Update On Chakotay

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 06:21 pm
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Chakotay has been adopted! A friend of a friend ( who is now my friend too! ) adopted him. They met and he immediately opened up to her and snugglefest ensued! He knew what he wanted. They are the perfect match for each other. :) Huge, huge thank you to everyone who shared his story and expressed interest in him, and for everyone who has offered their prayers and best wishes through all of this. Gonna miss my dorky fluffball so much. But happy knowing he will make my new friend just as happy as he made me.
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A friend offered to watch Chakotay so I could "test drive" some foster dogs from the local shelters or rescues and such. I have been looking for months, much how I did when I went looking for and found Journey. Nothing in the local area young enough, big enough or heartworm negative. I came across a listing for a dog claiming he was a Lab X Mastiff mix, which I thought was perfect for size and possible good characteristics. Went to see him... the dog was smaller than Ember, and more of a Pitty mix. He was beautiful and beautiful personality, but too small. So I asked to see what else they had. Only one really fitting big enough was an American Bulldog. Had good personality and some basic obedience, we tried cat testing in the cat room and he didn't seem interested in them and even went up to sniff one cage and got nailed and didn't even react, just turned away. Perfect I thought. Went back to test him with Ember and they liked each other. Okay, willing to give him a chance. He doesn't weigh 70lbs like we thought by the size of him, but 103lbs! Mega perfect! Find out he's heartworm positive. Nrgh. Okay. Shelter is willing to work with me, so I agree to try him on foster. Always cautious when introducing strange dogs to my cats, especially one as big and strong as him....he gets excited when he realizes they are there, and it is prey drive excitement. I tried a few different approaches to get him to calm and ignore them, which he actually caught on to amazingly well when realizing he got yummy things for ignoring the cats. But he kept doing the eerie freeze/silence/stare predatory stalking behavior thing. He also tried to nip at Wasabi through the kennel when Wa came over to politely say hello ( if the bars had not been there between them the dog would have made contact, which is very dangerous ). I can't risk that with my cats. I can't risk he go after some other random animal in public and risk dragging me down or worse. I am totally fine working with large, powerful dogs. I have all my life. But at the same time I can't risk injury to myself to fight against trying to reshape that kind of prey drive on a dog that big. I hate to say it, but I don't have the time or energy or finances to do so. So I will be bringing him back tomorrow. Back to square one. It is getting harder and harder for Ember to do what I need her to do for me, and I am afraid she'd work herself to death if I didn't stop her. I am afraid of facing being in public without a service dog after all the freedom and peace of mind I have had with my partners, but I am running out of time and options. Fundraisers don't work ( I can't even help save a cat with a broken leg fast enough). The waiting list for CPL or any program is going to be longer than I can wait, and I don't have $5k-$7k just to travel for team training. I don't even have $2k to get a well bred pup with health guarantee (if something is wrong breeder will take it back and replace it and their parents are screened for HD/ED and temperament tested CGC and above). I feel like just totally giving up. I can't do it anymore.
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TLDR: Chakotay's service training had more setbacks. Questioning how much longer to keep trying to make him something he simply might not be. ---------- I met mom in Slidell yesterday to go shopping for some new clothing, since all mine are about to fall apart. Decided to try taking both Ember and Chakotay with us. Chakotay was...... ehh. He was still way too weary even with Ember around and he was leery of different people, especially if they got too close. Some store clerks were moving a clothing rack and he saw it from some 300ft away and suddenly put on the breaks, causing me and Ember to whiplash into him. When I realized what had him concerned, I walked him to it and asked the guys if they would roll it toward us and I went over and pet it to show him it was okay. He tolerated it ( he didn't have a choice since he was on leash ) but he was not comfortable with it. Ember on the other hand was all happy wiggly and wanted to nudge the rack when I pet it, as a target behavior. She did that because she was hoping I would let her say hello to the two clerks as a reward. Chakotay's body language for the few hours we were out just said he was not enjoying any of it. We stopped for food and Chakotay didn't want to stay settled under the table, even though there was plenty of room for both him and Ember. He would lay down and then sit back up a few moments later, much like the restlessness during store training exercises at Petsmart and Petco. The longer we are out, I have noticed he will get more restless and nudge me to let me know he is uncomfortable and wants to leave. He did this in the department store even with Ember present. Any time we moved back in the direction of the store entrance he wanted to pull to hurry us on our way faster, same as he does in the pet friendly stores when he has had enough. Mom saw some of it, but I don't think she understood what she was seeing ( she knows some stuff she learned from me, but doesn't know how to read a dog as well ) or really realized how bad it was till we were close to getting ready to leave the restaurant. Mom had to get up and leave the table a few times, and her and I both had to keep repositioning our legs to stay comfortable. Any time Chakotay remotely thought either of us was getting up to leave, he was getting up to try and move from under the table. This is something I worked on a lot with Ember and Journey, and now with Chakotay. Holding a stay position, waiting patiently and quietly. He is great with it at home, and he was great with it as a puppy up until the fear period started. We even practiced under tables and other objects similar to how I trained him to wait for a release command from his kennel when I open it. He understands the cue and what I want him to do and in the past didn't have problems with it. Anyway, we were getting ready to leave and I gave a clear verbal stay command with the hand signal and indicated to mom to go ahead and get up ( Chakotay could not see me tell her ) while at the same time I again gave the stay commands to the dogs as she was moving to stand and I was swinging my legs out so I could get myself into position to let the dogs come out and get on my feet. Ember didn't flinch, waiting for me to release her. Chakotay on the other hand suddenly acted like he was on fire and came barreling out from under the table, trampling Ember who was at the open end of the table ( I sat him by the wall on purpose to control his movement )......and slammed right into my legs and through them. I don't know what hurt more. Chakotay hitting them or the impact causing them to slam against the pole and underside of the table. It was very unpleasant. I was biting back pain, embarrassed because of his behavior startling people across from us ( who I apologized to ), with Ember and mom both checking with me to make sure I was okay because they knew I had been hurt by it. I was holding Chakotay by the collar at that point to make him stay in place while I let Ember out and tried to get up. The whole time he was yancy and clearly ready to GTFO. Mind you nothing at all bad had happened all day. He didn't have to go relieve himself because I made sure to let them both do so before we went into the place to be safe. He simply had enough for the day and wanted to go back to the car because he knows eventually we will go "home" in it and he doesn't have to be out in public anymore. Mom couldn't believe he'd done that. She's never seen any of my dogs behave that way, mostly because they all know better. Sure sometimes they jump the gun if they get excited, but a quick reminder would set them right again. Even as big of a clumsy dork as Journey could be, he never behaved that way, even when closer to the end of his short career he was clearly not wanting to work because he was in pain. He was grumbly and somewhat impatient but he never plowed through me in his desire to leave a place. I was hoping having Ember around would help Chakotay more than it did, especially in the non-pet places we go for public access training. The more I evaluate him and watch his behavior in public with our short training sessions, and go back and look at video I take, I'm just not so sure he will grow out of this; it has been going on since August without improvement. Him finally interacting with the handful of people that one day in Petsmart was only because I let Ember spazz and say hello to people to try and make it a happy fun thing and missing out on the excitement was enough to overcome any concern he had about the situation. I can't do that every single place we go with every single person or thing we come across that he might be uncomfortable with. I also can't take both him and Ember together every single time. It takes a lot of energy to safely handle and direct one, let alone two large dogs in coordinated movement. Especially when one is a strong puppy who clearly doesn't want to be out in the first place. I just don't always have the physical ability to do it. While Ember's presence seems like it might be enough of a distraction to boost his confidence some, I can't say if it will change enough for him to grow out of this phase completely. I also have some concern about him somehow becoming dependent on her presence as being the only way he feels confident enough in public. I can't help but somehow feel like a failure all over again. I haven't done anything vastly different with Chakotay than I did with raising Journey, that may have inadvertently caused the behavior shift. After this most recent outing, I'm not sure what to do anymore. We are so far behind on training skills, mostly because the primary training and reward systems we use at home won't work in public ( he currently won't take food rewards or toy rewards in public ). I have tried relaxation protocol and methods to get him to relax and focus on me, with no luck. I am in essence forcing him into situations he is not comfortable with simply by the action of taking him out in public anywhere. Even places he has gone to since he was a tiny puppy and previously been happy to visit. But if I don't take him, he won't get the exposure or continued socializing he needs. Which even if he washes out as a service dog, he should still have these skills and experiences to be a balanced pet dog. How long do I keep trying? If he was a program trained dog, he probably would have already been washed and career changed because it would be a risk to the handler and dog both. He already has a problem with being exposed to common every day stressful situations that a service dog is required to face, and it is pretty unlikely to change. So rather than invest time and money into trying to overcome that and train past it and hope it works, they cut the dog loose and move on. I just hate the reality of having to look at it that way, because he is obviously more than just an object to me. I have become so much more attached to Chakotay in a shorter time than I was with Journey. My heart wants more than anything to make it work because I love him and I have bonded with him and invested so much into him already. But my gut instinct tells me it just isn't meant to be. If I was to evaluate him from a neutral standpoint like I would any client's dog, it is painfully obvious from that perspective he isn't a good fit as it currently stands. So then what do I do? Finding a good home for him is going to be so much more difficult. He'd need someone that was not only familiar with GSD, but someone who is familiar with working with a dog that might live the rest of their lives on the high strung side. Then what? Search for another puppy or a young adult dog and try again? Maybe a Rottweiler instead? They are larger, which is what I need. Or do I try and find a Labrador, Golden Retriever, or a mix of those breeds and hope it will be big enough? On average most only get around 75lbs on the larger side. A Rottie will easily top out at 120lbs or more. Going through any reputable breeder who actually OFA HD/ED checks their dogs and does temperament testing and goes by health standards, I am looking at $1k plus easily (unless I can find someone willing to work a price for me for the dog being a service dog, which is less likely for pedigree working dogs). I always encourage rescue over buying, but as I have discussed in the past, with needing something so specific for a working dog career, it is hard to find a dog that can live up to the standards health and behavior wise from the shelter ( especially with high rate of heartworm positive dogs here in Louisiana ) or hobby breeders. Maybe I could try fostering for local rescues to see if I could find a potential candidate. It could help save a life by simply being a temporary home if the dog wasn't the right fit, with no long term commitment to keep the dog if it didn't work out for whatever reason. Otherwise the only choice is just keep waiting and applying for a program dog, and hope nothing happens to Ember before I get accepted and paired with a successor dog. Then I have to hope either the dog is offered free of charge, or that I can somehow come up with the money to travel wherever I need to go and to cover the cost of the dog ( which is likely $5k to $7k easily with travel, hotel, food, aid to come with me, etc. ). The money from the service dog fund is completely gone now, used on expenses for Ember and Chakotay. The service dog fundraiser hasn't seen any activity despite me sharing and asking for help and even offering artwork commissions and things in exchange for it, because I hate having to ask for help and not being able to offer something in return. The whole situation has been very difficult and trying. Chakotay is a great dog. I'm just not sure he will ever be comfortable enough to work in public.
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Today started off a bit stressful. Had to get up early for the dog training seminar. Got my coffee and breakfast ( milk and meds yummm ) and got myself dezombified enough. Was right on time, loaded the car. Then my car wouldn't start. Of all the days? Really? Yeeaahh. Can't have it looked at till Monday. Thankfully my aunt could give me a ride.

Got there just in time and got settled. A room full of dog geeks and dog trainers and professionals somehow dog oriented or with their own fearful dogs, and here I am with Ember. Everyone wanted to gobble her up and she would have gladly let them and become one with them if it were physically possible. Everyone was real polite though and resisted the temptation of the cute little black and brindle dog in the room.

The seminar was great. Debbie is thoughtful and has a wonderful sense of humor, and her presentations reflect that. So did the random times a certain image would flash on the screen and she'd lob various dog toys into the audience. Ember was sad she didn't get to fetch them all, but behaved herself by simply watching as they went sailing and squeaking. In the end I made up for it by letting her get all sorts of love from people who had asked, when it was safe to do so.

I was stuck when lunch time came since I didn't have a vehicle. Some nice folks invited us to ride with them to go get lunch, which I thought was very awesome of them. Thanks again guys!

Great topics were discussed and lots of questions were presented and answered. It was so wonderful being surrounded by so many dog and behavioral geeks, that sense of common ground and understanding we all shared. I even got a chance to share my reptile geekery.

Time to speak one on one was limited, but I did have a chance to mention my situation with Chakotay and got some confirmation that we were on the right track. Echoing what I already knew; it is really dependent on the dog, set them up for success and hope for the best. But there is the reality that certain characteristics come with certain breeds and it may need more than behavior modification. Medication can be used to help get things in balance, and once that is used in combination with the training methods, the dog may get to the point where it is no longer needed.

We got a copy of one of Debbie's books and asked her to autograph it, which she was tickled by. Then Ember and I got our picture taken with her. After which Ember got sooooo much loooove from Debbie and anyone else who was still there waiting to speak with her.

Overall a good day.

Chakotay Update

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 09:02 pm
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Hey everyone. Apologies for the lack of updates about Chakotay lately, but there hasn't been a whole lot to report with him in the fear period. I have been keeping Chakotay home and just practicing basic skills and not much else. I took him out a few times, once every two weeks or so to try and get him over the fear period, but it was always the same reactions of suspiciously shying away and caution barking even at people he has known since he was an 8 week old puppy. Today I decided to try something different. I took Ember with us.

Dogs are social learners, and learn a lot by watching others. Ember is such a moosh and loves everyone that I hoped if I let her say hello to everyone, Chakotay would follow example and be more willing. I have used a similar technique with other shy or fearful dogs in the past. First I took him into our local Petsmart alone. Ember waited in the car while it was remote started with AC running. Same nervous reactions he has been displaying, which I recorded if anyone cares for me to share.

Then we went back to the car and took Ember in with us. Chakotay's behavior at first was still hyper vigilant and weary, but slightly less intense. We wandered around some but everyone we knew at the store was busy and it was slow so no one to test with. Then a woman brought her German Shepherd puppy in for grooming, and found her way over to us. I told her about Chakotay's fear period and asked if she'd like to help, and she happily agreed because she looooves German Shepherds! Ember was total velcro and getting all the love, and surprise surprise! Chakotay decided he wanted some too!

He even went back several times on his own to ask for more. Another couple was there with one of their German Shepherds, a huge male pup a month or two older than Chakotay, who was more the size Journey was at that same age. Chakotay was good about greeting them too with some encouragement and Ember support. They were all real nice and chatted about the fear period and other dog geek stuff, and we exchanged contact info. Yaay new dog people friends! Chakotay is still on the smaller side for a male, and seeing him next to this other dog near his same age I just don't think he is going to be a large dog like Journey was, unless he hits a huge growth spurt in the next month or so. Which may not be ideal if he's going to do full mobility work. We'll have to wait and see, and put some Miracle Gro in his food in the meantime!

I plan to repeat today's training experiment a few more times to get Chakotay to open up to people again with Ember along, try and see if I can get him interested in treats while doing so, and eventually transition him over to not having Ember along and see how he does. Hopefully he'll go back to being the happy cuddly dork he was with people before the fear period kicked in.
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By any chance does anyone have $115 to spare before the 15th? There is a dog training seminar that day that I really need to try and attend. It's to help Chakotay ( service dog in training ) try and overcome this fear period. The presenter is Debbie Jacobs, CPDT-KA, CAP2 and is specifically geared toward working with fearful and anxious dogs. It will be invaluable for me to be able to attend and likely have the chance to speak with her and others directly. Not only that, but word is a field trainer from one of the big service dog organizations is also attending. Again, a chance to talk to these people directly about Chakotay's problems is something I hate to pass up just because I don't have the money for it right now. I am taking commissions in exchange to make it happen. Animal art, anthro art, jewelry, sculptures, ceramics, all the art things can be yours!

http://leopardwolf.deviantart.com
leopardwolf: (Default)
Busy busy busy this month. Working on ceramics and other art. We recently had a surprise party to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday. The whole family and Grandma's friends got together to celebrate. It was nice seeing so many people I have known since childhood. Lots of laughs and smiles were had.

After that we had a roofer out doing repairs and rebuilding the back deck's roof. Needless to say with all the construction sounds starting early AM I got no sleep, on top of getting no sleep because I have been sick. So I ended up even sicker and ran out of Gaba before insurance would cover the refill. Never fails that I always get really sick during the hottest of the summer.

Despite that, I was able to finally get a glaze load fired. I was trying to wait for the weather to cool off a little before I did, but that's not going to happen around here anytime soon. Just going to keep running the loads I have and vent with fans, try to time the hottest part for evening and early AM when it is a little cooler out. A small piece I made for my aunt's birthday came out perfect. I'll be sharing it and others on Patreon and eventually on DA and LWD page.

Nothing much has changed with Chakotay. Taking things slow and staying home. He barked at the roof repair guy when we tried a casual introduction, but at least he was okay after he got used to the noise of the repair work and realized it was not a bad thing. He curiously sniffed at all the tools and supplies and willingly investigated things he was unsure of after I touched them and showed him they were safe. Will be so happy when he gets past this phase and I get my confident puppy back.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Dog training friends, I am in need of some help. Chakotay is going through one of the "dreaded teenage phases" ( I try to say that jokingly ) of puppydom. Better known as a fear impact period. He's at the 7 month mark, so I understand this is normal and I was expecting it might happen ( even though ironically it never really did with Journey ). Poor Chakotay has gone from being a confident (but sensitive) sassy pup to having weird reactions to situations, people, objects, and sounds he has always been exposed to or has experienced before and been okay with.

His body language is reserved, he won't take treats/toy rewards like normal, and has avoidance or distancing behavior, so I know he is uncomfortable. People he has known since I got him, he acts suspicious of them and reserved to approach for pets where in the past he'd go right to them for love. With strangers the behavior is obviously worse with over vigilance and general weariness and wanting to avoid contact.

Same thing with certain environmental stimuli; places we have frequented, smells or sounds he is familiar with, he acts overly surprised, worried, or wants nothing to do with it. It has been hard for me to keep his attention and keep him under his threshold of tolerance because it has varied so much from one point to the next.

I know this is normal behavior during fear periods in adolescent dogs. My concern is if I cannot help him overcome this, it will disqualify him for being a service dog.

Service dogs need to be friendly toward and accepting of all people and animals they meet, for obvious reasons. If Chakotay continues to show lack of confidence in public and around strangers, it means he isn't a good fit for the job, and it would be wrong of me to force him to do something he cannot, same as it was with Journey having to be washed for medical reasons.

So for all my canine behavior savvy friends out there, any recommended reading materials or feedback you can offer? I know the general rules just as it is for the initial puppy fear stages in the 6-12 week or so fear periods and any others. Counter conditioning and desensitizing, make everything as happy and fun and AMAZINGLY positive as possible, do my best to show him it's all normal and nothing to be afraid of, so on and so forth. I plan to continue to socialize him to get the exposure but trying to do so without overwhelming him. But if he won't take offered rewards/treats for reacting correctly or as part of the OMG AMAZING situation pairing approach, is there anything else I can do to help get the message through to him besides letting him approach as he is comfortable doing so? Depending on circumstance, he may not want to at all on his own, so I don't want to inadvertently reinforce fear with my own reactions or lack of reactions.

I'm not sure how long I should give him to overcome it. I know normally you'd just let the dog get comfortable with something at their own pace and work on anything that can boost confidence with that object or situation and confidence in general, which I have already been doing. But I am concerned that as a service dog in training he needs more exposure time than a pet dog would to keep him on track and avoid any huge training setbacks. It is also a matter of how much time till it passes. I know on average it can be several weeks worth. But if it lasts past that point, does it mean it may simply just be part of his behavior ( genetically influenced or otherwise ) and accept that he probably isn't cut out for service dog work and go ahead and wash him?

That's not even touching on the other possible problem I may be facing with him; I'm not sure if Chakotay is actually going to be nearly as big as Journey was. He hasn't grown as much as Journey had by this point and his paws are smaller. I am hoping the fear period is directly related to a developmental growth spurt or something and he is about to supersize himself.

Journey for all intents and purposes was pretty bulletproof from day one, and not much ever really phased him - which was amazing considering how bad some GSD can get. That's why I am more concerned about Chakotay. From the first day I got him, I already knew he was a lot more sensitive to certain things in ways Journey never was. Journey just didn't care. But Chakotay does, and the fear period is amplifying it. I just want to make sure I do what is best for him. Even if it means facing a similar situation like I did with Journey.

Road Trip Recap

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 05:19 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
The endless flurry of activity recently is making my head spin. Here is a recap.

Before The Trip

Before I found out Mike and I were going on a road trip, I had to unexpectedly relocate my art room from one part of the house to the other. That took a lot of energy and time and required some help from the neighbor to move furniture.

Then I found out we were going to Oklahoma and had to get my car ready for such a long drive. Turns out I needed new tires and front breaks. Which was an unexpected expense of over $1,000 that my family helped cover. Considering the car is going on six years old and this is the first time I have had to replace anything huge like that, I am lucky they held out this long. It had to be done one way or another and thankfully family helped make it happen.

Flailing with last minute preparations to get everything ready, get things for the animals taken care of, and figure out trip logistics and give friends a heads up we would be in their neck of the woods for meetups. It was storming all week up till the day we were ready to leave. It is horrible to admit, but since we don't have cable TV anymore and I wasn't online checking posts or news or anything because of computer problems, I had no idea the Baton Rouge area had gotten hit as badly as it had. New Orleans got lots of rain, but we didn't have anything near that kind of flooding where I am staying. I felt horrible for not knowing sooner, though there isn't much I could have done for anyone in that area with my health problems. Thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was affected.


Travel Time

We didn't realize how bad the flooding was until we got on the road and ended up in the middle of it. Road closures of the major interstates, the exact direction we had to go to get out to OKC. Detours and traffic. Carefully navigating partly flooded roadways. Stopping along the way for breaks and finding the epitome of stereotypical horror movie "dead end gas station" complete with creepy dark road with dilapidated buildings in the middle of nowhere Louisiana where we lost GPS and cell reception at a specific spot along the road..... said NOOOOPE and turned right around to get back to the highway ( the reception came back after we passed that same spot by the way ). The 10hr drive took us about 16hrs. But we made it. And after some mild drama with the hotel, everything else fit into place as best it could.

Chakotay and Mike were buddies from the start. The pup kept doing the most adorkable things and endearingly grew on Mike. They had some wonderful male bonding during that long car ride. I can't count the number of times Chakotay's head was used as an arm rest while he happily grumbled and nudged us like it was the best thing ever. For his first time on a very, very long road trip in the back seat of the car, first time staying away from home, first time at a hotel, and similar activities, he did exceptionally well for a six month old puppy. Ember of course handled the whole trip like the pro she is. She was very happy to see Mike after so many months since our last trip to New Jersey.


Museum of Osteology!!!!

One awesome highlight - I got to have a total geekgasm at the amazing Museum of Osteology, which is a private museum devoted to the study of bones and skeletons, and part of the famous Skulls Unlimited. BOOONES. SO. MANY. BONES. As a bone collector myself, I was in heaven. The collection is amazing, and what was on display is only a tiny fraction of what they have. I took so many pictures, most for anatomy reference and artistic study. The taxonomic displays were amazing. I could have stayed there all day just staring at everything. Mike wasn't sure if he'd like it, but he said he really enjoyed it and thought it was neat seeing all the articulated skeletons. We were actually the last ones in the museum after they closed. I was totally geeking because hey, this is Skulls Unlimited! I couldn't help but ask if they had the Thylacine skull replica on site. I wanted a chance to hold it and admire it in person, since I have been drooling over it online for years now. I was so busy staring at it and talking with the staff about bones and anatomy and geeky things, I totally missed Mike sneaking the guy his card; I just thought the noise was the guy closing out the register for the evening. Until I was handing the skull back to the him so we could leave and Mike grinned at me and told me to put it in the box and lets walk out with it and the guy who was helping us was grinning too. I almost started crying, because I have dreamed of having this thing that represents something so special and deeply spiritual to me, and now I have the closest thing I ever could ( short of the real thing). It is amazing how similar it looks to my wolf skull. Now I will dream of having the felidae skull to complete the aspect circle.


Visiting With Friends!

Mike had a chance to see one of his friends and I had a chance to see some of mine. One being my childhood friend Gabrielle, who is the Burt's Bees knees for understanding and accepting my special crazy self in all the years we have known each other. She helped us brave the wilds of Kansas in search of a meeting place with plentiful food options. The other being my longtime friend Ash, who I hadn't seen in person in nearly a decade, wow! Ash it was great getting a chance to see you and James and reminisce over the good ol' days and sketchbook stains, like a lesbian! Thank you all for driving to hang out with us and have dinner. Wish we could have stayed longer! There was just not enough time to share all the laughter and hugs and love. We must do it again! You guys also need to come visit down here! Just not during the summer because it is waaaay too hot out there.


The trip was way too short, most of the time spent driving. Mike couldn't get extra time off because work had every Sunday this month blocked off, no time available. So he couldn't get the day off and extend his stay longer than the week. It would have been nice if we had more time to explore the area and visit with friends while out there. We made the best of the time we did have. There was a lot of laughter and shenanigans, which we both really needed.

Updates, Nirding

Friday, July 1st, 2016 07:15 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
I return. Sort of. I have had a horrible go at it with reoccurring flair ups of my autoimmune issues. No thanks to the stress of having to jump through more hoops to get a little help.

It is better explained here, with neat pictures of my crazy flesh!

http://www.patreon.com/posts/handy-hands-5871180


It is finally letting up enough where I can think somewhat clearly and function enough to venture on here and see what everyone is up to.

I have a ton of little updates to make here or there, mostly passing comments about random things that have happened.

That includes a very random and rapid visit from my friend, the good doctor Jenn.

She brought along her friend and fellow doctor Abby ( who was moving to Louisiana, yay! ) and Abby had with her an awesome gyr-burd.

The nirds taught me great wisdom of avian ways. Shenanigans were had, great photos were captured ( envy of Jen and her snazzy super lens ), tasty gator was partaken and good company shared by all. It was an awesome day and evening full of laughs and animal geekery that I have been dying for.

They got to meet Ember and Chakotay and experience the silly that is service dogs given a "relax and say hi" command. Chakotay did very good for his first lengthy outing working alongside Ember with all sorts of crazy distractions ( like birds! ). It was also his first experience doing a long and boring down/stay under a restaurant table.

It was totally worth the recovery time from all the activity afterwards. They went to the French Quarter the following day before leaving town, and while I wish I could have too, there is no way I could have gone along and managed to keep up. Especially not in the scorching heat and humidity.

Other stuff happened. I found a baby possum skeleton, I saved a fledgling Blue Jay in epic fashion, I have been training with my dorky dogs when my body allows, and I continue to battle medical conditions and fight for the aid I need. With the Medicaid expansion I am finally getting access to immunological medications and other treatment options, which we hope will better control symptoms.

I think I covered all the main highlights.
leopardwolf: (Default)
My birthday is this week, May 21st. This is the new service dog fundraiser. If you have a few bucks to spare, please consider helping. Pass it along too. Thank you.

http://www.youcaring.com/brittney-steptoe-570453
leopardwolf: (Default)
To clarify something with the service dog fundraiser I have been doing, because a friend pointed out some confusion. We were having a discussion about me needing to come up with $120ish for a training class and I was saying I'd have to raise the money. Trying to be helpful she made the comment "At least you have the $700 from the service dog fund if you need to use that".

I actually do NOT have that much. That is just the total that was raised from the time that I first got Journey until the time I had to rehome him (almost 2yrs worth). This was before I made the choice to apply to CPL and everything. That money at the time was specifically raised to go toward his training and care, or toward service dog related expenses, and it did. Some of it went to help cover some expenses during the two trips I took to visit CPL.

In reality I only have around $380 remaining currently. $250 of that is tied up in a revolving line of credit (LOC) with the bank. This was done to hold the money for the service dog fund purposes but to also help improve my credit, since I had medical debt and have been unemployed. It works sort of like a credit card. I can spend up to that amount, but I have to "pay it back" at the end of the month. Until I close the LOC anuyway. When I do, I get that $250 back. But I don't plan on doing that anytime soon because it really has helped improve my credit so far.

The remaining $130ish is the actual "spending money" I have right now specifically for service dog or CPL related things. The rest of it is gone. It was spent back when I had Journey for his care and supplies, and some of it was just spent recently for the new things I needed for Chakotay.

This is why I keep sharing the link to the fundraiser. I am in limbo waiting to hear back from SSA on Disability, so unless I sell art or creative things, a commission, or something from my Etsy store, I don't have any other source of money coming in unless someone is kind enough to donate.

Did the "amount raised" display on the fundraiser confuse anyone else ( make you think that was how much I still had)?

Should I start a brand new fundraiser at $0 amount so people realize I really don't have $700 already toward the cause?

I hate that I even have to ask for help, I'd much rather people buy my art, crafts, jewelry, or commission me so they get something in return.

But aside from dog training and animal psychology related training and sharing my knowledge, that's the only other thing I can do, and all of it is limited by my health problems at any given time.
leopardwolf: (Default)



Good Sits, Downs, Leave Its, Waits

Working on Stay, Focus and Duration

Multiple Outings To Pet Friendly Stores ( in short time I have had him )

Met 100 New People Before 10 Weeks Old ( yaaay puppy socialization! )

Got Nails Trimmed Without Batting An Eye

Visited Local Starbucks And Did AMAZING down-stay!!! (First "no pets allowed" store exposure.)

AKC STAR Puppy Material! ( Need class and testing eval, but he already does behaviors)



Chakotay will be 10 weeks old this coming Sunday, April 17th.
leopardwolf: (Default)





Finally have a chance to sit and write a puppy update for those who have been waiting.

Chakotay is the pup's name.

After a week of narrowing it down and seeing which sounds he responded best to, it was between that and Tesla. He chose. He responded far better to "Chakotay" and "Kotay".

Been busy with puppy stuff. Socializing and training. We have gone to local Petco and Petsmart for exposure to new things and meeting awesome people and even a few different animals.

He had an appointment with the vet today, and both the vet and one of the vet techs recognized his name. They kept wanting to call him "Commander" ( the character's eventual rank in the show ). I think they decided they needed to go rewatch the series on Netflix after our visit.

Chakotay weighs 13.6lbs and is 9 weeks old currently. He has big feet and big ears and is a fluffball of an adorable Alsatian. Healthy as a horse and it is obvious he's going to be a big dog as he gets older. Which is just what I need.

Chakotay is a lot more sensitive than Journey was, but he also seems to be learning much quicker and has a better body structure.

Some things ( mostly sounds ) startle him at first, but when we come across such a thing he recovers quickly. I normally recreate the situation if I can, so he can see what causes it. Once he does, he's totally okay with it after I make it into a big happy thing and give praise and treats.

I have pictures and video to upload and share and some funny things I have been taking note of to share.

I have to raise money for upcoming vet expenses and PennHIP Xrays, and puppy and obedience classes. Anyone interested in helping, who can spare a few dollars, please consider purchasing artwork or creative things from me, supporting me on Patreon, or donating to the service dog fund raiser to help us stay on track. Feel free to share, repost, reblog, re-whatever! Thank you for taking the time to read and for your support.

Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LeopardWolf

Support: http://www.patreon.com/leopardwolf

Donate: http://www.youcaring.com/brittney-steptoe-428674

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LeopardWolf - Lhunpaurwen - Lhunie

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