Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tax Deductible Service Dog Stuff

A few days ago, I posted an article written by my friend and accountant, Traci McGowan, about how your service dog might be tax deductible.

What service dog-related expenses can be deductible?  Pretty much all of them, including:
  • dog food
  • treats
  • toys
  • collars
  • leashes
  • vests
  • harnesses
  • crate
  • food/water dishes
  • doggie bed
  • vet bills
  • mileage when you drive your service dog to the vet
  • flea, tick and heart worm prevention
  • professional groomer
  • brush, comb, shampoo, nail clippers, other grooming supplies
  • dog walker (or, in Isaac's case, runner)
  • dog sitter (which I doubt is needed often for a service dog, but if it is needed, it would be deductible)
  • boarding (also probably not needed much)
  • doggie daycare (also probably not needed much)
  • someone to scoop the poop in your yard
  • pooper scooper and poop bags (if you scoop your own yard and buy bags for that purpose - I just use plastic grocery sacks)
So make sure you save all those receipts!

Isaac is So Full of Energy

There is this tower at the park we were at today that you can climb to get a view from up high. It's probably about as high as two full flights of stairs. I never go up it although I have occasionally sat on the steps for a minute to rest. Isaac usually just ignores it. Today, for some reason, he decided to run up the steps to the top. Then he ran back down, then ran up again. Mind you, this was after we'd been hiking for nearly an hour. See him up at the top there?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Acupuncture Today

Today I had acupuncture.  I think this was my fifth session.  No, sixth.  Something like that.

I'm having a lot less pain.  I mean, I still have random aches.  My hips have improved so much since starting acupuncture, though.  I've had some pain periodically in the right hip.  My left hip doesn't hurt at all.  My elbows barely hurt.  It's really amazing how much better I feel, physically.

I've also seen a massage therapist twice and will be seeing her again in two weeks.  I still have huge knots in the muscles of my neck and shoulders.  But she gets them out.  I think it's helping.

The downside?  Well, besides the cost.  Which I think is worth it.

The downside is that I am feeling more anxious now.  I have had some new memories of trauma.  I think that feelings and memories that were being held in my body are being released.  Which is probably really a good thing, but it doesn't feel so good, you know?

Today during my acupuncture session, I was lying on my back, listening to this relaxation CD with ocean sounds on it.  And I started to cry.  I wasn't exactly sure why I was crying, but I cried a little bit.  I was pretty much stuck in the position I was lying in, because I had needled in both hands and in both feet and it hurt to move either hand even a little bit and it also hurt to move my left foot at all.  All I could comfortable move was my right foot and my head and neck.  I could turn my head from side to side.

Isaac was lying at on the floor near the end of the table I was on.  I turned my head to the right and called to Isaac and he got up and came over to the head of the table and sat by my head, looking at me intently.  There wasn't anything I needed him to do.  I would have petted him if I could have reached over without the needles being in the way and causing pain, but since I couldn't, I didn't.  I felt better just having him near me.  After a minute, I told him he could lie down, and he did.

Having Isaac with me is an immense help.  Dealing with all these feelings and memories really sucks, though.

Mammography Results

So I had my follow up mammogram and also an ultrasound.  The radiologist thinks it is just a cyst and nothing to worry about.  I am supposed to have another mammogram and ultrasound in six months to see if there have been any changes.  If there are changes, I might need a biopsy.

I am relieved not to have to worry about a biopsy right now.  If I need one in six months, well, I'll worry about it then.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Woof! Is My Service Dog Tax Deductible?

From my good friend, accountant and tax adviser, Traci McGowan.

A few of my tax clients are disabled persons. Some are able to work, most are not. All have an extreme number of medical expenses throughout the year they have to keep records of in order to continue to qualify for certain benefits in the cities/counties where they reside. While keeping track of all medical expenses can be a bit tedious, I’ve learned not everyone knows all those expenses could be deductible when it comes time to file taxes.

The IRS defines medical expenses as “the cost of diagnosis, cure, treatment, or prevention of disease, and the costs for treatment affecting any part or function of the body. These expenses include payments for legal medical services rendered by physicians, surgeons, dentists, and other medical practitioners. They include the costs of equipment, supplies, and diagnostic devices needed for these purposes.”

So if you paid anything out of your pocket for medical expenses between January 1st and December 31st of last year, they are considered to be tax deductible (you can’t claim those items your insurance or some other agency/person paid on your behalf). This includes expenses incurred for those disabled persons who have a service dog.

Service dogs are amazing animals. For readers who don’t know, the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service dogs as any dog that has been individually trained “to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” And the IRS says “you can include in medical expenses the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually impaired or hearing disabled person, or person with other physical disabilities. In general, this includes any costs, such as food, grooming, and veterinary care, incurred in maintaining the health and vitality of the service animal so that it may perform its duties.”

It’s important to note two things. First: the service animal must be a dog. Any other type of animal trained or untrained are not considered service animals (although it’s really cool if your ferret can turn the lights on and off for you!). Second: the IRS does not go to great lengths to list out disabilities so you must make certain you are being treated by a medical practitioner. He/she will not only have a solid record of your disability, they can recommend whether or not your particular disability would benefit from a life aided by a service dog.

Many persons think a service dog is only for someone who is blind (i.e. guide dog), a disability can take on many forms from physical to emotional. If a person’s life is hindered on a day to day basis where they are unable to function normally, those persons may have a service dog. Some of those persons may have disabilities such as:

  • ·         Paralysis or other mobility limitations
  • ·         Blindness, deafness, and so forth
  • ·         Diabetes
  • ·         Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • ·         Cancer
  • ·         Autism
  • ·         Epilepsy
  • ·         Bone and/or skeletal issues (i.e osteoporosis)
  • ·         Wounded vet (armed service member)
  • ·         Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

If you’re a disabled person who is under the care of a medical practitioner and you have a service dog, all of your expenses pertaining to the care and well-being of your service dog are tax deductible. I recommend you make sure your practitioner has sufficient documentation in your file to support your life with your service dog. Also, in the same manner you keep every medical receipt for your personal history, keep all of your receipts pertaining to the care and well-being of your service dog. It’s a lot of paper, but at the end of the year the documentation has the potential of maximizing your medical expense deduction when it comes time to file your taxes.

Traci McGowan is an accounting and tax professional living in the Metro Detroit area. When she’s not crunching numbers, she spends time with her brother (who’s a disabled adult) and her attention demanding cat-Tigger. 

Edited to add: Traci passed away unexpectedly a little over a year ago.  She is greatly missed.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

But Don't Worry, It's Nothing Serious...

So when someone from the mammography department of the hospital where you had your mammogram calls you on a Sunday afternoon to ask you to come in the next day for more tests, and then tells you not to worry, it's most likely nothing serious.... well, do they typically call people on a Sunday afternoon to schedule a test for the very next day for things that are not at all serious?

When I had to have the biopsy of my left breast, it turned out to be a benign calcium deposit.  And on the  mammogram, it looked like it could be a calcium deposit.  They told me it was quite possibly a calcium deposit.  They just needed to do the biopsy to make sure.

This time, in my right breast, the radiology tech that just called me to schedule my appointment for tomorrow, says it is not a calcium deposit.  It appears like thicker-than-normal tissue and looks different than it did last time I had a mammogram done.  It could just be overlapping glandular tissue.  Another view of the area may show that's what it was.

But it is not the same thing it was last time.  That worries me for some reason.  I was expecting it to be the same thing.

Running Across the Frozen Pond

Isaac was rather confused to find the pond frozen.  He wanted to get a drink out of it.  But then he figured out that he could run across the ice.  He liked that.

Eating Snow

I finally got a video clip of Isaac eating snow today.

Is that not the cutest thing ever?

Notice all the poop on him?  Yeah.  He had a great time at the park today.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Got the Results from My Mammogram

Last week I had a mammogram and today I found out I have to go get more images taken of my right breast. Almost two years ago, I had to have a biopsy of my left breast, which turned out to be benign, but it was very stressful. I don't want to go through that again.

I also kind of feel like my body has betrayed me. I do a lot of things to try to stay healthy. I am disabled, but in many ways, I am healthier than many people I know. I eat a pretty healthy diet, no meat, little sugar, not a lot of processed foods,not five servings of fruits and veggies every day but I probably average three servings a day, eat organic local stuff when I can, etc.  I take vitamins, a lot of them because of my gastric bypass, carefully planned based on my lab results.  I am a healthy weight, maybe slightly overweight according to my BMI, but just a little.  I exercise regularly, just hiking with my dog, but it's exercise, lately about 30 to 60 minutes maybe four days a week because of the cold but when it was warmer it was more like 60 to 90 minutes at least six days a week.  I meditate. I don't smoke, almost never drink (a glass of wine a few times a year, maybe), see my doctor regularly, etc.

I feel like I do all the things I am supposed to but my body doesn't do what it is supposed to.  In fact, it does weird things, like that gum infection/inflammation that lasted for seven months that none of the specialists I saw could figure out.  I just feel sad.  I feel like my body and I are not on the same side.  I feel like my body doesn't like me.  Of course, I have spent much of my life not liking my body, so why would it like me?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Befriending the Elephant

This is just a rough draft and needs some editing.  But here it is, so far.

Befriending the Elephant

It's hard to get rid of it.
It won't fit through the door.
Maybe you could kill it, dismember it,
but somehow that seems cruel,
and also messy,
the blood would stain the carpet,
you'd never get it out.

You can't just ignore it.
Oh, you've tried,
only to discover
you sat right in a huge pile of elephant shit,
only to have the elephant
step on your toes,
bruising them, breaking those little bones.

What's left, other than to befriend the beast?

Those Toenails!

A couple days ago, I was lying on the floor with Isaac, working on DPT (deep pressure therapy).  I am working on having Isaac lie on top of me, all stretched out.  This is something we would only do at home, I'm not going to lie on the floor in the grocery store or a restaurant and have my dog lie on top of me.  But it applies warmth and pressure and relieves anxiety and helps with some types of pain and muscle spasms.

Well, lying still is not exactly Isaac's forte, not yet.  We are working on it.

But he was doing well.  I was surprised, actually.  And then he rolled off me, but stayed all stretched out along my side for a bit, and enjoyed a belly rub.

And then I guess he decided he'd had enough and it was time to jump up and play.  So he rolled to his feet very quickly and gave himself a little push - a push with one front paw right on my face!

Stung, too!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Service Dogs in Tattoo Shops

There was recently a discussion on Facebook about whether or not service dogs are allowed in tattoo shops.  Apparently some people with service dogs have been told by shop owners that service dogs weren't allowed because it was a health hazard, because dander from the dogs could get under someone's skin and cause an infection or serious allergic reaction.  Other people had been taken their service dogs into tattoo shops with  no problems, however.

What was a bit odd to me was that some of the people that had been told they could not take their service dogs into tattoo shops accepted this and thought it was reasonable.  They said things like, "You can't take your service dog into the operating room when you have surgery.  A tattoo shop is the same way.  They keep it really clean and use sterile  needles and stuff."

Well, most tattoo shops are not like operating rooms.  Most people do not get tattoos in operating rooms.  If you do get a tattoo done in an operating room, you probably won't be able to have your service dog with you.  But I've never heard of a tattoo shop with its own operating room.

Tattoo shops probably are really clean.  So are dentists' offices and doctors' offices and many other places where service dogs are allowed.  Being really clean does not make a place an operating room and does not mean service dogs are not allowed.

Hopefully tattoo shops do use sterile needles.  The pharmacist at Rite Aid who gave me my flu shot used a sterile needle, too, but I didn't get my flu shot in an operating room.  Service dogs are allowed in Rite Aid and other pharmacies, of course.

For a definitive answer, I called the ADA Information Line and was told that a tattoo shop is not considered a sterile area and that service dogs are allowed in tattoo shops under the federal law.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Got a Mammogram Today

Today I had to get a mammogram and I took Isaac with me. The radiology tech remembered Isaac from when I was there having a stomach x-ray done about six weeks ago. She didn't remember me but she remembered Isaac. It's funny, but that is often the case.

Isaac was really good. I put him in a down stay behind the console where the tech would be while actually taking the x-ray. She had to take a total of four different x-rays and had to leave the console to reposition me, then return to the console, for each one. I asked her not to talk to Isaac or even look at him when she did so, because I figured he would take any attention whatsoever as an invitation to get up and socialize. He stayed right where I told him to under all the x-rays were done and I called him over to me.

The radiology tech reminded me that I'd let her pet Isaac last time we were there.  I took that as a hint that she'd like to pet him again.  I told her she could pet him when we were all finished, and Isaac was quite pleased to be told to "go say hi" to her.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Difference a Service Dog Can Make

This morning I woke up in a lot of pain.  My lower back hurt and my right hip hurt.  I could barely move.  I could barely sit up, barely get out of bed.  It took a few hours before I could move around easily.

I really needed to do at least one load of laundry.  I had no clean pants to wear.  If I hadn't had Isaac to get the laundry out of the dryer for me, I wouldn't have been able to do the laundry.  I'd be sitting here in dirty pants.  Or pants-less.  

Isaac was happy to pull out the clothes for me, like always.  He wagged his tail the whole time, thumping it loudly against the washing machine.  Now he is stretched out happily on the living room floor, cuddling his Kong.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cold Dog in the Car

This morning when we left the house, it was one degree above zero. Isaac normally sits up and looks out the window for a while, then lies down and snoozes. But this morning he immediately curled up in a tiny ball. I think he was trying to keep warm, poor doggie.

Meijer Gets It Right

Before I moved to my current apartment, I used to shop at Meijer a lot.  When I moved, I started shopping at the nearest Meijer, a different one than the one where I used to shop.  The employees there frequently bothered my service dog and/or bothered me about my dog.  Once an employee kept asking me if I was training him for a blind person.  When I said no, he was already trained, he was my service dog, she kept asking if I was sure.  Um.... yeah, I'm pretty sure I'd know.  Another employee didn't pet him but kept baby talking to him, even after I asked her to stop distracting him.

I talked to a manager, who said he would let the staff know how to behave around a service dog.  But the problems continued.  I spoke to another manager, who promised to take care of it.  But the next time I shopped there, it happened again.

So I stopped shopping there.  I wrote them a letter explaining why I would no longer shop there, and sent them some educational material about service dogs, and shopped elsewhere.  For about a year.

Recently, I have done some shopping at Meijer again, at that same store where I had all the trouble, because they had some really good sales and they sell some items I cannot get at Kroger.  And not one employee bothered me or my dog at all. 

Something has changed.  Apparently the staff has in fact been educated about service dogs.  They finally got it right.

I need to write them a letter thanking them for that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Collar

I ordered a new collar for Isaac recently.  It was custom made by Lindsay, with Paws Then Play.  It arrived yesterday.

Isaac carried the package into the house from the mailbox.
He was impatient for me to open it.  He thought the collar smelled very interesting.

I think it looks great on him.

He will not be wearing it to the park.  I hope to keep it poop-free, so no rolling in the stink.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Dog at the Doctor's Office

My doctor's appointment today went really well.

Normally, doctors' appointments make me really anxious, especially this kind of appointment.  I did take my anxiety meds right before I went in, but I felt pretty calm the whole time.  I think the acupuncture is helping with my anxiety.

Isaac did really well, too.

Here he is sitting beside my knees in the waiting room.

And here he is in the exam room.  This is where he stayed during the whole exam.  Mostly he had his head on his paws, dozing.  He looked up when I was taking his picture, though.

Seeing My Primary Care Physician Today

I have an appointment this afternoon with my primary care physician for a pap test and breast exam and all that annual woman stuff.  I do that with my PCP because there's no need to see a specialist like a gynecologist for it and my PCP charges less and I know and like him.  Why see another doctor that I'd only see once a year and might not be as comfortable with?  Although I'd probably see a midwife instead for that stuff if there was one nearby.

I hate these appointments.  Who likes them?  But I really don't like them.  And I don't always do them annually like you're supposed to, but I do them as close to annually as I can bring myself to do.

Isaac will be going with me today.  He hasn't been to one of these appointments before.  But he's gone to so many  medical appointments lately, including the dentist, the periodontist, the oral surgeon, my PCP for other stuff, my rheumatologist, my psychiatrist, and the acupuncturist... he should be fine.  And I will feel better having him there.

Normally at medical appointments, I keep a hold of Isaac's leash.  But I'm thinking that may be kind of hard to do while I'm on the table having a gynecological exam.  I may just have Isaac do a down stay in the corner of the room instead.

Cold Doggie Vest

It's been very cold here for days.  Well, yesterday it got up to 30 degrees but prior to that, the highs had been something like 14 degrees.  The day I had my first acupuncture appointment, it was five below zero when Isaac and I left the house.

I normally keep Isaac's service dog vest in the car.  He never wears it in the house and by keeping it in the car, I make sure I always have it when I need it.  If I take it in the house, I'm likely to forget to take it with me when I leave to go somewhere.

Well, that really cold morning, I drove to my appointment with the heat in the car blasting.  Thirty minutes later, we arrived.  I went to put Isaac's vest on him and realized it was ice cold.  Despite being in the car with the heat blasting for 30 minutes, it was ice cold.  I didn't feel OK putting it on him when it was ice cold, so I sat in the parking lot in the car for several minutes, holding the vest up to the vent, with the heat blasting on it until it warmed up.

The vest is now staying in the house until the weather warms up.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


If you don't know what kefir is, it's a yogurt-type drink.  I've been drinking it lately for the probiotics.

This morning, Isaac decided to taste my blueberry kefir.  He appeared to like it quite well.  It was all over his nose.  Silly dog.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Yesterday I had an appointment with a doctor that is a chiropractor and also does acupuncture.  I've considered acupuncture for a long time but since there was no guarantee it would help me and my insurance doesn't cover it and it's expensive and I am fairly poor, I never tried it until now.

But I decided recently that I had to do something different.  Not only for the fibro pain, but everything else, too.  This UTI.  This weird gum infection that finally seems to be gone, but that I dealt with for so many months.  My PTSD.  I've been having more trouble sleeping lately, feeling more anxious and depressed, and at first I attributed that to tutoring more hours, but I'm not sure that's all of it.  And I felt like I needed to do something and I thought of calling my psychiatrist for an appointment (I'm not scheduled to see him again until March, I think), but then I thought, what is he going to do?  Prescribe more medication?  And I don't really want more psych meds.

A couple friends have tried to talk me into seeing a therapist.  But I don't want to.  I think it might help me, if I could feel safe enough doing so.  But it doesn't feel safe.  It's not just that I don't want to, I actually ended up having a pretty bad anxiety attack last night just talking about the possibility with a friend.

It feels to me like the fibro is very connected to the traumatic experience at the hospital a couple years ago.  Maybe some other stuff is related, as well.  It's hard to know.  How do you diagnose that? 

So I talked to another friend, a friend that happens to be a therapist but that I knew would also get it when I said I felt like there were trauma stuck in my body and that I thought past trauma was causing my fibro.  We talked, and I did some thinking, and then I decided that I have to do something.  I can't keep doing nothing and hope that things will somehow change.  That makes no sense.

So I made an appointment with a massage therapist.  I made an appointment with an acupuncturist.  And some other stuff.

But.  Acupuncture.  I love the acupuncturist.  She is fantastic.  And I felt great after my first session.  It was weird.  The first thing I noticed was that my vision seemed clearer.  It was like things were sharper, brighter, more in focus.  But my pain seemed better, too.  I came home from the appointment and took a nap and it was a great nap.  I woke feeling really refreshed.

Then later I had a conversation with a friend about seeing a therapist and had a big anxiety attack.  But still.  The acupuncture seemed to help.

The acupuncturist loves Isaac.  She said she'd like to have a therapy dog in her office some day.

Isaac was great during the appointment.  He lay down beside the bed I was on and took a nap.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Weather Outside Is Frightful....

Isaac (singing gleefully):

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But peeing is so delightful!
There's so many places I can go,
Yellow snow, yellow snow, yellow snow!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Hardware Store

I think Isaac has a new favorite place. We had to go to the hardware store to try to get a copy of my mailbox key made (which we weren't able to get because they did not have the right blank to make a copy). I live in a tiny country town and we don't have Lowe's or anything like that. We have Joe's hardware. A bunch of old farmer-type men hang out there and talk about the weather and their gall bladder surgeries and the like. Well, the old men all love dogs, apparently. And Isaac loves everyone. I warned one old guy that Isaac might kiss him and he was delighted. Isaac did indeed kiss him and he kissed Isaac right back. Isaac was also delighted.

To the Emergency Room Physician that Assaulted Me

I am writing this letter because I hope it will help me heal.  I don’t really expect you to care about how your actions have affected me.  If you were the type of person that cared about things like that, you would not have assaulted me in the first place.  I used to be a social worker and I worked in a batterers’ intervention program, so I know, personally and professionally, how unlikely it is for abusers to actually change their behavior.  I wish you would at least take a moment to think about how much damage your abusive behavior has caused, I wish you would change, but I don’t expect you to.

You saw me in the emergency room a little over a year ago.  It was November 23, 2012.  I came to the ER because I’d cut myself on both forearms with an exacto knife.  I suffer from major depression and PTSD, which I explained to ER staff.

I had about 50 cuts on each forearm.  My arms were swollen and sore.  Here is a picture for you, in case you’ve forgotten how they looked.  This was taken the next day.

You put seven staples in my arms, with no anesthetic, no pain meds of any kind.  I asked for lidocaine before you started, complained of pain during the procedure, and requested pain medication repeatedly afterward, only to be ignored by you and by other staff people.  I didn’t try to refuse treatment because, while I understand I should have had the right to do so, I was afraid that right would not have been respected.  None of my other rights were being respected, after all.

The nurse had previously threatened to have me put in restraints when I said I didn’t want to put on a hospital gown.  There was no reason to put on a gown, you could have easily treated my arms with me fully dressed.  Threatening to put someone in restraints when they have a history of being tied down and raped is unbelievably horrible, but that’s what the nurse threatened to do to me, just because I wanted to keep my clothes on.  So I figured if I tried to refuse to allow you to staple my arms with no pain medication, I’d find myself in restraints while you did it anyway.  

I knew how emotionally upsetting being restrained would be.  “Upsetting” really doesn’t describe how it would feel.  It would remind me of what my father did to me when I was a child.  I would probably have a flashback.  I would be terrified.  And I figured no one in the ER would help me if that happened, since they weren’t helping me so far.  So I felt I had no choice but to allow you to staple my arms.

That’s not really consent, though.  If you threaten to hurt someone if they don’t comply, and so they comply, that isn’t consent.  You stapled my arms without my consent.  It hurt.  It was an assault.  You assaulted me right there in the emergency room and no one did anything about it.

Do you have any idea how that has affected me?  I bet you don’t.  But I’m going to tell you.

See, being assaulted can affect someone for a very long time.  It’s been more than two years since you assaulted me and I still have nightmares about it frequently.  Before you assaulted me, I was having nightmares about my father abusing me as a child a few times a month.  After you assaulted me, I began having nightmares much more often.  Sometimes the nightmares are about being in a hospital and sometimes they are about my father assaulting me, but I have them several times a week now instead of several times a month.

I have flashbacks, too.  I have flashbacks of you stapling my arms, only it goes on and on, and I can’t make it stop.  It’s terrifying and it feels like it’s happening now.  My arms hurt, even though I can see there are no wounds on them now.

Since you assaulted me, I have found it very difficult to seek any type of medical care.  I don’t trust doctors anymore.  Oh, I realize there are many good doctors out there, many compassionate, caring physicians.  I know most are not assholes like you.  But after being assaulted by a doctor, I find myself afraid that it might happen again.  So I don’t always get medical care now, even when I need it, because I am so afraid.  That’s your fault.  Before you assaulted me, I was never afraid of seeking medical care.

About six months after you assaulted me, I accidentally cut my finger while chopping an onion.  I am pretty sure it needed a couple stitches.  It bled for 15 hours.  I was too scared to go to the ER, though.  I was afraid they would refuse to give me anything for pain when they stitched the cut and I was afraid they would think I cut myself on purpose and insist on admitting me to a crappy psych ward involuntarily.  So I just bandaged it up tightly and stayed home.

When I had a mammogram that found something abnormal in one breast, I delayed having it biopsied for a while because I was afraid of going to the hospital.  I was afraid I’d be in a lot of pain after the surgery and that they wouldn’t give me pain medication.

I don’t know if I’ll ever feel safe going to an emergency room again.  I hate to allow you to have so much power over me, but the truth is, you are in a position of power and you should use that power wisely and carefully.  You should take care not to do harm.  You certainly shouldn’t be assaulting patients that come to you for care.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Custommade Flannel Menstrual Pads

This doesn't have much to do with service dogs, other than the fact that I use money I make by making and selling items to help pay for my service dog-related expenses.  But I'm posting it anyway.

I've been asked to make some custom menstrual pads for a couple friends and I think they turned out really well.

I also made some animal print-patterned pads for a friend for Christmas.  I made a little drawstring bag out of matching fabric to go with them.

I love flannel pads.  They are so soft and comfy.

You can see some that are ready to purchase in my Etsy store but if you're interested in a custom order, just email me at poet_kelly at yahoo dot com.

Retraining Recall

I mentioned a while back, I believe, that Isaac's recall needed some work.  Recall simply means when you call your dog to you, he comes.  Well, Isaac does - sort of.  But on his own time, not mine.  He's in no hurry.  If there is something more interesting, he will attend to that first, then get back to me.  I want to be able to let him run off leash but I can't really do that safely without a good recall.  And even if you never let a dog off leash, he still needs a good recall, really, in case something ever happens where he gets away from you.

I realized that to Isaac, the command "come" seems to mean "come on over here, sweetie, when you feel like it."  So I needed I new command, one that would mean "get your butt over here this instant!"  I considered various words, but couldn't decide upon one.

I ended up deciding to get a whistle.  I got one that I can put on my keychain.  It's a loud sound and a sound Isaac is not used to and the sound can carry a lot further than my voice.  That whistle will mean "get over here right now!"

Today we started our work on his whistle recall.

My goal in training this recall is that he will believe that the whistle means he comes and it cannot possibly mean anything else.  I want him to come when he hears the whistle, no matter what he is doing, no matter what else is going on.

But we had to start with something easy.  We had to start with simply teaching him that the whistle means come.

So we started in my living room.  There was nothing interesting going on and in fact, Isaac was rather bored because had hadn't gotten to go for a run or even a good walk in a couple days due to inclement weather.  So when he realized I was getting ready to do something, well, he was pretty interested and eager to participate, whatever it was.

Plus, I had hot dogs.  Isaac will do just about anything for a hot dog and so was paying close attention because he wanted to figure out what it was he had to do to get a bite of hot dog.

So I told him to sit and told him to stay, and he did, watching  me very closely to see what I wanted him to do for those hot dogs.  I sat down across the room, gave the command "come" and then blew the whistle.  Isaac, of course, raced over to me as fast as he could and claimed his reward.

We did that three times.  Then, instead of saying "come," I just blew the whistle and motioned to him to come.  And he came running.  We did that twice.

A couple hours later, we did it again.  Only that time, I didn't say "come," I just blew the whistle and motioned him to come.  We did that twice, and then we did it a couple more times, with me just blowing the whistle.  And he understood that the whistle meant to come.

A couple hours later, we did it again.  That time I only blew the whistle.  We did it in different rooms of the house, which is important so he realized the whistle means the same thing wherever we are.

Isaac thought it was a great game.  He got to run across the room and eat hot dogs.  What could be more fun?

I, of course, think he is brilliant.  He figured out what the whistle means so fast.