Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Actually, It's the Adults I Have Trouble With

Today I had to go to the local hospital to get some blood work drawn and while Isaac and I were waiting in the waiting room, a woman asked me, "Do you have a lot of trouble with kids wanting to pet him?"

I said, "No, actually it's the adults I have trouble with.  Sometimes kids do ask me if they can pet him, but I think adults ask just as often.  However, kids always ask first.  Only once in all the time I've had him has a child ever pet him without asking, and that kid's brother quickly corrected him and then he stopped.  I've lost count of how many times an adult has pet him without asking, though.  Several dozen, probably.  And often they tell me as they are petting him that they know they aren't supposed to do that.  I've also had adults bark at him, meow at him and howl at him.  Kids have never done those things."

She was surprised.  I was, too, at first.  But I've come to accept that kids often behave better than their parents do.

Ready for Surgery Tomorrow

As ready as I'll get, I guess, anyway.

My kitchen is stocked with easy-to-prepare and easy-to-eat foods, including yogurt, soups, protein shake supplies, and supplies for making smoothies.  I've got my meds and lip balm and hand cream and all that good stuff on the coffee table in easy reach of the couch.  I've got my weighted blanket and anxiety meds ready to take with me.  I even cleaned up the house a bit.

The dog walker is coming to take Isaac for a run later in the afternoon after my surgery, so that's good.  If I'm not feeling well, I won't need to worry about taking him out as much.  I also have one of his favorite peanut butter-filled bones in the cupboard, so he'll have something fun to do that won't require me taking him outside or playing with him.

I feel less anxious than I felt about my oral surgery last fall.  Oh, I'm still anxious, I'm still wishing I had someone to go with me or something to be with me at home afterwards.  I do remember what a hard time I had after the surgery last fall.  The surgery itself was quick and easy but that night, alone in my apartment, I had flashbacks and anxiety attacks and nightmares and cried a lot.  I remember.  I'm hoping that won't be the case this time, but I know there is a good chance it will.

But it is what it is.  I did ask friends if anyone was available to go with me to the appointment or spend some time with me at home afterward, but I didn't expect anyone to volunteer, and no one did.  Last time I ended up feeling really sorry for myself because I had to go through all that alone, but this time I feel more... accepting of it.  It is what it is.  Sure, I wish it was different, but it's not, and maybe it never will be.

And I got through it last time.  So I can get through it this time, too, right?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Thankful

My kitchen is over-flowing with food right now.  And I am so thankful.

It's a bit odd, because financially things are pretty bad for me at the moment.  But somehow I have tons of food.  Which is good because I want to sort of stock up before winter.  I am anticipating my fibromyalgia getting worse when the weather gets cold and I'd like to have less shopping and food prep to do when that happens.

I found almond butter on sale a few weeks ago so I bought a bunch.  I went to my favorite farm stand and picked up some lovely squash and zucchini.  I recently made some potato soup and froze a few servings of that.  I tried to make tomato soup, too, but I'm afraid that didn't turn out so well.  It tastes more like spaghetti sauce than tomato soup, but not very good spaghetti sauce.  Like cheap canned spaghetti sauce.  But maybe I will put some onions and garlic and stuff in it and make sauce.

Then last Friday was produce day at the local food pantry and I got a ton of stuff.  I got about three dozen onions, and I'm talking huge onions, so I spent all day Saturday chopping them up.  I have a huge mound of diced onions in my freezer, frozen in one-cup servings, plus I kept out enough to make French onion soup with, which I made today.  It turned out really yummy.  I think I will freeze a couple servings of that, too.

I also got nearly two dozen apples, many of which were bruised or slightly overripe, so I peeled, chopped and frozen those, too.  I can bake with them or make applesauce or something.  I got a cucumber, a cabbage and a bag of clementines.  I also got a couple containers of Greek yogurt and a lovely loaf of Italian bread (the bread I sliced and then stuck in the freezer).

What else do I have?  I got some frozen smoothie mixes on sale at Kroger and I stocked up on chia seeds the other day and I just have more food than I've had in a long time.  I feel really rich when I look in the kitchen and see so much food.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Service Dogs Are Supposed to Be Trained Not to Eat Stuff on the Floor...

Last night I had dinner with friends at this restaurant where they have buckets of peanuts on the table. Used to be, you just threw your peanut shells on the floor. Now they give you an empty bucket for the shells. Probably someone slipped and hurt themselves on all those peanut shells or something.

Anyway, while Isaac and I were waiting for our friends to arrive, the manager was telling me how someone with a service dog used to come in there all the time and the dog would eat the peanut shells on the floor. I said I had no idea what Isaac would do with peanut shells all over the floor but added that service dogs are supposed to be trained not to eat stuff on the floor.

At just that moment, Isaac spied a lone peanut on the floor and lunged for it. You know, just to demonstrate how well-trained he is.

I Have to Have Oral Surgery

I have to have oral surgery next week on my gum.

I've been dealing with a problem area in the gum behind one of the crowns that was put in for my bridge last fall for a couple of months now.  Since early to mid May, I guess.  I tried ignoring it for a while and when it didn't get better, finally gave in and went to my dentist.

I really like my dentist.  I had having to go to the dentist, any dentist, but I do like mine.

He tried a couple things and couldn't figure out what was causing the problem, so I had to go see a periodontist.  Which of course Medicaid will not pay for.  Apparently I have some sort of weird infection and a lot of inflammation and I have to have surgery to clean out the infection and also he is going to do a biopsy just to make sure nothing more serious is going on.  Of course neither Medicaid nor Medicare will pay for the surgery, but Medicare will pay for the pathologist to examine the tissue specimen taken from the biopsy.  Isn't that nice of them?

I am stressed.  I am more stressed about the idea of having to have surgery than about the money, which tells you how much this sort of thing triggers my anxiety and PTSD, since it is going to cost me $950.  $950 which of course I do not have.  I had to borrow it from a friend.  I have no clue how or when I will be able to pay him back.

And it's bad timing because there is all sorts of financial stress going on already, which I haven't written too much about.  I did mention that I had to start paying my Medicare premiums, which are $105 a month, and that this extra expense should cause my rent to go down a bit.  Well, I am still waiting for that to go into effect.  The reduced rent, I mean.  Paying the Medicare premiums started in July.  But my rent did not go down yet.  But on top of that, my freelance writing income has decreased and when I reported the changes to the state welfare department, they did something goofy and decreased my food stamps and increased my  Medicaid spend down, which is the opposite of what should have happened.  It will be fixed but it is a huge pain and is taking a while to fix.  So financially, things suck right now.

But surgery.  On my mouth.  It's triggering and I am stressed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Doggie at the Doctors

For quite a while, I did not like taking Isaac to medical appointments with me.

That was mostly after a couple of bad experiences with him at therapy appointments soon after I got him.  During one visit, he barked so much I had to cut the appointment short.  It was frustrating and embarrassing.  After that, I was worried about taking him to medical appointments.

Sometimes it takes a long time to get in to see certain doctors.  For instance, if I have to cancel an appointment with my psychologist or rheumatologist at the last minute, it's usually a good month before they can get me in again.  I was worried that if Isaac started barking or otherwise behaving in appropriately in the waiting room and I had to leave, it would take a long time to get another appointment.

Also, many doctors seem to charge a fee if you cancel with less than 24 hours notice.  So if I had to leave before actually seeing the doctor, not only might I have to wait several weeks or more to get another appointment, I might also have to pay something.

And when I'm at a doctor's appointment, I need to be able to pay attention to what the doctor is telling me.  I need to remember to ask all my questions and request medication refills and whatever else I need to do there.  It's hard to do that if I am being distracted by a dog that is not behaving the way a well-trained service dog should.  And doctors are usually in a hurry. They don't want to sit quietly, waiting for me to get my dog to lie down, before they ask me questions or examine me or do whatever it is they need to do.

So for a long time, I didn't take him to most appointments.

Recently, I've began taking him a lot more.  We had a very successful appointment with the rheumatologist, in which Isaac behaved beautifully (even though the rheumatologist was afraid of him).  Then I took him to the dentist with me a couple weeks ago and he did great there.

A few days ago, I took him to the hospital with me to get blood drawn.  We went very early in the morning since I couldn't eat before getting the blood drawn, so Isaac was still sleepy.  Typically, he gets up early, I take him out to pee, I feed him, and then we both go back to bed.  But this day, after he finished eating, we went to the hospital.  He spent most of the time there sleeping.  He slept beside my chair while I was at the registration desk, slept at my feet in the waiting room, and slept on the floor near my chair while the phlebotomist was drawing the blood.  He showed absolutely no interest whatsoever in what was going on.

Then yesterday, I took him with me to see the periodontist.  He was absolutely great there, too.  When they took an x-ray, I had Isaac do a down stay right outside the door.  I couldn't hold the leash from that distance, but I could see him and he could see me and hear me.  At one point the x-ray tech walked past him and he stood up then, but he lay back down when I told him to.  As soon as they were done taking the x-ray, I called him and he came right over to me and handed me his leash when I told him to.

He has been a very good doggie at doctors lately.

Isaac Is Going to Be a Movie Star!

Well, sort of.

I received an email the other day from a woman who is making a documentary for National Geographic called The Genius of  Dogs.  She saw the video on Youtube of Isaac taking clothes out of the dryer for me and wanted to know if she could use it in her documentary.  Of course I said yes.

I have to sign a release and all that legal stuff for it.  The documentary is tentatively scheduled to air next spring.  I'll let you know when I know more.

Of course, there is always the chance they will end up not using the clip of Isaac after all. 

But isn't it exciting?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Coupon Code for My Etsy Store

I decided to offer a coupon code for my blog readers good for 10% off anything you purchase at my Etsy store.  The code is "BLOGREADER" and it applies to any items you purchase.  It does not apply to shipping costs, however, there is a discount on shipping if you buy more than one item.  If you've never bought anything on Etsy before, it's easy and you just enter the coupon code when you check out.  The code will be valid through the end of this year, that is until  December 31, 2014.

Under the Table

Here's Isaac, snoozing away under the table at Pizza Hut.

He is so good at restaurants now.  He usually goes right under the table without me even telling him to.  But if not, he goes right under as soon as I tell him to.  I was rereading some of my blog posts from our early days together last night and remembering how Isaac used to try to sneak out from under the table in restaurants.  He hardly ever does that anymore.  And he used to get up frequently and I'd have to tell him to lie back down and he doesn't do that anymore, either.

Plus he's cute, isn't he?

Two elderly women walked past our table while we were at Pizza Hut and one of them asked me, "Is that a service dog?"  I said yes.  She told me he was a pretty dog.  Which he is.  Isaac slept through the whole discussion.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dog Day at the Nursing Home

Isaac and I visited the nursing home this morning.

As we were walking from the car to the front door, as Isaac stopped to pee on a tree in front of the home, his friend Millie saw him from her window and began rapping on the window and waving excitedly at us.  I waved back and made sure her room was one of our first stops.  Isaac loves Millie and she loves him.  She chatters to me about her dog, which she says is a little dog but she can't remember what kind.  I'm not sure if the dog is still living and maybe staying with a relative now that she's in the nursing home or if this is a dog she used to have that has died at some time in the past.  I'm not sure Millie knows herself.  When she talks, she only kind of makes sense.  I can tell she is talking about her dog, or talking about Isaac, and I get the gist of what she's saying but it's hard to make out a lot of actual facts.  Which is OK.  I just listen and encourage her to talk, and the whole time she is petting Isaac and loving on him. 

At one point she firmly took Isaac's leash from my hand and held it to her chest, as if to indicate she would just keep him there with her.  She startled me a little, she took the leash so quickly and firmly.  I understood what she was trying to say, though, and said something like, "He could just stay here with you, couldn't he?"  After a minute, she handed the leash back to me.

Later, as we were getting ready to leave the nursing home, we passed the dining room and saw Millie seated at her regular table there, waiting for lunch to be served.  I went over to her and said, "Isaac wanted to say goodbye again," which delighted her.  Then she got up, took hold of Isaac's leash, and clearly wanted to go across the room to see someone else.  So I went with her, letting her hold Isaac's leash but holding it myself, too.  She was having trouble telling me what she wanted or who she wanted to see, but I could tell what she wanted.  Millie's husband is also a resident of the nursing home, but he eats lunch at a different table.  I don't know why.  They do share a room.  It turned out to be him that she wanted to take Isaac over to.  She wanted him to see Isaac.  I've never heard him talk but he smiled and patted Isaac on the head.  Millie was clearly happy to have shown Isaac to him.

We visited Isaac's friend Sue, who is always waiting for him when we arrive.  I think I'm going to pick up a bag of dog treats to leave with her to give him when we visit.  Every time we see her, she says something like, "I need to have my son pick up some dog treats for me" or "I meant to get my son to bring me some dog treats."  I don't think her son visits that often, though.  I always have some treats in my pocket and I give her one to give to him when she says that, but I think she'd like to have some to keep there for him.

We visited another women, who I'll call Edith.  We hadn't ever seen her before.  I'm not sure if she is a new resident or why we hadn't seen her before.  I couldn't get her to talk to me but she loved petting Isaac.  She looked very sad, kind of tearful, and was making a kind of babbling noise but didn't say any actual words.  She petted Isaac for a long time, though.  She clearly enjoyed petting him.  I want to make sure we see her again next time we visit.

There is a man that is always in the dining room when we visit.  I forget his name.  He loves Isaac and when he sees him coming into the dining room, he yells, "It's Isaac!  Hey everyone, Isaac is here!"  Today he had a package of Oreos and wanted to give Isaac one.  I let him.  I know, Oreos are not really good for dogs.  Chocolate is not good for dogs.  I figured one Oreo would not really hurt him, though.  And this guy really wanted to give him a cookie.  Isaac, of course, loved it.  After gobbling it up, he licked the crumbs off the floor.

As usual, the staff always enjoyed seeing Isaac.  There was a maintenance guy that stopped us and asked if he could pet Isaac and I said of course.  He then plopped down on the floor and had Isaac in his lap, licking his face and snuggling up to him.

A Bath with No Hot Dogs? No Way!

Yesterday Isaac and I took a long walk at a nearby park.  He got to wade in a very muddy pond a couple of times and he also managed to roll in something quite stinky.  When we got home, I had a very smelly, wet, dirty dog.

I immediately set about preparing for a bath.  I picked up the throw rugs in my bathroom, got out some old towel, got out the expensive new anti-itchy dog shampoo, adjusted the water in the tub.  Then I went into the kitchen to get the hot dogs.

See, I bribe Isaac with hot dogs to get him into the tub.  He weighs 80 pounds.  It's not like I can lift him and make him get in.  He will do anything for a bite of hot dog, though.

Only I discovered the hot dogs in the fridge had apparently been in there too long.  They were growing mold.  Looked like some sort of science experiment.

But Isaac had to have a bath.  Absolutely had to.  And I wasn't going out to buy more hot dogs first.

I had some shredded cheese, which he and Cayenne both love.  So I got that out.  Isaac followed me happily into the bathroom, anticipating some cheese.  I gave him a pinch of it and he ate it readily.  Then I put some in the tub and told him to get in.

He looked at me like I was a complete idiot. 

He stood there like a rock, looking at the cheese in the tub, and not moving. 

I tossed in a little more cheese and nudged him in the butt.  He did not budge.

Apparently, as much as he likes cheese, he does not like it nearly as much as hot dogs.  Apparently, it is absolutely not worth getting into the tub for.

A lengthy discussion ensued.  More cheese was offered.  More nudging commenced.

Eventually I did get him into the tub.  But man.  I gotta make sure I have hot dogs on hand.

I supposed I should also work on getting  him into the tub without hot dog.  But man.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Doggie Beach Video

This is Isaac at the doggie beach.  Not taken today, obviously, he is recovering from being sick.  It was taken a month or more ago.

video
Isaac is the one that runs out into the water, barks, and then swims after the dog with the frisbee.  He only wants the frisbee because that other dog has it.  I later bought him his very own frisbee and he totally ignored it.

Isn't he cute, though?

This was taken at Alum Creek dog beach, our favorite dog park.

Quick Update on Isaac

Isaac seems to be doing much better.  He threw up a total of 18 times, the last about 1:15 am. 

It's now nearly 4:00 pm and we are both taking it easy today.  I just fed him a quarter cup of kibble, which he is keeping down so far.  I think he was really hungry.  He spent most of the day gnawing on various bones, which is something he normally likes, but he rarely spends several hours at it in one stretch.  I think it was because he was hungry. 

He's been out to pee twice today and also pooped once and it was normal.  He's drinking.  He snuggled with me on the couch for a while this morning and he has brought his Kong to me several times.  I don't think he actually wants to play with the Kong, I think he wants me to put a treat in it for him, which I have not done. 

I am tired but much less anxious today.  I'm relieved that he seems to be doing better right now.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

He's Throwing Up Again

You may remember that last Friday, Isaac threw up.  Well, he threw up again today.  It was just after  noon and we'd just headed out for a walk.  It looked like the remains of his breakfast.  It worried me a bit because, although he only threw up once last Friday and has seemed fine since then, it is unusual for him to throw up.  But I hoped it would be a one-time barf, like last week.

But it wasn't.  I took him back inside and called the dog walker to cancel his afternoon run because I figured running wasn't a good idea with an upset stomach.  And then he threw up again.  Just liquid that time.  And again.

After the third time, I called the vet.  I asked if it might be a reaction to the injection he had for allergies yesterday but the vet really didn't think so. 

I am absolutely certain he didn't eat anything harmful so I didn't know what else it might be. 

The vet suggested I take his temperature.  Don't you love it when vets suggest stuff like that?

Did I post about trying to take Cayenne's temperature several months ago?  I'm pretty sure I did.  It did not work.  And after that, I threw out my thermometer because, well, although I never actually got a temp, it did at least sort of go in her butt.  I just couldn't keep it there long enough to get a reading.  It was not a good thermometer for rectal use, anyway.  It had this flexible tip, which is good for taking oral temps, I guess, it's not real hard and won't hurt your teeth if you bite it... but it's not good for sticking in tight places, if you know what I mean.

I know, ick, right?

But I went to Rite Aid to buy a new thermometer.  I am pretty sure they actually make thermometers for pets but Rite Aid does not carry these.  I got a digital one with a tip that is not flexible.  It is supposed to get a reading in 10 seconds.  I doubt I could hold Cayenne still for 10 seconds, but I figured I could probably get Isaac to cooperate for that long. 

I also bought some of those little plastic sleeves you put over the thermometer.  When I tried to take Cayenne's temp, I didn't have any of those.  I ended up cutting a finger off a latex glove and using that as a sleeve for the thermometer.

When I got home, I discovered Isaac had thrown up again. 

I did manage to take his temperature and it was normal.  He didn't seem to mind that much, really.  He didn't look thrilled about it but honestly, he looks much sadder about taking a bath.

The vet thought it would be OK to watch him through the night and call back in the morning if he's still vomiting then.

It's almost 10 pm now and he had thrown up 15 times so far.  I was getting worried about the possibility of dehydration but he has had something to drink a couple times.  And it's stayed down a while, too, but then he's ended up throwing up again.

Twice I've taken him out to potty and the second time, he not only peed but also pooped and that looked normal.  He seemed interested in going out.  He's been mostly lying down but he has followed me into the bathroom and kitchen several times, like he normally does.  Twice he's brought me his Kong, wanting me to put a treat in it, which I did not do, of course.  He certainly isn't acting normal but he is still showing some signs of interest in his usual activities.

I feel so bad for him.  He looks so sad after he throws up and I feel sad.  Several times I've sat on the floor beside him and cried.

And I feel so anxious.  I need him to be OK.  It's not like I think he's not going to be OK, he'll probably be fine... but I need him to be OK.  I need him.

I'm also tired of scrubbing my carpet, but honestly, I am a lot more concerned about Isaac feeling bad than I am about all the cleaning.


A Therapy Dog Story

Isaac and I are continuing to enjoy our visits to the nursing home.  There are now a number of residents that know and remember his name and recognize him when he arrives.  I don't think any of them know my name and in fact, I bet someone else could take Isaac to the nursing home and they probably wouldn't even notice it was someone other than me there with him!  But they know Isaac.  And that's just fine with me.

One of Isaac's special friends there is named Millie (that's what I'm calling her, anyway).  This week, like last week, she was in bed resting when we arrived.  I knocked on the wall next to her open door but she didn't stir.  I was pretty sure she wouldn't want to miss our visit, though, so I went over to her bed and called her name.  She stirred, and then, to my surprise, Isaac jumped up onto her bed.

Last week, I'd asked her if it was OK for him to get on her bed and she'd been delighted and said oh yes.  I think he remembered that and figured he was allowed to get up there this week, too.  I would have preferred he wait to be given permission, and he and I will continue to work on that.  But Millie was thrilled to suddenly discover a doggie in her bed.

Isaac lay down beside her and she hugged him and cuddled him and petted him and talked to him.  She was so happy to have him there.  A couple times a staff person walked by the room in the hallway and Millie called out to them, wanting them to come and see the dog in bed with her.  She was just so excited about it.  And none of the staff seemed to have any problem at all with the dog in bed with her, which was good.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

I took Isaac to the vet today.  Because for the past three weeks, he has been itchy and scratchy.  He does not have fleas.  His diet has not changed.  I'm not using any new or different cleaning products or anything like that. 

I thought maybe his skin was extra dry because he's been getting more baths than usual, since we've been spending a lot of time at various parks where he plays in mud and rolls in stink, he's been swimming a lot, and he has to get a bath before we visit the nursing home (says me, not the nursing home).  I've used baby shampoo on him as long as I've had him, but I thought I'd buy some expensive dog shampoo that might help, so I got some all natural, environmentally-friendly doggie shampoo that has tea tree oil and aloe vera (and, no joke, cost 15 times as much as the cheap baby shampoo I've always used).  It's supposed to be good for itchy dog skin.

I also started giving him coconut oil.  My skin gets dry and itchy in winter and I take flaxseed oil capsules for it and it helps a lot, but someone suggested he might enjoy coconut oil better.  He gets a teaspoon a day.  Cayenne gets some, too, about a quarter of a teaspoon.  They both love it.  They think it's a yummy treat.  They argue about who gets theirs first.  It hasn't seemed to decrease the itchiness, though, not yet.

Until two days ago, I noticed no rash or other abnormality on his skin.  And I've checked.  Daily.  Monday I noticed a red area in the crease of one back leg.  I think it's from excessive licking, due to the itchiness.  The red area isn't infected and the skin isn't broken or anything like that yet, but I wanted to prevent the problem from worsening.

So today we went to the vet.  The vet said it's probably seasonal allergies.  He said we could do allergy testing to find out for sure, but that costs about $500, and he doesn't think the information would be particularly useful anyway.  He gave Isaac an injection of something for allergy symptoms and told me to keep track of what seems to make symptoms worse (which I've tried to do but haven't really noticed anything so far).

He asked what shampoo I use on Isaac and I told him I just bought some that has tea tree oil and aloe and he said, "Oh!  Tea tree oil!  That's good."  He is pretty into natural stuff.  I told him about the coconut oil, too, and he was also enthusiastic about that.  The vet tech was looking at us like we were nuts.

He told me to bathe Isaac after he's been playing in weeds or rolling in weeds and stuff like that.  He said if he's not dirty or stinky, don't worry about shampoo, but just rinse the pollen and allergens off.  And to call him in a month or so when the effects of the allergy injection wear off if he's having symptoms then.

Isaac had a nice time.  He likes going to the vet.  So unlike Cayenne.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Doggie at the Dentist

The other day I had to go to the dentist.  I've been having dental issues, which are currently still unresolved.  I need to go see a periodontist, which I don't think my Medicaid will cover, which means I'll have to pay out of pocket, and I'm betting it will be expensive, so I don't want to go.  Well, that's not the only reason I don't want to go, but it is a big reason.  But I think I am going to have to because my mouth hurts and it's hard to eat.

Anyway.  I usually don't take Isaac to the dentist with me.  Actually, I never have before.  I think I would have a hard time maintaining control of him while the dentist is messing around in my mouth, because I wouldn't be able to issue verbal commands, and I'm not sure he'd really be able to see my hands well when I'm lying back in the dental chair in order to give hand signals instead of verbal commands (I don't have hand signals for all his commands, but I do for the most common ones, like sit and lie down).  I wasn't even sure where I'd put him, because usually the dentist sits on one side of the chair and the assistant sits on the other, so where would I put Isaac that he wouldn't be in the way but I could still hold his leash and he could see my hands for hand signals?  So I never took him in the past.

But I knew this was going to be a very quick visit.  The dentist was just going to look in my mouth, tell me my gum still looked inflamed, and tell me I was going to need to see a periodontist.  I knew that was what was going to happen, and that is in fact exactly what happened.  I was feeling pretty anxious, though, and wanted to have Isaac with me.  And I thought it would work out OK since it would be such a quick visit.

And Isaac did fantastic.  I was so proud of him.

I should also say that my dentist and his staff did fantastic, too.  The receptionist didn't say anything about Isaac when she say him.  The dental assistant that led me from the waiting room to the exam room didn't say anything about him, either.  When the dentist walked in, he said, "I see you brought a body guard."  That, by the way, is the same thing he said when I brought a friend with me when I had all the work done for my bridge.  The exact same thing.  Other than that, he ignored Isaac.

I think all that ignoring by the dentist and staff made it easier for Isaac to do a good job.  He sprawled out in the waiting room and snoozed (and drooled) while waiting for us to be called back.  He lay down where I told him in the exam room.  The dental assistant was opening some packages of tools and he raised his head up and looked like he was thinking of getting up, but put his head back down when I told him to.  When the dentist came in, he did the same thing, raised his head and looked like he was thinking about getting up.  But again, he put his head back down when I told him to.  Other than that, he just lay there with his head on his paws, quiet and still.

I know there were tons of interesting new smells in that place and I was very proud of him for not trying to sniff everything.  As a reward, I let him spend a long time sniffing the parking lot when we left.  He found it pretty interesting, too.  He's weird that way.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What Would Jesus Do?

If Jesus came back today
as a carpenter, would he be poor?
Would he be forced to apply for food stamps?
Would he suffer the indignities at the welfare office
with grace and compassion?  Would he ever be tempted
to go back there with a gun and blow the place away?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

More on It's Not Just Holding a Leash

Yesterday I wrote about how having a service dog is not just about holding the leash.  Today I met a couple friends at Panera for lunch and I counted the number of commands I issued.  Lunch lasted less than one hour and from the time we got into the car at our house until the time we got into the car after lunch, I issued 14 commands to Isaac.  So much for the idea of just holding the leash and issuing a couple of commands in an entire day.

I paid attention to what else I had to do in order to care for and properly handle my service dog while in the restaurant, as well.  I realized that I had to pay close attention to where Isaac was at all times.  For instance, when I told him to go under the table and lie down, he did, and he did it the first time I told him.  But I had to look under the table to make sure he was in a good spot, that he wasn't hogging the foot room so that my friends had room to put their feet down. 

Later on I could tell he was wiggling under there and I had to look again to see what he was doing.  Turned out he wanted to smell my friend's shoe, which is fine, but I had to make sure he wasn't trying to lick something, to eat something he found under there, to put his head in my friend's lap, to get my friend to pet him, etc.

And before we even got to the table, while we were waiting in line to order our food, Isaac lay down on the floor to wait.  I had to check to make sure he was in a good spot, not taking up too much room, not in the way.

And when I went to get my iced tea, I had to pay attention to what Isaac was doing while I was filling my glass.

There was a lot more to it than just holding the leash.

Oh, and when we were leaving, a little kid about six or seven asked if he could pet my dog.  I had to decided whether or not to let him, give him my answer, and handle that situation.

A lot more than just holding the leash.

Friday, July 11, 2014

When the Service Dog is Sick

This afternoon, Isaac threw up.

He never throws up.  Well, he eats grass a lot in the summer and sometimes throws a little of that back up.  But he usually throws it up right after he eats it.  I've never had to clean up dog vomit in my house.  Cat vomit, oh yes, that's a regular thing.  But not dog vomit.

This was not grass, though.  I don't know what it was.  It was a huge puddle of something.  It had been a long time since he'd eaten anything, at least, anything that I was aware of.  Maybe he found and ate something that I didn't know about.  I can't imagine what, though.  My house is pretty well Isaac-proofed. 

It's possible that Cayenne pooped and he ate that before I saw the poop, but well, he has eat cat poop plenty of times.  It's something I try hard to prevent but... well, he's eaten it many times and it has never made him throw up before.

Now that I think about it, it's kind of surprising that he never throws up, because he does eat cat poop, he eats old food he finds lying on the side of the road (if I don't stop him first, which I try to do), he eats bugs, he guzzles lake water, I'm pretty sure I've seen him eat dirt, he's been known to lick the floor (who knows what exactly he was licking off of it), and he rolls in dead things when he gets the chance.  Just thinking about it makes me want to throw up.  Apparently he has a pretty strong stomach.

But he threw up this afternoon.  It was kind of sad, because afterward, he came creeping over to me, like he wanted me to fix it.  It was like the way he crept over to me for help when Mike's cat swatted him on the nose.

So I invited him up onto the couch with me, much to Cayenne's dismay, and he lay on my lap and I rubbed his belly for a while.

Then it was time to feed Cayenne dinner and Isaac was disappointed to learn his dinner would be delayed.  Because after I clean up a giant puddle of puke, I do not serve the puker a meal for a while.

Later, I did give him a quarter cup of kibble, which is much less than his usual meal, to see if that would stay down.  It did.  An hour after that, I gave him another half cup.  I gave it to him in his slow feeder bowl, so he wouldn't gulp it down, and that stayed down, too.

He seems like he isn't feeling too well, though.  He went to bed right after he ate his first quarter cup of food, and he usually does not go to bed right after dinner.  He got up to eat the half cup of food I gave him an hour later, and he asked to go out then, and I took him out and he peed, and then he went back to bed. 

I just took him out for our last pee of the night, and he seemed happy to go out and happy to be petted, but he did not jump right out of bed like he usually does.  He was a bit slower than usual.  His tail was wagging and he seemed affectionate, like usual.  As soon as we got back in the house, he looked at me like he was wondering if I needed anything, then looked at the bedroom, then looked back at me.  I told him it was night time and he could go to bed.  So he did.  I went in and petted him for a minute and he rolled over so I could rub his belly.

So he's not acting terribly sick but he's not quite himself, either.

And I realize that I have very different feelings about Isaac being sick than I do when Cayenne is sick.

I worry about Cayenne a lot.  I worry that I'll wake up one morning and find her dead.  I worry that she's going to need to go to the vet and it will cost a fortune and I won't know how to pay for it.  I worry about whether I'm making the right decisions for her, like if surgery was the right thing to do.  I worry about whether I'll know when it's time to euthanize her.  I worry about whether she's in too much pain or if she has a good enough quality of life.

But with Isaac, I worry that he feels bad and I can't make him feel better.  I worry that I won't know if he's really sick and needs to go to the vet or not.  The cost of the vet bills was one of the last things to cross my mind tonight, though.  I worry about how I'll do things if he is unable to work and I worry about how I'll know when he's feeling better and is ready to get back to his usual activities.

I had planned to take him swimming this weekend but now I'm thinking that guzzling a bunch of lake water and racing around at top speed in the heat is probably not the best thing to do when you have an upset stomach.  So we definitely won't be doing that tomorrow.  I'll see about Sunday.

Maybe I'm just used to Cayenne being ill.  I feel bad for her, but most of the time I don't feel guilty that I can't make her feel better.   Tonight I felt really bad that I couldn't make Isaac's tummy feel better.

You Just Have to Hold the Leash, Right?

There is a family in Arkansas that is fighting with their son's school district because they want the child's service dog to go to school with him but the school says the family must provide a handler for the dog because the child can't handle the dog himself and the family thinks the school should provide a handler.  Here's one of many articles on the matter.

In this article, the child's mother is quoted as saying all the handling required is someone to hold the leash and issue one-word commands.  Well, unless this child's service dog is somehow much more low-maintenance than a typical service dog, I just don't see how that can be true.

Yes, when I take Isaac somewhere, I have to hold the leash.  I also have to issue commands.  Some are two or three words, but may this dog is trained to all one word commands. 

But I also have to take Isaac outside to go potty.  If he poops, I have to pick it up.  Does this kid's mother really think the dog can be at school all day and not pee or poop? 

I have to offer him water if we are going to be somewhere for several hours.  Does this kid's mom really expect the dog to go without water for seven or eight hours?  I don't know how long their school day is, but with the ride to and from school, it's probably eight hours, don't you think?  Maybe that is mom's plan, and maybe she figures if she doesn't give the poor dog anything to drink, then it won't have to pee.

If that's the case, then I feel really, really sorry for the dog.  No dog should be expected to work for eight hours with no water and no chance to pee.

What if the dog gets sick and throws up?  Does the mom think that the dog vomit should just be left on the floor in the classroom?  Someone would need to be responsible for cleaning that up.

And as far as issuing commands, well, even if they are one word commands, it seems to me you'd need to issue a lot of commands in the course of a school day.  Let's think about it. 

You'd get on the bus and need to tell the dog to go under the seat and lie down.  And let's say the dog is super well behaved and you never need to tell it more than once and it never starts to get up before the bus arrives at school.  I don't think that's very realistic, I think something you would need to remind it to stay down, but let's just pretend it's a perfect service dog.

You get to school and tell the dog to get up and follow you off the bus.  You either have to tell the dog to go in front of you or behind you, because the aisle on a bus isn't really wide enough for a dog to heel.  So that's two more commands. 

When you get off the bus, you tell the dog to heel and you go to your classroom.  That's four commands so far, at least.

Then you go to your desk and tell the dog to go under the desk and lie down.  That's five commands.  Again, we'll pretend this service dog is perfect and never ever gets up until given the command to do so.

The child in question is in elementary school so he probably doesn't change classes a lot.  Let's say he has two recess times a day, plus lunch, plus one "special," like art or music or gym or library.

So to go to your first recess, you'd command the dog to get up, then tell the dog to heel while you went to the playground.  That's two more commands.  We're up to seven so far.  You might need to give more commands while you're on the playground, depending on what you do. 

Hey, maybe you could let the dog pee while you're at recess.  So you'd give it the command to go potty.  That's eight.

Then when recess is over, you'd give the dog the command to heel and you'd go back to the classroom and give the command to go under the desk and lie down.  That's 10.

Then let's say it's time for art or music or whatever.  You tell the dog to get up, tell the dog to heel, go to the art room or music room, and tell the dog to lie down.  That's 13.  And when that class is over, you tell the dog to get up, tell the dog to heel, go back to your classroom and tell the dog to go under the desk and lie down. 16.

Then it's lunch time.  You tell the dog to get up, tell the dog to heel, go to the cafeteria and get in line.  When I'm standing in a food line with Isaac, like at Subway or Chipotle, I have to tell him where to stand.  Otherwise, he will flop down on the floor in people's way.  So that be three more commands.  And then you'd tell the dog to heel while you go to your table and then tell the dog to go under the table and lie down.  That's two more.  We're up to 21 now.

After lunch, you tell the dog to get up, tell the dog to heel, go to your classroom, tell the dog to go under the desk and lie down.  That's 24, so far.

Then it's afternoon recess time, so you tell the dog to get up, tell the dog to heel, go out to the playground, tell the dog to pee (because I'm nicer than the kid's mom that seems to think the dog should not be allowed to pee all day), and when recess is over, tell the dog to heel, go back to the classroom, and tell the dog to go under the desk and lie down.  Now we're up to 29.  At least.

And then school is over, so you tell the dog to get up, tell the dog to heel, get on the bus, tell the dog to go under the seat and lie down, tell the dog to get up when the bus gets to your house and tell the dog to follow you off the bus.  That's at least 34 commands during the school day, if the dog behaves perfectly all day long.

My dog does not behave perfectly all day long, so somewhere in there I would have to tell him to lie down again or tell him to "leave it" when he tried to sniff some other kid's lunch or feet or whatever.

Also, somewhere in there I would have to pee myself, so I'd have to issue more commands to tell my dog to get up, to heel while I headed to the bathroom, tell my dog what to do while I was peeing (sit? stand? lie down?  oh, and leave it, when he tried to peek under the stall to see who was in the next stall), tell him to heel on the way back to the classroom, and tell him to lie down again when we got back to class.  So that would be six more commands for me, for a total of at least 40.

It's not just holding the leash. 

Plus, someone has to tell other kids and adults not to pet the dog, not to distract the dog, all that stuff.  Is this second grader able to be responsible for that?  Or does the handler have to do that, too?

Really, it's a lot more than just holding the leash.  It's kind of scary that the kid has a service dog and his mom thinks it's just holding the leash.


My Etsy Store

My latest venture to help raise money to cover the costs of my service dog is making items to sell on Etsy.  I don't have many items listed yet, but wanted to go ahead and post a link to my Etsy store.  Thanks for checking it out!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Working Around His Friends

Today at my apartment building, we had a community meeting.  A number of tenants had been arguing about various things, they had been a lot of rumors going around, a lot of complaints, etc., and I had suggested a meeting to the property manager and to my surprise, he took my suggestion.  I considered leaving Isaac in my apartment instead of taking him to the meeting, because I thought he would have a hard time behaving well with a lot of our neighbors there.  Isaac is not used to being in work mode around our neighbors, most of whom he considers good friends.  A few weeks ago, we had a rummage sale, and at that time I learned that many of my neighbors were not good at remembering not to pet Isaac when he is wearing his service dog vest, either.  Of course, they don't see him in his vest very often.  So I figured it would be difficult for both Isaac and our neighbors to behave during this meeting.

But I decided to take him anyway.  I thought it would be a good training opportunity and I could always just take him back upstairs if he wasn't behaving.

Well, he did fantastic!  So did most of our  neighbors.  Of course, a couple of them had gotten a talking to after the rummage sale.  Isaac did stand up and whimper a bit when a couple of his favorite people came in, but when I told him to lie down, he did.  At the end of the meeting, I took off his vest and let him socialize with everyone, which he really enjoyed.

It was particularly challenging for Isaac, I think, because some people came in to the meeting after it had already started, and so there was no time to let him say hello.  Normally what I do if he is going to have to be working around someone he likes a lot, like if Mike and I go out to lunch or something, is I give Isaac a chance to say hello outside before we enter the restaurant.  Then he is able to ignore Mike and do his job when we're inside.  But in this instance, people were coming in after the meeting had already started so I couldn't do that in this case.

I love it when he does such a great job.

Lap, Paws Up and Jump

Isaac and I have been working on and practicing three commands, which I mostly want him to know for when we visit residents at the nursing home.  I mean, they are good commands for him to know other places, too.  But I think they are particularly useful for when he's being a therapy dog.

"Lap" means he puts his head in someone's lap.  Like, he is standing in front of or beside them, and puts his had in their lap, which makes it very easy to pet him.  He is good at doing lap with me but not so good at doing it with other people, because we just haven't had the opportunity to practice much with other people.  I need to recruit some of my neighbors to let Isaac practice on them.

To teach him "lap," I simply held a treat in such a position that he had to put his head in my lap in order to get the treat, and when he did, said "lap" and gave him the treat and told him "good boy!"  Initially he only put his head in my lap long enough to get the treat, of course.  After he did it instantly and reliably when I had a treat in position, I started giving him the command without holding a treat in my lap.  He would do it, but only for an instance.  I gave him a treat and told him "good boy!"  And then, after a while, I started requiring him to keep his head there a few seconds longer in order to get the treat.

I actually taught Isaac "paws up" a while ago and he will do paws up in my lap, on the side of a chair or bed, even on the bumper of my car.  Basically wherever I point.  I taught him paws up mainly so I could give him a command to do that when people want him to and so he would quit doing it when people don't want him to.  And I taught him "off" at the same time.

However, a few weeks ago at the nursing home, when I told Isaac to do "paws up" on a woman's bed, he jumped up into bed with her instead.  I definitely don't want him doing that.  I mean, it's fine with me if he gets in bed with a resident if they say it's OK, but I don't want him doing it when I just told him to do "paws up" and I haven't asked the resident if he can get on the bed with them.  So I decided I needed a command that meant for him to get up on the bed and I decided it should not be "up" or "get up" or anything that might sound too much like "paws up" because I want him to be clear about the difference between the two.  So I settled on jump.

We have been practicing doing "paws up" and "jump" so Isaac gets to pay attention to exactly what he's being told to do.  We've been practicing it on my bed and also on the couch.  He thinks it's fun.

By the way, I wasn't sure how the nursing home staff would feel about Isaac getting on residents' beds and it would be fine with me if they preferred he didn't.  He hasn't been in many people's beds there but so far the staff doesn't seem to mind at all. 

I read somewhere online that some nursing homes have policies where they don't want therapy dogs to lick residents, either, or at least not to lick them in the face.  That would be OK with me, too, but staff at this nursing home don't seem to mind that, either.  Now, I try not to let Isaac lick anyone in the face unless they are open to being kissed by a dog.  He generally doesn't kiss people anymore, at least not in the face, unless they get in his face and make kissy noises or in some way seem to be inviting him to kiss them.  If someone does that, I let them know, "He might kiss you."  If they say they don't want doggie kisses, I make sure to keep him away from their face.  But usually, when they are doing that, they are delighted to get kissed.

My personal opinion is that a little doggie slobber will not hurt most people.  Neither will a little dog hair in their beds.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Well, Hello, Doggie!

Last week, Isaac and I were shopping at Kroger.  Not the little Kroger in the little town where we live, but a larger Kroger in a larger nearby town.  I was searching for chia seeds, among other things, which the little Kroger near me does not carry.

I had just selected a nice bone for Isaac in the pet supply aisle and we were heading up the aisle when we saw someone with a service dog walking past the end of our aisle.

Isaac immediately froze.  His body got stiff and his neck was sticking out, like he was trying to get as good a look as possible at the other dog.

Living in a rural area, Isaac and I do not come across other service dog teams very often.  In fact, it's only happened twice in the year and a half since I got Isaac.

The first time was at the library.  We got to the top of the stairs and were both surprised to see another dog there.  Isaac immediately began to bark, in a fierce "I'm going to eat you up" way.  I was startled and embarrassed by  his response.  The other dog just looked at him like, "What is wrong with you, you fool?"  I immediately turned and took Isaac back downstairs and out of the library.  I was really upset, embarrassed and felt like a service dog owner failure.

The second time was at the thrift store.  We rounded a rack of clothes and found ourselves face to face with another service dog team.  Isaac let out a single, loud, surprised bark.  I immediately turned in the opposite direction and we went directly to the front of the store, paid for our stuff and left.  The single bark was much, much better than the display of ferociousness at the library, but it still wasn't good.

That was probably a full year ago.  Maybe longer.

When we spotted the other service dog team in the grocery store last week, I quickly responded by turning back down the pet aisle, walking away from where we'd seen the other dog heading.  I quickly grabbed a small package of bacon-flavored dog treats because I didn't have any treats in my pocket at the time and I thought I'd need some to reward Isaac for ignoring the other dog and paying attention to me.

Isaac was still very interested in the other dog and practically walked backward down the aisle with me, trying to look behind him at the spot where he'd last seen the dog.  When he realized I was opening a package of treats and putting some in my pocket, he gave me some of his attention but needed a fair amount of redirection.  He does love treats, but he really wanted to know where that other dog was and what she was doing.

I tried to make sure we didn't get too close to the other service dog team and I succeeded in that regard.  We did see them one more time as we were heading down the health food aisle.  They appeared to be heading toward the front of the store, where the registers are.  Again, Isaac was very interested in them but he didn't bark or even whine.  He did get a lot of treats.

I was really, really happy he handled it OK.

When we were paying for our stuff, the cashier commented that we were the second service dog team to go through her line that day.  She told me the other service dog handler has been shopping there with his dog for about seven years.  She told me he gets mad if people pet his dog and she didn't seem to know why, so I explained why you aren't supposed to pet service dogs.  Then I gave her permission to say hello to Isaac, which both she and Isaac enjoyed.

Updates on Assorted Stuff

I just realized I haven't written much lately.  I guess I've been busy.

I had to go to the dentist yesterday.  I have some weird infection or something in my gum, where my bridge is.  It's sore, it's been sore for a while, the dentist isn't sure what it is or what's causing it or what to do about it.  I have this gross antibiotic rinse I have to use twice a day for a week.  Then I go back to the dentist and if it's not better, I have to go see a periodontist, which will not be covered by Medicaid and will likely cost a fortune.

Oh.  And there is a slight possibility that the problem is caused by a fractured root of the tooth one of the crowns for my bridge is on, although no fracture shows up on the x-ray.  Apparently if it is a small vertical fracture, it may not be visible on x-ray until the pieces start to separate.  That would be very, very bad news, because the only way to fix it would be to remove the tooth and make a new bridge.  Um, I haven't finished paying for the first bridge yet.  If that happens, I may have to end up toothless for a good while.

Then there is my income situation.  I am waiting for my landlord to do the paperwork that will allow my rent to be reduced based on the decrease in my income.  But he is not in a big rush to do that, I guess, and my income is reduced now but my rent won't go down until next month.  Maybe.  If I'm lucky.  It could end up taking longer than that.

Cayenne is hanging in there.  She sleeps a lot and has lost some weight, I think, but she seems fairly comfortable.

Isaac is his usual happy, energetic self.

And that's about it, I think.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Day at the Lake

Isaac and I agree that Lake Erie is one of our favorite places now.  Well, East Harbor State Park on Lake Erie, to be exact.

We spent the day there today with a friend.

Here is Isaac, heading back to shore after a swim.

As soon as he got out of the water, he rolled in dirt.  Then he had to go back in for another swim.  After which he rolled in more dirt.  See a pattern here?

Earlier in the day, he got to play on the beach with a few other doggies but I didn't get a chance to take a picture because I was busy with stuff like rescuing a little girl's inflatable toy before Isaac got a chance to bite a hole in it.

In this picture, it might look like Isaac is about to dive into the water but really he is just trying to munch on the grass growing on the ledge there.

We had a picnic lunch and after we'd eaten, my friend ask if he could give Isaac some of his leftover chicken.  Isaac was quite pleased.  He ate it all in about 30 seconds.  He said it was a great day.

And here he is sound asleep in the car on the way home.




Friday, July 4, 2014

There's No Place Like Home

Last night was the night of the fireworks at the county fairgrounds near my home.  My apartment building is on a slight hill and there is a great view of the fireworks from the front lawn, or so I'm told.  Last year, Isaac and I stayed in the house.  He was a bit nervous during the fireworks but not too bad.  I thought this year, we'd try going outside with all our neighbors to watch.  I expected him to be a bit uncomfortable but I thought it would be manageable.

I was wrong.  Isaac had a great time waiting for the fireworks to begin because all his friends and a bunch of people he didn't know but quickly made friends with were hanging out outside.  He got plenty of pets and kisses and had a wonderful time.

Then the fireworks started.  Isaac tried to bolt.  It was all I could do to hang on to the leash.  He practically dragged me to the front door.  Once we got inside the lobby of our building, he managed to pull the leash out of my hand.  He ran to the elevator and waiting impatiently for me to get there, to push the button and for the door to open.  On the ride upstairs, he huddled against my leg, shaking.  I felt terrible that he was so scared.  Once we got upstairs, he pulled me down the hallway to our door and waited impatiently for me to unlock it.

Once we got inside, he seemed a bit better.  He lay down in a corner of the living room and I sat beside him for a minute, petting him and telling him it was OK.  I didn't want to end up reinforcing the idea that the fireworks were actually dangerous, though, so after a minute I moved to the couch and got on my laptop.

He looked tense until the fireworks ended, then seemed all right.  Cayenne, on the other hand, was already hiding under the bed when Isaac and I got back to the apartment (as I knew she would be) and she did not come out for more than an hour after they ended.  Apparently she got hungry and decided to chance it.

I felt bad that Isaac was so scared and I certainly won't take him out again to see fireworks.

However, I found it interesting, and kind of sweet, that he apparently felt his home was the safest place he could be.  He didn't just want to get in the building to hide somewhere.  He wanted to be in his house.  And while he was still nervous, he felt a lot better once he got inside the house.  I'm glad Isaac feels safe here.  I'm glad he thinks home is a place he can go to be safe.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Therapy Dog Day

Isaac and I usually visit the nursing home on Mondays but this week I had a sore throat and a cough, so I postponed our visit until I could see my doctor and make sure I wasn't contagious.  So we visited today instead.

One of the women we always visit, I will call Sue.  Three different staff people told me, before we got to Sue's room, to make sure we stopped in and saw her, that she was really looking forward to seeing Isaac.  She adores Isaac and he adores her.  She is the one that told him, on our first visit, that she would give him her fried chicken at lunch if he would stay all day with her. 

Sue talks to Isaac a lot.  She talks to me a little, but talks to him a lot.  Today she told him she was sorry she didn't have a treat for him.  I pulled one out of my pocket and handed it to her, which delighted her.  She offered it to Isaac, who of course gobbled it up with much happy slobbering.

I am delighted to find that several of the nursing home residents now know Isaac's name, including a couple that I would have guessed weren't really aware enough to remember that a dog came to see them from week to week, let alone to remember his name.

Remember the woman that, on our very first visit, was hesitant to pet Isaac but then seemed to really enjoy petting him and announced, repeatedly, that he was furry?  Well, today she noticed us approaching and reached out towards him to indicate that she was eager to pet him.  She didn't talk to us today, but she clearly was aware of his presence and happy to pet and interact with him.

We visited one woman today that seemed pretty confused, but she was able to have a conversation about Isaac's ears.  I think Isaac has the softest ears ever, and when I noticed her touching them gently, I told her that.  She agreed, repeating, "The softest ears ever."  Then she said, "Like velvet."  She lives in the Alzheimer's unit and I was surprised she was able to make that observation.

Another woman we usually visit, I will call Millie.  Millie was sleeping last week when we visited so she didn't get to see Isaac then, but the week before, she was absolutely thrilled to see him.  She was thrilled today, too.  She seemed a bit more confused than usual today, but still recognized Isaac and was thrilled that he was there. 

She was sitting on her bed and I asked her if it was OK if Isaac got up on the bed with her and she said, "Oh yes!"  So Isaac jumped up there and lay down beside her and she hugged him and cuddled him and petted him.  She wanted to talk to me about Isaac but she was hard to understand today because she just seemed pretty confused.  But it was clear she was saying positive things about Isaac and he seemed to understand her just fine.

A couple of visitors asked if they could pet Isaac and I said, "Of course, that's why he's here!  He comes to get petted by everyone."  Visitors always seem happy to see Isaac, too.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Where Can You Take Your Service Dog in Training?

Service dogs are dogs that have been specially trained to perform tasks that mitigate their owners’ disabilities. While many people with disabilities get service dogs from organizations that train them, others choose to train their own service dogs. It’s perfectly legal to train your own service dog, although you may not succeed at doing so unless you have a lot of experience training dogs.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is a federal law, people with disabilities are allowed to take their service dogs most places they go, even if pets are not normally allowed, including stores, shopping malls, restaurants, doctors’ offices and hospitals. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to service dogs in training, though, only to fully trained service dogs.

So where can you take your service dog in training? It depends on the laws in your state. Some states, about half of them, allow people that are training service dogs to take service dogs in training to all the places fully trained service dogs are allowed to go under the American with Disabilities Act. In about half of those states, only professional dog trainers or those associated with recognized service dog training programs are allowed to take service dogs in training into public places. That means if you live in one of those states, if you are training your own service dog and you are not a professional dog trainer, you can only take your service dog in training to places that allow pets unless you speak with the owner or manager and get permission to bring your dog there.

Note that some states have laws pertaining to service dogs in training that only apply to certain types of service dogs. For instance, I live in the state of Ohio and state laws here do not recognize psychiatric service dogs, those trained to assist people with psychiatric conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. That means in Ohio, professional dog trainers that are training service dogs for blind people, deaf people or people with physical disabilities can take service dogs in training into public places but not professional dog trainers that are training service dogs for people with psychiatric disabilities.

Check the laws in your state before taking your service dog in training into public places that don’t normally allow pets. The website of the Animal Legal and Historical Center is a good place to start but if you’re not sure you have all the information you need, you can consult an attorney in your state for the most up-to-date info available.