Thursday, April 30, 2015

I Didn't Realize There Was a Dog!

Earlier today Isaac and I were at McDonald's, me working on my laptop and Isaac practicing his down stay.  It was pretty busy there and he was doing really well.  In fact, when we were ready to leave, he was sleeping so soundly under the table that I had to nudge him in the butt with my foot to wake him up!

So then he stood up and kind of shook himself off.  I don't like him doing that in restaurants.  I know it's a normal thing for a dog to do when they first get up but it's not a good thing to do in a restaurant because fur goes flying and not everyone is as comfortable with dog hair in their food as I am.  Sometimes I am able to put my hand on his side and stop him from doing it.  Then when we get outside, I tell him "Shake it off" and let him do it then.  Other times, I at least try to make sure he is not shaking right beside a table where someone else is eating.  Today, he was still under the table when he shook himself off, so it was a kind of half-shake because he didn't have much room.

And then he came out from under the table and this guy seated across from our table said, all surprised, "Wow!  I didn't even realize there was a dog there!"

And I love hearing that.  That means he was doing exactly what he was supposed to do.


Sometimes I get so frustrated by my disability.

No, that's not quite accurate. By my limitations. By the things I can't do and want to do or even need to do.

I have been having a lot of trouble with my car and I have to get a new car. Well, a used car, but new to me. I live in the middle of no where, there is no public transportation, I cannot be stuck here without a car. It is a mile to the nearest store, and while I could walk a mile there and back, at least most days, with my back problems I could carry very little home in the way of groceries. And all my doctors are far away. I have to have a car.

Well, I do not have much money for a car, so my options are very limited. It is becoming apparent to me I am not going to be able to find anything in any kind of decent condition for what I can spend. And it is using up a lot of spoons looking. So my first thought was, well, I need to work more to make more money, and I also need to spend less money, so I should cut back on my acupuncture appointments.

And then I thought about that for a minute. That would have worked, maybe 12 years ago. But now? Work more and do the only thing that helps me manage my pain less? That sounds like a sure recipe for disaster. I can't do that.

But that is the only way I am going to be able to get a car and I need a car. And I want to be able to do it. I want to be able to work hard and then get what I need. I want to be able to do it and I just know I can't.

Swimming with Geese

You've heard of swimming with sharks?  Or swimming with dolphins?  The other day, Isaac swam with the geese at our local state park.

He had a blast.  I think the geese were playing with him.  First he would jump into the lake and swim toward one.  Then it would flap its wings hard and honk really loudly at him and he would turn around and swim the other way, as if intimidated by the goose.  Which was probably smart of him.  Those things can pinch. 

And Isaac is a big baby when it comes to things like that.  He was horribly offended and acted like he was mortally wounded when Mike's cat Indigo swatted him on the nose, and she didn't even use her claws.

Then he would swim towards another goose.  But the first goose would then swim towards him.  And when the second goose flapped and honked, Isaac would turn around and swim after another one.

He spent about an hour swimming with them.  Afterward, he was worn out.  He slept really well that night!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Busy Days

The last few days have been very busy.  Well, yesterday, not so much.  But Monday was, and again today.

Monday I had a bunch of errands to run, including a trip to the welfare office.  I had to go mystery shopping.  I got this gig as a mystery shopper and it's pretty cool.  So I had to go to a particular grocery store and buy a few things (for which I am reimbursed) and ask questions of employees in particular departments.  Then I had to tutor.  Then I had to go home and provide some data online about the  mystery shopping job and upload my receipt to prove I really did the job.

Isaac did great.  He had to do a down stay of about 40 minutes at the welfare office, then later we stopped at a McDonald's because I had a little time to kill before I could go mystery shopping because I had to do it between certain hours, so I had something to drink and did a little work on my laptop and he had to do another down stay of about 40 minutes more.  Then he had to do a longer down stay at the library while I tutored.  He would have a hard time doing so many long down stays every day, but he did great.

Yesterday I took him to the park and he ran around for a while and then swam in the lake for about a hour.  He swam a lot.  He loved it.  He was very worn out afterward, but he had a great time.

Today was another busy day.  I had an appointment this morning, had to come home and work on an article I needed to finish, then had an appointment with my psychiatrist, then went shopping for a new-to-me used car (did not have much luck, apparently there are not many options in my very limited price range), then came home and finished the article I'd been working on earlier.

Isaac did very well today, too.  Several down stays were required and he did just fine.

I am hoping we can have a nice walk tomorrow but I think it is supposed to rain.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Cat at the Grocery Store

This happened a couple weeks ago but I am just now getting around to writing about it.

Isaac and I were on our way into a grocery store.  Just as we walked through the front door, Isaac stopped.  He was looking at something outside.  I stopped and looked to see what he was looking at.

It was a cat.  On the sidewalk in front of the store, half-hidden behind some potted plants for sale.  She was all puffed up to make herself look big and fierce, staring at the big doggie that was staring back at her.

I have said before that I was not sure what Isaac would do if he saw a small furry creature or a deer in a store.  Outside, when he's not working, he wants to chase them.

I was quite relieved, and also very proud of Isaac, that he resisted the urge to bolt after the cat.

He was really interested in watching it, though.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saw Another Service Dog

Last week, Isaac and I saw another service dog shopping with a woman at our local grocery store.  It surprised me, because we never see other service dogs.  This is the fourth time in the two plus years I've had Isaac that we've run into another service dog somewhere.

Isaac was surprised and fascinated.  He stared.  Rudely.

Let me recap a bit. 

The first time we ever saw another service dog was at the library.  Isaac barked.  Excessively.  Like he was going to eat that dog up.  I quickly left the library, embarrassed and frustrated and full of guilt, because I must be a bad service dog owner if my dog was behaving that way. 

The second time was at my favorite thrift store.  Isaac barked.  Just once.  I quickly let him away.  I bought the items in my cart and left, afraid to try to continue shopping because he might see the dog again and bark more.

The third time was at another grocery store.  Isaac stared.  He did not bark.  I quickly made a detour down the pet supply aisle and snagged a bag of dog treats so I could reward Isaac frequently for paying attention to me and not barking at the other dog. 

And now this is the fourth time.  Isaac stared.  He kept his eyes peeled for the dog the rest of the time we were shopping.  He was somewhat distracted.  I think that is to be expected, though, since he so rarely sees other dogs in stores.

But he behaved.  The distraction didn't bother me.  I understand it and he wasn't behaving badly.

I did not have to buy an emergency bag of dog treats.  He didn't bark.  He didn't embarrass me.

I am happy.

I wish we had the opportunity to train around other service dog teams, though.  That would be good.  Maybe I will see if I can set up a meet and greet or something.

Friday, April 24, 2015

What Terrifies Me

Something that creeps in to terrify me in the still dark of night is the thought that one day Isaac will leave me. Because no one lives forever, you know. If I am lucky, I will have Isaac for another 10 or 12 years. Maybe a little bit longer but 16 would be a good long life for a lab. Ten years simultaneously seems like a long time and like the blink of an eye.

I cannot imagine my life without Isaac. Isaac is my best friend now. How can I survive the loss of my best friend without my best friend to help me through it? And he's not only my best friend, but my only really close friend.

When my cat Eileen died, who was my best friend, long before I had Isaac, I don't know how I would have survived it without Mike. As it was, even with Mike, I barely got through it.

I depend on Isaac so much. I depend on him physically, to help me with all these daily activities, and I depend on him emotionally, too. If he was suddenly not here anymore, I would have so much more trouble with daily chores, I would have so much  more pain, that would all be so stressful... and I wouldn't have him to help me cope with that stress. I would be so alone.

I try not to think about it because it scares me so much. I know one day it will happen and I hope that day is far in the future and I just don't know how I will cope with it when it comes. It's the thing that scares me more than anything right now.

In Line at McDonald's

Old man (looking at Isaac): Is that the same kind of dog they had over at the hospital?

Me (because how would I know what kind of dog someone had at some hospital at some time): I don't know.

Old man: I think that was the same kind of dog.  I think that one passed away, though.

Me (wondering why people always want to tell me about dead dogs): I'm sorry to hear that.

Old man: What kind of dog is that, anyway?

Me: He's a lab.

Old man: No, I know that.  I mean what's he for?

Me: He's a service dog.

Old man: A service dog?

Me: Yes.

Old man: So he helps you get around and stuff?

Me: Yes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Working on the Down Stay at McD's

Isaac and I are continuing to work on his down stay. This is about 40 minutes in at McDonald's. It's pretty busy and noisy here and I'm having trouble concentrating on my work, but Isaac is doing great.

I'm planning to stay for just over an hour, maybe 70 minutes or so.

Although I am looking forward to getting out of here. It is too noisy to get any work done. Apparently every old person in my little town gathers at McDonald's and stays until lunch time and they talk loudly to each other, calling to their friends all across the restaurant. Isaac thinks it is pretty interesting, though. He likes people watching. One old man keeps commenting that Isaac is looking at him and his wife keeps telling him "He's probably never seen anything as strange as you before, dear."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What Does That Mean?

Today at the office supply store, an older man started talking to Isaac. Then he read the patch on Isaac's vest that says "Please do not pet me, I'm working."

He said, "Do not pet me... what does that mean?"

I'm like, "It means don't pet him. He's working and it distracts him."

The guy says, "Oh, is that what it means?"

I say "yes."

And then he starts telling me how he used to have three dogs but they died.

The Surface Area of a Service Dog

I was trying to think of a fun activity for this kid I am tutoring in seventh grade math.  We needed to work on some geometry, particularly surface area, but beyond that, I wanted to come up with something that would really make him think.  He is a bright kid and is quite capable of thinking, but prefers to avoid it as much as possible, at least when it comes to math.  He does not enjoy math, and I don't blame him, I don't enjoy it, either.  But I needed an activity that would engage him.

Also, he doesn't like to "show his work."  Which means, he doesn't want to write down his work, he prefers to solve math problems in his head rather than on paper.  Which would be fine with me, if he was good at it.  But he is not.  Plus, middle school math teachers typically want kids to show their work.  So I needed an activity that would require writing his work down.

And he rushes through his work, because he doesn't enjoy it and wants to get it over with fast.  Only then he  makes mistakes.  I have tried to point out that when he rushes and then makes a lot of mistakes and fails a test and has to retake it, that really backfires because instead of getting it over with fast, it ends up taking a lot longer.  And if he fails math for the year and has to take the whole class over again next year, that will really make it take a lot longer.  And since he doesn't enjoy it, it would really suck to have to do it all over again next year.  He agreed I had a point there.  But still tends to rush through his work in a disorganized way.

Last week I took a bunch of circles (round lids, to be precise) and had him measure them and calculate the circumference and area of each one.  I wanted to do something more interesting today.

So I came up with the idea of having him measure Isaac and calculate the surface area of my service dog.  It turned out to be the best tutoring activity idea I have ever had.

The kid looked at me like I was nuts when I first suggested it.  I shrugged and told him it was that or do some worksheets I'd brought.  He opted to measure the dog.

And then he got really into it.  He started sketching a diagram of Isaac, composed of shapes, without me suggesting it (although I was going to suggest starting that way, he just beat me to it).  And he was way more detailed than I would have been. 

We were on the floor beside Isaac, measuring each part of his body.  Well, mostly the kid measured.  My job was mostly telling Isaac when to stand up and when to sit back down, however the kid wanted him positioned to get the best measurements.  And he carefully wrote down each measurement.

Then, again without my suggesting it, the kid made a chart on which to record each of the calculations.  He had a space for the area of Isaac's ear, a space for the area of his knee joint, a space for the area of the tip of his tail.  He was being wonderfully organized.  I was amazed and impressed and kept telling him how awesome he was doing.

I told him I was going to email his teacher and tell her what we did and what a great job he did.  He asked me to take a picture of his sketch with all the measurements and his chart and everything to send to the teacher.  So I did.

I had to tell him twice when our session was over.  He was still working.  He was impressed with himself, I think.  And he should be.  He did great.

We did not have time to finish all the calculations, so he is going to finish them over the course of the week.  Next week when we get together, he will tell me the surface area of my service dog.

How neat is that?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Outdoor Dining at Chipotle

Isaac loves outdoor dining. I don't mean he loves to eat outdoors, although I'm sure he would like that. He likes to eat anywhere.

I mean he loves when I dine outdoors. He much prefers lying outdoors while I eat to lying under a table in a restaurant.

Today we went to Chipotle and it was really hot inside the restaurant. I could see that Isaac was uncomfortable just waiting in line for our food. So we opted to eat outdoors.

He's not under the table, except for his head, because we were sitting at a really tiny table and the base of the table took up most of the space under it. But there was plenty of room for him to lie next to the table without being in anyone's way.

He watched some birds and sniffed the air for a bit before settling in for a snooze.

No, I Don't Have Seizures

Today at the grocery store, I asked an employee a question.  After answering my question (sort of), he looked at Isaac, then looked back at me and asked, "So, do you have seizures?"

He was an older man and seemed very nice.  I feel certain he did not mean to be rude or intrusive.  But it is an intrusive question.  It's inappropriate and it is also a violation of the ADA to ask that.

I gave him my standard answer.  "I don't share personal information like that with people I don't know."

He apologized.  I really don't think he knew he shouldn't ask that.

But I was thinking maybe next time someone asks me something like that, maybe I'll say, "No, I don't have seizures, do you?"  Just for something different, you know.

I would have spoken to the manager before leaving the store, that's what I usually do, but I was running late.  So I will call the manager tomorrow.  Not to get the employee in trouble, but to suggest their employees need a bit of training in this regard, and to offer to send them some educational materials.  That's how I typically handle this sort of thing when it's an employee asking a question they aren't supposed to ask.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

'Tis the Season of the Tick

The weather has only been warm for a short time and already I have pulled four ticks off Isaac, three ticks off me, and one tick off the arm of my couch.

Isaac has a tick collar.  I was thinking maybe I needed a tick collar for myself, but since his collar doesn't seem to be doing him that much good, I guess there's no point.

I check both of us for ticks daily.  This morning I found one between his toes while I was clipping his toe nails.  So much for checking him yesterday when we got home from the park.

The first summer I had Isaac, the ticks were terrible.  Last summer, they were not so bad.  I am thinking this is going to be the worse summer yet.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Isaac's Best Day Ever

Yesterday at the park, Isaac got to chase some wild turkeys (did you know they can fly?  Well, when a big dog is charging across the field at them, they sure can!), chase some deer, roll in some poop and go for a swim.  He says it was the best day ever.

And here are couple pics of him enjoying a swim in the pond.

Cuddling the Kong

Last night Isaac brought me his Kong, but I told him it was night time and too late to play.  So he trotted off to bed, taking his Kong with him.  Later, I walked into the bedroom and saw this.  How cute is that?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

At the Library

Isaac continues to be a novelty at the library when I am tutoring there.  This week, when I went to use the restroom, a woman in there bent over to look more closely at him and then took a few steps after us, as if she was actually going to follow me into the stall.  I pretty much had to shut the door in her face.  How weird is that?

And when I was arranging my stuff on a table, a man that was tutoring a teenage kid at the nearest table (which was very close), started talking to the kid about my dog.  "That's a helper dog.  Or maybe it's a comfort dog.  It's some sort of service dog."

I was seriously considering turning to him and saying, "You know I can hear you, right?"

Then he started explaining to the kid, "You never, ever pet a service dog."

The kid asked, "Why?  Because it will bite?"

The man said, "No, it won't bite.  Because it's busy working."

Now, I have a really good explanation for kids that want to know why you shouldn't pet a service dog.  So I turned to them and said, "Because it distracts him when he is working.  Just like if I came over there and started petting you while you are trying to do your homework.  It would be hard to pay attention if I did that, wouldn't it?'

Kids always get that.  I've used the same explanation when telling employees of various businesses why they aren't supposed to pet service dogs.  "If I came over there and started petting you while you were trying to ring up my groceries, you'd have a hard time getting your job done, wouldn't you?"  I think they get it, too, but they often also look at me as if they are a bit worried I might hop over the counter and start molesting them.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Taking My Service Dog to Work

Most of the time, I work from home.  I work as a freelance writer, but I also do tutoring occasionally and sometimes other small jobs that require working somewhere besides my home.  With my last tutoring job, I was tutoring in the student's home and she would have been very distracted by my dog.  When the weather was nice enough, I took him with me but he stayed in the car.  With my current tutoring job, though, I am tutoring at a public library and I have been taking Isaac with me.

I wrote about it a few days ago and posted a picture of Isaac doing a lovely down stay while I worked.

The student I am currently tutoring is 13 years old.  Kids that age often feel pretty self-conscious and I wondered if he would be uncomfortable with my service dog there.  I wondered if people noticing Isaac and sometimes staring or approaching me to say something to me about Isaac or to talk to Isaac would make him uncomfortable or if he might feel embarrassed or something.  He doesn't seem to, though.  If it was making him really uncomfortable, I would leave Isaac at home.

Once Isaac is doing a down stay under the table where we are working, I guess he doesn't really attract much attention.  Often people don't even notice him under there.  It's more when I am arriving at the library or when I am on my way out, that's when people notice him and there is staring or pointing or comments.  And I think once I've been tutoring there a while, people will get used to seeing us and pay less attention.

And it's not like Isaac is attracting more attention there than he does anywhere else.  It's that I am used to it and it (mostly) doesn't bother me, but the kid I am tutoring isn't used to it and I thought it might bother him.  Although people aren't looking at him.  They are mostly looking at Isaac, and maybe at me, but mostly just at Isaac.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Working Dog at the Library

I recently got a new tutoring job.  Tutoring math, no less.  Which I had said I was never going to do again.  Unless it was maybe first grade level math.

But the brother-in-law of the mom of the kid I tutored over the winter, the kid that was here from another state with his mom who was undergoing medical treatment at the university hospital near here, the kid I tutored in all his subjects for six weeks... that kid's uncle called me.  His son, the cousin of the kid I had had tutored over the winter, needed help in math.  And his sister-in-law had given him my number and told him that I was the best tutor ever and that he must call me.

So I agreed to work with his kid.  Who is in 7th grade.  And is learning geometry at the moment.  Like how to calculate the volume of some weird-shaped container.  I can calculate the area and perimeter of basic shapes.  But the volume of some weird-shaped container?  Ugh.  I don't know if this is better than algebra or not.

The kid does not like to write his work down.  He wants to solve these problems in his head.  Which he is no good at.  Which I pointed out to him.

But anyway.  Here is a picture of Isaac doing a lovely down stay at the library yesterday for about 90 minutes.  Because the dad decided to talk my ear off after the tutoring session was over.  I was very happy Isaac did so well.  He only got up once, while dad was talking and talking, and suggested perhaps dad should pet him while he talked.  But he lay back down when I told him to.
The kid I am tutoring is really good about ignoring Isaac.  I kind of wondered if he didn't like dogs but dad told me they have a dog at home.  I think he just knows he's not supposed to bother the working dog, plus he is pretty focused on his math.  Which is a good thing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

He Fought the Thorns...

...and the thorns won.
Maybe nosing his way through all those thorn bushes face-first is not such a bright idea, huh?

I am pretty sure I felt worse about it than he did, though.  At least until we got home and I insisted on washing his face and applying an antibiotic ointment.  Then he was quite sad.

By the way, his face is not bruised or whatever it looks like in this photo.  That is just dirt.  The  marks under his eye are little bloody puncture wounds, but he is not as beat up as he appears here.  This is just how he looks after rolling in mud and splashing through  muddy creeks, etc.  He says it was a fine time.

Why Is That Dog Here?

The other day I went to urgent care because I had a sore throat.  Turned out to be strep throat.  I suspected it was, which is why I went to urgent care when my regular doctor couldn't get me an appointment the same day.  Ended up learning I also had ear infections in both ears.

But anyway.  While I was sitting in the waiting room with Isaac napping on the floor beside my chair, a little boy about three or four asking his mom, "Mommy, why is that dog here?  Is the dog sick?"  It was really cute.

Mom explained to him that no, the dog was not sick, the lady was sick, and he was a helper dog and he helped the lady and that's why he was there.  It was a good explanation and I was happy she didn't tell him I was training the dog, which I often hear parents telling their kids.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Service Dog at McDonald's

I recently posted about working on increasing/improving Isaac's down stay.  Here were are practicing his down stay at McDonald's (where they have free WiFi and cheap iced coffee). We'll probably do an hour today, which is about the most he currently does before getting antsy. But then we will start going longer soon.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Well Yeah, Dogs Slobber

I posted on Facebook about Isaac accidentally picking up two juice boxes and then dropping one and not know what to do.  And an acquaintance replied, "And now you have a slobbery juice box?"

I'm not sure how she mean it.  It seemed to me like she found the thought distasteful.  But you know, dogs slobber.  Mine does, anyway.  I think most do.  Big dogs often slobber a lot. There is not a way that I've found to train them not to!

I am used to slobber by now. Isaac gets my laundry out of the dryer for me and sometimes leaves it a bit slobbery. He picks up all sorts of things I drop and sometimes they are quite slobbery.

If he picks up something in the store for me, I buy it even if I wasn't planning to, since it might be slobbery. Like once I was picking out thread and dropped a spool and he picked it up for me right way and it ended up not being the color I was looking for but I bought it anyway. Because while I am used to dog slobber and accept it as coming with the help he gives me, not everyone wants slobbered-on thread.

But if I am in pain and need to take a pain pill and can't get up to get a drink, I will be so happy to have Isaac here to bring me a juice box, I will not mind one bit that it is slobbery. Try taking a Vicodin without anything to drink and you'll see what I mean. Especially if your mouth is always really dry because dry mouth is a side effect of your other meds. If you're in enough pain and you cannot get up to get a drink, you'll choke that Vicodin down. You'll chew it up and get it in that way if you have to. But you won't like it. And it's not like you'll be able to get up and go to the kitchen and get something to drink right afterward. You'll have to lie there on the couch or in the bed and wait 30 minutes for it to kick in with that taste in your mouth. Do that one time and I guarantee you will not mind a river of dog slobber as long as you get a juice box.

Silly Dog

I recently trained Isaac to get me a juice box from the fridge.  See a video of him doing it here.

Well, I just asked him to do it, just for practice, and he somehow opened his big mouth too wide and ended up with two juice boxes, not one. Then on his way to bring them to me, he dropped one. Then he looked very confused because he couldn't figure out how to pick it up with the other one still in his mouth.  He is so silly.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

How Do You Talk to Your Doctor about a Service Dog?

This is a question I hear a lot.  To me the answer seems kinda simple - just talk to your doctor about it.  But I think some people find it really difficult to talk to their docs about things.  Some people feel more intimidated by their health care providers than I do. 

And despite my anxiety related to medical stuff, I am not generally intimidated or afraid to talk to my health care providers about things.  If something is on my mind, I bring it up.  I call some of my doctors by their first names.  I talk to them like people.  I expect them to talk to me the same way. 

But if you feel worried about talking to your doctor about a service dog or aren't sure how to bring it up, well, how do you bring it up?

In order to have a service dog, you have to be disabled.  If you're not sure if you're disabled or not, you need to talk to your doctor about that. 

It might seem like you'd know if you were disabled or not, but the question isn't always as easy as it sounds.  If you are on Social Security Disability Insurance and have been for 10 years, like I was when I got Isaac, well, you're probably pretty certain you are disabled.  But many people are able to work but are still disabled under the definition used by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is the definition you need to meet in order to qualify for a service dog.  You need to be substantially limited with regard to one or more major life activity, like seeing, hearing, communication, walking, thinking, etc.  So you could be totally blind and work full time in all sorts of jobs and still qualify as disabled and be able to have a service dog.  You could use a wheelchair and be unable to walk at all but still work full time in all sorts of jobs and still be considered disabled and qualify for a service dog.   Make sense?

But if someone is not blind and is able to walk, they might not be so certain if they are disabled or not.  At what point does PTSD or a seizure disorder or chronic pain become disabling?  If you're not sure, you need to talk to your doctor.

Tell your doctor why you're asking and, if your doctor doesn't know, let them know how disability is defined under the ADA.  And just ask if they consider you disabled. 

Like this.  "Hey, Doc.  I've been reading about service dogs and I was wondering if I might benefit from one.  I would need to be disabled in order to qualify, though.  The ADA defines disability as substantially limited with regard to one or more major life activity, like seeing, hearing, communication, walking, thinking, etc.  Do you think that applies to me?"

If your doctor does consider you disabled, tell them you've been wondering if a service dog might help you and ask what they think.  You might need to provide a little information because some docs don't know much about service dogs and all the ways they can help.  For instance, my psychiatrist had never heard of a service dog for PTSD before.  But when I told him the things I wanted my dog to be trained to do for me, he thought that would be a great idea.

So say something like this.  "Hey, Doc.  I've been reading about service dogs for (insert your disability here).  I was thinking one might help me.  I've learned they can be trained to do things like (insert some things a dog could do for you here).  What do you think?"

Backpacking Dog

Here's Isaac, seachring for bits of ham I've hidden around the living room (one of his favorite games) while wearing his new backpack. I need to adjust the straps, they are too loose and it's sliding to one side. He was not cooperating when I was trying to get it on him. He kept pouncing on toys and then rolling over for a belly rub. He only had it on for about five minutes anyway, while he was finding his ham. I want him to get used to wearing it, so he will only wear it for very short periods at first and while doing his favorite activities.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Free Eye Exams for Service Dogs

If you have a service dog, he may qualify for a free eye exam.  Here's the place to go for more information.  Note that there are some criteria your dog has to meet to qualify, but for those that meet the criteria, it's a great program.  Isaac is already signed up!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Working on the Down Stay

In dog training speak, a down stay just means the dog lies down and stays put.  When we go to restaurants, for instance, and Isaac goes under the table and lies there quietly, that is a down stay.

One of my training goals for Isaac this year is to improve the length of his down stay. He does a nice down stay, like at restaurants, but usually starts to get antsy after about an hour. I think this is just because I rarely ask him to do a longer down stay because I rarely need him to do a longer one. My currently lifestyle doesn't involve things that would require a longer down stay, at least not most of the time.

But I want to be able to do things on occasion that would require a longer down stay. Like going to a movie. I almost never go to movies, it's been more than a year since I went to one, but I have not taken Isaac because I suspect he'd get restless before it was over. And I want to be able to sit in a Starbucks or someplace like that and work on my laptop for a couple hours without worrying about him getting antsy.

I am assuming the way to increase the length of his down is just to practice asking him to do it longer, just a little bit at a time, until he can easily do a more. Today we went to a local restaurant with WiFi and he did a really nice down stay for 40 minutes. I plan to visit this restaurant three or four times a week and gradually increase the amount of time. I just did 40 minutes today because I knew he could do that really well and I wanted to start with something he could easily succeed at.  I plan to do 45 minutes next time and will probably increase it by about five minutes each visit.

Water Dog

He's deciding if he wants to get in the lake or not.  I bet you can guess what he decided.