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.