Friday, October 31, 2014

In Another Time

I'm watching this show that is set back in the early 60's and it's depicting these horrible images of ECT and transorbital lobotomies and I am thinking how lucky I am, if I must have a mental illness, to live today, not 60 years ago. ECT is still used today, but it's done in a much more humane way.  I've had ECT.  Not sure I'd recommend it, I wouldn't do it again myself, but it's not like you see in the movies. And transorbital lobotomies, fortunately, have not been done in a very long time. It's scary to think of where I might be and what might have happened if I'd simply had the misfortune to be me in another time.

Happy Samhain!

Samhain, if you don't know, is a pagan holiday that falls on October 31.  It's pronounced "sow-en," not "sam-hane."  It's a time to celebrate our ancestors, sort of the like Day of the Dead celebrated in Mexico.  It's a time when the veil between the living and the dead, between this world and the Otherworld, is said to thin.  It's a time to converse with the dead.  It's also a time to celebrate the darkness, which isn't evil but is primal, fertile, like the womb.

I am doing some housecleaning this morning, then I am going to bake pumpkin cranberry bread, roast pumpkin seeds and make Isaac some pumpkin peanut butter treats.  Later, I will talk to the dead, to my grandparents, to Mike's dad, to a friend of mine that died nearly 20 years ago.  I will put Cayenne's ashes in the little cloth bag I sewed for her and put that into the urn with the ashes of her kitty friend Eileen that died eight years ago.  I will talk to Cayenne and Eileen.  After that, I will deliver some pumpkin peanut butter treats to two of my neighbors that have dogs (Isaac is going to have to share) and leave an offering of pumpkin cranberry bread outside under a pine tree.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Samhain!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sometimes It's Hard to Wait

When I take Isaac to the park to run, I've been doing something new with him just recently.  He has to sit while I take off his leash and wait for the OK from me to take off running.  This is completely doable for him.  He has to wait like that for permission to start eating when I feed him.  But this is new for him and while he is happy to sit when told, it's hard to wait when he really really really wants to run.

A couple days ago was the first time I did this with him at the park and it was so funny.  I have a hand signal I use with Isaac that means stay.  I hold my hand up, palm out, like I am saying "stop."  So I had my hand about three inches in front of his nose and told him "stay" and took off his leash.

Well, he started to take off running.  And plowed right into my hand.  And came to a stop because how could he keep running with my hand smashed against his nose?  And he looked up at me like, "What the _______?"  He just seemed surprised and confused that my hand was in his way.

It was hilarious.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

At Least There is a Little Good News

The dentist said my bridge absolutely should not have cracked and that the company that makes it should pay for a replacement. 

He just kept looking at my mouth and shaking his head.  It's never good when a medical professional does that.

He thinks the root of the loose tooth, the one with the crown, is probably fractured.  It is going to have to be pulled.  Which is bad news. 

But he thinks the company that made the bridge should pay for all related costs of repairing my mouth, so they should pay to pull that tooth and to make a bigger bridge, not just to make a duplicate of the one that has cracked.  He said he needs to call the company and talk to a supervisor and they are on the west coast so he couldn't do that while I was at his office, but he said his office would be calling me in a day or two to schedule stuff once he gets the OK from the bridge company.

I feel very relieved that I am not going to have to pay for all of this.  That at least makes it easier to deal with.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More Dental Problems

And I am having more dental problems.  Or continuing dental problems, I guess.

My gum never returned to normal, although it finally did get kind of close to normal.  It took forever to heal from the biopsy and remains slightly sore and swollen to this day.  I think that biopsy was, what, three months ago?

Well, there were two teeth, one with a crown on it that is attached to my bridge, and the one next to it, that were somewhat loose.  And the one without a crown is now barely loose.  It seems to have improved.  But the one with a crown? 

Well, early this morning, my bridge cracked.  I think it cracked because the tooth attached to it has been wiggly for so many months.  I think that created stress on the bridge and it finally cracked.

And now the tooth with a crown on it is super, super loose.  Like it feels like it could just fall out.  Not just the crown falling off, but the whole tooth falling out.

So I have to go to the dentist tomorrow.  I am not looking forward to it.  I'm afraid I'm going to be told I need a new bridge, which of course I cannot afford.  I'm afraid they are still not going to be able to figure out what's causing the problem with my gum.  I've pretty much given up on getting an answer to that.  But that means they don't know how to treat it, either.  I'm afraid they're going to do something that hurts.  It hurts now.  I'm afraid they're going to tell me the tooth needs to be pulled and I'm afraid that will be expensive and that I won't be able to get anyone to go with me so I won't be able to be sedated for it even though the oral surgeon recommended I be sedated and I'm afraid it will hurt.  I'm afraid I won't be able to get pain medication if I need it.

I'm trying not to be afraid tonight.  I don't need to worry about it tonight.  There's nothing I can do about it tonight and I don't need to worry about it until tomorrow.  But I'm anxious.  And I am so tired of dental problems.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Getting Ready for a Bath

Isaac got wet and smelly swimming in the pond at the park this evening, so he needed a bath.  When I give Isaac a bath, I pick up the bathroom rugs so he doesn't get them all wet.  Well, actually Isaac picks them up for me. 

Here he is picking them up and giving them to me.  As much as he hates baths, he is perfectly happy to pick up the rugs in preparation of getting a bath.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Is it Cheaper to Train Your Own Service Dog?

I've heard from a lot of people lately that are training (or trying to train) their own service dogs.  Now, I suppose owner training, if you know how to do it.  I seriously considered owner training myself, which you know if you read this blog in its early does.  I am so glad I didn't try it, though, because I'm pretty sure I would not have done it well.  I don't know nearly enough about training a working dog. 

I think most people don't.  It's something that takes a lot of skill.  I hear people say things like "it just takes time and patience" and that's just not true.  It does take time and patience.  But it also takes knowledge and skill.

And then I hear people asking things like, "How do I teach my dog to retrieve things?  How do I teach my dog to lie down under a table at a restaurant?"  Well, if you have no idea how to teach those things, which are pretty basic things, then you probably do not have the knowledge or skills to train a service dog.

But is it cheaper?  Many people say, "I'd get a dog from a program but I can't afford it."  But let's look at the actual costs.

Dog - if you get a dog from a breeder (which increases your chance of success), that might cost you about $1000.  If you get a dog from a rescue, it would be cheaper.  Let's say $200.  But that increases your chances of the dog washing out.

Behavioral evaluation - unless you're an animal behaviorist, you should have a dog evaluated to see if he has the right temperament to be a service dog.  Let's say that might cost $200.

Vet exam - you should also get a comprehensive vet exam, including x-rays (to be read by an orthopedic vet) to make sure a dog is physically fit to be a service dog.  Let's say that might cost $400.  Now, if the first dog the vet examines doesn't make the grade, you'd need to have another dog examined.  So you might pay $400 a few times, but let's say you get really lucky and the first dog passes.

So you'll have spent somewhere between $800 and $1,600 before you even get the dog home.  Well, some programs only charge $1,000 for a fully trained dog!

Now, it takes about 18 months to train a service dog.  If you train your own, you'll have to pay for food, vet bills, everything for those 18 months.  If you only spend $100 a month, that would be $1,800.  If you get a dog from a program, of course, that's all covered by the program.

So now you've spent at least $2,600 or as much as $3,400 by the time your dog is trained.  Many programs charge less then $3,000 for a fully trained dog.

But you'll need to take your dog to obedience classes as part of his training.  Let's say you do beginning, intermediate and advanced obedience classes and each class costs $75.  So that's another $225. 

Unless you're very skilled at training dogs, you might decide (wisely) to hire a trainer to help you out for an hour a week.  Let's say that trainer charges $50 an hour.  An hour a week for 18 months is about $3,600.

Now you're up to at least $6,425.  Not many programs charge that much.

So which one is cheaper?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

If You Want to Have a Service Dog, You Really Need to Understand the Applicable Laws

It seems that many people that have service dogs or want to have them are misinformed or mixed up about the applicable laws.  I know the laws can be confusing, especially in some instances.  For instance, it may be hard to figure out which law applies in certain instances - is a homeless shelter a home?  Then the Fair Housing Act would apply.  Or is it a public accommodation?  Then the Americans with Disabilities Act would apply.  But what if it's run by a church?  What if the shelter is in a church?  Does that make it a religious organization?  Then they would be exempt from the ADA.  See how confusing it can be sometimes?

But it's often not.  The basics are fairly simply, I think.

If you're talking about public places like most business, the ADA applies.  A few things are exempt, including churches and places run by the federal government (like VA hospitals, federal courthouses and post offices - those places get to make their own rules and they may differ from the ADA although they are usually similar).

If you're talking about housing, the Fair Housing Act applies.

If you're talking about airplanes, the  Air Carriers Access Act applies (but only for domestic flights - if you're flying outside the US, different rules might apply).

The ADA only applies to fully trained service dogs, not service dogs in training.  Each state has its own laws about service dogs in training.

The ADA does not apply to emotional support animals, either, only service dogs.

The Fair Housing Act and the Air Carriers Access Act do apply to emotional support animals as well as service dogs.  The Air Carriers Access Act has different rules for psychiatric service dogs and for emotional support animals than for other types of service dogs, however (which is discriminatory against people with mental illnesses and should not be legal, but it is the law currently).

If you start complaining that your landlord is violating the ADA because he says you can't have a service dog in your apartment, you should like you don't know what you're talking about and you're not likely to win that argument.  Your landlord might be violating the Fair Housing Act, but he's not violating the ADA because the ADA does not apply to housing.

In order to make sure your rights are not violated, you need to know what your rights are.  And if you start complaining that your rights are being violated when they're not, or try to claim certain laws give you certain rights when they don't, you sound like you don't know what you're talking about and you lose credibility.  That won't help you achieve the access to which you are entitled.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cure the Disabled Person? Or Cure Society?

I read an article today about a paralyzed man that was able to walk again, with a special frame, thanks to a cell transplant.

I wish they'd spend some money eliminating barriers and improving access for people with disabilities instead of trying to find "cures" to make people walk. I know most people think everyone wants to walk and should walk, and I'm sure many people that are unable to walk would like to be able to do so, but walking really is not the goal for everyone that can't walk, and I think accessibility is a goal everyone would agree on. It also changes the focus from a medical model of disability to a social model, which I think would be much more beneficial.

Peeing in the Rain

Me: Issac, if you would hurry up and pick a place to pee, we wouldn't be standing out in the rain for so long and wouldn't get so wet.

Isaac: Yes, well... it just doesn't work that way.

Me: Pee on this tree. That's a good place to go.

Isaac (sniffing leisurely): Hmmm.... no. No, that won't do.

Me: Come on and pee already!

Isaac: You know, I really don't like peeing in the rain. Let's just go back inside.

Me: No! Because then you'll be bugging me to take you out again in 10 minutes. We're already out here getting wet. Just pee already!

Isaac (sighing): Maybe over there....

Monday, October 20, 2014

When the Service Dog Performs Perfectly

As you've surely noticed if you've read much on this blog, Isaac is not perfect.  No service dog is.  They are dogs, not machines.

I think I post a lot about the little imperfections, though, because sometimes they frustrate or upset me and I want to talk (well, write) about it and sometimes because they are minor things that are kind of amusing, like when Isaac tried to eat a peanut on the floor at a restaurant right after I'd finished telling an employee how service dogs are supposed to be trained not to eat food off the floor in a restaurant.

But sometimes, he does his job perfectly.

A few days ago, we were in Starbucks.  It was on my birthday, actually.  I was on my way to tutor and stopped to get a latte and a cookie.  As I was getting out my money, I dropped a five dollar bill on the floor.  I said, "Isaac," and pointed at it.  And he picked it right up.  Handing it right to me.

Luckily I had another five in my wallet, which I gave to the clerk, because the one Isaac retrieved for me was a bit slobbery.  But he did his job instantly, perfectly.

He got a treat.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Funky Monkey

Isaac has a new toy.  It's a stuffed monkey, now named the Funky Monkey because after a few days of being licked and chewed by a big slobbery doggie, trust me, it's funky. 

Isaac usually tears stuffed animals to shreds in a very short amount of time.  They rarely live 30 minutes.  That's why I buy them at the thrift store for 99 cents.

But every once in a while, he decides to keep one.  I don't know why.  He had a stuffed tiger and a stuffed hippo for a long time, though he eventually decided to kill them.  I don't know what made him want to keep them or what made him decide to kill them.  They did not have much in common.  The tiger was bigger than the hippo and the hippo had kind of weird fur.

Both the tiger and the hippo had squeakers in them, which I sewed into them after Isaac indicated he planned to keep them for a while.  He loves squeaky toys but usually rips out the squeakers right away.  But he liked the tiger a lot and he loved the hippo.  Until he killed them.

So now he has a monkey and he has apparently decided to keep it for a while.  He did chew off its nose right away but nothing else.  So I stuck a squeaker in the monkey's face and sewed up the hole where Isaac had eaten off its nose.  Its face looks kind of scary and deformed now but Isaac loves it.

And you can see a video clip of him playing tug with the Funky Monkey here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

It's My Birthday

Well, it was.  Yesterday.  I just didn't get this post written last night.

I didn't even think about the fact that it was my birthday until afternoon.

I began the day exhausted.  That fibro-fatigue that just leaves me feeling so drained that just walking to the kitchen for something to drink feels like a 10-mile hike.  I took Isaac out to pee and went back to bed.  I got up a few hours later, took Isaac out again, fed him, fixed myself a protein shake, and went back to bed.  It was about 1:00 pm before I actually got myself moving.  Then I moved all the way from the couch to the bathroom, where I spent half an hour soaking in a hot bath, trying to loosen up my stiff and painful joints.

After my bath, I took Isaac out for a two-mile hike.  It was while we were hiking that it occurred to me that it was my birthday.

For the most part these days, my birthday is not a particularly special day to me.  A couple friends wished me happy birthday on Facebook.  That's it.  No gifts, no cards, no phone calls.  It's OK.  I'm used to that.  I think it's because I don't have any family anymore and I don't have many close friends. 

And you know, holidays are similar.  I don't get a lot of Christmas gifts or do special things like have a big dinner for Thanksgiving.  If I want something special to do, I do it myself.  Like last Thanksgiving, I volunteered at the soup kitchen and last Christmas, I made myself and Isaac and Cayenne a special breakfast.  So if I wanted something special for my birthday, I would have done something special.

But I went on a trip out of town last week and I decided I would consider that my birthday gift to myself.

I'm not depressed about the fact that no one is throwing me parties and baking me birthday cakes.  I'm just explaining why I didn't even remember it was my birthday until mid-afternoon.

So while I was hiking with Isaac, I thought about the fact that it was my birthday.  And I wondered if my mother thought of me at all that day. 

I thought about that fact that, 43 years ago, my mother might have been in labor with me.  I mean, obviously at some point on the day I was born, she was in labor.  But I don't know if she had a long labor or a short labor.  So when Isaac and I were hiking at 3:00 pm, I didn't know if my mother would have been in labor at that time or not.  I know that I was born very late at night, just a few minutes before midnight.  It was my mother's first pregnancy and birth (as far as I know).  So it probably was not a very short labor.  She was probably in labor at 3:00 pm.  But I don't know for sure.

I started thinking about what I do know about my birth, as well as about all the things I don't know.  I know my mother had spinal anesthesia for my birth.  I know that in those days, women labored in one room, then were moved to a delivery room, which was similar to an OR, right before the birth.  I know that unlike epidurals, spinals were given right before delivery.  That's one of the reasons epidurals are used now instead of spinals. 

I know that my father was not allowed in the room for the delivery.  When my sister was born two-and-a-half years later, my mother had a natural birth and one of the reasons she chose a natural birth was so that her husband, my father, could be there for the delivery.  Apparently fathers were only allowed if women had natural births and if the couple had attended Lamaze classes together during the pregnancy.

Was he allowed in the labor room, before she was moved to the delivery room, before she got her spinal?  I don't know.  Probably not.  I think visitors were usually not allowed in labor rooms back then but I don't know that for sure.  What would it have been like for her, in labor, all alone?  She was 22 years old, I think, when she had me.  And she had not taken any kind of prenatal classes.  She would have known very little about labor and birth.  She would have been unprepared to deal with the pain.  And remember, she wouldn't have gotten the spinal until the last minute.  She would have felt all the labor pain.

My mother told me that the maternity ward was really busy the night I was born.  It took them a long time to move her to a patient room after my birth.  They didn't want to bring her the baby - me - until they moved her.  She kept asking, then insisting, that they bring her the baby.  Finally, they did.  I don't know how long that took, though.  What did that mean to her, and to me, being separated for those first hours?

Oh, I don't think that moms and babies must be together immediately after the birth in order to bond or anything like that.  I know even adoptive moms and babies can bond.  But still, what did it mean?

I wish now that I'd asked my mother more about my birth.  It just never seemed important before and now it's too late to ask her.

Very Tired Doggie After a Hike

Yesterday, on the way home from a two-mile hike on the Kokosing Gap Trail.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Making Laundry Detergent Today

I am making laundry detergent today.  I've been making my own laundry detergent for a couple of years now.  This is the fourth batch I've made since moving into my current apartment - one five-gallon batch lasts me about six months.  I know it's just me living here, but over the summer Isaac gets a lot of baths so we got through a fair amount of towels, and when Cayenne was living she went through a lot of towels due to her incontinence.  It costs me about $2 to make six month's worth of detergent!  I can't imagine why anyone buys laundry detergent when it is this cheap and easy to make.

If you've never made your own and would like to give it a try but aren't sure you want to go to the trouble of tracking down the supplies and don't want to end up with extra supplies you might never use, I sell a kit for making your own laundry detergent in my Etsy store.  It costs a bit more for the kit than if you buy all the separate things yourself, but buying the kit is a good way to try it out once without having to buy a whole box of washing soda, for instance, when you only need one cup of it, and so forth.  You can check it out here if you're interested.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Issue with Neighbor

I don't think any of my neighbors read this blog.  I don't think they even know I have a blog.  Many of my neighbors don't even have internet service.  I try to be mindful about what I write here, though, because I never know who might find my blog.  So I haven't written about this problem before but I don't think the neighbor in question will ever read it and I will respect his privacy but not using any names or identifying information.

So I have this neighbor.  Isaac loves him.  He loves Isaac.  He's not a close friend or anything but I think he's a pretty good guy.

But he smokes a lot of pot.  I know this because the hallway often reeks of marijuana smoke and it's easy to tell which apartment it's coming from.  Several of my other neighbors have also noticed it and mentioned it to me and complained about it to the property manager.

Now, I don't care if someone smokes pot.  I think it should probably be legal.  But it's not legal here.  And while I don't care if someone else smokes it, I don't want to smoke it or be exposed to secondhand pot smoke myself.  And I don't want my dog to be exposed to pot smoke.

Those are things I've thought about very carefully.  A few people have suggested medical marijuana (which is also not legal where I live) as a treatment for my fibromyalgia pain.  And I have considered it, despite the fact that it's not legal right now.  And I've decided against it for several reasons, not only the legal issues, but other factors.  While there is evidence that it helps with pain (and back when I used to work for a hospice, I had a few clients that used it for pain and nausea and it certainly seemed effective for them), there isn't enough evidence about how much to use and since it would have to be purchased illegally, there are no kind of regulations about dosage or safety or anything like that.  Also I can't find much information about how it might interact with certain medications I am on and it's not something any of my doctors know much about (or they won't provide information about it if they do know and they won't recommend it or condone its use).  And some sources say it might increase flashbacks in people with PTSD and I am concerned about that.  So it is something that I have made an informed choice to avoid at this time.

I also did some research about the effects of exposure to marijuana on dogs.  It can be harmful to them.  Probably the brief exposure Isaac has when walking down the hallway in our apartment building isn't enough to cause any serious problems, but it's not healthy for him and I don't want him to be exposed to it.

So I don't care one bit if one of my neighbors wants to smoke it.  I just want them to confine the smoke to their apartments.  Which this guy does not do.  So I assume he must be smoking a lot of it, for it to be so obvious in the hallway.

I have complained to the property manager multiple times.  I've been complaining about it since July of last year.  So for about 15 months.  Finally, just now, the neighbor in question has been given an eviction notice.

The neighbor has deduced that I am one of the people that have complained about his pot use.  I'm not sure how he deduced that but he has.  He's also sort of paranoid and is talking about how everyone is trying to get him in trouble and everybody is "out to get him."

I actually don't want to get him in trouble.  I wish he would stop smoking so much pot, or smoke it somewhere else, so he could live here but not expose me and my service dog to his pot smoke.  I had suggested to the property manager that he suggest to the neighbor that maybe he could open the window and blow the smoke outside or maybe he could smoke in his bathroom with the exhaust fan on or something.  And it is my understanding that the property manager did in fact suggest that.  But apparently the neighbor doesn't want to do that for whatever reason.  I also suggested the property manager offer the neighbor a list of local Narcotics Anonymous meetings, in case he wants to stop smoking pot.  I'm not sure if the property manager actually did that or not.  But my point is, I didn't want the guy to get in trouble.  I just wanted him to stop exposing me and my dog to pot smoke.

But now the neighbor is mad at me, I guess.  The property manager called me a little while ago to let me know that.  He said he didn't think the neighbor would bother me or anything, but if he does, or if he makes any threats or anything, to please let him know right away.  Which is a little scary.

For one thing, I don't think this guy is real stable.  For another thing, I happen to know that two weeks ago, he went into another neighbor's apartment without permission and... well, it's sort of a long story, but to make it short, I was told by someone (and I'm not saying who) that an employee of the apartment complex witnessed this neighbor coming down the back stairs, like he was being sneaky, and he opened another neighbor's door (which apparently she had left unlocked, she was home at the time) and let her dog out into the hallway.  He then ran back up the back stairs, so she wouldn't know who opened her door and let her dog out.

How weird is that?  It's creepy, right?  It creeps me out.

So now I feel a bit nervous about the whole thing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

He's Ignoring You

Today at Panera, I was getting my iced tea when an elderly gentleman began making silly noises at Isaac.  Isaac was doing a great job ignoring the man.  The man bent nearly double, so that his face was as close as he could get it to Isaac's face, and continued making silly noises.  Isaac continued to ignore the man, as did I.

Finally the man straightened up and said to me, "I guess he doesn't hear me, huh?"

I said, "Oh, he hears you.  But he is not supposed to socialize with people when he's working.  He is ignoring you."

The man looked surprised, then said, "I guess I need to be ignored sometimes."

I resisted the urge to agree enthusiastically with him.

He then began to pet Isaac on the head, apparently ignoring the "Please Do Not Pet Me, I'm Working" patch on Isaac's vest.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Serpent Mound

One of the places Isaac and I went during our little trip was to Serpent Mound.  If you're not familiar with Serpent Mound, you can read about it here

It was interesting to see.  After we walked around the Mound, we did some hiking in the woods nearby.

And in a clearing in the forest, we came across this.

It is what looks like some sort of altar at the base of a big old tree.  There is a statue of a woman's face, some antlers (deer, I would imagine), a long stick, and ribbons of different colors tied to a string wrapped around the trunk of the tree.  It was really neat to discover it.  It felt like a place someone had been doing rituals.  I wished I had something to leave as an offering but I had nothing with me.  I did, however, pay my respect by not allowing Isaac to pee on it.

I was really curious about it.  I wondered if the park staff knew it was there.  It was not that far from the little museum/gift shop, maybe a 10 minute walk, so it's hard to believe it hadn't been discovered.  On the other hand, it's hard to imagine the park staff would leave it there or allow people to do rituals on the park grounds, if they knew about it.

I thought about stopping in the museum/gift shop before we left and asking if they knew about it.  But I decided not to, because if they didn't know, I didn't want them to go looking for it and take it away.  So I decided to just let it be a mystery.

Friday, October 10, 2014

So How Was Our Trip?

I'm glad you asked!  It was mostly good.

The weather was cool and rainy most of the time, which could have been better, although Wednesday was quite beautiful.  Even so, Isaac and I got to do a fair amount of hiking.

Look at these gorgeous pictures of Caesars Creek gorge early in the morning.

And here's Isaac, posing impatiently in the forest near Serpent Mound.

I had trouble getting many pics of Isaac while we were hiking because he simply could not hold still.  He was too exciting, having too much fun.

Serpent Mound was interesting.  I'm going to write more about it in another post.

Isaac did really well in the hotel.  In the past, when we've stayed in hotels, Isaac has not slept well.  Too many strange noises and he felt he needed to tell me about each one.  Which meant I did not get to sleep very well, either.  But on this trip, he slept great.  Maybe all the hiking wore him out.  It sure wore me out!

I saw friends, including some I hadn't seen in a long time.  I had good food, including Middle Eastern and Indian and Skyline (which, if you don't know, is Cincinnati-style chili, and they have a vegetarian black beans and rice dish that has the same flavor as the chili, which is what I got).

Here's Isaac, getting ready to go into the Indian restaurant.
Isaac got good food, too.  he got to pick out some gourmet treats at a little pet store.  He picked a dried beef burger (I know, it sounds gross to me, too, but I think he liked it best), a turkey sausage and a peanut butter biscuit.  Also, when we had lunch at the Middle Eastern restaurant with my friend Gina, her toddler was rather messy (as toddlers are) and Isaac helped clean up after him by licking some hummus off the floor and also eating some fallen falafel.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Diggity Dog

Yesterday I took Isaac to a dog park near our hotel so he could run around off leash for a while.  He was disappointed that there were no other dogs there.  He really wanted someone to play with.  He thinks it is a lot more fun to run around when there is someone to chase or someone to chase him.

However, there was one thing he liked a lot about this dog park.  Instead of grass, most of the park was covered with mulch.  Most dog parks have a no digging rule, but it was apparent that one or more dogs had been digging a lot here.  There were multiple holes and Isaac investigated them all.  He found two that he either really liked or that he thought were not adequately finished, I'm not sure which, but he felt he needed to improve upon them.

So he dug.  And dug.  And dug.

Here is the finished product.  He was quite satisfied with himself, the diggity dog.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Update on This Morning's Access Dispute

I spoke to the manager in person when he came in. He said the employee had already talked to him about it. He said the employee didn't know it was a service dog until I told him. I pointed out the fact that Isaac was wearing his vest which is clearly marked and said that if the employee didn't know that meant he was a service dog, the appropriate thing to do would be to ask "Is that a service dog?" rather than shout "You can't bring your dog in here!" The manager seemed to think the employee's response was reasonable, though, since I hadn't yet told him Isaac was a service dog.

The manager also said last week they had a problem with someone bringing in a service dog and no one knew it was a service dog and some other customers were upset about the dog being in the breakfast area. I said that was not really my problem and that the employee still did not handle the situation correctly. After thinking about it, it seems to me that if they are having "issues" related to service dogs on a weekly basis, their staff could really, really use some training on this subject. Unfortunately, the manager doesn't seem to understand it at all himself so I don't think he will be able to educate his staff.

The manager suggested I could help prevent confusion by calling the front desk to let them know I was going to bring my dog into the lobby before I came in. I said I am absolutely not going to do that, no other guest is expected to call the front desk before entering the lobby and the ADA says I do not need to do that. The manager apologized but didn't seem very sincere.

So I went back to my room and called the corporate office and complained. They said they will investigate and notify me by next week of what they find and how they plan to resolve the issue.
 I suspect the corporate office contacted the manager at my hotel almost immediately, though, because the manager called me about 20 minutes after I got off the phone with them to apologize again and to tell me I don't have to call before bringing my service dog into the lobby. Um, yeah, I knew I didn't have to call first. I already told him that. But at least it seems corporate is on the case.

Started the Day with a Little Access Dispute

Walked into the lobby of my hotel for my free continental breakfast and an employee shouted at me from across the room "No dogs allowed in here!" I told him "He's a service dog so he is allowed." Mind you, Isaac was wearing his service dog vest, which is clearly marked "service dog."

Isaac apparently perceived the man as threatening because he was getting ready to bark at him. I could tell he was thinking about barking and I stopped him before he did, because if he started barking, then the guy would have a legitimate reason for demanding we leave.

The employee then demanded "What room are you in?" and glared at us while I ate my breakfast. I will be speaking to the manager as soon as they arrive.

Service Dog Away from Home

It's interesting when I travel with Isaac to see how people in different places respond to a service dog.  When we were in the Detroit area back in May, I was pleased to find that not one person tried to pet Isaac without asking and no one distracted him by barking or meowing or howling or anything like that.  People did ask if I was training him and that sort of thing, but no one distracted him.

Beyond that, though, I have noticed that these days when I shop or go to restaurants or other businesses near my home, places Isaac and I frequent, we aren't questioned or bothered so much.  Staff at those places are all used to seeing us and if they ever were inclined to pet or distract the service dog, they've been educated and now know not to do that.  They've already asked if I was training Isaac for a blind person or whatever they wanted to know.  Even other customers, if they are regular customers, are used to seeing us.

Outside our little comfort zone, though, even if I happen to stop at the grocery store in the next town over, we get a lot more attention.  Where I live, at least, service dogs are a novelty.  I think that is different in some other parts of the country, but it is the case where I live.

So when we travel, it's just interesting to see how people react.

Monday, October 6, 2014

View in the Mirror

Here's my view in the side mirror as I drive down the highway.

See the silly dog with his head out the back window?  He loves that!  What you can't see in this picture are his jowls flapping in the wind.  It's hilarious.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Every Time It Rains

Isaac: I want to go out. Come on, let's go out and pee!

Me: It's raining. You don't like to go out in the rain.

Isaac: But maybe it's not raining downstairs. We live upstairs. I bet it's not raining downstairs. Come on, come on, I wanna go!

Me: It's raining everywhere, silly dog. You won't like it.

Isaac: Yes I will! Come on come on come on, I wanna go out and pee.

So I put on my jacket and shoes, and put on Isaac's collar and leash, and we go downstairs. Isaac starts to walk outside, then stops short.

Isaac: Oh. It's raining out there. I mean it's really wet. I don't like that. I don't like peeing in the rain. I changed my mind. I don't need to pee.

Do You Ever Wish You Weren't Disabled?

I read this post today at Rolling Around in My Head (excellent blog to follow, by the way) and it got me thinking.

Of course I wish I wasn't disabled.  But I feel I need to elaborate on that.  What I wish is that I didn't have pain - who wants to be in pain?  I wish I didn't have nightmares - who likes having nightmares?  I wish I was able to work, like at a regular job, because I really liked my job when I was a social worker and I still miss it more than 11 years later.  I wish I did not need to rely on SSDI - who likes being poor?  I mean, I don't need or want a lot of money but I wish I didn't struggle to buy food by the end of the month most months.

But do I wish I didn't have DID?  Nah, not really.  I don't mind having DID.  Sometimes it's... complicated or difficult, but sometimes it comes in pretty handy and sometimes it's even sort of fun.  Do I wish I didn't need a service dog?  Not really.  I like my service dog.

So there are parts of my disability I don't like and wish were different.  But that doesn't mean I dislike myself or that I think being disabled is bad.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Taking a Trip with My Service Dog

Next week Isaac and I are taking a little trip.  Well, that's the plan, anyway.  But tomorrow morning I have to take my car to the garage because the coolant is leaking and if they can't fix it by Monday or if I get really bad news about how much it's going to cost to fix it, that may derail our plans.  But hopefully we are taking a trip.

I am originally from Cincinnati but don't have many friends left there these days.  And I am estranged from my immediate family, so I no longer go to Cincinnati to visit them.  However, I have a friend that is also originally from Cincinnati that now lives in another state who is currently visiting family in Cincinnati, so I want to visit her.  I've also recently gotten in touch with an old friend that I used to work with back when I was a social worker who is in Cincinnati, and I haven't seen her in forever, and I want to see her.  And I have one really good friend in Cincinnati that I only get to see a few times a year, so I'd love to see her.  So I want to go there for a few days and visit people.

I also want to visit some parks in the area and do a little hiking with Isaac.  I was thinking of visiting Serpent Mound, which is not far from Cincinnati, but they charge a ridiculously high fee just to park your car.  So I don't know if I'll do that or not.

I'm really excited about the trip, though.  I think it's going to be lots of fun.  I got a really good price on a hotel room and I plan to pack a cooler full of food (not just to save money but because I don't really eat fast food anyway, I'd rather have good food that is good for me), although I also plan to eat at a few restaurants with friends, hopefully at some really yummy but affordable places.  I live in the middle of farmland, we have no Indian restaurants anywhere around and I love Indian food.

Traveling with a dog is a lot of work, though.  Isaac needs his own suitcase.  Actually, I would like to buy one of those backpacks with wheels and fix it so he can pull it himself.  He'd enjoy that, I think.  He used to love to tug the laundry basket from the bedroom to the laundry area at my old house.  He could easily pull a backpack on wheels.  Then he could pull his own stuff.  As it is, his stuff goes in a duffel bag and I have to carry it.

Why does he have so much stuff?  I don't know.  Most of it is not because he's a service dog, I'd have to pack it all for a pet dog, too.  I am taking a sheet to put on the bed to try to keep dog hair and dirt off the bed.  I am taking one of his blankies to put on the floor to keep dog hair off the carpet if he wants to sleep on the floor.  I am taking enough food for our trip plus a couple extra meals, just in case.  Food and water dishes.  A Kong and Mr. Pickle.  Some treats.  A couple raw hide chews.  A bunch of plastic bags for picking up poop.  An extra collar and leash, in case he manages to roll in poop or something.  See what I mean?  He needs his own suitcase.

I love traveling with Isaac, though.  He is such a good traveling companion.  He loves to ride in the car and loves to stop for gas or a bathroom break or whatever and get out and sniff around.  He's just really good company.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Get the Leash

Today as Isaac and I were getting ready to head out to the grocery store, I accidentally dropped the end of his leash.  So I asked him to pick it up and give it to me.  Which he did.

I think it's really cute when he does that.  So I decided I needed to make a video clip of it.  You can see it on Youtube here.