Monday, May 12, 2014

Learning to Trust Isaac

A few days ago, I had to take some paperwork over to the welfare office in my county in preparation for my interview regarding recertification for food stamps and Medicaid.  In my county, they do the interview by phone.  However, you have to turn in a ton of documents prior to your interview, which you can do by mail, but I decided to go there in person because my stack of documents was about four inches high (seriously) and I did not want to pay to make all those copies and then pay to mail that huge stack of papers.  I decided I'd rather go to the welfare office and let them make a zillion copies instead.

The reason my stack of documents is so huge, by the way, is mainly because of all my medical expenses and service dog-related expenses.  I have receipts to back all of those up.  I have receipts for every bag of dog food, every treat, every toy, etc. that I've bought Isaac since January 2013.  I have one folder for all his expenses in the year 2013 and another with all his expenses so far in 2014.  Plus all my medical expenses for those same time periods, including every bottle of vitamins I've bought (which they count since I have a written prescription from my doctor for them).  I keep track of all those expenses because they are factored into my rent, which is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban  Development, and into my food stamps and Medicaid.

I also keep track of all those expenses for tax purposes, and to make my accounting easier, I have a spreadsheet I've made, into which I enter each expense, which then does the math for me and totals it all up.  I printed out my spreadsheet and took that along with me to the welfare office.

Turns out the woman at the counter did not want to copy all my two million receipts, either.  She said she thought all they'd need was the spreadsheet.

So anyway, if you've ever had to visit the welfare office, you probably know that it can take a lot of time.  You never know how long you're going to be there.  I ended up being in and out in under half an hour this last time, but sometimes you end up sitting and waiting an hour or more just to turn in paperwork.  They are not known for their speed or efficiency.

So I decided to go after Isaac had his run.  The dog walker normally runs with him for about five miles and Isaac is generally tired afterward, at least for a little while.  So when they got home, I let Isaac get a good drink and then we headed out.  Had we stayed home, he would have just laid on my kitchen floor where the tile is cooler than the carpet, and I figured he could do that just as well on the nice cool tile at the welfare office.  I hoped since he was tired, he'd snooze and not get restless if we ended up being there a long time.

I'm getting to the point about trusting Isaac.

When I first got a service dog, I expected I'd be able to take him absolutely anywhere and he'd behave perfectly because, after all, wasn't that what I was paying for?  Yeah.  Well, it didn't quite work out that way.  In the beginning, Isaac was kind of inconsistent in public.  He was often good, not perfect, but good, but once in a while, just often enough that I didn't quite trust him, he did something rotten, like when he barked repeatedly in a therapy session or in Panera. 

I now trust him to lie quietly under a table in a restaurant for an hour but longer meals are still iffy.  Or maybe they aren't really, maybe I don't know really, because I haven't tried a longer meal in a while, at least not much longer.  Because I don't quite trust him that much.

After that therapy session in which he barked so much, I haven't taken him to another therapy session or doctor's appointment since, because I don't trust him.  I did take him to a support group meeting several months ago, and it was supposed to last an hour but ended up being more like 90 minutes, and he did well until close to the end.  Then he started getting fidgety.  Maybe I should try a doctor's appointment.

But I took him to the welfare office, and I didn't fully trust him, and it turned out he did great.  We were lucky, in that we weren't there half the day, which probably helped.  But he did great.  He lay down in front of my chair and snoozed until it was my turn at the counter, and then he lay down between my legs and the wall and snoozed some more.  He didn't even show any interest in a loud, energetic toddler that was running back and forth, and sometimes hopping like a bunny, sometimes dangerously close to Isaac.  I nudged Isaac a little closer to the wall, but he didn't seem concerned or interested in the kid.

And I realized then that I need to trust him a bit more. 

It's not like I don't trust him at all.  I trust him a lot.  But there are areas where I still don't, or where I'm still questioning him.

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