Saturday, June 27, 2015

Natural Insect Repellant

Isaac and I do a lot of hiking these days and I enjoy everything about it except for the bugs.  I've been experimenting with a natural insect repellant, using essential oils, because I don't like the chemical bug sprays like Off.  I've come up with something that works pretty well and it's available now in my Etsy store if anyone is interested.

All proceeds from my Esty store are used to support my service dog.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What Should You Do If You See a Dog Left in a Hot Car?

It's summer again and I hope all readers of my blog know not to leave a dog in a car when it's hot.  Not ever, not only for a few minutes.  When it is only 72 degrees outside, it can reach a temperature of over 100 degrees in a parked car, even in the shade, even with the windows open a crack, in less than half an hour.  And 72 degrees doesn't even feel that hot out, does it?

A dog can have a heat stroke and die when the temperature gets a little over 100 degrees.

So you know better, but what do you do if you see a dog that's been left in a hot car?

Try to locate the owner and, as politely as you can, inform them it's too hot and it's not safe for their dog to be left in the car.  I know, they may not like hearing they've done something wrong.  I know, it's hard to be polite to someone who is endangering their dog.  But try.

If I see a dog in a car in a parking lot at a big store like Walmart or a grocery store, I go to the customer service desk and ask them to please page the owner of the dog over the loud speaker.  I say something like, "There is a dog in a car outside and it's much too hot for that. The dog is in danger. Can you please page the owner and ask them to attend to their dog so I don't have to call animal control?"

If the employee hesitates, I say something like, "If animal controls comes, they will give the owner a ticket and may even take their dog. I'm sure the owner would prefer the chance to take care of their dog themselves. But I'll call animal control if I have to." The employee usually agrees that the owner of the dog would prefer to avoid getting a ticket and having their dog taken by animal control and will page the owner.

If it's a small business, like a restaurant or pharmacy or library or something, you can just stand in the middle and yell something like, "Attention, please! Whoever left a dog outside in a red pickup truck, please come outside. Animal control is on the way because it's too hot to leave a dog in a car."

If you can't find the owner or the business won't page them or the owner won't take care of the dog, you can call animal control. Now, animal control won't always come out for a dog locked in a car. It depends on where you are. And they don't always come in a timely manner. I don't tell that to employees when I am trying to get them to page the owner of a dog, though. I try to sound like I feel certain animal control will come right out. And animal control might or might not give an owner a ticket. They certainly can do that, but they might not always choose to do it. But again, I don't tell that to employees. I try to sound like I am certain that is what will happen if I call animal control.

If you can't find the owner and can't get animal control to come, what should you do? Well, that's really up to you. I'm glad I've never been in that position. Whether or not to take someone's dog out of their car or break a window to get to a dog is a tough decision. Do it and you could be charged with property damage or theft. Plus, what if the dog is not friendly? It could bite you.  But...don't do it and the dog might die. I can't advise you there.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Something happened on my camping trip that, in retrospect, is interesting and important to me. At the time, it was not interesting, it was just upsetting. And I've been thinking about it a lot since then but haven't been ready to post about it before now.

First, let me say how much I did on that camping trip and how far I've come since 18 months or a year ago.

Eighteen months ago, I could not lift a gallon jug of milk. I had to buy milk in half-gallon jugs. I got my hair cut because it was too tiring and painful to lift my right arm to wash or brush my long hair. A year ago, I could hike for two miles with Isaac if it was a flat, easy trail. At one point last summer, I remember going to a state park about an hour away and trying to walk on this trail that was supposed to lead to a bridge and a really cool view, and the trail was somewhat hilly and there were rocks and tree roots and things and I had to turn back. I couldn't manage that trail. By the end of last summer, I could do three miles on an easy trail and I could even manage two miles on a difficult trail, like the one around the lake at the state park near my home, but that was with much difficulty.

But now? Well, Isaac and I hike on that trail recently. There is one part near the beginning that is very steep. I remembered the trail as having other steep, difficult parts. But now? The trail seemed much shorter than I'd remembered and also easier. When I realized we were near the end, I was confused. What happened to those other steep parts? Well, they are not very difficult for me now.

On this camping trip, I slept on the ground and got up each morning without any assistance. I felt slightly stiff when I got up. By the time I'd walked to the bathrooms, I was not feeling stiff any more. I lifted a heavy cooler. I carried some firewood. I helped put up a tent, which involved bending and getting down on the ground. I collecting kindling for the campfire, which involved a lot of bending forward. I hiked probably four to six miles a day both days, about half in the morning and about half in the afternoon, on trails that were hilly, that had a lot of steps, that were rocky, that were rough, etc.

That may not seem like a lot to some people. The fact that I can easily lift a gallon jug of milk probably doesn't seem like anything to celebrate to most people, either, but I know it is.

So that's what I did on my camping trip and that is how far I've come.

So what happened that upset me? On the afternoon of our last day, we hiked to this rock formation called Rock House. It's sort of a cave, not a huge one, but it's cool-looking. The trail is very hilly. And just before where you can enter the cave-like rock formation, there are some big boulders. You have to climb over them to get to the entrance.

Well, I considered it and decided I could not do it. I could not do it safely. I might get over the boulders but I might not be able to get back to the other side again, and then what would I do? I might slip and hurt myself. I cannot afford to be injured. Besides the fact that I don't want to deal with the pain, I live alone. I had to go home that day and unload my van. I had to carry all my heavy stuff into my house. There was no one to help me do that. Having an injury, especially a back injury, simply wasn't an option.

So I said I was going to wait on the safe side of the boulders and let my friend that was camping with me go in to the Rock House by himself. Actually, with Isaac. Isaac loves climbing over boulders.

Well, he started trying to talk me into trying to make it over the boulders. Don't you even want to try it? he said. You're missing the best part. I'll help you. Come on, you're not even going to try? Are you sure? I don't want you to miss it. Aren't you even going to try?

I was mildly disappointed that I couldn't reach the Rock House but I wasn't upset about it. I'd had a great camping trip. I did, however, get upset as my friend pushed me to try to do something I knew I was not able to safely do.

He finally relented. On the way back to the car, I was fighting back the tears. He thought I was upset over my limitations. I wasn't.

I was upset because I felt that he was judging me. He thought I should be able to make it over those boulders. He thought I wasn't trying hard enough. After all I'd been able to do on that camping trip, it all seemed to come down to a few boulders and since I couldn't get over those, well, doing my best wasn't good enough.

That feeling of not being good enough is an old feeling and I know it was not just about this hike. I grew up in a home where nothing was ever good enough.

But at the same time, I'd been feeling good about what I'd accomplished on that trip. I have been working really hard not to judge myself by the standards of other people but here was a reminder that other people are always judging. I wished I'd gone camping alone. I wanted to become a hermit and live alone in a cave or something, so I could avoid the judgment of other people all the time.

My friend apologized. He said it wasn't his intention to make me feel that way, and I am sure it wasn't. But still... other people are always judging, it seems.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Here, I'll Get That for You

Sometimes my service dog is the most brilliant dog ever.

This morning I was in the kitchen and dropped a dish towel on the floor. For some reason, he was in the living room, not underfoot as he usually is when I am in the kitchen. I called to him so he could pick up the towel for me and he came trotting into the kitchen and before I could say anything, spotted the towel and picked it up and gave it to me. Apparently he realized it did not belong on the kitchen floor and figured he should pick it up.

Of course, he does not always do that.  Yesterday I had to tell him three times to pick up a plastic soda bottle on the floor.

But sometimes he is absolutely brilliant.

What to Do on a Rainy Day

It has been raining here for a week.  Well, six days.  Isaac has not had enough exercise and we were both bored.

So we decided to go with a couple friends to see these caverns about an hour from where we live.  They give tours.  I figured, it's going to be chilly and damp in the cave any time, but at least it doesn't rain in caves, right?  And it would involve some walking and Isaac would think it smelled interesting and it would be something neat to do.

Well, apparently it sort of does rain in these caves.  Water comes in.  There are 58 stairs you have to go down to get into the caverns (the guide told me how many) and there was water pouring down the stairs.  At first it was maybe in inch of water and then it was getting deeper and the water was rushing like a river when the water is high.  It did not look safe.  It looked like someone was going to slip and fall and break their neck.

I decided it should not be my neck that got broken.  One of the friends I was with doesn't have the best balance, either, and she didn't want to risk it, either.  I really couldn't believe they weren't cancelling tours for the rest of the day.  We decided we'd go back in August.  Or when there is a drought.

Isaac looks miserable because of the pouring rain. This is the first time he has worn his backpack anywhere and it seemed to work well. He just really, really did not like being out in such heavy rain.
And apparently just being in the rain wore Isaac out. This is him in the car on the trip home. He was very cute and cuddly after I dried him off.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Parents That Get It Right

Yesterday at the grocery store, there was a woman with a child maybe three years old in the produce section.  I think the child asked his mom if he could pet the doggie and the mom was explaining that he couldn't because this was a helper dog and he was working so they couldn't pet him.  I smiled at the mother and thanked her for teaching her child about service dogs.

Isaac was wagging his tail and looking hopefully at the child.  He loves kids.  I asked the little boy if he would like to say hi to the doggie and he said yes.  I told Isaac to say hi and the child petted his  nose gently and Isaac sniffed his hand and wagged his tail.

The little boy told me he had a doggie at home and the mom told me Isaac was a beautiful dog, which of course he is.  Then the mom prompted him to say thank you to me for letting him pet the doggie and he said "Thank you for letting me pet the doggie" very nicely.

Sometimes I wish I had some gold stars or something to hand out to parents that teach their kids about service dogs.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Busiest Week Ever

I have had the busiest week ever.  Well, OK, not ever.  I've had busier weeks in the past.  But like, a really long time in the past.  Back when I was a social worker, I often worked 50 hours a week.  But that was, what?  Twelve years ago?  A little more than 12 years ago.

But the last four days have been super busy for me.  Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday, I left the house by 10 am and didn't make it home until dinner time or later.  So eight hour days or something like that, and then I came home and had some data entry stuff to do for my mystery shopping jobs. Today was a little less busy but still pretty busy.  I took Whiskers to the vet and did two mystery shopping gigs after that.

Plus I took Isaac to the park for a while first.  Which may have been a bad idea, because he managed to roll in something stinky, and even though I cleaned him up the best I could, he was a bit smelly the rest of the day.  But we have had a lot of rain here all week, plus I've been so busy, and that means he has not had much exercise.  I was able to let him run around at a park for about 20 minutes yesterday, between thunder showers, but he still really needed to run and let off some steam today.

I needed to be outside today, too.  I wasn't feeling very well, had a headache and felt kind of achy and nauseous, so I didn't want to walk very far, especially since it was hot and extremely humid.  But I stood under some trees in the shade while Isaac ran around and took a dip in the lake and rolled in stink.

I think both Isaac and I have handled our busy week well, but I also think I need to take care not to over schedule myself in the future.  I know I do best when I get enough rest and enough time to hike and be outdoors.  And I haven't done that this week.

I had a minor anxiety attack Tuesday, when I was already exhausted and then this indicator light came on in my van.  You know, the lights on the dash that tell you something's wrong?  And I had no clue what this light meant.  When I bought my van, it did not have an owner's manual with it, so I didn't have that to look it up in.  The light sort of looked like a light bulb, except it was not bulb-shaped, it was round.  It also sort of looked like a bomb, and I really hoped it did not mean my van was about to blow up.

It turns out it was supposed to be a light bulb and it was telling me that one of my turn signals, the rear left one, to be exact, is burnt out.  But why not actually make it bulb-shaped?

I figured it out by stopping at Auto Zone and asking the guy working there if he knew what it meant.  He came out to the van and looked at it and he was not sure, either, at first, but he was able to figure it out.  I was pretty pleased with myself for thinking of stopping at Auto Zone and asking, plus I was really relieved to find out it wasn't something serious, so that helped the anxiety.  That, and 50 mg of vistaril.

Week after next, Isaac and I are going to Michigan for a few days to visit a friend.  I'm looking forward to a little vacation!

Update on Whiskers, the Kitty in Need of a Home

I took Whiskers, the cat that needs a home, to the vet today. Here he is searching for an escape hatch. He was not a happy cat.

They did an x-ray to check for bladder stones, which he does not have. He does have a UTI and is on antibiotics now. He was also extremely constipated, so that all the stool is pressing on his urethra making it difficult to urinate, which is probably why he is getting UTI's. So he will be getting a daily fiber supplement to help with that. Otherwise, he is in good health. 

Now, who wants a kitty? Wherever you are, I will get him to you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Update on My Friend Sheena's Service Dog

Just wanted to update all that helped raise money for Sheena's service dog, as well as those who were following her story.

Sheena has received a wonderful service dog, a black lab named Zeus.  They completed team training together, a two-week training period in which they worked together with the trainers at the program that trained and placed Zeus with her, and are now settling into Sheena's home together, along with the resident cat.

Thanks so much to all who helped make this dream come true.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Kitty in Need of Good Home

I have a friend that has a cat that needs a home. Well, his mom has a cat that needs a home. The cat is male, probably two years old, named Whiskers. He is not neutered and he had a UTI a couple months ago and it is thought he has another UTI now, but will be seeing the vet in a couple days for antibiotics. He is friendly, gets along with other cats (as long as they are friendly to him), is curious but wary when Isaac visits (and would probably become friends with a dog if one was around a lot), is playful and cuddly. His currently owner is older and has some health problems and is upset that he has peed outside the litter box a few times, but that is most likely due to a UTI (he peed outside the box before when it was determined he had a UTI). The current owner will only keep him a week or two at most before taking him to a shelter. Wherever you are, I will get him to you if you are willing to give him a good home!

 If you have any questions or might be interested in giving Whiskers a home or know someone that might like a kitty, please email me at poet_kelly at yahoo dot com. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Still More PIcs from Camping

Here are a few pics of the beautiful scenery.  I loved all the waterfalls!
And a couple more pics with the happy doggie.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Camping with a Service Dog

So Isaac and I went camping recently.  A friend went with us.  It was my first time camping since I was a little kid and I felt better having another person with me the first time.  It went really well and Isaac and I will be trying it on our own at the end of this month.

What's camping with a service dog like?  Well, this was very much like camping with a pet dog, I imagine.  The campground was pet-friendly and in fact we saw a number of other dogs, most of which seemed to be well-behaved and under the control of their owners, to my delight.  Isaac did not wear his vest around the campground or when we were hiking.  The campground didn't charge any extra pet fees, so there was no need to mention to anyone there that he is a service dog.  He did pick up things for me at the campsite and do other tasks when needed, but it was kind of like when we are hanging out at home or on a hike at a park, when he is off duty unless I need his assistance.

It rained a lot the first day we were there and was very chilly that night.  In the morning, it had stopped raining but was damp and cold.  We decided to drive into town and get pancakes instead of trying to make breakfast at out campsite.  Isaac wore his vest in the restaurant.  And we stopped in a little country store for something and he wore his vest then.  But most of the trip, I think it was like camping with a nice, well-behaved pet dog.

Many, many campgrounds seem to be pet-friendly, including most state and national parks (or maybe all, but I haven't checked with every single one in the country).  That means Isaac doesn't have to be "on duty" while we camp.  If we stayed at a campground that didn't allow pets, I might feel the need to keep his vest on more, so that all the other campers didn't think I was sneaking my pet dog in.  I do that when staying at hotels that don't allow pets, put Isaac's vest on when we enter and leave the hotel, just so it's obvious he is a service dog.  And I would put his vest on if I was going into any areas of the park that don't allow pets, like an office or laundry room or gift shop or whatever.

Couple More Camping Pics

Here's a very happy dog, having a quick cuddle after a hike.
Here we are walking along a creek.

I know, I know, my hair looks super gray in that photo.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Working Naked

No, not me.  I don't work naked.  Well, I guess I could when I work from home, but most of the time I at least have on a tee shirt.

I'm taking about Isaac.  When service dog handlers talk about their dogs being naked, they mean not wearing a vest or any other special service dog gear.  A lot of people think service dogs have to wear a special vest or harness or something, but they don't.  The Americans with Disabilities Act says they don't.  Still, many - probably most - service dog handlers prefer to use a vest of some sort on their dogs.

I usually put a vest on Isaac because I feel less self-conscious about being in a store or other public place with a dog if it is clear that he is a service dog.  I had assumed I'd have more access disputes without a vest on him, but I have worked him naked several times now and I didn't have any access issues at all.  People just seemed to assume he was a service dog, vest or no vest.  Perhaps it was because he was behaving like a service dog, even when he was naked.

It's interesting to me that I haven't had access issues when working Isaac naked.  Also, Isaac behaves perfectly well in public places without his vest.  I was initially told that the vest helps service dogs know when they are working, when it's time to behave "professionally," but I think at this point Isaac knows to behave that way when we are in a store or restaurant or someplace like that, whether he's wearing a vest or not.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Good Time

Me: Did you have a good time at the park today, Isaac?

Isaac: Oh yeah! I especially liked the part where I found that deer leg.

Me: I know you did.

Isaac: But I don't understand why you wouldn't let me bring it home. I could keep it right here by my pillow. It would go nice right here.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Chance to Help

I believe in helping when we can.

There are plenty of times I can't help others.  Times I don't have money to donate, no matter how good the cause.  Times I don't have the energy or stamina to volunteer, no matter how much I'd like to.  We can only do so much and most of the time, I don't stress about what I can't do, I just help when I can.

Today is one of those times.

Yesterday a woman with a disability named Rebekah and her two service dogs were in a car accident. Their car was struck by a semi-truck. One of her service dogs, Cali, was killed. The other service dog, Kenzie, is seriously injured. Rebekah was also seriously injured and is now in critical condition, fighting for her life, as is Kenzie. Both Rebekah's medical bills and Kenzie's veterinary bills are going to be horrendous. If you are able to donate even a few dollars, please do. And please share this with others.

You can donate here.

I cannot imagine the pain of losing my dog Isaac and of having to try to recover from a near-fatal injury without him.  And most likely, even if her second service dog (occasionally people have two service dogs, for various reasons) Kenzie survives (and she might not survive but of course the vet bills will still need to paid regardless), it's likely she will have to retire as a result of her injuries.  So Rebekah will be facing the daunting process of getting a new service dog and recovering from serious injuries without the assistance of a service dog.  I just can't imagine the pain she must be facing right now.

Please help if you can.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Some Pics from Hocking Hills State Park

Rock climbing dog.
Cooling off in a creek.
Climbing stone stairs.
Running dog.
Hot dogs cooked over a campfire - Isaac's favorite part of the trip, I think!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tired Dog in a Tent

I have a ton of pics to transfer from my camera to my computer and then post, but for now, here's this.  The second day we were camping, we got up early and went for a long hike.  Then we went back to camp and took a midday nap.  Isaac slept quite well in the tent.

What If Your Doctor Says No to a Service Dog?

A while ago I wrote about how to talk to your doctor about a service dog.  Now I want to talk about what if your doctor says no.

Now, there are a few different things your doctor could say no to.  And how to deal with that depends in part on what she is actually saying no to.

Are you disabled?

To qualify for a service dog, you have to be disabled.  So what if you think you are disabled but your doctor does not?

Well, find out why she thinks you are not disabled.  In some cases, it's a matter of how the term "disabled" is defined.  To qualify for a service dog, you need to meet the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is this:

An individual a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.

Note that someone may be able to work and still be disabled under the ADA definition.  However, Social Security would not consider you disabled and would not grant you SSI or SSDI if you were able to work.  So if your doctor doesn't know what definition of disability you are asking about, she might think you are not disabled if you can work.  So make sure she understand what you are asking.

It might also be that your doctor thinks you are not disabled because she is not fully aware of all the ways your condition affects you.  Make sure she has all the information.

Can you benefit from a service dog?

Your doctor might agree  that you are disabled but think a service dog would not benefit you.  That could be because she's not very familiar with service dogs.  My psychiatrist had no idea that service dogs could be trained to help people with PTSD.  I had to explain to him some of the tasks a dog could be trained to do.  I also provided him with a brochure from Pet Partners with some general info about service dogs and I gave him some information from the program I ended up getting my service dog from.

Your doctor may know what service dogs can do but have a specific reason for thinking you would not benefit from one.  If so, listen to her reasoning and see if you agree or think she might have a point.  I know someone whose doctor felt getting a service dog at one point in her life would hinder her treatment process because she might rely on the dog instead of developing other coping skills.  The doctor recommended working in therapy on developing more coping skills first, then looking into getting a service dog if needed.  After thinking about her doctor's opinion, she decided she agreed.

What if you don't agree with your doctor?

If you've had a discussion with your doctor and you still believe you are disabled but your doctor doesn't, or you still think you would benefit from a service dog but your doctor doesn't, you can seek a second opinion. 

You aren't legally required to have your doctor's approval to have a service dog, either, but you are legally required to be disabled.  In addition, most service dog programs will require documentation from your doctor that you are disabled and can benefit from a service dog, and you may need some sort of documentation from your doctor for other things, as well.  For instance, if you live in an apartment that doesn't allow pets, they probably have to make an exception for your service dog but they can require proof from your doctor that you are disabled and need a service dog.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Last Minute Packing

(And no, I didn't wait 'til the last minute.  Except some stuff has to be done last minute, like the cold stuff in the cooler.)

Isaac: Oh boy! We're goin' somewhere! Here, I'll help you pack.

Me: Thanks but I don't need any help. I got it covered.

Isaac: OK, then I'll just supervise.

Me: OK but... could you supervise without having your nose up my butt?

Isaac (looking confused): What kind of supervisor would I be then?