Thursday, May 29, 2014

Isaac is Signed up to Start Volunteering at a Local Nursing Home

Today I called a local nursing home to ask about doing volunteer work with Isaac.  I wanted to know if a therapy dog is something they would be interested in, if they would require the therapy dog to be registered with a pet therapy organization (I assumed they probably would), and if so, if they required registration with a particular organization.  See, there are a number of organizations that register therapy dogs, including Therapy Dogs International (which discriminates against disabled people - read more here), Therapy Dogs, Inc., Love on a Leash and Pet Partners.  Some nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities only allow therapy dogs that are registered with a particular organization.  So I wanted to check with a few places I might like to volunteer and find out if they required registration with a particular organization to help me choose which one I want to register with.  Ideally, I can choose one that most places I'd want to volunteer will accept.

Anyway, I spoke with the activity director at the nursing home and she said she would love to have a therapy dog visit the facility.  She said she's been wanting to do that for a while but had been unable to find anyone to bring one in.  I asked if she would require the dog to be registered with a therapy dog organization and she said oh no, she would just need proof that he's up to date on all his vaccines.  I went on to tell her that Isaac passed the Canine Good Citizen test (CGC) and explained a little about what that is and how it's very similar to the test most therapy dog organizations give dogs.  It's basically just a test of good doggie manners.  I talked a little about how Isaac is trained to so certain things, like "paws up" if someone wants him to put his paws in their lap and that I ask people if they want him to do that before I let him do it and stuff like that.  I told her how he's used to being around things like walkers and wheelchairs.

She wanted to know when we wanted to start.  So we are going in Monday morning.  I think we'll try to volunteer for about an hour at a time, once or twice a week.  I think this will be like heaven for Isaac.  An hour surrounded by people that will pet him and tell him what a pretty dog he is and feed him treats (which I will bring with me).  Ear rubs and belly rubs and kisses.  He will love it.

I'm really excited.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Therapy Dog-in-Training

I really want to get Isaac certified (or registered, different therapy dog organizations call it different things) as a therapy dog, hopefully in the next few months.  I've thought about doing that since shortly after I got him, but I'd been advised it was best to wait until I'd been working with him as a service dog for at least a year first, plus I wanted to give him time to mature a bit and calm down, hopefully a lot.  I believe Isaac would absolutely love doing that, though, and I will enjoy it, too.

There are a number of different organizations that certify/register therapy dogs and I'm not sure which one I want to work with.  I need to do a bit more research on that.

Initially, I want to volunteer with him at a nursing home.  I think Isaac would really enjoy that.

In the meantime, I've posted before about how I think Isaac is sort of an "unofficial therapy dog" around my apartment building.  Nearly all of my neighbors love him (the one that doesn't love him does not like dogs or people, period).  Isaac loves visiting with them.  Now that the weather is nice again, many of our neighbors hang out on the patio outside our building and Isaac has caught on to this and every time we go outside for anything, the first thing he does is head in that direction to see who is outside and to say hello to them.  He doesn't understand why no one is out there at 6:00 am or 10:00 pm or when the weather is rainy.  He always wants to look to see who is there.

Well, one of our neighbors, I'll call him M, is currently in the hospital with pneumonia.  M adores Isaac.  Whenever he sees me and Isaac in the lobby or outside, he calls hello to Isaac and then, as an afterthought, says hello to me.  He tells me, and our other neighbors, often, "I love that dog."  He tells everyone what a good dog Isaac is.  He has somewhat limited use of his arms and hands.  He always bends down so Isaac can kiss his face.

M is physically disabled and uses a wheelchair.  He also has a speech impairment.  None of this bothers Isaac in the least.  While I often have trouble understanding what M says, Isaac does not seem to have any trouble understanding him.  Maybe he doesn't understand the exact words, but he understands an invitation to put his paws on M's lap, to kiss M on the face, to present his ears for rubbing.

This evening I decided Isaac and I would go visit M in the hospital.  The hospital is only about a mile away and I wasn't planning to stay long, so it would be a short trip.  I knew M would be delighted to see Isaac and of course Isaac is always up for going anywhere.  But also, I though it would be interesting to see how Isaac responded in a hospital setting.  It would be sort of like training for being a therapy dog.

While Isaac is accustomed to being around things like wheelchairs and walkers, IV's and hospital smells and hospital beds are new to him.  He didn't blink, though.  He stood by M's bed so M could pet his head for a minute, then lay down to doze on the floor while I sat in a chair and chatted with M for a bit. 

When I was ready to leave, I wanted Isaac to put his paws up on the side of the bed so M could pet him more easily.  A few months ago, I taught Isaac the "paws up" command.  He does paws up on my lap but he will do it on anyone or anything else I point to or touch while giving the command, like my couch or bed or a chair.  One of the reasons I taught him "paws up" was so that I could let him know when it is OK to put his paws on someone's lap (and ideally he won't do it if not given the OK), but it was also so that I could then teach him "off," which means to get his paws off someone or something.  In typical Isaac fashion, he mastered "paws up" in a couple of days and "off" in a few more.

He seemed a bit uncertain about doing paws up on M's hospital bed, though.  I gave him the command a couple times and then he did it.  M was delighted.  His face broke into a big smile.  Isaac then felt reassured, I guess, because he then flopped sideways so that his head was on M's chest.  I was standing very close by and being very careful to make sure Isaac didn't get tangled up in M's IV line or anything like that.

The visit was a great success.  M was really happy to see Isaac.  As we were leaving, he called out the door of his room after us, "I love you."  To Isaac, not to me.  It was the loudest and the clearest that I've ever heard him speak.

Dog in a Hot Pickup Truck

Today Isaac and I went to Kroger to pick up a few things.  As we walked across the parking lot to the store, we passed a pickup truck.  I heard loud yapping and looked over to see a small curly-haired dog in the truck.  The temperature outside was mid-70's.  The driver's side window of the truck was rolled down just a couple inches.

It gets far too hot far too quickly in a closed car on a warm day.  When it's just 72 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car, even with a window down a little bit, can reach more than 100 degrees in just 30 minutes.

I went directly to the customer service desk and talked to the manager.  I explained that it was too hot for a dog to be left in a car and that I was worried about the dog's well-being and asked if she could page the customer to come to the desk and let then know that.  She said sure.

So Isaac and I got on with our shopping.  I was delighted that the manager was so agreeable and understood the concern.

When Isaac and I left the store about 25 minutes later, though, the dog was still there.  I don't know if the owner didn't respond to the page or if they just didn't share my concern for their dog's health.

I decided to write a note and leave it on the windshield of the car.  I tried to be as polite as possible.  I said something like, "Hi.  I noticed your dog was left in your truck for quite a while.  You probably don't realize this, but it's really dangerous to leave a dog in a car on a warm day.  When it's just 72 outside, the temperature in a car can reach more than 100 in less than 30 minutes, even with the window down a little.  At that temperature, dogs can have heatstroke and die.  Please leave your dog at home next time you come shopping.  I'd hate for anything to happen to your dog."

While the dog had been very yappy when Isaac and I passed the truck on the way into the store, it hadn't barked at us on our way out.  It did not bark at me as I approached the truck.  When I lifted the windshield wiper to put my note on the windshield, it looked up and barked a couple times, but seemed rather listless.

I went back to my car and sat there for a couple minutes, watching to see if maybe the owner would come out of the store.  I was worried.  I suspected the dog was getting dehydrated.  I didn't think it could be in that truck too much longer.  I have no idea how long it was there before I even arrived, but now it had been more than half an hour.

I decided to call the police.  I called the non-emergency number and spoke with a woman who seemed to understand the seriousness of the situation.  She said she would contact the dog warden.  I asked if she knew how long it would take the warden to arrive and stressed the urgent nature of the situation.  She said she didn't know.

However, she called me back about two minutes later to tell me the warden was on her way.  She said the warden was at the dog shelter (which is about three minutes away from Kroger) and was already on the way, so she should be there any minute.

I didn't wait around to see what happened.  I was really happy with the response I got, though.  The manager of the store, the woman at the police department and the dog warden all seemed to understand the seriousness of the situation, which actually surprised me a little, but also made me very happy.  I thanked the woman at the police department profusely.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Accessibility at the Pharmacy (or Lack Thereof)

I picked up three prescriptions at CVS today. When I called for refills, I specifically asked for caps that were NOT child resistant and explained that it's very difficult for me to open child resistant caps due to arthritis in my hands.

I got home and opened the bag and only one of the three has a cap I can easily open. So I called back to complain.

The pharmacy tech explained that on the paper they look at to fill a script, there is tiny N that means non-child resistant cap and it's so tiny sometimes they don't see it. I suggested they make the N bigger, then, since it is important someone with a disability be able to actually open their medication. She said she can't make it bigger. 

I said I did not believe there was no possible way to improve the system to make sure customers get medication they can actually open. I don't know the best way to do it because I don't know what their current system is - but surely there is somewhat to put a  note on the script.  Or how about writing it on a big post it note and sticking it to the pharmacist's forehead, if necessary?  Come on, surely someone there can figure it out.

She suggested I drive back to the store - a 35 minute drive one way from where I live - and they would put the medication in other bottles for me. Um, yeah, that's not a good solution. 

They need to pay attention when they fill scripts. I do not believe there is no way that can be done. They just don't care about doing it.

And understand: This is what the pharmacy staff is thinking/saying when they don't care about making reasonable accommodations like this.

"Most of our customers are able to open bottles.  If a few of our customers are defective in some way and can't do simple tasks like that, well, that's not really our problem.  If it's convenient for us and if we think about it, we will do them a favor and put the special caps on for them.  But if it's too much trouble or we just forget, well, they should understand.  We are used to selling prescriptions to normal people that can open bottles.  And it's not like we have a lot of customers that can't open a normal bottle.  Their business isn't that important to us, anyway."

Monday, May 26, 2014

Disabled Veterans

It's Memorial Day and I am remembering the vets that make it back from the war but live the rest of their lives with disabilities caused by the war.  And I want to tell a story about a vet I had the opportunity to talk with the other day.

He joined the service soon after high school.  He hoped to make a career of it.  He is a very bright man and had a highly technical job in the service.  I'm not providing any identifying details in order to protect his privacy, so I won't say exactly what he did, but it was something requiring a lot of intelligence and skill.

He'd been in the service for 10 years when it happened.  He was in Iraq.  He was in a vehicle with nine other servicemen when an explosion occurred.  Eight of the 10 people in the vehicle were killed.  He and one other man survived, with serious injuries.

He carries a lot of survivor's guilt, partly because he was initially supposed to sit in a different seat in the vehicle but for some reason ended up switching seats with another guy.  The other guy died.  If he'd been in the seat he was supposed to be in, he would have died, too.  This was 15 years ago and he got all choked up telling me about it.

He received a medical discharge.  He came back to the states with physical injuries, requiring lengthy hospitalization.  He also had (still has) PTSD, although apparently the VA psychiatrist only diagnosed that about a year ago.  How could anyone live through that experience and not have PTSD?  He still thinks about it every day.  He still cries about it.  He still has nightmares.

Despite having severe PTSD and lasting physical disabilities, the VA only finally declared him disabled and awarded him disability pay a year ago.  It took 14 years for him to get disability.  For 18 months of those 14 years, he was homeless, living on the street.

His wife left him shortly after he came home from the war.  She said he wasn't the same man he used to be.  This was not what she signed up for.  Well, gee, I don't think it was what he signed up for, either.

After his wife left and he was disabled and living in extreme poverty, he became depressed.  Well, duh.  Who wouldn't?  He attempted suicide multiple times.  Obviously he was not getting good mental health care - the VA psychiatrist couldn't even figure out that the had PTSD.

This would be a terribly sad story even if the guy wasn't a veteran.  But he is a vet.  He didn't become disabled in an accident.  He wasn't just born this way by some twist of fate.  He became disabled fighting in a war that our government, on behalf of all of us, felt was so important that it was worth risking lives.  He agreed to take that risk, to sacrifice his health and maybe even his life, for other people, and for a principle.

I am a pacifist.  I am opposed to war.  I don't think we ought to be fighting wars.  What if they threw a war and nobody came?  I think we should all refuse to come.

But that is not the society in which we live.  We live in a society in which we send young men and women to war.  To fight for us.

And then when they come home disabled, we don't care for them.  I find that appalling.  I do not support war but I do support the troops that fight for something they believe in.

This guy lost his wife, he suffers pain every day, he is disabled, he has PTSD, and we allowed him to live on the street for 18 months.  Think about that.  In a Midwestern city, in the cold winter, we - this society, which includes all of us - felt it was perfectly OK for him to sleep in a doorway, on cold concrete, in pain, barely able to walk, having nightmares of an explosion that killed eight of his buddies when he did manage to fall asleep for a bit.

How is that OK?  How is it that we can allow that to happen?

It's easy to say well, that's not really my responsibility, it's not that I think it's OK but what am I supposed to do about it?  I don't work for the VA, it's not up to me to decide who gets disability.  What am I supposed to do, anyway?  Invite homeless vets into my home to live?

But really, it is my responsibility.  It's is the responsibility of all of us.

If it's not OK with me, I  need to do something about it.  If I just passively accept it, and allow it to happen, then it must really be all right with me.

What am I going to do about it?  I don't know.  I have no idea what there is to do about it.  But I'm gonna find out.

What about you?  Is it OK with you?  And if it's not, what are you going to do about it?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Depending on My Dog

I know I've written before about how, for quite a while after I got Isaac, my first instinct when I dropped something on the floor was to pick it up myself.  I had to remember that I had Isaac to help me with that now.  Over time, I've become accustomed to him helping me retrieve things.

Something interesting happened last week when I took Cayenne to the vet.  Isaac did not go with us, although he would have loved to, mostly because Cayenne is still not so fond of him and I did not want to stress her any more than she would already be.

Well, in the exam room, I was getting her out of her carrier.  Getting her out of the carrier at the vet's office is no easy feat. She does not want to come out.  When I pried her out, the little fleece blankie I'd put in the carrier fell to the floor.

And I found myself pointing at it and starting to say, "Get it."

Then I realized there was no one there to get it for me and I'd have to get it myself.

But my first instinct was no longer to get it myself.  It was to ask Isaac to do it for me.

Friday, May 23, 2014

I'm So Sorry

Today someone asked me why I have a service dog. I said, "He helps me with my disability," which is my standard non-answer. I mean, it's a truthful answer but it doesn't provide details about personal medical issues that I may not feel like sharing with random strangers in a store when I am just trying to run in to pick up some milk.

The stranger said, "Oh. I'm so sorry." Which left me a little confused.

I guess he meant that he was sorry to hear I am disabled. But why else would I have a service dog? I mean, people without disabilities don't need service dogs and aren't allowed to take dogs into the grocery store.

Surely he didn't mean he was sorry my dog helps me with my disability.

But it seemed a rather odd thing to say.  I think I might start asking people what they mean when they ask or say strange things.  Usually I don't, partly because I am caught off guard, although it happens so often, I probably shouldn't be caught off guard by it anymore.  And partly I don't because it generally happens when I am busy doing things, like trying to run into a store to pick up some milk, and I really just want to get on with my business.  But I might start asking.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Service Dogs That Don't Belong in Schools

I read an article today about a family that is upset because a little girl, who has a service dog that is supposed to alert to seizures (and I assume respond to seizures in some way, since simply alerting is not a trained task and would not in itself make a dog a service dog), has been asked not to bring her dog to school anymore.

The article I read initially didn't provide much info but in reading more information in other places and in discussing the situation with someone that knows a teacher at the little girl's school, the facts seems to be these.  Initially, the school was enthusiastic about the idea of the little girl bringing her seizure alert dog to school.  An assembly was held to tell all the students about the service dog and to explain why they weren't supposed to pet the dog.  However, once the dog began attending school with the little girl, a problem was noticed.  One of the girl's teachers uses a wheelchair and the dog seems disturbed by the chair, barking at it and biting its wheels.

That, of course, is inappropriate behavior for a service dog and suggests the dog didn't receive the proper socialization when it was young and/or was not trained properly.  It's disruptive to the class when the dog barks at the wheelchair and biting the wheels may cause costly damage to the teacher's chair.  In addition, if the dog behaves aggressively toward a wheelchair, it's possible the dog may behave aggressively toward other things it's not accustomed to.  It's also possible the dog might accidentally bite the teacher or another student when attempting to bite the wheels of the chair.

It makes perfect sense to me that the school would decide this particular dog could not come to school with the little girl anymore.

The family disagrees and some family members have suggested the teacher was doing something to startle the dog or that she was doing something to make the little girl nervous, so the dog was just being protective, and that that is appropriate behavior for a service dog.  Well, biting the wheelchair of a person that makes an owner nervous is not appropriate behavior for a service dog.  Service dogs are not supposed to be protective.  "Protection" is not a service they can provide.  And while a dog might bark once when startled, a dog should not bite or attempt to bite something that startles it, and a dog should not be startled by something like seeing a wheelchair, especially when it sees one every day at school.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bad News from the Vet

Two days ago, I took Cayenne to the vet to have her staples removed.  Well, the ones she hadn't already removed herself, that is.  She apparently spent the weekend Isaac and I were out of town removing as many staples as possible from her belly.  Since she had about two dozen of them, and they are apparently not easy to remove herself, she only got about half of them out.  She suggested we skip the trip to the vet and she would remove the rest herself, but I disagreed.

Most of her incision has healed well.  Unfortunately, near the bottom of the incision, where it's hard to see because unless you spread her legs wide, it's kind of hidden in the creases of her skin, there is an infection brewing.  Nasty green smelly stuff oozing and all that.  I felt terrible for not noticing it myself.  I didn't inspect her belly real carefully.  She does not like to lie on her back spread-eagled.  The part of the incision I could see easily looked good to me.  But I should have looked more carefully.

She is now on antibiotics but I should have taken her to the vet last week for antibiotics, or whenever the infection first started, rather than waiting until now.  I should have been watching her more closely.  She seemed to be feeling well, she was eating well and seemed more active than usual, so I assumed things were good.

I was really, really angry with myself when I left the vet's office.  I felt like I had failed her in a way.  I hadn't done a good job taking care of her and I tried, I try so hard, and it isn't easy taking care of her, but the things I've done have not been enough.  All I needed to do was examine her belly carefully.  And I didn't.

She had two tumors removed and one is already starting to grow back.  You can't see it by looking at her belly, not yet, but the vet was able to feel it when he was pushing on her belly.  In just two weeks, it's already starting to grow back.  I knew this was just a temporary fix, but I thought it would take longer than two weeks for the damn things to start growing back.

What did we do surgery for, then?  Two weeks later and one of the tumors is already growing back and she has an infected wound on her belly.  So we got, what, less than two weeks without infection and tumors?  I mean, I realize it's not nearly as bad right now as it was before surgery, but it sure doesn't seem like much of a reprieve.  I know there was no guarantee about any of it, but I was hoping, believing, that it would take months to get back to where we were before surgery.  Now I'm thinking we'll be right back there in no time.

So I'm disappointed and I'm wondering if I made the wrong decision after all.  Maybe I shouldn't have put her through the surgery. 

And I know I won't do it again.  So when we do get back to that point, where the tumors are big and there are big gaping infected holes in her belly, the only thing left will be to euthanize her.  And suddenly it seems like that time will be here much sooner than I though it would. 

Last summer, I didn't think Cayenne would make it through the year.  I was sure last summer would be her last.   And then, after she'd made it through the year and we decided to do the surgery and she seemed to be recovering so well, I was thinking, well, she'll make it through the summer, maybe she'll see next summer, even.  And now I'm thinking we may be very close to the end.  It's like a roller coaster that is making me nauseous.  I was prepared for the end, it didn't come, now I'm not prepared and I think it's coming.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pacing Myself and Coping with Fatigue

I ended up passing on Drag Queen Bingo.  As much fun as it sounded, and it really did sound fun, I was tired.  I was physically tired and also mentally tired, and I just thought it would be better for me to go back to my hotel and rest.  I’m really trying to pace myself.  With the lack of sleep Friday night and the pain in my hips during the night, I decided I better not push myself too far Saturday.

I guess I made the right choice.  I was asleep by 9:00 pm Saturday night.  Of course, then I woke up about 1:30 am and couldn’t go back to sleep.  Isaac and I ended up checking out of the hotel in the middle of the night and driving home.  I really wanted to be home.

We got home just as dawn was breaking and Isaac seemed glad to be back, too.  He also seemed tired.  We both snoozed most of the day Sunday.  

Cayenne seemed glad to see me and not so glad to see Isaac.  He was delighted to see her, though.  I noticed she has now pulled out about half of her staples.  Apparently that’s what she spent most of her time doing while Isaac and I were away – pulling out staples.  Bad kitty.

I am trying hard not to feel frustrated at my fatigue and lack of stamina.  Everyone else had enough energy to go to Drag Queen Bingo.  And it really did sound like fun and I wanted to go but I just didn’t have the energy.  I’m trying not to feel too sad about that.  I had a nice trip, I had fun, I got to spend time with friends, Isaac enjoyed himself and behaved beautifully.  I want to feel good about it, not sad.  But I wanted to do more, I wanted to have more fun.

And I am frustrated at feeling so tired still.  I slept nearly all day yesterday!  I should have more energy by now.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Adventures in Detroit with a Doggie

Saturday afternoon, we decided to go into Detroit and walk around.  Being the weekend, there wasn’t a whole lot of traffic and not a ton of people.  Downtown areas tend to be that way on weekends, I think.  It was like that in Cincinnati when I lived downtown.

Isaac loved walking around.  I was so proud of him.  This was his first experience in an urban environment, as far as I know.  Maybe he did some training in a city before I got him, I don’t know.  But I’ve never taken him into a city like that before.  He did great, though.  We passed a few people with dogs, one of which barked at Isaac, but he didn’t bark at any of them.  

He peed on just about every tree we came to. 

He sniffed many garbage cans and lampposts on the sidewalk but did not try to pee on any of them.  There was this area set up like a little beach with sand and beach chairs and stuff and we walked through the sand and he did not attempt to dig in it or pee in it.

We stopped at this hotdog place to use the bathroom and I bought Isaac a grilled hotdog.  I just wanted to get him something special and honestly, I can’t think of anything more special to Isaac.  I asked for a plain hotdog without a bun and assured the woman at the register that Isaac would be eating it outside.   She asked if he was a Seeing Eye Dog and I said he was a service dog.  A man standing in line behind me asked if he was a rookie, which I assume meant was he in training, and I said no.  

Well, by the time we got the hotdog, everyone was interested in watching Isaac eat it, so there was a whole crowd at the door as I knelt on the sidewalk outside and broke it into four pieces for Isaac.  He had to wait about a minute for it to cool off because it was too hot for him, then he wolfed it down.  I’m pretty sure he would have gone for seconds if I’d offered it.

After walking around for 90 minutes or so, we went to a restaurant for a late lunch.  Isaac was apparently all worn out.  I got a seat in a corner where he had room to lie down beside me, not really under the table, and he passed out.  I had to wake him up when lunch was over and he was rather reluctant to get up then.

Rough Morning – for Me and Isaac

Saturday started out not-so-great.  I didn’t sleep well Friday night.  I was feeling homesick, I guess.  I dunno.  I felt kind of anxious, I didn’t really like my hotel room, I was missing Cayenne and was a little worried about her being alone.  I was feeling worried about how Isaac would do the next day, when we had a busy day scheduled with friends.  Maybe I was worried about how I would do, too.   

My bed in the hotel room was really uncomfortable and I woke up about 2:00 am with horrendous pain in both hips.  I got up and moved around a little, and then I took a Tramadol (one of the few I have left), and then I was able to go back to sleep.  And when I got up at 7:00 am, I felt much better.

But then I wanted to have a protein shake for breakfast.  Friday night I bought two little bottles of milk at Subway when I picked up dinner and put them in the mini-fridge in my room.  When I got them out Saturday morning, I discovered the milk was frozen solid.  Apparently the temp in my fridge is way too cold.  So no protein shake.

I ate a protein bar instead and then Isaac and I headed off to Panera.  My plan was to hang out there, where the internet moves faster than a snail, until my friend called with an update on our plans for the day.  

At Panera, I ordered a large green tea.  My hands were full with my purse, my laptop, Isaac’s leash and my tea when my phone rang.  As I pulled the phone out of my pocket, I managed to dump the large iced tea on poor Isaac’s head.  Isaac, understandably, was shocked.  And offended.  He did not enjoy his impromptu shower one bit.

I was embarrassed.  I grabbed several handfuls of napkins and tried to dry off my service dog, who wanted to shake himself the way dogs do when they are wet, which I did  not want him to do because we were in a crowded restaurant.  I finally got things cleaned up as much as possible, apologized to Isaac about a million times, and hightailed it out of Panera.  

From the car, I called my friend back.  She said she and our other friend were hungry and wanted caffeine and would come meet me and Isaac at Panera.  I decided to wait out on the patio, in the hopes that most of the people that saw me spill my large green tea on my dog would be gone by the time my friends arrive and I went back inside.

We ended up all sitting out on the patio with our coffees, which Isaac enjoyed a lot.  He was good, relaxing in the sunshine and fresh air for quite a while.  He finally started getting restless and I took him for a short walk around the parking lot.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Adventures at the No Pets Hotel

I mentioned how yesterday when I was checking in, the woman at the desk was worried that I had a dog with me.  Well, I thought her manager took care of the matter, but apparently only with regard to that one employee.

Later in the evening, I took Isaac out to pee, and on our way back in, I stopped at the front desk to ask for some soap because there was none in my room.  The housekeeping in this hotel certainly leaves something to be desired.  Well, the employee at the desk looked shocked to see Isaac and asked if they didn't tell me pets were not allowed when I checked in. 

I said, "Yes, but he is a service dog so he is allowed."

The employee looked doubtful and said, "I don't know about that."

I said, "Well, I know about it and he is a service dog and service dogs are allowed."

The employee still looked doubtful, but he gave me some soap and didn't say anything more.

Now, Isaac did not have his service dog vest on at that time because I didn't want him to wear it while we took a walk and it seemed like a pain in the butt to put it on just to walk through the hotel to get outside and legally, service dogs are not required to wear any kind of special vests.  So I know it may not have been apparent that he was a service dog.  So I can understand that the employee might have asked about him.  But these employees need to know that service dogs are allowed.

Then this morning, on our way back in from our  morning pee, yet another employee stopped me to ask, "Is that a service dog?"  At least he had the right question.  I said yes and the employee explained that he needed to ask because they only allow service dogs.  So at least he knows they allow them.

Friday, May 16, 2014

On the Road with Isaac

Isaac and I arrived at our hotel, a Days Inn, and the first thing I noticed as we entered the lobby was a large "NO PETS" sign on the front door.  Which is fine, because Isaac is a service dog, and service dogs aren't considered pets.  No pets policies don't apply to service dogs.

The young woman at the front desk looked rather distraught when she caught site of Isaac, though.  "Are you planning to take the dog to the room?" she asked me.  Um, yeah.  Where else would I take him?

Before I could respond, though, the manager, who was standing nearby, spoke up and told her, "That is a service dog.  We must allow it."  She didn't say anything else, though she still looked upset.

Isaac, mind you, was wearing his service dog vest, heeling nicely beside me, quiet and professional-looking.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Going out of Town for Two Days with a Dog

Isaac and I are going out of town for two days.  I'm thrilled.  I haven't gotten to go anywhere in a long time. 

I have a friend that lives in a neighboring state and we have a mutual friend from further away who is visiting the friend in the neighboring state, and then another acquaintance from a ways away will also be coming, and it's just going to be a fun get together.  I'm told that Saturday night we are going to Drag Queen Bingo.

What's Drag Queen Bingo, you ask?  That's what I asked.  I was told, "It's just what you're thinking it is."  Sounds fun, right?  I mean, drag queens and bingo do seem like a slightly odd combination, but how could it be anything but fun?  Actually, anything with drag queens has to be fun.

We don't have drag queens in the little town where I live.  We probably have bingo.  Maybe at the senior citizen's center or at the Methodist Church.  Do Methodists play bingo?  Or maybe the Lutherans?  Around here, we mostly have Methodists, Lutherans, Mennonites and Amish, and I am pretty sure the Mennonites and Amish don't play bingo.  They don't have drag queens, either.

So anyway.  I am packing.  Or trying to pack.  Isaac practically needs his own suitcase.  Since I only own one suitcase, he must make due with a tote bag.  I've packed food (enough for each meal he'll be eating while we'll away plus one extra, just in case), some treats, a beef bone, a pork skin chew, Mr. Pickle (which I discovered under the sheets in my bed today; I don't think Isaac's seen it in a couple days so he will be pleasantly surprised when I pull it out at the hotel), a Kong, one of Isaac's blankies (to remind him of home and to, hopefully, keep some hair off the hotel room bed), food and water bowls, a bunch of plastic poop bags, an extra collar and leash, and tweezers (because I have yet to buy him a tick collar and I must be prepared to pluck off the little buggers and I do not wish to try to do it with my fingers).

Hopefully it's a good trip.  I felt rather like the Universe was conspiring to prevent me from going.

Yesterday and the day before, I was sick to my stomach.  I don't know why.  Today I've felt better, although I've been eating pretty lightly.

Isaac has had a gunky left eye for the last two days.  He gets gunk in his eyes most mornings, which I call "eye boogers."  Cayenne gets them, too, sometimes.  Neither of them appreciate me for cleaning the boogers out of their eyes, ungrateful little brats.  But for the last two days, Isaac has had lots of eye boogers in his left eye.  Maybe it's allergies.  He doesn't seem to be feeling poorly at all.  If it's still all gunky on Monday, when Cayenne goes to the vet to get her staples out, I'll see if the vet can look at Isaac's eye at the same time.  I'm gonna try giving him some Benadryl, too, to see if that might help.

Cayenne is doing really well, but I was still hesitant to leave her.  It's been almost two weeks since her surgery and two years ago, when she got really really sick after surgery, if happened at about the two week point.  But I decided I'd arrange for someone to stop in to check on her and feed her and administer her meds on Saturday and I'd come home early if there was any problem.  Then the person that was supposed to check on her for me flaked out on me, so I thought maybe I wasn't going to be able to go.  But Mike agreed to drive all the way over here to do it.  Bless him.

So Isaac and I are going.