This is a heads up for anyone who is currently using, or has used the legacy free Livestream accounts and may have streams/videos there that they want to save. I just logged in to mine to find a message saying they were cleaning up the servers and deleting any old content not saved by the end of the month. If you have anything stored there that you want to keep, I suggest logging in and saving the videos and downloading them just in case. I never got any email or other warning they planned to do this, so wanted to spread the word so no one lost their content.
Went and donated dog and cat food, litter, and some assorted toys and care products to the LA SPCA today to help with hurricane relief efforts. Let the strong young men volunteering there do all the lifting. They were thankful for the help. Just wish I could do more.
We are safe. There has been a ton of rain in New Orleans and TX in areas where our family is, but so far we have been very fortunate and escaped severe storm damage and flooding. Memories of Katrina all over again. Praying all my friends and their families nearby are safe, My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone effected by Hurricane Harvey. Looking into helping with donations and rescue efforts in every little way we can. In other news, had my Disability Hearing today. It went well, I think. Now I just have to wait for the judge to issue the decision. Praying it will turn out okay.
Still alive. Been really sick on and off multiple times with flairups, including falls and passing out. Started as soon as the temperatures began to get warmer outside. Been borderline heat stroke every day since. Can't get anything done because I overheat too easy, even inside with the AC running full blast. The little energy I have has been totally devoted to preparing for my Disability Hearing at the end of August. I haven't really been online on FB or anywhere else at all since April or May, so if I missed anything major, I apologize. Thank you all for the birthday wishes back in May, they helped cheer me up while I was sick. Hoping it cools off outside soon. I hope all is well for all of you. If I missed anything you want me to know about, please share. I will catch up as I am able to, but probably won't be real active till after my Disability Hearing on August 31st. Positive thoughts and prayers for a positive outcome are appreciated. Wish me luck!
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.
Had the icky sickies of a flair and sinus infection since my last post. Had a lot going on with training with Tesla, physical therapy, and an unexpected trip back to Texas to look for rental options. I went alone with the dogs this time because Mike didn't have enough time to take off work, and needed the time and money for moving. As we found out the last time, the rental market there is crazy and if you don't immediately jump on something you like, you lose it. This happened several more times over the past months and even during the trip. We finally managed to find something that will work for us, and were approved! I will be going back and forth between there and my aunt's house while waiting for my disability stuff to be sorted out, and also so I can help family with some things. Mike is moving down from NJ to the new house mid March. I will move most of my things over to the new place so they are there for when I can move there full time. Now he is closer to his employer and better job opportunities. It is only about an 8hr drive from New Orleans (more for me since I need to stop frequently to take breaks), so we'll finally have a chance to be back together again after waiting so long and it will be easy for me to travel back and forth as needed. So insanely happy! During this recent drive there and back, there was some avian amusement. I literally watched a chicken try to cross the road in Caldwell, TX. By a busy traffic light, the young bird was at the edge of the road and would start to dart out, but then run back when a vehicle would get too close. This happened several times as vehicles ahead of me passed it. I slowed down, and it tried again. This time making it halfway across the road. It had to fly frantically the rest of the way to avoid traffic. The chicken crossed the road, and it did get to the other side! The next month or so is going to be crazy busy. Excuse my sporadic presence online.
- alsatian wolf dog,
- animal companions,
- assistance dog,
- canine partners,
- ehlers danlos,
- german shepherd,
- medical stuff,
- my animals,
- owner trained,
- public access,
- service dog,
- signal boost,
- sjögren's syndrome,
This is Tesla. His registered name is Tesla Leuchtet Den Weg vom LhunThyla ( Tesla Lights The Way - from LhunThyla ; my owner/kennel tag ). Tesla is an AKC registered German Shepherd ( Alsatian ). He is 13 weeks old. I have had him for about a week, but didn't want to post anything publicly till I knew for sure I was keeping him. He is a Galliard, born Waxing Gibbous ( a day shy of Ahroun! ) . Very vocal and likes to tell you about all the things. He has a great personality and is already more like Journey was in his confidence levels, which is a good thing. Certain personality traits about Tesla remind me of Journey and Chakotay both. Tesla's namesake is in honor of Nikola Tesla, famous Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity system, wireless communications, experiments in wireless power transmission, and much more. Tesla coils, anyone? :D The symbology behind "lighting the way" is both toward that namesake, and the hope he will light the way for me as my new service dog. So far he is doing well with basic training and everything he is exposed to in public. His hips and body structure look great; he does the "Superman sprawl" which is an early sign hips should be okay. When I went to meet him and was doing the initial evaluation, he was quite the character. While talking to the breeder, I set my treat pouch down off to the side. Next thing we knew, puppy had picked the whole thing up and was happily trotting back toward the garage carrying it! A metal trash lid dropping right behind him when he wasn't expecting it and umbrella/object testing did not phase him, he had quick recovery. He happily greets strangers and other dogs. As long as the OFA xrays come back good, he will be clear medically. As long as he can overcome any adolescent fear periods he might have, he should be okay behaviorally. Fingers crossed he will be the one. Third GSD is a charm? Lets hope so. I will be setting up a fundraiser to help cover his medical and xray expenses, and so we can get into some training classes for socialization as soon as possible. Anyone interested in donating can send donations to email@example.com via PayPal. I am offering artwork or creative things in return, based on donation amounts for anyone interested. Thank you for your help and support! Follow along here: http://www.facebook.com/
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.
An update to the situation with the AmBull breeder. She returned $300 to me, which is something she does not normally do. While it was not the full amount I should have gotten back, some is better than none. We had a chance to speak back and forth and more details came to light. The whole thing was a huge misunderstanding on both our parts caused by unreliable communication in the form of missed text messages and such, because she lives in a poor service area ( I know this is true because my grandparents don't live far from there ). We apologized to each other and left off on the best terms we could, given the circumstance. If anyone would like more information on the matter, they may feel free to contact me directly.
Waiting to hear back on a referral to see a Neurologist and Pain Specialist, probably also ENT doctor. Hoping that I can finally get the MRI I have been waiting years for. Depending on what they find, there might be some treatment options to help with the Trigeminal Neuralgia as far as injecting the nerve or other procedures. Getting the injection in my wrist tendon is painful enough. I can't even imagine how much an injection to a facial nerve is going to hurt. They seriously better gas me to do it, because I know for a fact I will feel this through any local or topical they use on me, and it will trigger my neurocardio stuff in a bad way. Feeling like a skewered piece of meat as a giant needle is jabbed into your jaw socket. Awesome! http://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/
Stress Flair Having an autoimmune attack relapse thanks to some unnecessary stress regarding being out of $500 from my service dog/medical fund, but we'll talk about that in detail later if the money doesn't magically appear by this Friday. My body is having an absolute fit. Face is swollen again from angry glands and blocked draining. Reef Scare Woke up from pain early AM to discover to my horror that my reef tank temperature had dropped to 73F. It's supposed to be 80F. I just replaced the old heater with a brand new one with a gift card from Petsmart, because it was showing signs it would go soon. So here I go deliriously flailing through pain and medicated stupor, thanking the gods I hadn't thrown the old one out yet, digging out the other old one I use for water change heatups to try and bump the temperature back up before anything died off. Unfortunately it looks like one of my SPS propagates is toast. Half it already slothed off and bleached out, the other half tissue necrosis and slothing starting. I fought with this species since I first got the frag from father in law's tank as a rescue. If the tissue bed isn't thick enough it self destructs at slightest change. That's how I realized the old heater was starting to go, the temp wasn't holding stable and it showed signs of distress from it. Thankfully I still have a thick patch growing nearby and it looks okay. Sometimes the colony will recede into the structure and might come back with time, and a lot of luck. Otherwise I will try and transplant some onto the coral bone and hope it takes hold. Because, science! Art Share I have gotten used to the new medication enough to where I think I can get back to detailed art work without making a total foobar of it. I have a few long overdue pieces I will be sharing for winners of contest ages ago, and I will be working on the happy dog painting, streaming more of the progress with it, probably starting some tonight if I can get this swelling to go down a tad more so I can see out both eyes clearly. I will post the stream link once it is set up and live when I do work on it, though may just randomly work since I can't predict how angry my body will get. Hoping everyone else is having a better kickoff into 2017.
Still alive. Trying medication adjustments per doc. Still very out of it at points when meds kick in, so may be a bit scarce at times since I make little sense or write weird things when totally medicated. By time I finish, it will have taken me hours just to write and proof read this, like anything I write these days. I think I am just destined to have bad luck with my service dogs in training and any service dog prospects. I was feeding animals this evening. Put my hand in puppy bowl ( as I gave to her ) to encourage her to eat from hand and hands are okay by bowl, something I have always done and normally met with wiggly waggy tails because they get extra good treats in the process. Well tonight she got a wild hair up her ass and decided to growl at me....a freeze/tense, growl warning, go to eat food again sort of way. This is after demand bark/yowl/howling for almost an hour because I was in the other room ( eating my own dinner and getting meds ) and she was in here in her kennel ( Ember was laying to her side quietly). So presumably she was hungry, but still. Not like she was starving for food or ever missed a meal or had to compete with anyone or anything here for her food. She has been doing the demand bark/yowl/shriek since I got her. She has gotten somewhat better ( worse - before extinction? ). I think she learned it from watching the misbehaving pit bull belonging to the ladies I got her from. Then all she had to do was throw a tantrum of her own and I am pretty sure they must have somehow reinforced it, even if unintentional. That was at 5wks/going on 6 wks old I got her She is 7wks now. Not a good sign as far as the growly resource guarding behavior is concerned. For a normal pet dog, I could work around and through it. But it is a very undesirable trait for a potential service dog prospect to have - one older dogs would immediately be washed from training for, because it is too much of a risk and liability. So is she treated same as they would be? Do I just cut the loss and let her go too? There are other concerns, and again while I think I could train past them given time, time is against me and I lack resources, so I find myself falling back to what my gut instinct says, since it was right before. But then I second guess myself and everything about everything. I didn't want to say anything before I was more certain, but Ember has been having weird quirks and also not always alerting the older she has gotten, too. Since I was put on this new medication, it has totally screwed up her alerting. I almost faceplanted the other day getting out of bed because she didn't alert ( she has jumped into bed and woken me for similar situation alerts in the past for reference ). She is more and more unsure on her own legs/feet. I tried trimming nails and foot fur down as much as I can. Maybe will try boots with good grip and just have her always wear those when working from now on. But otherwise it becomes dangerous because she loses her balance and drags me down with her. I am out of time and have no options to turn to. The idea that years of freedom she has brought me will end and I will be alone is... well, frightening. Laugh if you want, but not being able to know if your body is going to decide to have a random heart rate/blood pressure spazz out that causes you to randomly get very sick and pass out, and the only sure thing that has kept that from happening by warning you in advance being your dog....yeah. That's not even counting the multitude of other issues like random joint dislocations and tissue injury I can get just by walking or standing. That's why I need a service dog. Otherwise it is tote around a cane, blood pressure cuff meter, and heart rate monitor, extra meds and smelling salt and the like, and hope that I won't actually need them. But if I do, I will have little if any warning at all, before symptoms hit. Few realize how humiliating it is to stagger suddenly and run into random objects or people ( and the glares you get ) , or how helpless you feel sinking down to the floor in a pre-syncope attack where you basically white out/black out ( no vision or hearing), lose consciousness and sense of anything going on around you, how vulnerable that leaves you if you are all by yourself. That is my life. Ember ( even Journey and Chakotay ) has made it a million times better over the years she has helped me, kept me safe. But now what? I will go back to barely leaving the house, especially since Mike isn't even here. He'd go out with me places and get me out at least. I can't ask or expect my aunt or anyone else to do that. Even when Mike and I are living together again. It is such a huge pressure and burden on our loved ones, that is why a service dog is not just a relief to us as handlers, but to our loved ones who worry so much about us and otherwise have to do so much for us without them to help us. Losing that freedom and security is crushing... especially when you tried so hard to have your backup plan all ready, and you knew just what to do and did it; only life had other ideas. It always does. Never works out the way we hoped it would.
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.
The Rottie Unfortunately Diva ( an affectionate nickname we gave her ) the Rottweiler puppy didn't work out. After further evaluation and working with her, it was obvious that she just didn't have the right characteristics for assistance dog work. She's still a great little puppy full of potential. but she'd make a better family dog, which is exactly what she will be. With the help of the woman I got her from, we contacted someone else who had responded with interest in the puppy after I had taken her. They are a family of Rottie enthusiasts who have had them all their lives, and it was clearly a perfect match. Some things are just meant to be. New Puppy Afterwards I did come across another puppy. This one was admittedly younger than I am normally comfortable with taking a pup for evaluation, but the mother dog had stopped nursing the litter and they had been taken by the owner's daughter to care for and find homes for. The daughter has experience with animal rescue and rehab, so the pups were in good hands and well adjusted for such a young age. The new puppy is a Labrador ( Chocolate ) / Great Pyrenees mix, who is currently six weeks old. She passed the temperament test and startle recovery test far better than I expected. She has a beautiful personality and is very willing to stay engaged. She is a confident little puppy sponge. She is playful and curious, and has potential. The only thing I am uncertain of is if she will be large enough as an adult. Hoping there is a mega growth spurt coming soon. We are playing the name game to see what fits her best. Some names up for consideration: Keala ( Pathfinder, the path ) Raksha ( protection, nurture, pathfinder symbology ) Jakara River Aina ( Joy, Forever, Celtic/Finnish ) Jera Seeker Rain / Rainy Amaya ( Night rain, Japanese ) Zephyr Another Dog So Soon? Something I feel I should say for those who don't know me well enough. Some might look at this as me playing "musical puppies" and think it callous of me. I want it to be understood I don't make any of these decisions lightly. My animals are my family. In the case of these dogs I am evaluating and "trying out" for lack of better phrasing, I get just as attached to them as I am to my animals that have been lifelong companions. The difference in the end however is that I can't let those emotions rule my judgement, if I know that animal is not a good fit for the work I need it to be able to do. I love and respect the animals. I can't force them to be something they are not. I need a very special type of dog, with a very special personality and abilities to adapt to things that most dogs would want to avoid. I need a special dog that will ignore all those pressures and just enjoy working with me and going places with me as my partner. Assistance dogs are considered medical equipment, not pets. Realistically I need to look at it that way and remind myself I can't keep them all, as attached as I get to them through this process of attempting to owner train my new service dog partner. It makes letting them go that much harder. Even if it doesn't work out, I always make sure the dog is going to a good, responsible home, and I keep in touch with and follow up to be sure everything works out. The same as I have always done for any animals I have rescued and fostered over the years. I have seen too many people who owner train use dogs that really should not be working any form of public access, for one reason or another. It is not fair to the dog to try and force it to be something it is not. Doing so would set a bad example on me as a trainer, and be a poor representation of the assistance dog communities as a whole. That is why I am being as selective as I am. Because it is the right thing to do, and it is necessary to ensure my dog is not a liability in public.
I have been pretty sick since last time I updated. I started physical therapy again the week before it hit really bad. It's a flairup caused from over exerting myself, and amplified by the weird changes in the weather here. Haven't been sleeping well to begin with, so getting up to tend to puppy stuff wasn't as much an issue. It got bad enough that I almost had a full syncope attack during my physical therapy, and probably fully would have if Ember hadn't alerted me in time so I could stop what I was doing and get to a safe position and warn the staff just in case. To make matters worse I ended up falling during some hardcore pre-syncope roller coaster rides at home. Bruised myself up pretty good and was sore as hell. Only to have to go right to the radiology appointments and be asked to contort myself in weird ways and get poked and prodded so they could do the scans, which further pushed my pain threshold. Poor Ember has been hyper vigilant like she always gets when I get a flairup this bad. Unfortunately she has gotten to a point where it is increasingly difficult for her to do anything for me anymore. There have been several times where she lost her footing while counter balancing me and I almost fell down or into something. I haven't been using her for the balance and bracing assist as much because I don't want to hurt her or myself, and that has only made the flairup that much worse because of the added strain on my body. I am getting to where I can use my hands again, now that the random painful skin splitting,bleeding, and other pleasantries that come with these flairs is calming some. One tiny scratch I got on my pinky morphed into a huge gash and kept refusing to stay closed and heal even with bandaids, ointments, and finally going as far as using liquid bandage to hold it together. It was very painful. A similar split formed on the corner of my thumb and has been almost as challenging to convince to stop splitting open and start healing. Even still, I have managed to get 15 ceramic bowl dishes formed and drying as greenware, to be bisqued, glazed and fired to finish, a commission intended for office holiday gifts. I also have full intentions to work on that dog portrait painting, even if I have to fully bandage my hands to do so. I will stream while working on it, aiming for this Friday 16th around 8pm CST for anyone interested.
This little thing is what has been keeping me busy this past week. She is a 7 week old ( 8 weeks old on Dec 6th ) Rottweiler puppy. After failed attempts to find a dog of the right age/size/temperament/heartworm neg anywhere local for months (50+ dogs again between here and parts of Mississippi), including the recent incident with the touch reactive foster that nearly bit me, my family agreed another puppy might be the best way to go. Except this time no GSD, and lets try a female instead. So here she is. We are doing the same thing with her that we did with Journey and Chakotay, to see what names are fitting. She is a little spitfire, full of spunk and attitude. And damn is she fast. A little whirlwind running around the yard, dashing through all the leaves as she snorks and chomps at them. It's been rainy and overcast so I haven't been able to get a good video of her doing this yet. She is already weighing 14lbs and fitting into the harness I had the boys in when they were at least two weeks or more older than she currently is. She doesn't look like she weighs that much. Here are the names we have narrowed down: Ripley ( Heroine Lt. Ripley from the Aliens movie franchise; aka Badass Bitch. ;) ) Makani ( Wind, Hawaiian; May-Kah-nee ) Kira ( Dusky, dark haired one ) Karma ( Destiny, Listen ) Will share more info and pictures later.
Went to see another potential foster this evening. Was expecting a 90lb+ dog and the pics even looked it. The dog had lost a lot of weight while in shelter they claimed from depression or whatever. He was a little taller than Ember, and I could imagine if he did put on 20lbs he might be okay for the work. He was perfect with other dogs, cats, kids, living with them all at the foster house. He seemed fine, just lacking in some leash manners but not horrible. So I said I would give him a shot. Stopped by their local Petco for supplies. While fitting a step in harness to this dog, he became reactive. I think it was the way I was touching him or the place around the hind legs and groin area trying to repositioning his body and legs so I could get a better angle to slip on the harness and adjust it. He was stressing some while in the store, but still took treats. He had tensed up and I heard a low growl, so I stopped and watched him. There were people across from us making a bit of noise and they had a dog trying to get closer, so I thought it may have been the other dog I heard. I started to reach back for the hind end to loop the harness through and he tensed again and turned his head slightly so I stopped again until he relaxed and was slack jaw. Instead of leaning in to loop the harness as I had originally planned to ( which would have put my head/face right in line if he swung around on me ), I angled one arm low and came around with the other to feel at his leg and hip, wondering if he was in pain. I moved his leg slightly with my hand and there was a throaty snarl and he was turning to latch for my arm. I managed to block him with the arm I had angled against his chest for safety and held the collar so he couldn't jerk away and try again. When he realized he was partly restrained he outburst with a lot of snarling and a warning bark that had some people coming over to see if everything was okay. Which was pretty embarrassing because I looked like some idiot who couldn't control their dog. That kind of reaction to such simple handling is a serious red flag, and probably part of the reason he ended up in the shelter to begin with. I couldn't risk it. I brought him back to the foster. Goodness forbid if someone else starts to take him home like I did, and is not as dog savvy, and ends up getting nailed by him. I told them what he had done and why I had to bring him back, but I don't think they took it seriously. He was the last dog on my list in the area to check. Another 15 dogs down. All I keep getting around here is heartworm positive and severe behavior issues dogs. That disqualifies them as service dogs flat out. I can't afford to put money out to try another puppy. Going to curl up and cry away my frustrations.
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.
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.