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In Boxes So busy. Driving back and forth to Texas, trying to find the energies and lack of pain to sort and pack up more things. Helped Mike get settled in to the new place. Things didn't go the way we originally planned; when do they ever? Lack of Uhaul Northeast side meant all of our belongings and furniture that was at his grandmother's ended up having to stay there. Which meant he only came with what he could cram and Tetris into his car, most of that room being taken up by his work computers and chair and work necessities, and a handful of other stuff he could jam in. So once again we started with nothing and had to get new furniture and things, with the hope his family will go and take pictures of the stuff we left and sell it so we can get some money back for it, but the likelihood of that happening anytime soon is slim. Lots of stress, the move almost not happening because Mike's pay drops so drastically from the supposed "cost of living" difference. Which is horrible that companies can do it and base it however the hell they base it off local rent costs or whatever, because when you base it off a city that has reduced prices because of the nearby military base then of course that might be cheaper - only if you live on the base and have access to the reduced base prices. But the rent isn't. And milk and other things still cost as much when you are on civilian side. It's disgusting that by relocating to get closer to work, it basically set him back to his beginning pay rate, removing 3yrs or so worth of raises and a promotion to a higher position. But job opportunities and affordability long term is better, so it was worth doing. It just means things are going to be insanely tight for a while. Crafty Things I have all sorts of things going on and in the process of being completed art and creativity wise and with related efforts. The ceramic rattles are completed, but they were one of the first things I moved via car to ensure they wouldn't be damaged. I will get pictures of them next trip and get them posted online for sale, though I might ask Mike to take a few teaser shots of them I will share via Patreon for anyone interested in catching them before they are released to the general public. Most of my art supplies are going to be packed away until they can be relocated, but I will try to keep out some basic things like a sketchbook, my Wacom for digital, and maybe a few other odds or ends. All of my corals are doing well. I have finally grown some out enough to where I can frag them, and plan to have those frags up for sale when I do. Moving the tank and its inhabitants is going to be all sorts of insanity, but I already have it planned out and hope to document the process and share it later. I have been prepping plants for bonsai and doing my annual collection of flowers for drying. The Sweet Olive and Gardenia smell so wonderful. I have a few ceramics items that are glazed but not yet fired, so I really need to run the kiln and fire them before they get packed for travel. Making of new items is on hold for the moment. Dogs Ember stayed with Mike so I could focus more on working with Tesla individually, similar to how I did back with Journey. Training has been a little slow going with all of the other crazyness going around, and my body having an absolute fit. My ankle has been messed up over a month now, making it painful and hard to walk. Poor Ember was getting to a point where I was having to give her more medicine when she was more active going places with me, and it was clearly effecting her behavior and her ability to alert accurately, to where I decided it was in her best interest not to work her anymore. As a DDR line descendant GSD, Tesla is a very high drive dog, and far more challenging to work with. I'm still not completely certain he has the correct behavior for assistance dog work. He'd be excellent for Schutzhund and IPO activities without a doubt. In fact, I have been in contact with a local Schutzhund club and we went out this weekend to meet some of them and see them work their dogs. Tesla even got to become acquainted with some nosework for tracking. Tesla is insanely strong for his size, and he has a beautiful bite and grip when engaged in play. It's just honing in the focus and building the self control over those instincts, and helping build his "on/off" switch that might prove to be an issue. He is a puppy though, so I am hoping I can shape it and use that drive to our advantage, in a controlled fashion that will make him the best working dog he can be. Going back to the topic of size, that is really the only other concern I have with Tesla. I am not sure if he will be big enough. His growing rate is more closely resembling Chakotay's, which was on the smaller side for a male Shepherd. Journey was huge by this age, but he also had obvious physical issues as a result despite my best efforts to do everything right to ensure physical soundness. You just can't beat genetics. Still, at 4 months old ( going on 5 ), I feel like even Chakotay was larger by this point. But it could just be that I am so worried about if Tesla will work out or not after Journey and Chakotay washing out, that my mind is playing tricks on me. We went in for Tesla's last round of puppy shots/ rabies vaccine. I discussed it with the vet. With his current rate of growth, unless he hits a huge growth spurt, she isn't sure he will be more than 60lbs. He is a very strong little dog, even now. But I need the size. He needs to be tall enough for full mobility assist and have a sound structure for the weight bearing support work and counter balancing. Once again I am not sure how this will play out. If he ends up being too small, I might not be able to use him, even if he is physically sound otherwise. Ideally a person my size should have a dog no less than 80lbs, preferably 100lbs+ for the mobility assist I require. With Ember, I fudged a lot and always used an additional surface/wall/furniture/whatever so I didn't hurt her. Now I am to the point where I can't do that anymore, even if Ember was still young and workable, my body just can't tolerate as much as it used to. I need a larger dog. I am really hoping Tesla will be that dog.

Femur Funny

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 08:36 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
Ember and I went to an appointment with a new doctor the other day. When we walked into the room, we found this anatomy model, who looked like it had seen better days. The femur bone there was broken in half, taped together with duct tape to make it whole again. After the doctor comes in and we introduce ourselves, I gesture to the model and say "I hope you don't plan on fixing me like you fixed him". The doctor grins and replies "Duct tape really *can* fix anything!" He's a keeper.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Thank you to everyone for their thoughts and concern over me having to go to the ER yesterday. ER finally confirmed what I have suspected for a while - I have Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). And it is probably directly caused by my Sjögren's Syndrome. They gave me a new medication that tries to target TN nerve pain, and it was finally able to break through the agony late last night/early this morning. I went to bed with the lower left side of my face swelling ( inflammation related ), and when I woke up today the entire left side of my face was swollen and eye watering from the puffy around it, making it hard to see out that side. Using an ice pack on it, so will see if that helps reduce the swelling. Otherwise I am stable, still in pain but new med is helping. Follow up with primary doc and Neurology Monday. I am a zombie, will be while getting used to this new med. Recap on what led to this point: I was in so much pain, I hadn't been able to sleep for days ( worse than normal ) because the pain always gets insanely worse at night. I have an extremely high tolerance for pain these days, and my Gaba med normally takes enough edge off that I can "ignore" it ( just suffer through it ). On the second day it was getting to where I couldn't tolerate it anymore. Aunt tried to help by getting me all sorts of ice/heat packs and OTC stuff to dull pain. It got so bad that night/early morning that I almost called an ambulance ( my aunt was asleep and she can't drive at night so only way I could have got to ER is that way or call cab and I was worried Medicaid would not cover ambulance ride and had no way to verify at 2am ). It was weekend, no way to speak with Medicaid people to see what was covered, I just decided to suffer through it. On the third day of insane pain I went through my entire daily dose of Gaba in 3.5hrs and it did nothing. I knew it would only get worse again come evening and I didn't think I could deal with it again without wanting to destroy something from how much it hurt. For pain to hurt me bad enough to make me give in and go to the hospital or ER on a weekend, you know it is seriously bad. So neighbor took me that evening since aunt can't drive at night ( thanks again so much! ) and dropped me off. The EJGH staff was AMAZING. First person we were met with was security, and he stopped me when he saw Ember.... I was seriously ready to destroy someone/something at that point from the severe pain and I was having worried flashbacks of the horrible experience I had several years ago with the security douchebag at LSU hospital ER trying to deny me access if I didn't show him "proof" Ember was a real service dog ( this is against the law ). Thank the gods, this lovely gentleman was far better trained and considerate. He noticed her vest and the patches clearly defining what she was, smiled and said nevermind and told me to go ahead. I heard other hospital staff whispering as we wandered past, all saying "its a service dog" to each other, sounding as relieved she was the real deal as I felt that they recognized what Ember was. They were tons more professional and knowledgeable. That's why I chose to use EJGH general practice doctors for my care, and their conduct in the ER only reaffirms I made the right choice. Compared to the LSU ER horror, getting in to the EJGH ER was quick and rather painless. I was worried it would be crowded on a Saturday evening, and while there were enough other people, the staff had a nice system set up for intake and directing patients. They brought me to an exam room in a wheelchair to avoid me going full syncope due to the pain I was in, worried to make me walk that far down the hallways. I was thankful for that. Ember got to show off what a well trained dog she was and that made her happy. She's been so worried over me the past few days. The nurse helped me into the hospital bed and Ember took her place beside it to wait. I got to watch some HGTV while waiting for the doctor. We don't have live cable anymore so it was a treat to watch. The wait for the doctor was brief. She went over my history and current symptoms, I explained I had experienced this problem numerous times before but this was about the worst it had ever been. After a quick examination she agreed based on my history that Trigeminal Neuralgia was most likely responsible, probably directly caused by my Sjögren's causing irritation/swelling/pressure against the nerve bundles somehow. She wrote me a new prescription to try Carbamazepine, got an additional referral to Neurology for me, told me to follow up with my primary Monday, and that was that. They discharged me with paperwork and took me to wait for a cab in the lobby, and were kind enough to make the call for me and inform them I had my service dog with me. It was while waiting I noticed some tightness in my face on the left side, the effected side. I was still in a ton of pain and rather out of it, but realized after poking at it gently that it felt like swelling, and not realizing it was there before I got a nurse to ask the doctor. Unfortunately since they had already discharged me, it meant I would have had to have gone through the whole intake process again, and my cab driver showed up at that time. Not wanting the poor gentleman to wait or have come out to get me for nothing, I decided it was probably from my Sjögren's attacking the glands or something. I have had milder swelling where the salivary glands are before, figured that was it and decided it wasn't worth the trouble to wait around for them to likely not do anything else for me anyway. Couldn't be medication related because I hadn't started the new medicine yet, so clearly it was inflammation. I figured if it got worse, I could go back. The cab driver was very nice and considerate, thought Ember was just amazing. He called her a Rougarou ( Louisiana folklore / French for Werewolf ) when we first got in and told his dispatch he had "Miss Brittney and her Rougarou". That made me all sorts of happy and geeky, and when I responded showing I knew what the term meant, he was just as delighted. It was a pleasant drive home with good conversation, as much as I was limited to talk at the time. Much thanks to Metry Cab and Mr. Jim! My aunt was able to drive me to the 24-hour pharmacy just down the block, since it wasn't too far and well lit with street lights. Had to wait forever for the new med to be filled. Finally got home. Took meds. Became a zombie. Finally got some rest. Took me way too long to write this so it makes sense. The end.
leopardwolf: (Default)
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.
leopardwolf: (Default)
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.
leopardwolf: (Default)



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
leopardwolf: (Default)
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.

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.

Decade Dog

Saturday, March 5th, 2016 02:32 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
Ember is officially a Decade Dog today. 10 years old and just as silly and spazzy as the day we first got you. You don't act a day over 2yrs. My gross, disgusting Dogmeat creature. I love you. Here is to many more years of the joy and happiness that is you.



Christmas 2015

Thursday, December 24th, 2015 08:54 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
Bright and blessed Christmas / Yule to everyone.



leopardwolf: (Default)
(TLDR Version) I went and met with trainers and staff at Canine Partners. I had a chance to work with some of their dogs in the special mobility harnesses they use. They think I'm a good candidate for a service dog through them. I have been added to their waiting list. They're going to start looking for a dog partner that matches my needs. So excited! Now I just need someone who can come with me and stay during the month of team training.



If you'd like to help, please consider donating to the fundraiser and share it:

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


= = = = =





The hotel we stayed at. Funny enough the decor was almost identical to the one we stayed at years ago for training when we worked for Verizon. We had our geek-on with Fallout 4 111 hoodie and Pipboy bag, and Firefox bag. Ember completes the set as Dogmeat ( her nickname ).











Ember laying in her famous "dogball" position at the hotel the morning of the CPL visit. She was minding her own business idly watching us. Then I said "Watch me" to her.






Creek behind the hotel. It was dark when we arrived, but we swore we heard water. Past the parking lot was vast pitch blackness. We found a rock and threw it, to moments later be rewarded with ther ker-SPLOSH sound of water. This is what we found the following morning.






The drive over wasn't too bad. I was playing with my new phone and a holder I got for extended range for photos and video. Maybe pictures with me in them will be less rare now that I can more easily take them myself. Ember sits weirdly and cutely when riding in vehicles.






Sitting at the CPL office waiting to be called over for the client interview. We were a little early. Taz the office cat kept us company and the staff was friendly. I didn't want to be rude by aiming my phone at everything, plus they have privacy policies like doctor's offices do. So behold, Ember and my braces.






We met with the trainers for my client interview. They had 6 or 7 of their own dogs present between the different rooms, and you'd have never known it without seeing them. We settled in and they asked me a lot of questions and we went over various details about their dogs and program. I got a chance to meet and work with two of the dogs directly, whose names were Amber and Moose. This allowed the trainers to see how we moved together, and let me try out their special mobility harness. I basically need a dog around Moose's size that moves at Amber's speed. I asked them if it was okay to snap this picture while we waited for them to get their dogs ready.


Ember was uncertain what to make of all those labs and a doodle present. She was a little concerned when I handed her over to Mike and stepped across the room to work the other dogs, not understanding why it wasn't her helping me. My body was acting up, and Ember alerted during the interview and again when I started to get up to work with the CPL dogs. My meds hadn't quite kicked in so I was hurting and my neurocardio quirks had me riding my personal roller coaster. Thankfully I managed not to fall or run into anything and my joints didn't give out on me in any embarrassing ways, so I think I did pretty good. All the dogs got treats at the end and everyone was happy.


Next we went over to the kennel area for a quick tour and to meet some of the other dogs on site. I decided it was best to leave Ember in the car and use my cane, so she wouldn't get over stimulated by having to ignore the 20 or so dogs in the kennel run and they wouldn't be overly excited by her presence. I didn't get a chance to take any pictures in there as I was too busy keeping myself in an upright position and listening to the trainer showing us around. I had a chance to do some interacting with the dogs, and play the "whoever stays quiet gets a yum" game. Many of them were fresh from their puppy raiser homes. The kennel was actually more empty than normal because a lot of the dogs had gone home with volunteers for the upcoming holiday. So we only got to see a small fraction of the dogs they normally have coming and going at any given time. Overall a very nice facility and the dogs are obviously well cared for.

It was a really nice experience. I'm thankful that CPL was able to accommodate me and schedule a visit early since I was already in the area, and that we found out with enough time to change my flight home. It all fell into place just when it needed to. Huge thanks again to CPL trainers and staff for helping make it happen!

They are having a graduate support class in March that also lines up perfectly with a trade show we want to go to, so we're making plans for me to fly out for both.


Overall, they think that I am a good candidate to receive a service dog from them. I have been added to their waiting list. They're going to start looking for a dog partner that matches my needs. So excited! Now I just need someone who can come with me and stay during the month of team training.
leopardwolf: (Lhunie Floof - Foxfeather)



I'm in New Jersey visiting Mike. Was sort of a last minute trip. He had time to take for vacation and we decided to do it now, because his time was limited and flight prices skyrocket for the holidays. I'm thankful we have a chance to spend time together. Had a chance to go see Jen and Girlie cat and visit with them and have dinner. Was so nice being able to see them again and love on Girlie. Went to my first Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. It was an amazing game to see in person. Had a ton of fun.

Took Ember along with us into Manhattan. She did flawlessly well for such a loud and overstimulating place as the big city and a sports arena can be. MSG staff were awesome about Ember being along. She got an official MSG ID card and everything. I have been taking her out with me since I got here, each time we went anywhere to get her re-accustomed to working in public and to see how she'd do with it, before deciding to take her into Manhattan and MSG. Ember went back to her solid work ethic as if nothing ever changed, even after not working for almost a year. She alerted me during the game when I got distracted by the intense beginning and forgot to take my medicine. She also woke me at one point when we overslept ( alarm didn't go off ) and I was late taking my meds. Woke up with my heart racing ( yay tachycardia ) from a dead sleep to her on the edge of the bed trying to get my attention. After she woke me and I showed her I took my meds, she went back to doing her own thing.

Ember will probably end up going home with me and be put on an anti-inflammatory to help keep her comfortable while working. Mike has been pretty unhappy about it because she keeps him company and keeps him sane around here, which I can't blame him for feeling that way. I wouldn't take her if it wasn't as much of a medical necessity as it is. Hopefully it will only have to be for a few months.

I was originally supposed to fly home Nov 16th, but plans suddenly changed last minute when I heard back from Canine Partners hours before my flight. Originally I was supposed to contact them when I got home to set up details for me going to their facility for a tour and an interview with the training staff. But that would have been more money spent to travel there to not even know until after April if I was being accepted as a client.

I told them I could stay if they could somehow work me in, that I'd change my flight home. With the holidays and other things going on, it didn't seem like it would be possible. The woman who has been helping me got in contact with the training director and they approved it! I have a client interview with them on December 3rd and will get to work with some of the dogs so they can see what might be a good fit. I really, really hope that means being partnered with a successor dog is right around the corner. Maybe I will get lucky enough to be in this coming Spring team training group.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Yaaay Ember! She is the Dog of the Day today!


Spreading awareness for assistance dogs and invisible disabilities.


http://dogoftheday.com/archive/2015/August/11.html




leopardwolf: (Default)



Okay, so it's time that I posted about this.

Ember officially retired from active duty service dog work as of October 30th. She actually stayed with Mike in New Jersey.

She is living it up and getting a chance to just laze around and be a normal dog again. She was a little confused at first and still wants things to do, which isn't surprising as brilliant as she is.

It wasn't originally planned that she was going to stay. She's getting older and the one damaged toe is more tender with arthritis acting up. I knew it was bothering her, but she worked despite that. It was starting to effect certain mobility support tasks she preforms, which is why I got Journey and started training him to take her place. Just before we left for NJ, Journey had fully learned the primary task I need them for and was preforming it anywhere I asked 95% of the time, which is a huge milestone.

When it got closer for the original time for us to fly back, Mike had made comments about how much he'd missed Ember and missed having a normal dog that behaved ( because his family's dogs don't ). I knew Journey would be taking over eventually, and we're at a stage where I really need to work him more and develop focus and other skills that will help him as a working dog. The timing was right and it meant Ember could keep Mike company. So it sort of just happened. I took her out one last time to work in vest, and we got some pictures and then she became a normal dog again.

She loves it up there and Mike has his dog back. :)

The ironic and amusing yet bad thing that happened afterwards, is that Mike's mother fell last week and broke her foot. She's in an immobilizing boot/leg thing and on crutches till further notice. Mike was working when it happened and couldn't leave his desk, but Ember heard it and bolted downstairs and refused to leave his mother's side till they took her to the ER and Ember couldn't go.

Long story short, she's okay but in pain and can't do much. She's been having a hard time getting around on the crutches. Their two dogs have tripped her and made her fall again or just generally gotten in the way and jumped on top of her or her hurt foot. Meanwhile Ember has done exactly as she was trained to do, and has done nothing but try and help in any and every way her doggy brain can figure out how to.

Mike's mother sent this to me earlier this week:

"Thank you for the birthday card & wishes for flowers, but most of all Thanks for Ember she is amazing, as you know I broke my foot urgh!, Ember has been by my side ever since, she has picked up & carried more thing for me than I can count she is so cute tries to hold me up when I wobble around she TRUELY is AMAZING"




I had to laugh, because I know how sensitive Ember is. She was born to comfort and help. She'd pick up on other people all the time when we were out in public. It's the reason I originally wanted to do therapy dog stuff with her before my medical stuff got weird and she became a service dog instead. I got a giggle out of the mental imagery of her trying to do the body pressing and bracing tasks to help with hobbling on crutches.

I'm not sure they realized originally just how much Ember was helping me with when I desperately needed it the most. I was fairly okay for the most part while I was in NJ, so I wasn't having to ask her or Journey to do half the things they normally do. So they didn't see everything she is capable of.

Now his mother is experiencing first hand what a trained service dog can do to help someone.

It's amazing what a difference the dog retrieving an item you can't easily reach makes, when you can hardly move and would otherwise struggle and risk hurting yourself more just trying to do something as silly as picking something up off the floor. Especially when it is multiple things, multiple times a day.

Ember knows her job! She just doesn't understand she's supposed to be retired now! She loves working and helping too much! Once an assistance dog, always an assistance dog.
leopardwolf: (Lhunie Floof - Foxfeather)
In preparation for our upcoming trip, I started taking the dogs over to the airport to sit and watch and listen to aircraft taking off, so they could get used to all the other sights and smells associated with the airport. Neither one of them were phased by it, even with the giant roaring jets passing by overhead both in the car and out walking around. Next step is to go into the airport to get them used to walking around in potentially more crowded areas. Ember has been in huge crowds before so I figure she'll do fine, and Journey has done fine in crowded stores so he should be okay too. Will see if security will let us "pretend" to stand in line and maybe even go through the machine just so they're used to it, because I am sure their collars will set off the metal detector and would rather have them used to it instead of freaking them out more on travel day.



Thursday evening I went out to run a few errands and took Journey along for some public access practice. Wandered around the store and said hello to some people we know. Got lizard food and watched some fish get bagged. Journey stared in wonder at both bags of little moving creatures. He's fascinated by them.

While wandering down one isle, he got silly and knocked a bag treats onto the ground. I sighed all exaggeratedly and playful and said "Look what you did, making messes" and he glanced down at it with this "whoops" expression.

I pointed at it and said "I can't reach it, you better get that" figuring I'd have to awkwardly bend to get it. To my surprise he lowered his head and picked it up and held it till I took it. "OMG YOU DID IT GOOOOD BOOOY!!!" I exploded in happy praise and he exploded right along with me.

A few minutes later we were on another isle talking to one of the workers as we looked for something, and his tail knocked some sort of flat-rubber-grooming-mat onto the floor. I said to the woman "I'm not sure if he can pick that up, but we'll try". So I asked him to get it for me, and he did!!!! I erupted in praise again and he was so happy and proud of himself and the woman was all grins and thought it was the neatest thing.

Seriously, this is huge. He is starting to pick up even objects that have nothing to do with food and toys, in public!! And a FLAT thing even! Flat stuff is hard! The worker made the comment how cool it was he figured out to slide it up against his paw to pick it up, which is exactly what he did!

==============


Went to the uber eye doctor Friday. It is confirmed that I have extremely dry eyes. She saw it in her scope thing and did a tear production test which also showed it. She asks me if I ever had autoimmune bloodwork done and I just laughed.

I explained the seroneg theory and she immediately said "Oh well then they should do a lip biopsy." Upon which I explained to her I had requested to have one done from the beginning, but everyone is focused on insisting I should have bloodwork despite me mentioning it will come back normal/negative if I am seroneg.

She is going to write to my rheumatologist and my GP with the findings and recommendation. Fingers crossed.
leopardwolf: (Default)
One way to prove to your new doctor that you have a quirky neurological system is to randomly demonstrate during your appointments!

Went to see my rheumatologist yesterday for a follow up to discuss dermatology findings, get scripts for lab work, discuss other stuff. I have been in pain and fatigue cycle central with a flair, so it was good timing.

My wrist has been acting up and was throbbing really bad the past few days on and off. Worried it would relapse to unusable, I mentioned it and he offered to give a corticosteroid shot. I'm so used to needles and pain by now I figure, sure why not. Injections go off without a hitch and isn't nearly as painful as it was when the jackass guy did it, but that could be because it also wasn't inflamed as badly. I feel it despite use of numbing agents, same case with dental work.

Ember, who had been laying on the ground next to me quiet the whole time, suddenly sits up and nudges me. I figure it's because she sensed I was already in pain and I twitched and grumbled from the pain of the injections. I thank her and tell her to lay back down. I was joking with the doctor how it hadn't felt near as bad as last time I had one, and started discussing something else totally different with paperwork when the attack hit.

I felt it coming. Starts off as a weird twinge, uneasy feeling, almost feels like I'm not in my own body. Intense dizzy disorientation, vertigo, nausea. Vision and hearing go "blurry". You feel like you weigh a million tons and can hardly move. I vaguely remember Ember was repeatedly nudging nudging nudging, cognition slow to realize she was alerting. I think I must have managed to blurt out that I was passing out.

I think he asked if I wanted to lay down, but was too far gone. Tried to fight it off, but hardly ever can when it's that intense. Felt overheated and pouring sweat but cold and clammy at same time as tunnel vision went to full black out nothingness. Everything is a blur after that.

It happens so fast. It can be startling because you lose all sense of awareness. Even when you are used to it happening, it takes you longer to register what actually *is* happening because your brain is going in slow motion and you can't think straight. By then all you can think is "great, here we go again!"

My own personal roller coaster of bodily separation as my brain decided TOO MUCH PAIN, YOU REST NOW!

Upon regaining consciousness everything is still a blur. Sight and hearing are slow to return. Your mind goes "WTF just happened", head spinning disorientation overwhelming all your senses, still not able to think clearly. Slowly awareness returns, blurs of motion and sound if people are moving around you or talking to you. It's all still distorted and I can never tell how long it takes to come back to reality.

As I floated in total dazed stupor I remember hearing something like "take this" and "Hold it .......face"

BAM-OMG-WTF?! jolt of offense to my senses, I think I gagged.

First blur I recognized was my worried velcro Ember staring up at me with her head planted on my leg, wiggling, nudging and licking at my hand. I managed to grasp her. Then realized white lab coat was there and felt something handed to me.

"Put this by your nose." I managed to, once again the shock of that horrible scent zapping my senses and I managed to focus on it as I recoiled and realized what it was.

The doctor actually used smelling salts to bring me back around. That stuff smells nasty! I tend to be far more sensitive to environmental stimulus than most people, so it was especially effective.

Even with that to bring me around, it took several more minutes for me to be able to clearly see and hear and for the body weakness and disorientation to subside enough for me to be more coherent. At that point not much else could be done since I was rather out of it. The doctor checked on me several times as he wrote the scripts and such. Nurses checked on me and brought me some water. Jokes were cracked. Ember was praised for doing her job so well.

He ordered the correct bloodwork based on suspected conditions, not just the damned ANA by itself again. He also wrote out papers for a permanent parking hang tag so I don't have to keep paying to renew every 6-12 months!! After 4yrs of using them he couldn't understand why no one had done so sooner, because this stuff wasn't something that just magically went away or got better.

Good thing the appointment was almost over anyway at least, because it really does throw the brain and thought process off and makes fatigued feeling worse afterwards. They had me wait in the room till I was feeling well enough to stand without risking passing out again.

Joked on the way out that I might have to invest in some of those smelling salts. The more I thought about it as my brain returned to me, the more I think it might actually be a good idea to keep some handy.

They could help others bring me to, or more importantly help me recover faster if I am alone and only have Ember with me. Now I just need to devise safe ways to carry them where they wouldn't accidentally be activated by Ember or jostling inside my purse or the dogs' gear bags. Maybe a heavy duty pill holder or something similar.

= = =

Today I saw my new general practitioner. She and the office staff were absolutely awesome. All of them are dog lovers, so as soon as they saw Ember they melted. Ember could tell, so she hammed it up real good. I let them say hello to her, her special treat for doing so good yesterday when I blacked out and being such a trooper through the flurry of medical stuff recently.

My new GP is almost like a female version of the Mayo doctor I really liked, which makes me ecstatic. She's younger like he was, and still open minded about possibilities and willing to listen to everything as a whole. She even guessed at a possible cause I had wondered about but not said anything to anyone because I'm really not sure if it is what I thought it might be.... but having her bring it up as I described things... yeah, sort of hit home.


It's stuff I have been asking about for years and just had doctors wanting to "wait and see". Well, you can only wait and see so long before stuff that could have been resolved early gets worse and causes damage. Waiting on the results of the more specific bloodwork and then going from there. It's just a little relief to have two doctors thinking along the same lines I have wondered about for a while.


When I went for the lab draw, the woman was real nice and had a sense of humor. I warned her I may or may not pass out just to be on the safe side. I think at first she was concerned. I told her it wasn't the needles or blood or anything. I'm not afraid of any of it and don't get anxious like many people must. I've been stuck so many times and had so many unpleasant medical procedures, it doesn't phase me. I think when I started watching the draw on the second vial she realized it really wasn't a trigger. I joked with her that my inner geek found it absolutely fascinating. She had me wait after the draw just to make sure I didn't have an attack after. We joked about different medical things and I think it pleased her inner geek just as much to have a patient who could relate to her work on that level.

So overall, fairly productive and only marginally expensive medical week.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Saw a dermatologist today. It was confirmed, I do have psoriasis. Being an autoimmune skin disease, there is a good chance other stuff might be going on, even if it's not showing in the bloodwork. He wrote several prescriptions for different prescription creams and one for an oral antibiotic to try, but I have to wait because together the damned things cost $400.

Met some really nice people while grocery shopping and waiting for prescriptions. They were interested to know about Ember and service dogs because both the mother and the daughter have medical issues involving mobility problems, and the daughter is in a manual wheelchair and could use help to regain independence. They also shared interests in stones and jewelry, and the son shares similar spiritual views, so we stood around talking forever and shopped together while chatting, until her blood sugar got wonky and Ember started alerting to both of us feeling ill ( was time for my meds and I had some dizzy spells ), which they thought was amazingly awesome.

Also had a kindergarten teacher and her son stop us and politely ask if I wouldn't mind explaining what a service dog was and how different kinds helped people, so I gladly did. She thanked me and said she would share the information with her classes to help the children understand working dogs have important jobs. :) I gave her a card with some info to check out.

Overall a decent day. Progress one step at a time.
leopardwolf: (Default)


Journey and Ember napping.


With all the bad stuff that happened last month, haven't had a chance to really sit and recap on Journey's progress during the month of May until now. He made 5 months old May 4th. He'll be 6 months old tomorrow.

This one will be a little short, as I am going to do a more detailed update within the next week or two for the 6th month old mark.

In May Journey went to a dog park for the first time and did amazingly well. His leash-less long distance recall was flawless ( which makes me SO HAPPY I cannot describe the happy ) coming back to me every time I called him back, even when there were more interesting things ( running dogs, running kids, and even a mild scuffle that broke out when some dogs got to rough across the park).

We also took an intermediate education class, which he passed and graduated from in the middle of the month.

Journey has also shed all of his puppy teeth! They started appearing and I started collecting them. I'll have to do a count to see how many I have, but I did manage to get both eye teeth! Puppy teeeeeeeef arremmmgawds. I may have missed a few, but I got most of them.

He worked on down / stays and sit /stays with distance and duration and before I had totally proofed it, I had to run out of the room in a rush at one point and gave him a down /stay command and figured he'd be following right after me as soon as I left the room and was gone for more than a minute. BUT HE STAYED!!! Oh my gods when I went back in he was laying there waiting and he got soooooooo much praise I think he exploded.

Those are the main highlights I can think of. Will discuss more in the next update.

Ember returns

Monday, March 24th, 2014 11:52 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
In happier news, yesterday I went and picked up Ember from her week's vacation in the country. She was so happy to see me and Journey. Ember enjoyed herself and mom and grandma enjoyed having her around. Raven was happy to have her dog back. Ember and Journey have since been wrestling and romping about. He's almost as big as she is now, but she still manages to put him in his place with a bodyslam, and then proceeds to sit on him.
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leopardwolf: (Default)
Journey made 14 weeks old this past Wednesday. He's growing like a weed, weighing in at 35lbs Wednesday when we went to the vet. He and Ember both got clean bills of health and he got his next round of vaccinations. He is almost as big as Ember is now, as she averages around 46lbs, and nearly as tall.

Ember has the week off in the country. We drove up to the farm today to drop her off for a stay with my mom and grandma. She needs some downtime. With the next step in Journey's training about to begin, needing to work with him learning how to walk beside me for balance and bracing work, and wanting his full undivided attention during this process, it all works out. I have a cane and a grabber if I end up with a bad flare or anything, and Ember can always come home early if I need her to.

Today was Journey's first trip to a restaurant. So far we have only gone to pet friendly locations or outdoor excursions in parks, parking lots and such for social interactions, exposure to stimuli, and teaching him the foundation of public access skills. He did amazing!





We stopped at the IHOP in Picayune ( grandma's treat ) so I could eat and take meds before driving back to New Orleans. The staff was phenomenal. I have to say probably the best experience / reaction to a working dog being present in all our experiences here in the South.

We were greeted and the woman asked "Table for one...?" and trailed off and glanced down "...or two rather?" and grinned. One of the waitresses that was up front and the staff behind the counter area were gushing over the cuteness, but they all kept it very quiet and didn't do anything to distract Journey like some people have done with him and Ember both.

We did get plenty of stares and random comments from other customers who had probably watched us walk from the parking lot or seen us walk in the door and heard Journey's tags jingle. He walked nicely going to sit and went under the table and settled with only a little grumbling and only got up the first time the waitress came over to take the order, just to sniff at her when her legs appeared at the table. He did real well ignoring distractions and sounds, people staring and walking by the times we were walking to and from the booth. There was a baby and small children somewhere who cried and made some noise and he ignored that too. After brief puppy grumbles from being asked to lay under the table and be still, he sprawled out and slept the whole time after. I got some video with my phone, I'll try and process and post that later, along with a ton of others I have collected over the past several weeks.

I made sure to compliment the manager and staff on their reaction to his presence and thanked them for a positive experience. They were all real nice. We stopped for gas at the Exxon station right next door ( thanks again grandma! ) and first I took him to do his business and then went in to prepay. The gentleman behind the counter smiled and asked if Journey was going to be a guide dog, and I told him he was close, that Journey was a mobility assist dog in training. He thought it was very awesome, and he and a customer who had walked in gave Journey compliments on what a beautiful dog he already was, and laughed when they saw his paws and imagined how big he'd get. They wished us good luck with our training and his future as an assistance dog, and off we went.

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LeopardWolf - Lhunpaurwen - Lhunie

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