treat the broken jaw.

I think the relatives that let him out should be footing the bill, but apparently people that aren't responsible about not letting someone else's dog outside are also not very responsible about paying for that dog's medical bills when the dog gets injured after they let it outside.  Go figure.

Anyway, the dog's handler needs help to cover the medical bills.  If you're able to help at all, here's where to do it: http://www.youcaring.com/pet-expenses/injured-service-dog-needs-your-help-/71268

I gave something, and if I can afford it, you can, too.

Apparently Isaac's "Please Don't Pet Me, I'm Working" Patch Isn't Sufficient

Isaac has a patch on his vest that says "Please Don't Pet Me, I'm Working."  But that is apparently not sufficient.  I need a patch that says "Do Not Pet Me, Talk to Me, Make Kissy Noises at Me, Bark at Me, Meow at Me, or Otherwise Bother Me."  I don't think all that would fit on Isaac's vest, though.

Yesterday, Isaac and I were in line at Kroger when an employee started talking to him, making kissy noises at him, etc.  "Oh, pretty, pretty doggie.  I can't pet you.  I'm sorry.  I would pet you but I'm not allowed.  It says so right there on your thing.  I'm sorry, baby.  Pretty doggie."

Isaac was so good.  He looked at her and that was it.  In the past, he would have tried to go to her and asked to be petted.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Staying Safe at Dog Parks

Since my new home is within a reasonable driving distance of a couple of dog parks, Isaac and I have been going to dog parks more often.  Isaac's trainer warned me to be very careful about visiting dog parks, and I've heard concerns from others about the safety of dog parks, as well.  I am cautious, and so far our experiences have been good, so I wanted to share some safety tips.

If you go to dog parks with your dog:
  • Consider going to parks that are not very crowded, or at times when they aren't very crowded.  The more dogs present, the greater the chance of a dog fight breaking out.
  • Don't take your dog to dog parks if he is aggressive at all or doesn't get along well with other dogs.  If your dog behaves aggressively at all while at a dog park, leave immediately.
  • If another dog behaves aggressively toward your dog while at a dog park, leave immediately.  Yes, ideally the owner of the other dog would take her dog and leave, but if she doesn't, you need to remove your dog in order to keep your dog safe.
  • Don't take any food or treats to dog parks.  Dogs are likely to fight over it.
  • Do take water for your dog.  Some dog parks have water available, some don't, and even parks that normally do have water available may not have any for whatever reason on the day you visit.  You can give your dog water at your car, you don't need to take it into the park with you, but have fresh water available for your dog.
  • Don't take toys to the dog park if it's against park rules (check before you go).  Don't take toys if your dog doesn't share well with others, because there is a good chance other dogs will want to play with his toys.  Only take toys that should be safe for any dog at the park; that means, if you have small dog but there might be big dogs at the park, don't take small toys that bigger dogs could choke on.
  • Don't throw sticks for your dog at the park.  Dogs can get splinters in their mouths and get very sick or even require surgery.  If you need to throw something for your dog to catch, take a safe dog toy.
  • Keep your dog on a leash until you get inside the fenced area.  Take your dog off the leash as soon as you get inside the fenced area.  Don't use flexi-leads or retractable leashes at the dog park, because dogs can wrap them around other dogs' legs or people's legs and injure other dogs or people.
  • Pick up after your dog.  Not only is it gross to leave dog poop lying around, it's unsanitary and dogs and people can end up getting sick.  Avoid dog parks where you see lots of dog waste on the ground.
  • And most importantly, always - always, always, always - make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an identification tag that includes a current telephone number.  If you have a cell phone, have that number on your dog's tag and take your cell phone with you to the park.  If your dog somehow gets loose, someone could find him and call you while you are still at the park.

Spoiled Doggie Got a Basketball at the Thrift Store

He was thrilled, of course. 

Can you tell from this picture how big his mouth is?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Went to the Doggie Beach Yesterday

It was quite overcast, and I guess due to that and being the holiday, it was practically deserted.  There were only two other doggies there, which I liked.  The more crowded it is, the more likely it is that someone's dog is aggressive or doesn't get along well with others, and disagreements break out.

I got a picture of the beach, so you can see it.  See how the fence goes out into the water?  And then there are buoys that keep the dogs from swimming out too far.  But I haven't seen any dogs even go as far out as the buoys.  They mostly stick pretty close to shore.

It was starting to rain a little as we were leaving and by the time we got home, it was pouring.  Isaac was still wet from the lake, mind you.  But he did not want to get out of the car because it was raining.  I was standing there, holding the car door open, telling him, "Unload.  Unload.  Isaac, unload!"  And he was looking at me like I was a complete idiot, wanting him to get out in the rain.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Like a Good Neighbor, Isaac Is There

Isaac is very popular among our new neighbors.  Most of them, anyway.  There is one woman that lives here that does not seem to like him.  Twice he's tried to sniff her hand and she yanked her hand away like she was disgusted.  That's OK, though.  I know not everyone likes dogs.  I keep  him away from her now.

But everyone else seems to love him.  I think it's funny because several of them think Isaac loves them especially much.  They want him to snuggle them and give them kisses, and he's happy to oblige, but then they say things like, "Oh, he just loves me doesn't he?"  And, "He doesn't do this with anyone else, does he?"  And I'm thinking, "Well, yeah, he does love you, but he loves everyone, and yeah, actually, he does this with anyone that will let him."  I don't say that, though.  I just say, "Yep, he loves you a lot."

There is a patio on the side of my apartment building and some of my neighbors like to sit out there and now that Isaac has figured out there are often people out there, every time we go outside he makes a beeline for the patio to see whose there and socialize with them a bit before we take our walk.  He also entertains them by rolling around on the grass, crawling under the picnic table on his belly, and just looking silly.

Isaac likes plastic soda bottles and a few of my neighbors discovered this when one of them was drinking drinking from a plastic water bottle and he caught sight of it and start barking and begging for it.  He finally poured out the rest of  his water, the nice guy, and gave Isaac the bottle.  I'm not sure why Isaac likes those bottles so much.  I think part of it is the noise they make when he bites them.  He got so excited about that bottle, he pulled the leash out of my hand and raced around the lawn in circles.  My neighbors got a big kick out of that.  Now, they save their soda bottles for him.  A new guy just moved into the building and the other neighbors have informed him that he should save his soda bottles for Isaac.  Isaac is a super spoiled doggie.

I like it that they all like Isaac so much and I think he is good for them, too.  Everyone in my apartment building is disabled.  A number of them are also elderly.  I think they are probably a little lonely and bored.  The unconditional love of a super snuggly doggie must be a good thing for them.  He's sort of like an unofficial therapy dog or something.