Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Places You Might Not Be Able to Take Your Service Dog

Places you may not be able to take your service dog under the ADA include:

  • churches and other religious places of worship (they are exempt from the ADA so they get to make their own rules; you have to ask the pastor or priest or whomever is in charge)
  • some areas of a hospital or outpatient medical facility, such as operating rooms, burn units, intensive care units, shared patient rooms and psychiatric units
  • VA hospitals and medical facilities (the ADA does not apply to facilities operated by the federal government and the Camp Lejune Law says service dogs must be trained by an organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International in order to be allowed in VA facilities, but some VA hospitals allow other service dogs anyway, but they don't have to)
  • military bases (the ADA does not apply to military bases and they have their own rules, usually they require service dogs to be trained by an organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International)
  • post offices (since the post office is operated by the federal government, the ADA does not apply; I know someone that tried to get an official statement from the post master on their rules about service dogs but was unable to do so; I've never had a problem taking my service dog to a post office but apparently some only allow guide dogs for the blind, or so I've been told)
  • some areas of zoos or other animal parks, where the presence of a dog is likely to disturb the animals that live there
  • some areas of national parks, such as areas populated by wolves, where the presence of a dog is likely to disturb the wildlife in some way
  • federal court houses (it's up to the judge in a case whether or not to allow a service dog in the court room in federal court houses)
  • offices of the federal government

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Where You Can Take Your Service Dog

Places service dogs are allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (note that this federal law only applies to fully trained service dogs, not to service dogs in training, not to emotional support animals, and not to therapy dogs):

  • restaurants (in the dining area and other areas customers are allowed, but not in the kitchen or food prep areas)
  • grocery stores
  • other kinds of stores, including drug stores, book stores, hardware stores, farm supply stores, florists, pet stores, craft stores, office supply stores, furniture stores and health food stores)
  • doctors' and dentists' offices
  • hospitals (including lobby, gift shop, cafeteria, lab, x-ray area {although it is recommended not to expose your service dog to radiation unnecessarily}, waiting areas and most patient rooms, but some areas may be off limits, such as operating rooms, burn units, intensive care units, shared patient rooms and psychiatric units) - note that the ADA does not apply to VA hospitals and the VA has different rules for service dogs, so yours may or may not be allowed there
  • banks
  • airports (the ADA does not apply to airplanes, though, only airports; the Air Carriers Access Act Applies to airplanes flying domestic flights)
  • bus stations and buses
  • trains and subways
  • rental cars and taxis
  • amusement parks (though your service dog may not be allowed on certain rides)
  • museums
  • zoos (though your service dog may not be allowed in certain areas for the health and safety of the animals)
  • hair salons and barber shops
  • movie theaters, other theaters and concerts (though very loud venues may bother your dog or hurt his ears)
  • public libraries
  • city, county and state offices and courthouses (the ADA does not apply to federal buildings, though)
  • city, county and state parks (the ADA does not apply to national parks, though service dogs are allowed in most areas of those, as well)
This isn't a comprehensive list, although I've tried to be pretty inclusive.  Another day I'll post a list of places you might not be able to take your service dog.

Monday, December 29, 2014

I'd post something but...

I feel really crappy today.  Depressed, tired, no energy, no motivation.  So blah.  Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Isaac's New Kibble Dispensing Toy

He says "Thank you, Mike!"

Jingle Bells, Isaac Smells

He rolled in deer poop.

Merry Christmas

Isaac is enjoying the new Nylabone toy I got him.  I also got him a big rawhide chew but he's not getting both at once.  He's been occupied with this toy for a good 25 minutes so far, though.


I have received some of the most thoughtful gifts this holiday season.

I don't get many gifts.  That is OK with me.  I don't give a lot of holiday gifts, either.  Those I do give are things I think a lot about, often handmade or homemade, something meant to be really special for the recipient and something I really want to give them.

The gifts I have received this year have been incredibly thoughtful and meaningful.

One friend - and acquaintance, really, not someone I know real well or would have expected to get me anything - sent me a calculator.  I joked that he'd gotten tired of me posting complaints on Facebook about having to do math homework for this kid I have been tutoring, and that probably is why he decided to send me a calculator.  But it was really thoughtful, and quite a surprise, and it did make me laugh.

The mom of this kid I am tutoring made me a beautiful, beautiful scarf.  She is undergoing serious medical treatments at a nearby university hospital (nearby meaning about an hour away, there is no university hospital in the little town where I live) and she's been making scarves.  She's probably  made at least two dozen so far.  She sits at the library for three hours a day, three days a week, while I tutor her son and makes scarves.

So it was really thoughtful for her to give me something she made herself, but even more thoughtful was the colors she used in the scarf.  I have two sweaters I like a lot and have worn often to tutor.  One is tan and one is rust-colored.  The scarf she made me is mostly brown with some tan, some cream and some rust in it.  It matches both those sweaters, as well as my winter coat.  I was so touched that she'd clearly put so much thought into what colors to use for my scarf. 

One friend got me a Nook eReader.  But here's the best part.  He got it on some online auction (not Ebay, something else but I forget what) for a quarter!  I love that, and I love that he told me that, because otherwise I would have felt pretty uncomfortable about how much I would have thought he spent on it.  I know it might sound tacky to tell someone you only spent 25 cents on their gift, but in this instance, it was definitely the right thing to do.

One of my neighbors drew a picture for me.  I didn't know he could draw.  It's a black and white drawing of a flower and it's pretty good.  I can tell he spent a lot of time on it.  I don't even care that I'm not particularly into flowers and a black and white drawing of a flower doesn't really match my decor.  I really am just touched that he spent that much time on something for me.

I don't think I've ever had the feeling so strongly before that it's the thought that counts.  Maybe I am better at gratitude than I used to be.  I have tried to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, of abundance, of being blessed. 

Or maybe I have felt in the past that it was the thought that counts but the thought has sometimes been pretty crappy.  I recall once Christmas, and I am not going to say who did this, but someone bought me a box of tea.  Like a box of Celestial Seasonings that you can get at Kroger for $2.79 or something.  And not a flavor that I really loved or anything like that.  And it wasn't a matter of this person not being able to spend more money on a gift, and it wasn't a situation where that tea was really meaningful for some reason and so it was a good gift even though it was a $2.79 box or tea, or anything like that.  The thought behind that gift was "I feel like I have to get something but I am going to spend as little money and thought and effort on it as possible."

But I digress.

Mike got me a new wireless router, which is fantastic because my old one would kick me off the internet at random times, usually at least half a dozen times a day, and I'd have to get up and reset the router before I could get back online.  Using my computer is so much more enjoyable now!

He also got Isaac this kibble dispensing toy.  Isaac loves it.  I think I am more touched that he got Isaac a gift than I am by the gift he got me.  I will post a video later of Isaac eating his dinner from his new toy.  It's adorable.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Will Not Go to Midnight Mass

I was interested in going to Midnight Mass. But I will not be going.  
I have called six Catholic churches. I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere. There is only one Catholic church in my county. But I called six churches within an hour's drive. At four of them, no one was in the office to ask if I could bring my service dog. At two of them, the person in the office didn't know if I could bring him or not and the person that might know was not available to speak to. I am not willing to drive more than an hour to go to mass and I am not willing to drive 45 minutes to an hour without knowing whether or not I'll be turned away when I get there. And with the person answering the phone at two churches not know if I could be allowed in or not, I don't feel confident that I would. It's quite possible I would, but I don't feel confident about it.
I guess I should have planned ahead more. If I would have called last week to ask, I could have probably gotten an answer. And I bet at least one of the six churches would have been happy to have me. But I don't feel like guessing which one or ones that would be.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Churches and the ADA

I was thinking of going to a midnight mass tomorrow, just 'cause I think it would be neat. I am not Catholic but I still think I would enjoy it.

Well, I live in the middle of nowhere and there are two Catholic churches within a reasonable driving distance that are holding midnight mass. There are a few other Catholic churches around, they just aren't holding midnight mass, according to their websites.

I tried to call both of the ones holding midnight mass this afternoon to find out if I can bring my service dog, but no one was in the office at either church. I can try again tomorrow but if I can't reach anyone, then I just won't go. I really wish churches were required to comply with the ADA, but since they aren't, it would come in handy if they included information on their websites about whether or not they do.

Of the people I know that have service dogs and go to church, I would guess at least 25% go to a church where they are not allowed to take their service dog. And I know others that found a new church when their old church told them their service dog was not welcome. 
However, I also know a couple people that were given permission to by their clergy to bring emotional support animals to church, which are not usually allowed in public places the way service dogs are, under the ADA. Some churches are really, really accommodating. But others are not at all.
If you go to church (or synagogue or mosque or whatever), do you know if your place of worship would welcome someone with a service dog? If you don't know, how about finding out and letting me know?

Bad Doggie

Everyone has an off night once in a while, right?


Well, tonight I went to Pizza Hut for dinner with a friend and Isaac was really restless.  Then he started barking in the restaurant.  He has not done that in forever.  I had to take him outside, run him through a little obedience drill (just telling him to sit, lie down, sit, give me his paw, sit, etc), then take him back inside and try again.  He managed to get through the rest of the meal but I had to tell him several times to put his head down.

Then after we got home, I was playing with him and we both went to grab a toy at the same time and his tooth hit that really tender skin between my thumb and forefinger.  It wasn't a bite, didn't break the skin or leave a tooth mark or anything, and he didn't mean to hurt me.  But it hurt.  I put ice on it immediately but it is still bruised and swollen and really sore. 

And Isaac is supposed to make sure his teeth do not touch skin.  And he knows that.  The game ended immediately, which is is what happens when he makes a mistake like that.  He knew I was upset with him.  This has happened a few times before but not this badly.  I mean, it didn't hurt this badly.  And I normally don't get that upset, because it doesn't hurt that much, I just end the play immediately because that's what happens when he's not careful with his teeth.

But my hand is really sore now.

We have since made up and Isaac has been forgiven.  He's not really a bad dog, not at all.  But it was a really bad night.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Why is this lake solid...

and how the heck am I supposed to get a drink?!

Poor Isaac.  He was so confused.  He ended up just licking the ice.

Happy Solstice

As the spiral turns and turns,
Wind will blow and fire will burn.
Water flows upon the earth
As we dance from death to birth.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sometimes the Little Things Cause Big Problems

I am in the process of doing laundry right now.  I went downstairs with Isaac to switch the first load from washer to dryer and put the second load in the wash.  I discovered the washing machine is leaking and the floor in front of the washer and dryer are now all wet.  The floor isn't very clean, either, because apparently some of my neighbors are slobs.

Why does this cause a big problem?  Well, besides the fact that I was wearing socks but not shoes so my feet got wet because I didn't realize the machine was leaking until I stepped in the puddle, it creates a problem in having my service dog take the laundry out of the dryer for me.

See, when Isaac pulls laundry from the dryer, items sometimes fall to the floor.  I don't know any way to prevent it.  He pulls out a shirt and a sock or two come out with it and land on the floor.  But I don't want my clean laundry falling in a puddle of dirty water. 

But the only way to prevent that will be to get the laundry out myself, very carefully.  I am annoyed.  It shouldn't be such a big deal, the floor being wet and dirty.  But what it means is that my back is going to hurt.  I have to choose between having some of my clean laundry fall in dirty water, and therefor not being clean anymore, or hurting my back.  And I'm pissed that I have to make that choice.

Friday, December 19, 2014

School Punishes Blind Student by Taking Away His Cane

This has nothing to do with service dogs, but it's an example of the type of discrimination and mistreatment of people with disabilities that, unfortunately, is not uncommon.

This article tells about how the school took away the child's cane for punishment and replaced it with a pool noodle, which of course is not a substitute for a long cane.  They send the child home with the pool noodle, keeping his cane.

Do you understand that this would be like blindfolding a sighted child for punishment?  And then sending home that child still blindfolded, with a blindfold that could not be removed until he returned to school the next day.  Unless the child had an extra cane at home, which is possible.  The article didn't say.  But still.  How would you feel if your kid came home from school wearing a blindfold?

I can't imagine how any school employee would ever think this was OK.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Party

Today Isaac and I attended the Christmas party for everyone that lives in our apartment building.

Look, I made applesauce bread.  From scratch.  With homemade applesauce I canned a few months ago, made from organic local apples.  How awesome is that?

I put walnuts and raisins in it.  Next year I plan to gather and cure black walnuts, which grow all over the place around here.  Then I can put local organic walnuts in my applesauce bread.  How awesome will that be?

Isaac did pretty well at the party.  It was hard for him.  He loves many of our neighbors and is used to being allowed to socialize with them.  It was hard for him to be in work mode around them.  They were all really good about not engaging him while he was working, though.

Family Dollar Gets It Right

Someone told me about this sign, seen in the window of a Family Dollar store in Minnesota.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses are not permitted to ask to see, much less require people to show, any type of "papers" for service dogs.  And what type of papers would you show, anyway?  There are no "papers" for service dogs. 

The person that told me about this sign said she'd spoken to an employee of the store, who just said, "We were told to put the sign up."  I don't know who told them to put it up.

I emailed the corporate office, explaining the problem with the sign.  I received a response in less than one hour, assuring me the sign would be removed and that employees would be informed of the law.  And the sign was indeed removed, less than one week later.

They got it right.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Service Dogs at Buffets

There was a rather intense discussion in a Facebook group the other day about whether or not you can take your service dog up to the buffet or salad bar in a restaurant or whether the manager can ask you to leave your dog at the table while you go up to the buffet alone.

Someone tried to say that health regulations forbid taking a service dog up to the buffet because hair, saliva and/or fecal matter might get in the food.  This person was concerned that a service dog might fart while at the buffet, sending fecal matter into the air where it could get into the food.  Yes, seriously.  Service dogs should not be near a buffet because they might fart.

Apparently people farting near the buffet is not a concern because they wear pants.  Your pants will prevent fecal matter from getting into the food in the event that you fart near a buffet.

No,  I'm not kidding.  This was the discussion.

This person tried to say there was a lawsuit initiated by a woman who was not allowed to take her service dog up to the buffet because she was not blind and did not use a wheelchair, and that the judge ruled that she did not need her service dog at the buffet and should have left the dog at the table and/or had someone else hold the dog's leash while she got her food.  According to this person, the law says that if you are blind or use a wheelchair, then it is OK to take your service dog up to the buffet. 

Apparently service dogs for the blind and for wheelchair users do not fart, so they won't get fecal matter in the food.  I am not sure how that works.  I'd like a dog that never farts.

I asked several times for information about this court case but it was never provided.

I was about 99.9% certain this person was wrong, that any one with a service dog is allowed to take their dog up to a buffet.  Anyway, restaurant employees are not allowed to ask what your disability is, so how could they really know if you are blind?  And if you leave your dog unattended at your table while you go to the buffet, then you are violating local leash laws and doing something potentially unsafe.  And just who is supposed to hold the dog's leash for you?  The ADA specifically says employees of a business are not required to do that.

But I called the ADA information line so I could prove I was right.

And I am.  The ADA specialist to whom I spoke said you can take your service dog up to the buffet, even if you are not blind and do not use a wheelchair.  She said you should not leave your dog unattended at your table.

Went to a Concert Monday Night

Monday night I went to a concert with a friend. 

I did not take Isaac because I thought it might be too loud for him and I wasn't sure how he'd do in that type of environment.  I don't take Isaac somewhere new and different unless I am prepared to focus on him and to leave if he isn't handling it well for some reason.  We haven't had a situation like that in a long time; he's been with me for more than two years now and he's gone to all the places I typically go and I seldom go anywhere that is significantly different. 

I mean, eating in a restaurant is pretty similar regardless of the restaurant.  No, Isaac and I have never gone to a Cajun restaurant or a Thai restaurant or a French restaurant, but he can handle any type of restaurant.  And since he's accustomed to lying under a table in a restaurant, he would do fine in any other setting that involved lying under a table.  Several months ago I took him to a support group meeting, where everyone sat around a table and talked.  He did fine.  I imagine lying under a table where people are just talking is probably easier for him than lying under a table with yummy-smelling food on it, but lying under a table is pretty similar no matter where that table is and no matter what the people are doing at the table.

But a concert is very different than anything we've ever done together before.  And I was worried it would be really loud and bother his sensitive ears.  They actually make ear protection for dogs, which some service dog handlers use when taking their dogs to things like concerts, but I wasn't sure Isaac would like wearing ear plugs and didn't really want to spend money on doggie ear plugs when I certainly don't plan on going to loud events like concerts often.

So I didn't take Isaac.  My friend promised he'd help me if I needed anything and basically take Isaac's place.  I assured him I'd be fine without Isaac for the evening.

And as it turned out, I was glad I hadn't brought him because it was super loud. 

Also, it was in this weird auditorium.  I hadn't realized the setting would be like this, because I've never been to any type of music show like this before.  But there was almost no seating.  There was some box seats, but we did not have tickets for those.  So it was all just standing, no seats.  Which I think is weird and not very enjoyable.  Who wants to stand through a whole concert?  The show was supposed to start at 6:30 and we got there almost an hour early and it turned out they didn't even open the doors until 6:30, so we spent almost an hour standing in line outside.  Then we got in and the show didn't actually start for a really long time.  I think it was about 7:30 when it finally started.  So by then we'd been standing for almost two hours already.

And it was very crowded.  And when the lights went down and the show finally started, it occurred to me that people would not have been able to see Isaac because it was dark, but people were moving around some and they would have stepped on or tripped over him.  There really wasn't any out-of-the-way place to put him, like there would have been in a normal concert hall with seats.

And the floor was concrete and very hard.   My legs and feet hurt after standing on it for over an hour.  Isaac would have wanted to lie down but would not  have liked lying on that floor.  There is a Chipotle restaurant we eat at sometimes with a very hard concrete floor that he doesn't like and I know he doesn't like it, so I take a towel for him to lie on.  But even if it had occurred to me to take a towel to the concert, there wasn't a good place to put it.  At Chipotle, I put the towel under the table, which is where Isaac goes.  But there was no good, out-of-the-way place at the concert that would have been good for him.

So it was good I hadn't taken him.

It was hard being without him, though.  It felt really weird.  I almost never go anywhere without him these days and I kept feeling like I'd forgotten something, thinking, "Where is my dog?"

And I had a really hard time at the concert.  It was so loud, and so crowded, neither of which are good things for me.  And after standing on such a hard floor for so long, my legs and back and everything ached.  I ended up having to leave early, because my anxiety was just going through the roof.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Doggie Daycare

I have been taking Isaac to doggie daycare a couple times a week while I am tutoring.

I started doing it one day when I had to go to the dentist before going to tutor.  I really wanted to have Isaac with me at the dentist, plus I just didn't want to leave him home alone for that long.  But there wasn't going to be time to take him back home before I went to tutor and I didn't want to take him with me to tutoring.  I am tutoring a child at a library right by a doggie daycare, and I actually took Isaac to this daycare once several months ago when I had something I had to do all day and couldn't take Isaac with me, and it seemed like a good place and he seemed to have fun.  So I decided to drop him off there for the afternoon.

He did indeed have a good time.  When I arrived to pick him up, he was in a playgroup with other big dogs.  They brought him out to me and he was out of breath, looking like he'd been running and playing.  They told me he'd been playing chase with a dog named  Ripley.  He looked like he'd been having a blast.

So I started taking him two or three times a week, when I am tutoring for three hours.  He is there for about four hours altogether, and that included an hour-long playtime with other big dogs (they have separate playgroups for little dogs, medium dogs and big dogs).  He also gets a walk outside to go potty. 

I love the daycare facility.  They have kennels for the dogs situation around the perimeter of the room and the dogs can see what's going on, can see other dogs, can see people walking by, can watch other dogs having playtime in the indoor play area in the center of the room.  The individual kennels are not huge but they aren't tiny, either, and each dog has a toddler bed to lie on and a television tuned to Animal Planet.  I usually take one of Isaac's blankies for him, too.

The vet I used to take Cayenne to had doggie daycare and every time I went into the office, I could hear all these dogs barking.  It didn't sound like a pleasant place.  At this doggie daycare, well, I hear barking sometimes but not like at that vet's place.

Isaac loves it.  After going there just twice, he recognized the street when we turned onto it.  Isaac recognizes lots of places.  I can tell by the way he perks up and sometimes he seems to be getting excited.  He has a few favorite places and when we get close to those places, he starts to whine, whimper and/or pace in the backseat of the car.  That's just for his favorite places, though.  He does the whine/whimper/pace when we go to the doggie beach or to Lake Erie.  He doesn't do it at the park close to our house or the nature center, though, even though he recognizes them and likes them.

But he does it when we get close to the doggie daycare.  I love that it is one of his favorite places.  He cannot get out of the car and into the daycare fast enough.

And I love that he gets a chance to run around and play with other dogs.  Especially on days when I've been so busy and the weather is not good and I am not able to get him outside much.

They only charge me $10 for four hours (it's $20 for more than four hours).  It's a good deal.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

So Apparently I am Full of Crap

Stop laughing.  And stop asking what else is new.

And if you don't want to read something that is most likely TMI about my bowels, click the X in the upper right corner now.

But yes, this is the official diagnosis of the cause of my abdominal pain.

The medical assistant from my doctor's office called me yesterday.  Told me the x-ray I had a few days ago was all normal except that it showed "a very large amount of stool in my colon."  Told me that constipation is the cause of all my gastrointestinal symptoms.

Now, I would have thought that the fact that I poop on a regular basis, pretty much every day, would indicate that I am not constipated.  But apparently I would have been mistaken.  Apparently I am not pooping enough.

The MA told me to go buy some over-the-counter Miralax and take it once a day.  I told her the doctor she works for prescribes Miralax for me and I already take it once a day, have been doing so for a couple of years now.  I really hate it when medical folks don't even bother to look at your chart before telling you stuff. 

So she told me to take it twice a day for "a little while."  I asked her how long a little while was.  She didn't know, put me on hold to go ask.  Came back and said for two weeks.

Honestly, I am not convinced that is the cause of my problem.  But I will take the Miralax twice a day for two weeks and see what happens.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Card

Issac and I got a Christmas card from one of our neighbors.
"Kellie and Dog I love very much."  How sweet is that?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Visit to the Hospital

I had to go to the local hospital today for some blood work and x-rays. Isaac was really good. He's been there with me before for lab work and he thinks it's pretty boring. He just lies down on the floor and dozes while the phlebotomist draws my blood.

I don't get x-rays as often as I get blood work, naturally, and this was the first time Isaac has gone to the hospital with me for x-rays. One of the x-ray techs offered to hold his leash right outside the room where they were taking the x-ray for me so he wouldn't be exposed to the radiation. I realize hospital staff aren't required to do that and had planned to put him in a down stay in the corner behind the shield thing where the tech taking the x-ray would stand. I had thought about it in advance and had a plan.

But the tech seemed to want to hold the leash and I thought that was an even better plan, so I said OK. I noticed she looked a bit disappointed as I handed her the leash and she said "I'm not allowed to pet him, am I?" 

I told her if she was holding his leash, she could pet him if she wanted to but warned her that he would be very friendly and she might get some kisses. She seemed very happy to hear that and did indeed get some kisses. 

As we were leaving, the tech said "It's nice to have a well-behaved dog in here!" I wonder if that means they see some poorly-behaved "service dogs" often?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Medical Stuff

So I've been having some stomach issues for the past month or so.  Probably a little longer.  Some heartburn, some pain, mostly after I eat, and some nausea.  Not all the time, not even every day, but almost every day.  And not every time I eat, but maybe half the time.  It usually passes in less than an hour but it's unpleasant and seems to be getting worse, not better.

I'm worried it might be an ulcer.  But it could be something else.  I went to the doctor Friday, hoping for something like gastritis.

He didn't seem to think that was it.  He ordered some labs, at least most of which I expect to come back normal because I had labs done less than six months ago and they were all fine then.  But one of the things he is checking is my liver function and I guess it's possible that could be off.

He also ordered an abdominal x-ray.  I think he's looking for liver problems.  I'm thinking an upper GI x-ray might have been a better thing to do, but I'm going with what he suggests to start with.

I'm also taking omeprazole to reduce stomach acid, but it doesn't seem to be having much of an effect so far.

Anyway, tomorrow I am planning to go get the labs and x-ray done.  I'm worried that it might be an ulcer due to the turmeric I take to reduce inflammation (because I can't take NSAIDS due to my gastric bypass, and I think it's really helped my back pain and I would hate to have to stop taking it) and/or the glucosamine I take for my fibro and arthritis.  An ulcer would suck for many reasons, including the fact that it would probably mean I'd have to stop the turmeric and maybe the glucosamine, and to diagnosis it for certain I'd probably have to have an endoscopy and that's something I'd have to get someone to drive me for because they sedate you for it, and even then it might not be possible to diagnose it because I could have an ulcer in my "blind stomach" which is stapled off due to my gastric bypass and you can't scope that, and...

Well, it would just suck.  I need it to not be an ulcer.  Of course, something wrong with my liver would suck, too.

I'd like it to just go away, whatever it is.  But since it's been over a month, I guess it's not going to just go away by itself.

Impressive Retrieval

Yesterday at the grocery store, I dropped a container of yogurt on the floor.  It was one of those square-shaped containers with the foil tops.  I asked Isaac to pick it up for me and he did, right away.  I thought there was a good chance he'd puncture the foil top with his teeth, but figured I'd buy it anyway and just take it home and put it in another container if that happened.  But he picked it up very carefully, very gently, and gave it to me without a tooth mark on it.  Good job!

Friday, December 5, 2014


Last night I dreamed about acorns. Yeah, I know that's weird. But here's what an online dream dictionary says it means.

"To see an acorn in your dream symbolizes strength and durability. Seemingly small beginnings will have the greatest potential for growth. Don't underestimate your minor goals.

"To dream that you are eating acorns or picking them from the ground suggests that you will enjoy the benefits of your success after long and hard work."

Hopefully that means all this hard work will pay off.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Sign of How Tired and Overwhelmed I Am

This week has been incredibly busy.  For me, anyway.  I know for many people, it would seem like a light week.

But here's what I've had to do:

Monday - tutoring 1 - 4

Tuesday - vet appointment, then tutoring 5 - 6

Wednesday - tutoring 1 - 4

Thursday - dentist appointment, then tutoring 5 - 6

And tomorrow I have - doctor's appointment (for stomach problems, I'm actually worried I might have an ulcer), then tutoring 1 - 4

Add in working on a few articles, preparing for tutoring sessions (which has been a fair amount of work, actually), doing enough laundry to have clean clothes to wear, doing enough dishes to have clean glasses to drink out of, running a few necessary errands like picking up prescriptions.

That totally doesn't seem like that much, does it?  But it's so much more than I usually have on my plate.  Add in the fact that I haven't been sleeping well.  I've had an increase in fibro pain recently, although it's still not as bad as it was last winter and spring, so I am thankful for that. 

I've had a fair number of nightmares lately, too.  I actually woke up screaming one night this week, which I haven't done in quite a while.  I was sleeping on the couch and woke myself up screaming and then I heard Isaac, who had been sleeping in my bed, hit the floor.  He came out to the living room, came over to the couch to check on me.  I asked him to turn on the light, which he did.  I petted him for a couple minutes, then told him he could go back to bed, and he did.  It was nice that he came out to check on me, though.

I'm not quite sure what's causing the increase in pain and the trouble sleeping and the nightmares and everything.  I think it all feeds into each other.  I feel tired from being extra busy, then I have more pain, then it's harder to sleep, then I get more tired, which causes more pain.  Then I am anxious and in pain and have nightmares, which make it even harder to sleep and make me more tired, which causes more anxiety and more pain, and on and on and on.

Last night I met a friend at Pizza Hut for dinner.  We eat there about twice a month.  I got there first so I went on inside, got a table and ordered.  When my friend arrived, Isaac came out from under the table to greet him.  He said hi to Isaac, then asked me, "Where is Isaac's vest?"

I looked at Isaac and realized for the first time that I'd forgotten to put his vest on before we went into the restaurant.  I never, ever take him into a business without his vest on.  But somehow I just totally forgot.  And I didn't even notice he wasn't wearing it.

No one said anything, maybe because we eat at that Pizza Hut often enough that the employees all know us and recognize Isaac and know he is a service dog.  Of course, legally service dogs aren't required to wear vests but I would expect someone to ask questions about a dog that isn't wearing one. 

I think I was just so tired and feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff I had to do that I totally forgot about his vest.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Dog is Brilliant - Update on Training Retrievals with the Laser Light

Isaac and I have been working on using the laser light to point at things I want him to pick up for me and he is just the smartest dog ever.  He learns so quickly.  We spent the weekend working on it and then didn't even practice it at all yesterday, between going to the vet and me tutoring and just being really busy.  So I just now asked him to pick up a couple things and used the light to tell him what I wanted him to pick up and he did it right away.

I'm going to get someone to take a video of him doing it.  I can't really take the video myself because I only have two hands and my arms aren't long enough.  But I will post it as soon as I can get someone to do it for me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Diagnosis Confirmed

I took Isaac to the vet today for an ear infection. I was pretty sure he had an infection in his left ear because he kept shaking his head and when I looked in both ears, the right one looked fine and the left one was very gunky. I mean, very very gunky.

So the vet says, "You know, an easy way to tell if he has an ear infection is to smell his ears." And the foolish man sticks his nose into Isaac's left ear. After which he promptly looked as if he might throw up.

The vet, I mean. Not Isaac. Isaac looked just fine. But the vet looked like he was about to lose his lunch.

Yeah. I am not sticking my nose into any infected doggie ears.

So now Isaac must get his ears washed once a day and ointment put into the infected ear twice a day.  He doesn't seem to mind much.  He is so agreeable.

He was very good at the vet's today, but then, he always is.  However, he did seem eager to leave.  When we came out of the exam room and down the hall to the waiting area, I turned left toward the desk to pay our bill and Isaac tried to keep going straight, to the exit door.  Apparently he was ready to leave.

Even with our service dog discount, today's visit cost me $52.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

I Think It's an Ear Infection

I've decided the ick is Isaac's ear is not mud.  I think he has an ear infection.  It's just in one ear, the left one.  I keep cleaning it out and cleaning it out and there is just more and more of it.  It's like a brownish, kinda thick discharge and occasionally I get a reddish streak or two, not bright red but more like rust-colored, which I think is blood.  I am calling the vet tomorrow.  He doesn't seem to be feeling bad at all, other than shaking his head vigorously at times.  But I don't think it's likely to clear up on its own.

I do not mind taking Isaac to the vet.  I want him to be healthy and get the medical care he needs.  This is a really busy week for me but I will work it out.  Hopefully we can get in tomorrow or the next day.