Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fed Up

Today at the library I had a woman do that thing where they go, "Oh no! That dog scared me!" This is not the first time this has happened.  It is kind of common.  My dog was doing nothing but standing there quietly. And she wasn't scared of him or she wouldn't have hung around acting scared, you know?

So I said to her, "The dog is not doing anything but standing here."

She said, in a kind of rude tone of voice, "I didn't say the dog was going to do anything, I said he scared me."

So I told her it was kind of rude to look at someone who is disabled and say they are scary. She harrumphed.

I just feel all fed up with people these days. Usually I ignore people who say things like that but I'm just tired of it. It wears on me.

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Isaac got a stuffed monkey named Bananas from his friend Mike for Christmas.  Isaac grabbed him up right away, carrying him around and making him squeak.  Isaac loves squeaky toys but hardly ever gets them because he usually de-squeaks them right away.  Bananas  has a squeaker in his belly, one in his head, and one in each of his legs.

His hands have little velcro tabs so he can hang on to Isaac's neck. It's hilarious. Isaac loves him and carried him around and chewed on him and got him all slobbery.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

An Apple a Day?

Isaac and I were on our way out to pee and one of Isaac's favorite neighbors was in the lobby. She had a bag of apples with her, which Isaac wanted to sniff. She said, "Here, I"ll give you one."

I told her, "He won't eat it, he thinks fruit is not food."

She said she was going to give him one anyway and held one out to him and he took it. And then if he didn't eat it. Almost all of it. A whole apple, not peeled or sliced or anything. He was cleaning up the little bits that fell out of his mouth onto the floor. He said it was yummy. I wish I'd had my phone with me so I could get a video of it.

That's Not Really Helping

My back was stiff and I felt like I needed to stretch it out, so I lay down on the floor. That turned out to be a mistake because something in my shoulder seized up and it really hurt. So I lay there on my back going "Ow ow ow!"

I had my eyes closed but I opened them when I heard heavy breathing. Isaac was standing over me, holding his Kong. When I made no move to take it from him and play, he decided to sit on me.

When I told this to a friend, she said, "That is such a lab thing to do."

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Knuckle Bone

I stopped by a local butcher yesterday to pick up some marrow bones for Isaac.  I freeze them and he loves to gnaw on them.  There is a butcher near my home that gives them to me for free.  Yesterday, she also gave me a huge, disgusting knuckle bone.

Isaac was in heaven.  Isn't it gross?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Service Dogs and Funerals

A couple weeks ago, a good friend of mine died in her sleep.  Some of my readers may have been familiar with her - she was my accountant as well as my friend and she wrote the article about tax deductions for service dog-related expenses here on my blog.

A couple days ago, I traveled out of state to attend her memorial service.  But before that, I had to check with the church where the service would be held to make sure I could attend with my service dog.

Churches, you may already know, are exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I don't think they should be exempt, I don't think it should be legal for churches to discriminate against people with disabilities, but that is the law currently.

I resented the fact that I had to look up a phone number for the church and call them to ask if I could attend my friend's memorial service.  Of course, the person who answered the phone did not know.  Remember a couple years ago when I wanted to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve and kept getting people answering the phones at churches that did not know if I could attend or not?  So I had to leave a message for the person who would know.  Fortunately she called me back the same day.  And I was able to attend with Isaac.

But I resented having to call.  It was two days before the service and I needed to make plans because it was a six hour round trip for me to go and I had to reschedule a medical appointment and I needed to know whether or not I would be allowed to attend.  And someone who is grieving should not have to deal with calling to ask, "Hey, can I come to the funeral or do you prefer not to have disabled people in your church?"  That's not the way I phrased the question, but that's basically what the question is.

Service dogs are permitted in funeral homes, by the way.  Churches are exempt, but not funeral homes.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Access Dispute Resolved

Remember my recent access dispute at a health care facility? I called and spoke with a patient advocate last Monday afternoon and I spoke with her again this morning. In just four business days, this is what she, and the company, did.

They (meaning people in charge) investigated to confirm that the Dept of Justice does not consider a Post Anesthesia Care Unit to be a "sterile area" and that, if visitors are permitted in the unit, then service dogs must be permitted too. They also made sure they understood exactly what areas can legally exclude service dogs and she mentioned them to me on the phone - things like burn units, bone marrow transplant units, etc.

The advocate also looked into the hospital's own policy regarding service dogs and found that their policy, as well as the ADA, were violated. As you might expect, hospital policy includes complying with any and all federal laws and not violating the civil rights of patients or visitors.

Now comes the really amazing part. In just four business days, a mandatory meeting/training session was scheduled for all employees of four different departments, including same day surgery and the PACU. The advocate told me one employee was absent the day of the meeting, so she was educated in a private meeting this morning. All employees were educated about the ADA and hospital policy. Some expressed concern that the PACU was a sterile area and they were told in no uncertain terms that the hospital and the Dept of Justice agree it is not and that, if visitors can just walk in wearing street clothes, so can a service dog.

The advocate told me a couple employees asked "What if it's not a real service dog?"

And they were told "That is not your call to make." They were informed of the two questions the ADA allows them to ask and told that if the handler answers those questions, the dog is allowed. They were also educated about when someone can be asked to remove a service dog, if the dog is disruptive or not housebroken.

Employees were also reminded (because apparently they are supposed to already know this) that if a patient or visitor is concerned that their rights are being violated, there is a patient advocate available 24/7 who should be called right away.

This information is also going to printed in a newsletter that all staff receive.

I am more than pleased. How amazing is it that this was done in less than one week?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

World AIDS Day

I am told it is World AIDS Day today. My younger friends may not remember when AIDS was sweeping the country. Straight people may not have realized it as it was happening. Those days when, in the LGBT community, deaths were occurring again and again and again.

People were literally wasting away. I did home health care back then and cared for many people with AIDS as they died. I watched person after person waste away, watched nurses and aides refuse to enter their rooms out of fear, even though they'd taken the mandatory course on blood-borne pathogens and should have known they were safe.

And while a great many of my clients were gay men, I also watched straight women die, women who'd contracted HIV from husbands and boyfriends, single mothers who'd only learned they were HIV-positive when they were pregnant, mothers who worried about who would care for their young children when they were gone.

I watched children die, children who'd been born HIV-positive, children whose families were afraid to tell even close family friends and relatives the true nature of the child's illness due to the stigma of AIDS.

I accompanied friends to the Health Department to get a free, anonymous AIDS test, waited and worried with them for the seven days it took to get the results.

I went to Washington to see the AIDS quilt spread on the Mall, so many squares representing people that had lived and died with AIDS.

It all seems like a long time ago. But let's not forget.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Question about Dealing with Access Disputes

I have a question about how we deal with access disputes.  Not about the legal aspect of it but the social implications, the ethics of it all.  Let me see if I can explain this correctly. What do you do - or what should we do - when faced with an access dispute when we are with another person and it's sort of their event?

For example, what if you are accompanying your mother to an appointment with her doctor and someone at the doctor's office says you can't bring your SD in? Do you handle it the same way you would if you were going to your own doctor's appointment, or do you let your mother handle it since it's her doctor, or do you stop and ask her how she'd like you to handle it?

Or what if you are going with a friend to get her hair done and someone at the hair dresser's says you can't bring your SD in? Do you handle it the same way you would if you were going to get your hair done, or do you let your friend handle it, or do you ask her what she'd like you to do?

Or what if it is your friend's birthday and you are going out to dinner with him and some other friends and you are denied access at the restaurant? Or... you probably get the idea. In situations like these, do you just deal with the access dispute as you normally would? Do you feel it's the other person's responsibility or place to deal with it? Do you deal with it together?

And if you were in the place of the mother or the friend, and the person accompanying you experienced an access issue, how would you want it to be dealt with?

I don't know the answer.  I'm curious about what others would say.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Biggest Access Dispute So Far

Last week I had an access dispute, by far the most upsetting I've had since getting my SD. I thought I'd share what happened, how I handled it, what's been done to date to deal with it, and I will provide updates as I get them.

This was in a health care setting. I was informed I could not visit a friend in a particular unit and had to wait until they were moved to a private room "because the service dog is not allowed in there."

Me: What? Why not? The Americans with Disabilities Act says if visitors are allowed, I can take my service dog.

Employee: That's what I thought but I am being told we don't allow dogs in there.

Me: But why?

Employee: It's a sterile area.

Me: Oh. So visitors have to change into scrubs and wear masks and gloves and stuff?

Employee: Well, no.

Me: They can wear street clothes?

Employee: Yes.

Me: Then that's not a sterile area. But I'll tell you what. Let's call the ADA Info Line at the Department of Justice and ask them. Here, I have them on speed dial.

Employee: Well, there are other patients in there.

Me: So?

Employee: The doctor doesn't want the dog in there.

Me: My friend's doctor doesn't? May I speak to him, please? He can call the ADA Info Line. They will be happy to explain the federal law to him.

Employee: Well, not that doctor specifically. It's all the doctors. It's just their policy.

Me: Well, the doctors cannot have a policy that violates the federal law. Who can I speak to about this?

Employee: Well, it's the head nurse that is saying service dogs aren't allowed.

Me: May I speak to her? Or how about her supervisor? You are violating my civil rights and you cannot do that.

Employee: Well, I can check again in an hour or so.

Me: No, that's not acceptable. I want to speak to someone right now.

Employee: Let me go check.

So the employee comes back and says I can visit "just for a few minutes."

I ask who I would speak to in order to prevent this from happening again because "discriminating against visitors with disabilities is not OK." I am told I should speak to the patient advocate. I ask for contact information and she says she'll get it for me but she never does. 

I really feel like she did not give it to me on purpose, not that it was just an oversight, but that she did not want me to complain.  Dude, that does not work with me.  I can find that information.

On my way into the unit to visit my friend, a nurse calls out, "Hey! That dog can't come back here!"

I say, "Someone already checked on it and said he could. The Department of Justice also says he can," and continue on my way.

So yesterday I get online and look up a phone number for the patient advocate at this facility. And no, it was not that hard to find.  I call and speak to someone who sounds appropriately concerned.

She says she will need to check because she knows there are certain areas where they can deny access to a SD, like an OR. I say yes, sterile areas, like an OR or a burn unit, where visitors would have to wear special clothing. But on this unit, visitors wore street clothes. I tell her the Dept of Justice says that's not a sterile area and they can't deny access and encourage her to call the ADA Info Line and ask for herself. She thanks me for clearing that up for her, says I answered her question about that.

She tells me she needs to talk to a bunch of people. The employee that denied me access and gave me the run around when I asked who I could speak to about it. The head nurse of the unit my friend was on. The facility's regulatory compliance person. She says that clearly their staff needs to be retrained on the ADA. She asks if she can call me back later in the week to let me know what progress she's made.

What made this access dispute the most upsetting?  Well, it had already been a long, stressful day.  Other employees had been semi-rude or unhelpful - for instance, one refused to give me directions to the cafeteria because it was apparently to hard to explain how to get there. But also, it's not like I could choose to go visit my friend at another health care facility.  They were a patient at this facility.  It's not like if a fast food place denies access and you can just go down the street to another fast food place.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Door Number One or Door Number Two

We are out of town and Isaac has had the opportunity to experience a number of new things over the past few days. One of those is elevators with doors in both front and back, where which door opens depends on which floor you stop on.

The first couple times we rode in one, Isaac was confused. Normally, he gets on an elevator and then turns around to face the door he just walked through, just like a person would do.

When the door opened behind him, he hesitated to turn around and walk out. He was still waiting for the door in front of him to open again. I had to tell him to come with me. 

 But after riding the elevator a couple times, he caught on. We've been in that same elevator a total of six times now, I think, and the last two times, he remembered and faced the correct door. 

He learns so fast. But it's also fun to watch him try to figure things out and he just had no idea elevators could have doors on both sides.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Rest in Peace, My Friend

Monday I learned that a friend of mine passed away the day before.

I was on the way to Washington DC to stay with a friend, a different friend, for a week while she had surgery.

You know it's not going to be good news when someone calls you and, upon being informed you are in your car and driving, gently asks you to find a place to pull over so they can tell you something.

This was an hour or so after Isaac and I had stopped to take a lovely hike on a trail beside a beautiful lake. I was just getting ready to eat the other half of the sandwich I'd packed for my lunch. After I'd heard the news, I just sat there for a while. 

I remembered how my friend had sent me a box of dog toys and treats right after I got Isaac. One of the toys, a red thing made of the material fire hoses are made from (and therefor almost indestructible), Isaac still has. He and Jamie play keep away with it.

This friend not only donated money so I could afford to bring Whiskers home from Nebraska, she organized a GoFundMe to encourage others to donate. She is probably the reason I could afford to make the trip.

I sat there in my car and thought about how she was going to come visit me soon. We were going to go explore old country graveyards and she was going to photograph them.

She died in her sleep.

I sat there in my car for a while, and finally decided I needed to get back on the road. I had about two hours still to go. And I needed to eat my sandwich. It's so strange, how life goes on, you know?

She'd asked if I could visit her soon. I'd told her after the first of the year.

We always think there's plenty of time, don't we?

My friends are too young to die. I am too young to have friends that die in their sleep.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Not-a-Service-Dog at Family Dollar

Today at Family Dollar, the cashier commented on how well-behaved Isaac was and then went on to tell me that they recently had a man come in with a dog he said was a service dog but they knew it wasn't. They knew his dog was not a service dog, she said, because of how it was behaving (and they are used to seeing Isaac in the store so they know how a service dog should behave) and because the dog was not on a leash. The man was on one side of the store and the dog was wandering around on the other side.

I explained to her that the Americans with Disabilities Act says a service dog has to be on leash except if it must be off leash to do a task, and that even then, the handler should be right there and the dog should be under the control of the handler. I wanted to make sure she knew what the law says.

She said the manager was worried the man would "get nasty" if they asked him to leave but she told the manager if that happened, they could just call the police. I told her that the ADA absolutely says they can ask someone to remove their dog if the dog is not under control and asked her what happened. Well, they told him the dog had to leave and he just left. They did not need to call the police.

I am so pleased they handled that well and I was glad to have the chance to just make sure she knew that the law was on their side.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bedtime for Brave Doggies

I just took Isaac out to pee. Mid-tinkle, he spotted a deer walking across the street in our direction. He finished tinkling, then began to bark ferociously. I guess it is not possible to bark and pee at the same time?

Anyway, the deer just stood there staring at him like he was an idiot (like Isaac was the idiot, I mean, not the deer). I informed Isaac that was what the deer was doing, but Isaac said no, the deer was paralyzed by fear of the ferocious dog. The ferocious dog's momma then made him go inside for bed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Get It

Isaac and I were at the dog park and were getting ready to leave. His friend Clyde was leaving at the same time. 
Now, Isaac acts like such a labradork at the dog park, I usually do not tell people he is a service dog. I told his friend Iris's dad and he looked at me like he did not believe me. Probably because I'd just gotten done yelling at my dog to come back as he swam around the divider into the other section of the dog beach. Or maybe he because he still thinks Isaac does not know "drop" since he won't drop a ball so you can throw it for him.

Anyway. I pulled my car keys out of my pocket and my glove fell out.
Clyde's dad said, "I think you dropped a glove." 
I looked down at it on the ground, pointed at it, and told Isaac, "Get it."

Clyde's dad kind of chuckled, like he thought I was joking. 
"No," I told him, "He'll get it." 
Meanwhile, Isaac was trying to sniff Clyde's butt. I got his attention, pointed again, and said, "Get it for me." And he did!

Clyde's dad was suitably impressed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

That's a Well-Trained Dog!

I had to go to the ER today for a cut that I thought needed stitches (ended up with just steri-strips instead). Isaac was lying on the floor beside the gurney when the doctor came in.

The ER doctor said hello to Isaac and held out his hand for Isaac to sniff him. Isaac just looked at him.

The doctor said "Are you shy?" and of course Isaac did not respond.

So then the doctor said to me "Is he a little leery of strangers?"

I said "No, he's just not supposed to say hi unless I tell him he can." And then I told Isaac "You can say hi" and Isaac jumped up, tail wagging, and sniffed the doctor good.

The doctor was like "Oh, that's a well-trained dog!"

I'm like, well, yeah, he's a service dog. It always makes me wonder what kind of service dogs they are used to seeing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Off Days

I often hear people talk about how dogs are not robots and they can have off days. That's true (although if a dog has a lot of off days, the dog might not be suited to be a service dog). I think the important thing as a service dog handler is how we deal with those off days.

Today Isaac had an off day. I had a doctor appointment first thing this morning and as I was stepping onto the scale to be weighed, he tried to sneak a sniff of the medical assistant's feet. He doesn't do that often, but it happens occasionally. What was different about today, though, is that he did not leave it immediately when I told him to. 

I stopped everything to deal with my dog. When I first got Isaac, I would have felt rushed by the MA waiting for me to get on the scale and felt like I should put off dealing with my dog and just get the weigh in over with. But I've since decided I have to deal with dog issues right away. So I put him in a down stay, while the MA was saying "Oh, it's OK, I don't mind, he smells my dog," etc. Once he was lying down, I got on the scale.

And then he got up before I told him to. He never does that. I was getting concerned, but the rest of the appointment went OK. Had he continued to sniff and not follow commands fully, I would have rescheduled the appointment and left.

When I got back home, I had some cleaning to do. He was whiny and kept asking for attention while I was cleaning, which is not really like him. I had planned to run some errands later on, but decided not to since he was clearly having an off day.

 I don't know why he was having an off day. He does this sometimes when he hasn't had enough exercise but he's had lots of exercise the last few days. He has a minor ear infection, so maybe his ears are bothering him. I don't know. But I decided not to take him on any errands since he was indicating he would have trouble behaving. Instead, we went for a long walk.

If I hadn't been able to put off my errands until tomorrow, I would have left him at home. And if he still seems off tomorrow, I think we'll go see the vet to make sure his ear infection hasn't gotten worse. He can't tell me when he doesn't feel well or needs a day off, except with his behavior. It's up to me to pay attention to that and make sure his needs are being met.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Tales from the Dog Park

When we got to the dog park today, no one was there. It was very cloudy and foggy and damp. However, there was a squirrel running along the top of the fence and Isaac was very excited to see him and chased him a bit. Then Iris arrived, so we all headed down to the lake together.

Isaac and Iris did a lot of fetching and Isaac shared one of his purple squeaky balls with her. Then other dogs started to arrive. Isaac got to play with a six-month-old Newfoundland puppy named Rosie that is already bigger than he is, who also really really liked his purple balls. I think we gotta buy some more of those! A Golden named Milo showed up and he grabbed one of the purple balls and did not put it down until we were ready to leave, at which time his dad made him.

Candy and Wilbur came with their remote controlled boat, and Milo swam after the boat with the purple ball in his mouth. Rosie and Isaac took turns fetching the other purple ball, when Rosie wasn't trying to figure out what that boat was. Iris had no interest in the boat and just wanted to fetch.

Then Jamie arrived and Isaac was very excited to see him because he'd tried to play keep away and wrestle with Rosie but she didn't quite get what he was doing. However, just like last Sunday, Jamie ignored Isaac in favor of chasing the boat. Isaac swam along side him, barking loudly in his ear, and when that did not get his attention, Isaac decided to hump him.

Now, Isaac tries that occasionally and Jamie says no way. Jamie also tries to hump Isaac occasionally and Isaac says no way. They don't try it very often because they are pretty equally matched and neither are willing to be the humpee. Both prefer to be the humper.

But today Jamie really, really wanted to go after that boat. So he ignored Isaac on his back. It did slow him down some, but he just did his best to go after the boat, with Isaac riding on his back. Pretty soon all the other dog owners were all yelling "Isaac! Leave it!" And of course, Isaac was not leaving it.

So I caught my dog, took back my purple balls, and we went home.

The Final Journey

August 26, 1996 ~ September 28, 2016
To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born and time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which was planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

Godspeed to you on your journey, Hobbes. Until we see you again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Another Cute Encounter

Today I had to go to my doctor's office for my weekly allergy shot (I can't do the shots myself at home in case I have a severe allergic reaction, so I have to go to the office once a week, which is a pain). I am working Isaac naked because I left his vest in my van, which is in the shop.

There was a little girl about three or four in the waiting room and she informed her dad, "There's a dog. I like dogs."

Her dad said, "Yes, but we can't pet that dog. He's working," which was especially nice since Isaac was working naked. I've found people can often tell he is a service dog by how he acts, even if he doesn't have his vest on. And Isaac knows he is working even if he doesn't have his vest on, based on where we are and how I am acting, I think.

I asked the little girl if she'd like to say hi to Isaac and she did. She sat down on the floor and petted his head very gently and spoke softly to him and it was really sweet.

Her dad told me she is learning about service dogs and that if she sees dogs in places where there usually are no dogs, they are working and she shouldn't pet them unless she asks first. I reminded her that she should always ask if it's a dog she doesn't know, even if it's not a service dog, just to make sure the dog is friendly and wants to be petted.

I almost asked if I could take a picture of the two of them, they were so cute. Isaac had his head on the floor, relaxing, and she was just stroking his head and talking really softly to him.

And then the medical assistant opened the door to the waiting room and called my name. Isaac has learned that when she calls me name, we get up and go into the back. So she called my name and Isaac jumped to him feet, all ready to go. Practically ready to go without me, he jumped up so fast. Sweetness over.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Today at the Library

I had a really cute encounter with a little girl at the library today. She was about seven years old, I would guess.

Isaac and I were looking at books on composting and then on canning. Well, I was. Isaac was napping by my feet and looking rather annoyed every time I had to ask him to move. At one point I dropped my tote bag and he picked it up for me.

This little girl was following us, kind of looking at books but mostly looking at Isaac. I doubt she was really interested in books on gardening and food preservation, plus we were in the adult section. Although she did pick out a book on making ice cream and showed it to me. It looked interesting.

Anyway, after Isaac picked up my tote bag, she commented, "Your dog is really good."

I said yes, he was.

She said "That's a good trick, he gets things for you."

I said he gets all kinds of things for me.

She seemed impressed. And never tried to pet or distract him.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Watch Where You're Going

So a kid tripped over my service dog today.

We were at the Medicaid office and they were very busy so there were no chairs free. So I was standing beside a row of chairs, trying to be out of the way, and Isaac was lying down right up against my feet.

This little kid, about three or four, was walking backwards for some reason, so not looking at all where he was going. I was looking at the window I was going to, trying to figure out how long a wait I was going to have, so I didn't realize the kid was going to walk into my dog until it was too late. If Isaac had not been there, the kid would have ran into me. He walked (backwards) right into Isaac, tripped over him, and fell down. Kind of on top of my dog.

Isaac did not mind. He just looked up like "Wha? That woke me up."

I apologized to the kid and his mother, although I don't think my dog was really in the way. I mean, he was as out of the way as he could be. But I wasn't watching so I didn't stop the kid before he tripped over my dog.

The mother apologized to me, the kid apologized to my dog, and the mother scolded the kid for not watching where he was going.

Meanwhile, Isaac just went back to sleep.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Holy Shit, He Caught One!

So my silly dog caught himself a groundhog today. He has chased them before and though they might look fat and slow, those things can move. He's never come close to catching one, or anything else for that matter. Today he ran off into a field of soybeans and I didn't even know he was chasing a groundhog until I called him and he came bounding out of the bean field with a big old groundhog in his mouth.

I was like, "Holy shit, you caught one!" It scared the crap out of me, to be honest. \

Isaac gave it a big shake and I yelled at him to drop it. He looked at me like, "Seriously? This is mine." But he stopped shaking it and just stood there. 

I didn't want him to run off with it so I told him to sit and he did. Then he just sat there looking at me with the groundhog in his mouth. I could see if was alive. I walked around Isaac to stand behind him, because I did not want him to drop it and then it run up my leg or something. I got behind Isaac and held his collar and told him again to drop it and he did.

It sat there for a minute and I was afraid it was injured and wondering what I was going to do with it then, but then it ran away. I checked Isaac and found no bites or scratches on him and also no blood, so I don't think the groundhog was injured much.

Isaac is quite proud of himself and the little dog that lives across the hall says Isaac is his hero.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

But You Can See OK, Right?

You know how they ask to see ID along with your insurance card at doctor's offices sometimes? So I was seeing this new doctor today and he has my driver's license in his hand.

He looks at Isaac and asks, "Is that a work dog?"

I don't know what he means by work dog but I say, "He's a service dog."

The doctor says, "But you can see OK, right?" and hands me back my driver's license.

I'm like, "Yeah. They don't give you one of these if you can't see." I guess they didn't cover that in medical school.

Monday, September 5, 2016


Today I had to go get my knee x-rayed. I was planning to put Isaac in a downstay behind the little divider thing where they x-ray tech stands but there was another x-ray tech that volunteered to hold the leash for me in an adjoining room. They left the connecting door open so I could hear what was going on in there.

They had to take several x-rays and partway through I heard Isaac's tags jingle and heard the tech tell him, "They will be done in a minute."

I called out, "Isaac, stay" and didn't hear anything else. 

As soon as I was done, I called him and he came trotting, but not running, into the room where I was. 

Then when I started to walk out of the room, Isaac turned back to the tech that had watched him for me and said goodbye by nuzzling her hand for a second. It was cute. 

And he behaved very well. 

And no one asked me why I had a service dog.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Why Is There a Dog in the Store?

Today I was shopping for canning jars at Meijer, at a location I don't usually shop at.

There was this little boy, maybe five years old, who asked his dad, "Why is there a dog in the store?'

The dad said, "That dog helps her."

Either the little boy didn't understand or he wasn't sure his dad was right, because he asked his dad again, "But why is the dog in the store? Dogs aren't allowed in the store." His dad assured him this dog was allowed but the kid kept asking why.

I stopped and said, "He's a service dog. He helps me with stuff. That's why he is allowed in the store. He had to go to school for almost two years to learn to be a service dog so he could be allowed in stores."

The dad thanked me for explaining.

I guess the kid was satisfied or he believed me more than he believed his dad, because I didn't hear him asking anything else.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Little Game of Tug

Isaac and his friend Quinn playing tug at the dog park.
The other dog is named Charlie.  She kept distracting Quinn, which allowed Isaac to get the rope away from him temporarily.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Someone Will Be Getting Some Remedial Training on "Drop It"

Isaac was a real butt at the dog park today. He embarrassed me. There were a couple other dogs, including his friend Josie, playing fetch at the lake. They were nice enough to share their balls with Isaac. Only Isaac would fetch the ball and then refuse to give it to a person to throw it again. He wanted to play tug with the ball, which does not work very well. He knows the commands "give" and "drop it" and simply refused. Usually if I refuse to play tug when he does this, he quickly loses interest or his attention is caught by something else and he drops the toy. But not today. He kept bumping the ball against my legs and hips, trying to get my attention.

As if that was not bad enough, one of the dogs had this fabric toy that floats that you can fetch and Isaac talked his friend Quinn into playing tug with that. Well, you can guess what happened. It started to rip. Quinn's dad told him to drop it and he did. But not my dog. Instead, he kept shaking it in Quinn's face, trying to get him to tug some more. And then he put the toy on the ground, stood on it, and pulled on one end with his teeth, ripping it good.

I apologized and asked the owner of the toy if I could replace it for him. He said that was OK but I don't feel OK about it. I came home and found it on Amazon and ordered one, along with some balls to take to the lake with us. The toy Isaac ripped belongs to a black lab named Iris and we see her at the dog park almost every morning, so we will give her the toy when we see her again.

Things like this are why I do not tell most people at the dog park that my dog is a service dog.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Minor Access Dispute Today

Had a minor access dispute today when I went to Rite Aid for a flu shot. The pharmacist tried to tell me I could not take Isaac in the little consultation room where they usually give the flu shots. She asked if I could leave him (unattended!) out by the pharmacy counter. Um, no! Then she said she would come out front and give me my shot there. Now, I don't feel like I need a lot of privacy to get a flu shot, but you can't insist I get mine out front if every one else (you know, the people that are not disabled) get to have theirs in private in the consultation room. So I informed her that was not going to work either and that Isaac would join me in the consultation room for my shot. 

I am not sure why she did not want him in the consultation room. I think she may have been afraid of dogs, but she didn't say that. She did, however, tell me she didn't know "what kind of dog" he was and that sometimes the have people come through the drive up window with dogs in their cars and the dogs are barking. I said "Well, the dogs are pets and they are in their cars. They aren't allowed in the store. My dog is allowed in because he is a service dog." She seemed like she did not understand the difference. But if she'd said she was afraid of him, I might have considered other options. But she didn't say she was afraid and I'm not sure if that was the issue. She never did really explain.

I went home and called the corporate office to tell them she needs some training with regard to the ADA. I did get my shot, she didn't deny me service, but it was still inappropriate.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Three Old Men and a Dog

Isaac and I are at McDonald's and three old men (think country-farmer-type old men) are having a discussion about service dogs.

Old Man #1: She's got that dog really well trained.

Old Man #2: It's got a thing on its side that says Please Don't Pet Me, I'm Working. It's a service dog.

Old Man #3: I bet she gets a lot of unwanted pets.

Old Man #2: Probably. But you ain't supposed to pet them.

Old Man #1: My dog wouldn't lay down like that.

Old Man #2: Your dog ain't a service dog.

Old Man #1: Good thing.

Old Man #3: I bet everybody wants to pet that dog.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rough Day at the Dog Park

Isaac had a rough day today at the dog park.

First, he got into an argument with his buddy Clyde. They normally get along well, and Clyde was in a great mood when he arrived at the dog park this morning. Clyde's owner was sitting on a stump in the sun while Clyde was strolling around sniffing things, so Isaac decided it was a good time to go get some loving from Clyde's owner. Isaac ended up practically in the guy's lap, kissing him, which is not unusual for Isaac. However, Clyde took exception to that and gave Isaac quite a stern talking to about it. Isaac looked rather intimidated, but they later made up.

Then this guy came with two dogs I'd never seen before. Isaac expressed an interest in humping one of the dogs and the dog did not wish to be humped. Isaac backs off as soon as a dog tells him to, but this dog went after Isaac ever after Isaac had backed off. The owner had to grab the dog and pull him off Isaac. Isaac was not hurt at all, just had some slobber on his face from the dog, but he was pretty shaken up.

The owner then took his two dogs down to the lake - where his dog promptly attacked another dog! I don't know what is wrong with some people. If your dog is aggressive, he should not be at the dog park!

Isaac is feeling better now. He had half a hot dog in his Kong.

Friday, August 12, 2016

93 Degrees

Today on my way into the food pantry, I saw someone had left a dog in their car. It was 93 degree here today, much too hot for a dog to be in the car. I went inside and asked, loudly, whose dog it was and no one answered. I announced, loudly, that it was too hot for a dog to be in the car and that the owner needed to take care of their dog or I would need to call the police. No one stepped forward, although several people agreed with me that it was too hot.

I went back outside so I could see the license plate and got out my phone to call the police. Before I could dial, a man came out and headed toward the car. I asked if it was his car, he said yes, and I told him it was too hot to leave his dog in the car. He was mad and grumbled at me, but he got in his car and drove away.

Later, a volunteer with the food pantry said she had figured out who the owner of the dog was and that she told him he had to take his dog home. She told him that he could come back without his dog and they would be happy to serve him. I guess he didn't want to take the dog home and she told him that not only would they not serve him while his dog was out in the car, but that if he didn't take his dog home, she would be calling the police. That's when he left.

Three other volunteers thanked me for speaking up when I saw the dog in the car.

It was so hot.  In addition to the heat, the humidity was high.  Isaac and I had to wait about five minutes for the friend that goes with me to the food pantry to get finished, and I had the car doors open, provided him with a bowl of water, and was cooling him down with a spray bottle of water.  I would not leave a dog in a car for five minutes in this weather.  And it took about 45 minutes to get through the food pantry today.  I think that guy's dog would have been dead by then.

Friday, August 5, 2016

All in a Day's Work

So today I was at Kroger and my favorite brand of almond butter was on sale but there was none on the shelf. So I found a manager, and it so happened the manager of the store was walking around with the district manager, and they ended up giving me a larger jar for the sale price of the small jar. So I got a 16.99 jar of almond butter for 5.99.

But while I had them both there, I brought up something I'd wanted to talk to the manager about anyway, which is customers leaving their dogs in cars when it's hot out. Obviously it's not their fault if customers are stupid, but yesterday I called the cops for the third time this summer about dogs in cars in the Kroger parking lot. I asked them what employees were supposed to do if they saw dogs in cars, like when they are out collecting carts, and asked if employees knew what they are supposed to do.
Both managers were really receptive and immediately said "We can educate employees!" So they are supposed to be training employees to watch for dogs in cars and to notify a manager if they see them. Then the manager will attempt to locate the owner and if necessary, call the police to take care of the situation.

So I was really happy with all of that. As I was talking with them, Isaac was sitting really nicely, looking pretty, being quite and well-behaved. And then... all of a sudden, I smelled something awful. And remembered. I gave Isaac rawhide last night.

I apologized for my dog's awful gas. They both graciously said "Oh, it's fine, it doesn't matter, it's not so bad." They lied. It was bad. Real bad.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Isaac's Dog Park Song

I often make up little songs to sing to my animals. They do not care that i cannot carry a tune in a bucket.

Well, Isaac's latest song is sung as we approach the dog park. It is set to the tune of "All the Gold in California." If you don't know the song, have a listen.

Isaac's dog park song goes like this:

"If you're gonna play with doggies
don't hump 'em because they don't like that
and then you won't get to play"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Access Disputes on Vacation, Part I

On our recent camping trip, I experienced more access disputes with Isaac than I had experienced in the entire time I'd had him up 'til then.  And that is not an exaggeration. 

We were camping at a national park.  I would have thought they see plenty of visitors with disabilities.  Most of the facilities were pretty accessible and they certainly get a lot of traffic.  And they are government employees.  They should comply with federal laws, right?

Well.  The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't apply to the National Park Service but section 504 of the Rehab Act does and it says pretty much the same thing.  And the National Park Service has issues a statement saying they have aligned their policies regarding service dogs with the ADA.  But apparently their employees have not all gotten the message.

One day we ate lunch in the hotel that is in the park.  Now, the hotel is not actually operated by the NPS, it's a concession, and therefore the ADA does apply.  Note that I was not able to determine this until after I'd returned home and made multiple phone calls and found someone in charge of something who could tell me this.

But anyway.  The hostess told me that dogs were not allowed in the restaurant.  I told her that he was a service dog so he was allowed.  She said not in the restaurant because they serve food.  I told her that the ADA says he is allowed.  She kept saying she didn't think so.  Another employee went ahead and seated us. 

After I'd ordered, I got on my phone and looked up the ADA Business Brief and then went back to the hostess to show her the law.  She didn't want to look at it and told me she'd asked another employee who had told her service dogs are allowed.  I asked her if her employer had not provided training on the ADA and she said she'd been told service dogs were allowed in the hotel but not in the restaurant.

And that was only the first access dispute of the three I experienced that day.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Heavy Metal

On our recent camping trip, while touring several caves, Isaac and I encountered something I never expected - metal grates.

Remember several months ago, when Isaac and I were hiking on a bike trail and came to a bridge over a creek that was a metal grate? Isaac refused to walk over it. Refused. We had to turn back.

Now, I figured how often in life to you have to walk over metal grates? But I decided to work on it with him anyway. I mostly just wanted him to be able to walk on any surface.  I wanted him to learn that there are many different surfaces on which to walk and different is not scary or dangerous.

I had to find another metal grate closer to home, and found a small bridge that was similar, and we practiced walking over it with lots of pepperoni as an incentive/reward. Then we walked on every metal surface I could find, with lots of high value rewards.

Fast forward to the first cave. We were maybe 15 minutes into the hour-long tour and we came to some steps. They were made from metal grates!

Now, Isaac and I had practiced walking on metal grates, but we'd never done any steps made of metal grates. Isaac hesitated, and I was afraid I was going to have to tell the tour guide I could not continue because my dog refused to go down those steps. I hadn't even thought to bring any treats with me.

Isaac hesitated, looked uncertain, then went down the steps with me.

Man oh man was I happy I'd spent so much time walking on metal with him!

And in the next cave? There was a bridge that was a metal grate that was much longer than the one we'd practiced on, that stretched over some sort of almost-bottomless pit. And Isaac walked across that like it was nothing. No hesitation. Didn't even have to think about it.

The final cave was the Lost River Cave, with the boat.  The boat dock was a metal grate.  Isaac walked across it and got into a boat, the first time he'd ever been in a boat, with no problem.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Muscle Spasm in my Toes

Can you see how my second toe is pressed against my big toe? And separated from the other three toes?

Muscle spasm. I don't have those as much as I used to since seeing the podiatrist and getting the shoe inserts and and increasing my potassium and stuff, but occasionally they are still bad. It was hard to take this pic because I was so busy cursing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

He Was Just a Little Tired

Isaac always gets really worn out on camping trips.  So much walking and so much fun and excitement.

He had this big foam pad he was sleeping on. But then he rolled over and mostly fell off it and apparently was just too tired to get back on.

Cave Dog on a Boat

On our recent camping trip, in addition to touring Mammoth Cave, we took a tour of Lost River Cave.  It's a cave with a river running through it and you can take a boat ride through the cave.  That sounded like fun since it would be cool and also did not involve much walking.

Isaac had never been on a boat before and I wasn't sure how he'd do.  He didn't hesitate when it came to getting on the boat, but the boat felt sort of wobbly or unsteady and he did not care for that.  I could tell he wasn't too pleased, but he still behaved well.  I'm not sure anyone else on the boat could tell he didn't like it.  Maybe the friend that was with us, who knows Isaac pretty well.

The trip was full of all kinds of new experiences for Isaac.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cave Dog

Isaac and I returned yesterday from a five-day camping trip during which we got to tour three different caves.  I was pleased that Isaac was not nervous about going into the caves.
He liked the cool air in them, I think.  So did I!  It was about 95 degrees most days on our trip.

What Are You Going to Do?

This morning I caught part of a local newscast on the radio and heard that Newark, a fairly small town in Ohio, will be adding protection against discrimination for LGBT folks to their existing laws that prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and other areas. The city council voted on it last night and I heard a brief interview with a councilman in which he said the events in Orlando at least partly inspired their decision.

I do not believe that good must come from tragedy. Good begets good, you know? Tragedy begets pain, sorrow, and suffering. But it helps if we can find some meaning in a great loss, and if some good can come from this, then let it come. Let our tears of sorrow water seeds of hope. We reap what we sow, but we do not have to reap what one gunman tried to sow in Orlando. Let's sow something else. Let's sow love and peace and acceptance where he tried to plant hate.

I have decided to contact my landlord, which is actually a fairly large property management company, and ask them to develop a written policy against discrimination against LGBT tenants, because they do not currently have one. They comply with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of race, religion, disability, etc. But does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.

So in addition, I plan to contact HUD and ask them why the FHA doesn't include that.

What are you going to do?  It can be something little. Like saying "Hey, that's not OK" the next time you hear a gay joke. Or it can be as big as writing President Obama telling him we need federal laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. It isn't so much what we do that matters, sometimes, but that we do something. 

We need to mourn for the dead. And we need to acknowledge that we fear for our own safety. But after the tears, we need to act. Action is what fights fear. And of course, it is what brings change.

So do something. This is the time to act.

And reply to let me know what you're going to do.  I really want to know.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Pees on the Toy

When Isaac and I arrived at the dog park this morning, we were both pleased to see two of his good friends were already there, Toby and Clyde. Toby is a labradoodle who loves to play chase and wrestles with Isaac. Clyde is a Saint Bernard/Rottie mix who is a bit older and doesn't like the hot weather, so he often prefers to lie in the shade and watch instead of playing. I'm not sure why Isaac likes him so much when he doesn't play much, but he does.

Also, Clyde does not like all dogs, only certain dogs, so when some dogs come to the park, his owner takes him to another area. However, Clyde and Isaac get along great.

Well, Clyde's owner told me that he likes to play tug so I have been driving around with Isaac's rope toy in my van for a week now, hoping we'd see Clyde at the dog park and they could have a game of tug. So I brought the rope in with us today. Isaac Clyde decided they were not interested in playing tug today for some reason, but Toby really really liked the rope and ran around with it for a while, then played tug and keep away with another dog named Wilbur.

Then a new dog came and he went right to the rope and lifted his leg and peed on it. It's all fun and games until someone pees on the toy, you know. Not one to be outdone (or to lose in a pissing contest), Isaac promptly peed on the rope himself.

I considered gifting the peeing dog's owner with the rope.  I considered leaving it at the dog park for whomever to play with.  I ended up bringing it home, thinking I might soak it in bleach water.  But I might just toss it.

Friday, June 3, 2016

So He Gets in a Car with Strangers

We arrived at the dog park and just as I opened the back door of my van, two sopping wet golden retrievers ran up, one carrying a frisbee.

Isaac thought they looked like very nice dogs and wanted to play with them. They looked ready to jump in the van with him, but he thought it would be more fun to play outside the van, so he hopped out.

 Then the goldens' owner showed up to load them into the back of their SUV. He opened the back gate and they jumped in. Isaac still wanted to play with them, so he jumped in, too. 

I asked the owner if he wanted an extra dog but he did not, so Isaac had to get out of their SUV. The goldens thought it was unfair that Isaac got to get out but they didn't.

Isaac was momentarily disappointed at not getting to go home with them, but then he saw a labradoodle named Toby that he likes to play with, so he took off.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Stick in the Mud

Isaac made friends with a nice dog named Sophia at the dog park and they had a good time playing with a stick.

Dinner is a Recurring Event around Here

Medicaid lady:  I'm trying to figure out if these medical expenses you've submitted are recurring expenses.  For instance, I see a lot of expenses related to your service dog.

Me:  Yes, those would be recurring expenses.  For instance, my dog eats every day.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

This Is Not Poverty

I wrote this poem about a year ago, on a day when I was feeling stressed about money.  Fast forward to today and I am once again anxious about financial stuff.  And once again, this poem seems fitting.  Isaac and I went to the doggie beach today and I waded in the cool lake, feeling the sand under my bare toes, while he played with other dogs and ran and swam.

This Is Not Poverty

There is a sky
a million shades of blue.
There is a hazel lake
and sand soft and warm
beneath my bare feet.
There is a dog
the color of wheat and straw and sand
running at the water's edge
who loves me.
I think I am the richest person
in the world.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Perfect Last Day

Today at the dog park, Isaac and I met a very nice dog named Jake. Jake had a large area on his right side that had been shaved and his owner explained that he'd had cancerous tumors surgically removed recently and went on to say that unfortunately, they'd grown right back "fast and furious" and so Jake was scheduled to be euthanized tomorrow. She'd decided that for his last day on this earth, they would go to the doggie beach and swim, and then on the way home, stop for a cheeseburger.

It was sunny and gorgeous at the lake today. Jake played fetch with a frisbee and swam and had a great time. His owner waded into the lake up to her knees and wiped away tears while she took picture after picture of him, so she could remember his last day. I stood in the hot sun and wiped away my own tears. The other dog owners and I told her how beautiful her boy was, and how brave and kind she was to let him go before he suffered too much, and how sorry we were.

It was heartbreaking, but also heartbreakingly beautiful. What better last day on earth for a dog? Sun and water and dogs to play with and a frisbee and people to tell you how beautiful you were and how much you were loved and a cheeseburger.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Calling the Medicaid Office

Me to the lady at the Medicaid office: I turned in the receipts to show I met my spend down on the 12th. Yesterday, I spoke to a supervisor who told me my card had finally been released. But the pharmacy tells me when they try to bill for the medication I should have had Friday, your computer says I am still not covered. What's the deal?

Medicaid lady (after putting me on hold for six minutes): Your card has been released but it didn't get put in our state billing system.

Me: Why not?

Medicaid lady: I don't know. Sometimes that just happens.

Me: Well, how can we fix it and prevent it from happening again?

Lady: I can send the case to my supervisor to fix it.

Me: How long will that take?

Lady: They have 48 hours to do it but it might not take that long.

Me: You understand I turned in my receipts on the 12th. Then I called on the 19th to find out why my card had not been released and was told it would be fixed within 48 hours. Then I called on the 23, was told it still had not been released but would be fixed within 48 hours. Now it's been another 72 hours and I still can't use my Medicaid. And if you don't fix it in a few days, it will be June and then the pharmacy won't be able to bill for it because I won't have met my spend down for June.

Lady: Well, your card was released.

Me: But if it's not in the billing system, that doesn't help me, does it?

Lady: Well, I am sending it to my supervisor.

Me: OK. But what can we do so this doesn't happen again?

Lady: I don't know.

Me: Who would know?

Lady: Maybe my supervisor.

Me: Great. Can I talk to her?

Lady: No.

Me: Excuse me?

Lady: I can't transfer your call.

Me: Why not?

Lady: Our phone system does not allow us to transfer calls.

Me (not believing that for a minute): Then how about you go get her and I will speak to her on your phone? I'll wait.

Lady: All the supervisors are in a meeting.

Me (not believing that either): So you're telling me there is nothing we can do about my card not being released when it is supposed to be?

Lady: No, I'm not saying that. It is supposed to be released in 48 hours.

Me: But I turned in my receipts on the 12th. This is the 25th. You realize that is more than 48 hours, right?

Lady: Yes, but it should be released in 48 hours.

Me: speechless

Sunday, May 22, 2016

And Here He Demonstrates That He Has Not Yet Learned the Art of Sharing

Today at the dog park, another dog was playing fetch in the lake with a toy. The dog's owner threw the toy, and both Isaac and the other dog took off after it. The other dog got to it first, so Isaac snatched it right out of the poor dog's mouth.

I know, it's rude, right?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Isaac Demonstrates His Escape Artist Skills

Isaac is an escape artist.  When we go to the doggie beach, he amuses the other dog owners by demonstrating how he can swim around the barriers separating the small dog beach and the two big dog beaches.  He can then swim around the barrier at the end and be out of the fenced dog park.

After which he usually runs right up to the gate and waits impatiently for me to let him in.  Because he wants to be inside the fenced area with all the dogs and the people.  That's where the fun is.  It's just fun to escape.  Not to be outside the fenced area, just to escape from it.

Stinker. The other dog owners frequently comment on how smart he is.  And he is.  But still.

I've only seen two other dogs ever swim around the barriers of their own accord, although Isaac has shown a number of other dogs to do it and encouraged their bad behavior.  Other times, the dogs see him do it but still can't figure it out.  They just wonder how he suddenly got on the other side of the fence.  One dog owner told me, "Plato thinks Isaac is magical." 

Plato was her dog.  He and Isaac had a great time playing together.

So anyway, here is the magical Isaac, demonstrating his escape artist skills for the camera.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Isaac Got His Free Service Dog Eye Exam

Isaac got his free eye exam today. In addition to the eye exam, he got a thorough physical, an exam by an orthopedic vet, and an exam by a cardiologist.

Everything was perfect except a slight heart murmur (well, not exactly a murmur, a "slight split S-1 variation," but I'll spare you the long explanation about what that is) which we might get checked out further. However, the cardiologist assured us that it might be nothing and if it is something, it is mostly likely not serious and that Isaac doesn't need to restrict his activity at all.

The staff was all super friendly, they had donuts and coffee and juice for everyone, and treats for the dogs, and we got a tote bag full of goodies.

The vet tech and the cardiologist both said multiple times how well-behaved Isaac was and I was a little surprised by that.  I mean, he is well-behaved, but I figured since they were seeing only service dogs all day, all the dogs should have been pretty well-behaved.  Apparently that was not the case.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

He Must Be One of Those Seeing Eye Dogs

Today Isaac and I were standing in line outside the local food pantry, along with a bunch of other people. I don't vest Isaac when we go there because we spend a long time waiting in line outside and I don't want him to be hot.

Well, someone had brought their dog with them and left their dog in their car (I really wish people wouldn't do that) and that dog was barking like crazy. Isaac looked in the dog's direction but that was it.

This guy in line behind us commented to someone else, "Look, that dog isn't even barking or anything. He must be one of those Seeing Eye dogs." Even if he was slightly confused about what a Seeing Eye dog is, he knew Isaac was a service dog based on his behavior.

And if you didn't know, a Seeing Eye dog is a guide dog for the blind, trained by a program called The Seeing Eye.  It's a brand name.  It is similar to the way that Oreos are a type of cream-filled cookie, but not all cream-filled cookies are Oreos and not all cookies are cream-filled.

Friday, May 13, 2016

He's in Here

Today Isaac and I went to the dog park, the one with the doggie beach on the lake. There is the doggie beach and then there is a regular dog park very close by, with some trees in between.

So Isaac was playing with a bunch of other dogs in the regular dog park part, but he kept trying to hump a couple of them, so I told him he was done playing there. We went down to the doggie beach, where he played very nicely with two other dogs, but then they left and Isaac was the only dog there. I guess he didn't like playing by himself, so he swam around the divider thing, escaping from the doggie beach, and took off at top speed toward the regular dog park.

I followed behind him, not nearly as fast, but I figured it was OK because he would just be at the fence by the other dog park. But I got over there and did not see him anywhere. I looked around, but no Isaac. So I asked this guy if he'd seen a yellow lab running by and another guy, inside the dog park said, "Oh, he's in here. He came up the gate and wanted in, so I just let him in."

OK, so it's good he was in there. But what a stinker.

Give a Dog a Pill (or Two)

Isaac is on antibiotics because of the dog bite, although it's nearly healed now.  I think he has three more days of antibiotics.  He is supposed to take two capsules twice a day and they are not tiny capsules.  Usually, to give him a pill, I poke a hole in the middle of a slice of hotdog and stick the pill in it.  He gobbles up the hotdog and in the process, the pill gets swallowed.

But these are big capsules.  That wasn't working so well.  So I have been having him sit, prying his mouth open, sticking the pills in, then holding his chin at a tilt and rubbing his throat until he swallows them.  I have to pry his mouth open because he won't open it for me but here's what's funny.  He happily follows me into the kitchen, tail wagging, and sits down to wait for the pills.

After he takes the pills, he gets a bite of hotdog or hard boiled egg or something really yummy.  So even though I have to pry open his mouth, he is happy to come into the kitchen and take him pills.  He is a silly dog.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bitten at a Dog Park

So Isaac was bitten by another dog last week at a dog park.

I am careful about dog parks.  I take Isaac to them, but we only go to those that are kept clean (which not only means fewer germs around from dog poop but owners actually pay attention to their dogs there), we only go when they aren't too crowded, and we leave if Isaac or another dog is not behaving appropriately.  That means if Isaac decides he wants to hump another dog and he won't knock it off, we leave.  Even if we've only been there 10 minutes.  Yes, that happeneds
But last week.  There were only two other dogs there, both huskies, with different owners.  One Isaac and I had seen there before.  He is older, I think eight years or maybe 10, and he likes to lie in the shade and watch the other dogs run around.  He will play some but he is pretty calm and laid back.  The other dog we had not seen before, but the two huskies appeared to be great friends.

All three were getting along nicely for about an hour.  Then Isaac and the husky we hadn't seen before had a disagreement about something.  I'm not sure what.  I am sure Isaac was not trying to hump the husky.  I don't think Isaac did anything to provoke the bite.  But all over a sudden, they were snarling and going at each other. It was over quickly. Isaac looked OK and we left.

I looked him over in the car before we drove away.  I didn't see any signs of injury.  His face was dirty from playing and I wiped it off carefully, and then looked at the towel to see if there was any blood.  There wasn't.  I decided he was not inured and we drove home.

And then when we were heading into our apartment, I saw a streak of blood on the side of his face.

I was more upset that Isaac was, I think.  It turned out he had three small puncture wounds on his face, one not too deep, the other two deeper.  I admit to panicking a bit.  I washed his face.  I cried.  I called the vet, only to find our vet had closed at noon that day.  I couldn't decide if it was an emergency or not, if I could call the emergency number or not. I thought about calling another nearby vet to see if I could get him in there that day, but felt overwhelmed at the prospect.  I ended up calling the emergency number at Isaac's regular vet.

The vet said he would need antibiotics and to bring him in the next day, so I did.  Isaac is fine with that, because the antibiotics are served with hotdogs.

Isaac has recovered well from his bite and I've recovered as well, though I am still rather shaky.

And a Whisker Video

Just because it's cute.
She loves to play in the water when I take a bath.  She also enjoys drinking hot bath water.  I know, she's weird.  But cute.

Where Have I Been?

I haven't blogged much lately.  I'm not really sure why.  I've been busy and I've had a sinus infection that just won't go away.  And I've had some stress.  Really, being sick is almost always stressful for me, but I've had other stress, too.  Like, Isaac was bitten by another dog at a dog park.  That's a whole separate post, but it was really stressful for me.  More stressful for me than for him, I'm pretty sure.

This sinus infection has been going on for a good month now and I'm just beginning to feel better.  It really triggered my PTSD and I ended up very emotional and not sleeping much.  At one point I was prescribed prednisone for the inflammation and it was higher dose than I've been on in the past and I had horrible side effects from it.  After only two doses, I was crying frequently and having flashbacks and nightmares and my anxiety was through the roof.  After the third dose, it finally occurred to me that what was happening might possible be related to the meds I was on for the sinus infection.  So the prednisone was discontinued and I'm feeling less emotional but still not quite back to normal.

Also, when I saw my rheumatologist back in March, she increased my gabapentin.  I think it is just now finally starting to decrease my pain, but it is causing a lot of blurred vision and that is really driving me nuts.  I am thinking I am not going to be able to stay on the higher dose.  I just don't think I can tolerate this blurriness. 

But I do want to get back to blogging and I have things I want to blog about, so hopefully I'm back now.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Tunnel Dog

I LOVE how this pic turned out!
Isaac got to play in an agility tunnel at the dog park a couple days ago. It was his first time with a tunnel and at first he was hesitant. I tossed a treat in and he went in to get the treat and came right back out. A short time later, he went in voluntarily and discovered the tunnel was full of interesting smells.

I love getting the opportunity to try new things with Isaac.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Can You See at All?

A couple days ago, I went to urgent care for a sinus infection.

After I explained why I thought I had a sinus infection and described my symptoms, the doctor asked, "Can you see at all?"

I was confused because I hadn't said anything about my eyesight.

I said, "My eyes are fine. I think I have a sinus infection." I was thinking, problems seeing are not common with sinus infections, right?

The doctor said again, "You can see?"

Then he gestured towards Isaac.

Mind you, I was sitting there reading a book (print, not Braille) when he entered the exam room.

My friend Peggy says she is glad to hear that sinus infections do not in fact cause blindness.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

He's Not Allowed to Sniff?

Several weeks ago, I took a friend to this church-run thrift shop to get some things for her son.  The shop was small, crowded, and slightly musty-smelling.  Isaac loved it.  He found it full of enticing aromas and was unable to resist sniffing a bit.

This was after I lost his prong collar and before I replaced it, so I was having some trouble correcting him and preventing the sniffing.

Oh, and they had a cat.  A fat tabby cat, in the store.  Isaac was very excited to see that.  The cat, less so.

Anyway, at one point I said something to Isaac about knocking off the sniffing because he knows better and the church lady running the shop looked surprised and said, "He's not allowed to sniff?"

I told her that he is allowed to sniff when he's not working, and that he gets plenty of off duty sniffing time, but that he's not supposed to be sniffing things in a store.

She seemed really surprised and maybe slightly disapproving.  I don't know if she thought it was unreasonable to expect a dog not to sniff or didn't know it was possible to train a dog not to sniff or just didn't understand why he shouldn't sniff in a store and had seen other dogs labeled service dogs that sniffed or what.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The World I Want to Live in

Yesterday I stopped at a gas station that was across from a hospital. A woman was asking people in the parking lot if they could help her out with a couple dollars because she had just left the ER and need to fill two prescriptions.

She said she'd fallen and injured herself, and I could see one eye was very swollen and bloodshot. I wasn't sure it looked like it was from a fall, but what do I know? It looked painful and I believed she'd just come from the ER. She was still wearing the plastic bracelet from the hospital. She offered to show me the prescriptions so I would know she wasn't lying, but I told her I didn't need to see them.

I had a $20 bill and a $1 bill on me. I started to give her the $1 and then gave her the $20 as well. It just felt like the right thing to do. Whatever I would have spent that $20 on, I figure she needed that medication more.

It just did not seem right to me that someone would be injured enough to go to the ER and then have to stand outside and beg for money to buy medication. There is something wrong with that. I do not want to live in a society that does that to someone.

When I handed her the $20 bill, her eyes got teary. She asked if she could hug me and I hugged her and told her I was sorry it was so hard and sorry she had to do this to get the medicine she needs. She said, "It is hard."  She told me she has a job, not a good job but a job, but didn't have any money until payday. Which apparently was not yesterday .

She said she'd gone to work that morning but had been in a lot of pain and also was having trouble seeing out of her injured eye. She also mentioned that the light was really bothering her eye. So she left work to go to the ER. She said they did a CT scan and other tests at the hospital and told her she really needed these medications. She was afraid of experiencing lasting damage to her eye if she didn't get the medications.

It was a bright, sunny day yesterday and it did not escape me that she was standing out in the bright sunlight, begging for the money to get the medicine she needed.

There is something wrong with a society that would make an injured person beg on the street for money to get medication. Whatever you think should be done about health care in this country, surely no one thinks this is right.

And this is not the world I want to live in. I want a better world, a kinder world. A world where people do not think it is OK for an injured person to have to beg on the street for money for medication.

Enjoying a Bone

A friend gave Isaac some raw frozen beef bones.  Isaac says they are very yummy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

More Metal

Today Isaac and I were walking around a small town near where we live and there were some trees on the sidewalk with metal grates around them. Sort of like the bridge he was scared to cross before. Remember?

He was happy to walk on this metal grate, though, to sniff the tree. He was less happy when I asked him to sit on it while I took a picture, because he wanted to go sniff other things. But he wasn't scared of it.

Apparently the scary thing about the bridge was seeing the open space under it. I was glad to have a small training opportunity, though. I try to take those opportunities whenever I can.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Leaving It

A few months ago, Isaac and I did a lot of work on his leave it because two times he's tried to eat food on the floor in a restaurant. Since then we've seen food on the floor in a restaurant and he ignored it nicely.

Well, today I dropped a bottle of medication on the floor and asked Isaac to pick it up for me. When he started to pick it up, the top popped off (I have to get the non-childproof tops because with my arthritis, I can't open the safety caps). About a million pills spilled out all over the floor and I instantly said "Leave it! Leave it!" and Isaac instantly dropped the bottle and sat down and looked at me to see what I wanted him to do.

I will add that I only ask Isaac to pick up medication bottles if I am sitting right there. When he brings me meds, those are in their bottles inside another contain, a bag that he cannot open, so there is no risk of him getting the pills. But he will pick up pill bottles if I drop them and ask him to.

Just another example of why a SD needs a really good leave it. Isaac got a nice treat and an ear rub and I picked up the pills.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

He'll Cross That Bridge When He comes to It

A while back, probably a couple months ago, Isaac and I were walking on this bike path and came to a bridge. It wasn't a real long bridge, but it was metal and kind of like a grate. There were small holes in the metal and you could see the creek below. Isaac has walked on metal surfaces before but for some reason, he balked at this bridge. Refused to cross it. I had treats in my pocket but nothing high value and he did not want them badly enough to put one foot on the bridge. We ended up turning around and walking the other way.

This bike path is not close to my home. We were just there because I had an appointment in the area and had a little extra time. But I decided I wanted to try to find a similar surface to work with him on. We do not need to cross metal grate bridges often (or ever) but I want Isaac to be able to walk on all sorts of surfaces and to trust me if I tell him a surface is Ok even if it's one he's never ever seen before.

I found a place near our home with a similar bridge, though it's just a bit shorter.

So I took a handful of pepperoni and we set out to conquer the scary bridge. My plan for the first training session at the bridge was to give him a slice of pepperoni near the bridge, then put a slice on the bridge but close to the end so he could reach it without putting a foot on the bridge, then to attempt to coax him to put one or both front feet on the bridge in order to reach more pepperoni. I was prepared to make multiple trips to the bridge and intended to gradually over time require him to move further onto the bridge in order to get a high value treat.

Isaac is incredibly food motivated. He was hesitant to put his front feet on the bridge but willing to do it. In fact, he was willing to slowly follow me all the way across the bridge, eating pepperoni out of my hand the entire way!

Once we crossed the bridge, he got to run around and take a swim in a pond before we crossed the bridge again to get back to our car. He was less hesitant that time, although still a bit concerned. I was out of pepperoni (we could have gone around a long way if he'd refused to cross the bridge without the pepperoni) but he was willing to do it for some lower value treats.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Free Eye Exams for Service Dogs

It's that time of year again.  Time for free eye exams for service dogs. 

This is a great program offered once a year.  You go to this website to sign up.  They give you a confirmation number and then you choose a participating vet from a list of vets all across the country and call that vet to make an appointment.  It's completely free.

The veterinary hospital I took Isaac to last year for his exam was great.  In addition to the eye exam, he was examined by a general vet and an orthopedic vet.  They served treats for humans and dogs and everyone was really nice.  You can read about it here.  We are going back to the same place this year.

Alert vs. Signal vs. Response

I wanted to explain a few commonly-used terms related to service dogs and some of the tasks they might do

Alert - An alert is when a service dog warns you in advance that something is going to happen. The thing hasn't happened yet. For instance, a seizure alert dog might nudge a handler 20 minutes BEFORE a seizure starts. The dog is saying, "Hey, you're gonna have a seizure soon."

People often say their dog alerts to anxiety, but dogs can't really tell you in advance when you are going to get anxious. I get anxious if the power goes out but my dog cannot predict when the power will go out before it happens. What people usually mean when they say their dog alerts to anxiety is that their dog signals them when they are getting anxious or that their dog responds to their anxiety.

Signal - This is when the dog tells you something is already happening. In the even that the power goes out and I begin to get anxious, my dog sees that I AM anxious. If he was trained to nudge me, he would be saying, "Hey, you're anxious now!"

Response - This is when the dog is trained to do something in response to your anxiety (or seizures or whatever). He is actually doing something about it, not just telling you that you're anxious. My dog is trained to bring my medication when he sees that I am anxious. In my case, it wouldn't be helpful for me if he just said, "Hey, you're anxious!" (That might be helpful for someone else, though). What I need him to say is "Hey, you're anxious so take your meds!" And he says that by dropping the meds in my lap.

In short:

Alert - tells you something is going to happen

Signal - tells you something is happening now

Response - does something about whatever is happening

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Soda Quackers

A friend sent us a care package.  Isaac was delighted to see the UPS driver, of course, and he was certain there was something in one of those packages for him.  The first thing I pulled out was chamomile tea and Isaac sniffed it carefully but says he is not interested in tea.

The next thing was a stuffed duck with a squeaker in it.  Isaac is most interested in stuffed squeaky toys.
Another friend suggested the name Soda Quackers and so that is the name of the new toy duckie.  For however long it lasts.  I figure Isaac will probably disembowel him pretty soon.

Whiskers got a present, too.  She got three floppy fish toys.  They have catnip in them and make a crinkling noise.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

At the Podiatrist

Isaac was super good at the podiatrist today. I had him in a down stay on one side of the examining table and while the medical assistant was taking my vital signs and stuff, he stretched out and went to sleep. He was snoring, which the MA thought was hilarious.

Then, while I was waiting for the doctor to come in, I was reading a book and I had the leash in one hand but accidentally dropped it. So I woke Isaac up and asked him to get it for me. Which he did.

There was another patient across the hall, and she could see into the room where I was, and she called across the hall, "Your dog is so pretty!" I said thank you and she added "Smart, too."

Later, I had Isaac pick up my shoes and socks for me and she was super impressed with that.

 Also. None of the staff asked why I had a SD. Apparently they figured it was nothing to do with my feet and they didn't need to know.

The reason I was seeing the podiatrist was because I have been having muscle spasms in my feet for the past two months or so.  I saw my primary care doctor and he ordered some labs but couldn't figure out what was causing them.  

I saw my rheumatologist for a regularly scheduled appointment and asked her about it while I was there and she kind of blew me off, just said, "Oh, fibro can cause that."  But she didn't look at my feet or ask any questions and so I don't know how she could know if it was fibro or something else causing the muscle spasms in my case.  I mean, just because fibro can cause that doesn't mean that is what's causing it.  There are about a million things that can cause muscle spasms in feet.

So the podiatrist looked at my lab report and pointed out that my potassium is at the bottom of the reference range and told me that it can sometimes cause muscle spasms in feet when it's at that level. Something it seems like my primary care doc ought to have known, though I realize doctors usually know little about nutritional deficiencies. But since that's one of those electrolytes, it seems like he probably should have known that.

The podiatrist asked if I was having any muscle twitches around my eyes, which I do have but had thought was a side effect of my gabapentin, and he told me no, low potassium can cause that too. My primary doc didn't ask me about that and I didn't mention it to him because I thought it was just a side effect of the gabapentin.

The podiatrist said he does not think my muscle spasms are related to my fibromyalgia despite what my rheumatologist said, because while fibro can cause muscle spasms they are usually in the large muscles, not the small muscles. Um, shouldn't she have known that? Except she didn't ask me any questions or pay much attention to what I was describing to her.

She also told me that exercising more would help with the muscle spasms, which I thought was an odd thing to say since she didn't bother asking how much I already exercise first. In fact, I am exercising (walking) more now than I was six months ago and the podiatrist said the increase in exercise might be causing or contributing to the muscle spasms because it causes more lactic acid to build up in the muscles. Which does not mean I should stop exercising (how awesome would it be to be told I exercise too much? but no) but it also means exercising more is not the answer, at least not by itself.

I am not at all impressed with the rheumatologist.

So the podiatrist told me to eat more potassium in my diet and he gave me these temporary arch things for my feet. I go back in a couple weeks and if the arches seem to help, he is going to try to figure out how to get my insurance to pay for some inserts for my shoes that they usually won't cover.

I think I love my podiatrist. I think I might need a new rheumatologist, though.