leopardwolf: (Default)
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.

Meet Tesla

Sunday, February 12th, 2017 08:00 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
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 leopardwolf@gmail.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/JourneyWithServiceDogs

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)
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.

Updates, Nirding

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I covered all the main highlights.
leopardwolf: (Default)

Good Sits, Downs, Leave Its, Waits

Working on Stay, Focus and Duration

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

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

Got Nails Trimmed Without Batting An Eye

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

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

Chakotay will be 10 weeks old this coming Sunday, April 17th.
leopardwolf: (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)
Past week has been crazy. Computer problems. Desktop formatted ( finally! ugh ) and Win7 Pro installed. Been fighting with plethora of updates and reinstalling all of my programs and sorting through files. Stuff with Journey's medical diagnostic still sinking in. Tried to do some shopping runs without him. So insanely exhausted afterwards I could hardly move and hurt worse than normal. Him pulling the cart helps so much. Horribly tempted to keep working with him at least until I get approved for a new dog. Maybe doing so infrequently would be okay, on days I really need it.

Like tomorrow. I had plans to go to the gem and jewelry show. I haven't been in over 10yrs (since we weren't living here), and so I made plans before learning about Journey, to go. My mom and aunt gave me a little spending money and Mike is giving me a little also, so I can pick up some much needed supplies at far cheaper prices than I would pay anywhere else. I was hoping someone would come along with me, but everyone has to work or is otherwise indisposed. I know my limits, and I know I couldn't walk around the crowded convention center alone for that long, without risk of triggering a neurocardio attack.

So Journey is going with me tomorrow. He's been off duty for a week and can't understand why I keep going places without him. It's normally better to ease them into retirement anyway, like I did with Ember. As long as I don't do any full heavy weight bearing things with him ( which I never, ever have ) then it should be safe for us both on a limited basis. Fingers crossed I hear back on these applications soon.

Anything special anyone wants me to look for at the gem and jewelry show? Any specific gems, stones or colors or materials you'd like to see me work with?
leopardwolf: (Default)
Decided to go to the airport today to reintroduce Journey to the scents and the hustle and bustle so we're ready for our flight out on Wednesday. They had a live band playing New Orleans style music, which was awesome. While we sat there, several people stopped to say hello and thought Journey was awesome. One of them said her neighbor works for the sheriff's office and trains their cadaver dogs, which I thought was really neat. Later an officer wandered over and I grinned when I saw K-9 on his uniform and he complimented on Journey and we started chatting about Shepherds and Malinois and other dog training geekery, which is awesome because there aren't as many really dog geek people down here as there were in Minnesota! Turns out he's the K-9 Commander for the JPSD. I had to try really hard not to die from uber respect happy and ask him a ton of questions.

Many people know that tactical and law enforcement K-9 training has always been a huge interest to me since I was a kid and grew up watching Rin Tin Tin, and movies like K-9 with James Belushi and Turner & Hooch with Tom Hanks. Back in elementary school the D.A.R.E officer I was friends with even got one of the local department's K-9 units to come to my house and do a demo with his dog partner, which is one of the huge things that inspired me to work with and train animals ( and why I trained my amazing childhood dog Norton with German commands! ). For a long time I have wanted to get involved in that area of professional training, but things got mixed up and dreams put on hold when Katrina turned everything upside down and in the years that followed things were so rough I never had the opportunity to pursue it further.

I almost didn't go today and decided at the last minute to swing by the airport while waiting for my prescriptions. So that inner voice and gut feeling kicked in, telling me it was meant to be that I met this awesome gentleman today and got to share stories and dog training humor. Funnier, he made a comment about almost getting the cadaver dog job and it just wasn't his thing, and I laughed and told him about the lady who said her neighbor was that trainer, and he laughed too and said it had to be the same person because she was the only one in the area. Small world. Huzzah for meeting awesome people!

PAWS Paperwork

Saturday, June 20th, 2015 10:04 pm
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Yaaaaay! We got the application paperwork for PAWS With A Cause. If they approve us, we may be able to have a field trainer travel to help us with training, similar to what Ember and I did with Can Do Canines. Either way, being approved through their program will mean I will have the option to get a successor dog through them when needed in the future.

New SD Friends

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 05:54 pm
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Today I made some new friends. A couple came by to pick up the reptile tanks I was selling, and it turns out they are reptile geeks, and not only is she a dog training geek, she has a service dog too, and knows another person in New Orleans who has one. Funny enough we're all members of a SD community on FB and never realized it. Yaaaaay I don't feel so alone anymore and have new local friends to relate to!


Thursday, December 18th, 2014 06:15 pm
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Journey and I just got back from Walmart. It was a madhouse. We grabbed what we needed, expecting to be in and out, and stood in line. The lady behind us was with her daughter. They were buying brownies for a school party tomorrow. We were chatting and they asked me about Journey. There was a delay ahead of us, and come to find out the checkout registers crashed while we were waiting in line and they could only run cash or check. Lucky for me this was one of the only times I actually had come in intending to pay with cash!

The lady made the comment that she didn’t have any cash, only credit when the store manager started making the announcement that they couldn’t run cards. She told her daughter they’d have to put the brownies back and not get them, and the girl was obviously sad.

So I offered to pay for them! This got a big smile from them both and the cashier too. We walked out to the parking lot together and I told them more about Journey’s job and about Ember, and it turns out the mother is a teacher at a local school and asked if I would be willing to come give a presentation to the kids if they could get the okay for it. So I gave them a card and my contact info, and we’ll see what happens.

Either way, days were made brighter. I wished them a merry Christmas and happy new year and off we went.

SD Rant

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 08:45 pm
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While at a local Petco today with Journey, standing near the checkout I overhear a man registering his puppy for classes. He asks the trainer "how much does it cost to make them a service dog?" nodding toward me and Journey. A few minutes before I had been chatting with the trainer since we have been going by there since Journey was a small pup and he was wondering how his training was going. The trainer awkwardly tries to explain to the man what classes they do offer, but not answering the question directly and seemed like he was in a bind. The guy started to try and question it, so I spoke up.

"You can't just make any dog a service dog. The dog has to be specially trained to help with a disability. You have to have a disability".

The trainer agreed and mentioned a few examples like a mobility issue or diabetes, etc. The man stared at me and Journey for a long moment.

Then his dog is brought out of the back from grooming. A young German Shepherd pup, probably 4 months or so old if even. Beautiful little dog, but a spazz with no leash manners. I just shook my head and sighed.

You can't just call any dog a service dog just because you want to ( whatever excuse you decide to use to try and "justify" it ). You can't just slap a vest on any dog ( GSD or not ) and claim it is a service dog. It's a punishable crime / fraud to do so. You will be fined and face jail time.

On top of that, plenty of people who do have health issues and have legitimate disabilities, do have dogs. But that does NOT make that dog a service dog by default. Thankfully most of those people don't try and falsely claim their pet dogs are service dogs.

Those people who do use real service dogs don't go around cheerfully claiming they have or need a service dog like it is a god damned status quo or "cool thing" just because they want attention. In fact, most of us would rather not be swarmed with the attention we get when we go anywhere with our partners.

It doesn't matter if the dog is well behaved ( or what you interpret as "well behaved" ) at home or in public. If the dog isn't specially task trained to assist the person handling it with mitigating ( mitigate - v ; to make less severe, serious, or painful) their disability, it is NOT a service dog. Period.
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.

Mall Dog

Monday, August 11th, 2014 11:34 pm
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Took Journey to Lakeside Mall today for some public access training. He did amazingly well as always.

We practiced in the elevator and on the stairs for as long as my body would allow. Then he helped me hobble to get a bite to eat and sit for a bit to rest and take meds. While getting condiments, I dropped a straw. One of the workers saw and told me not to worry, she'd get it after. I asked Journey to get it. He sniffed and mouthed at it which I marked and encouraged, he pawed at it, and he flopped beside it and mouthed it more and almost picked it up, but decided it wasn't as exciting as a toy and flopped beside it and put he paw atop it. Some girls were sitting nearby watching and cheering him on for the effort. Better luck next time.

Found a place to sit and eat where he fit without being in the way. Lots of people kept walking by commenting when they saw him. Heard a lot of "wow what a big dog" and "man look at the size of him!" which made me giggle.

One nice gentleman and his son stopped to chat. He was interested about service dogs because he's dealing with spinal damage from when he was injured in a motorcycle accident. I could tell just by how he moved he had a hard time and it hurt him, and he like me just keeps pushing through the day as best he can. I empathize.

Another couple stopped with their son who they explained had brain conditions that caused seizures, some form of epilepsy I believe. He had been curious about seeing Journey and wanted to pet him, which I was okay with because I know how much it helps kids like him. Bright and happy kid who loved to talk. Trying to pay attention to him and the parents at the same time was challenging!

I told both families like I tell others I have met, I'm happy to help however I can. I gave both families a card and contact info. I've shared numerous resources with people I have met since I first started working with Ember years ago, and hope I can continue to do so for years to come with her and Journey to help spread awareness. I know how much it can help to simply be pointed in the right direction, and have someone you can talk to who can relate on that same level.

Journey got really pushy and nudging after they left. I was feeling a little wonky and hadn't taken my meds yet because I stopped in the middle of eating to talk with the people. I think he might be starting to tell me that he senses something isn't quite right. At first I thought he needed to do his business, but when I took him out to a spot he circled, then sat and looked at me to indicate he didn't have to. I took him out twice just to make sure and he didn't have to go.

After I took my meds and they kicked in he wasn't as buggy and pushy and just acted silly a few times to make me laugh instead. Hoping over time I can shape both behaviors differently like I did with Ember. I don't think he's experienced enough yet to give a reliable alert like Ember does, but I think he is learning from watching how she responds to me and by being around me when the changes happen, whatever it is that the dogs sense.

We'll probably be spending quite a bit more time there as we get ready for our upcoming trip.

Orange Objects

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 11:43 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
I think Journey has this thing against orange objects. First it was the neighbor's orange-reddish garden hose. Then the traffic cone. Today it was Homer buckets at Home Depot.
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.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Time flies. Journey is growing like a weed. He is almost as big as Ember now, in height and weight. His training is progressing very nicely. He's getting tons of exposure to new things, and new creatures. He's seen birds, reptiles, fish in display tanks, guinea pigs, mice and rats, and ferrets. He politely watches the cats at the adoption areas. He has also had a chance to meet a few pet rabbits at a distance, and a pet piglet!

Journey's ID tag mysteriously vanished into thin air the other day, so we had to stop by the store to get another. I took him and Ember both so he could practice politely walking beside her when needed. He's getting a lot better about it, but still has puppy tendency to want to play, which is normal. It was funny because Ember was doing her "side work" position even though she wasn't in her gear or being asked to work, and Journey tried to get her to play and she told him off with a corrective bark because she was trying to work. Serious dog is serious, hehe. Clever girl.

Ember came home mainly to go with me to the hospital recently, and she did her job well as always. I took her back to the farm for more R&R while I do more focus training with Journey. He's been doing very well with his outings. Got his last round of puppy shots. Had another round of braving Walmart and Home Depot, all of which went very well and was met with polite curiosity.

I have met more people who acknowledge and understand that Journey is a working dog ( even one in training ) in the handful of times I have taken him to non-pet store locations, than in all the trips Ember and I have gone on together since we moved back down South. Which makes me so curious why people don't recognize the same thing of Ember when she has a professional work vest proclaiming she is a service dog. Is it some kind of mental thing because she is a black dog? You'd think the red service vest shows better on her. Maybe it's a breed thing? Maybe most people just recognize an Alsatian as a working breed, and just assume since Journey's in a place dogs normally aren't allowed, he's training/working. It just baffles me why so many people don't make the same connection when Ember is working.

While in Walmart I paused to let Journey choose between two bags of treats, to which he sprawled and grumbled at, and I asked "which one?" and he sniffed between the two, but indicated both by nudging. So I asked him again, and he did it again, and I laughed and told him he had to choose, and moved them further apart and he grumbled and sighed at me. I asked again, and I heard a laugh. I glanced up and realized a woman had stopped at the endcap of the isle and been watching the whole time and was grinning from ear to ear. Sure Journey wanted both! I asked again and added "only one" ( not that he's actually learned that clearly yet ), and he looked up at me and he did that brow furrowing thing and tilted his head as if thinking it over. I asked again and offered both bags, and he finally picked one. The woman laughed and said it was the cutest thing she'd seen.

We finally managed to get into a training class with multiple dogs around Journey's age and size, who have had varying amounts of basic training as he has. Had our first class this past Thursday. Until now we have mostly just been lurking in pet stores multiple times a week, greeting friendly dogs, avoiding only the severely non-socialized ones. He's also met tons of new people, and seen all sorts of different clothing and contraptions. He's fascinated by upright dust pans and brooms for some reason. He finally got to see someone using an electric chair/cart at the grocery store. I need to practice with him around one sometime, and manual wheelchair and crutches too.

Journey's met different people in different work attire, various hats, aprons and shoes. We stopped to get food at Chic-Fil-A and everyone loved him. He ignored cleaning being done and when one of the workers offered to get me a refill. He politely greeted a plethora of random people both when we first arrived, and before we left. He kept his focus on me while I chatted with curious people about his training, and he was good about not greeting anyone till I told him it was okay. He even ignored a little boy who came and stood right by him. The little boy politely asked me if he could pet Journey before even trying to ( after watching other people pet him ) so of course I said yes since both of them did the right thing! I thanked the boy so he knew he did good, and he was all huge smiles and thanked me and Journey.

We went to Starbucks and a barista who had helped me previously when I stopped by with Ember happily said hello, and then "you have a different dog tonight!" when she saw Journey. It was his first time there so I introduced him and everyone thought he was adorable. One guy who works there ( I think he's a manager type ) laughed when he saw Journey's ears were so big, and asked if he was part rabbit. I joked maybe eventually he'd grow into them, and he leaned over the counter for a better look and exclaimed "oh man, those paws are huuuge!". We get a lot of surprise at how big he'll probably be, and it is never any less amusing. Journey saw his first tablet PC while there as some ladies played a game, and he watched them curiously. They found it amusing. We have been several times and so far he's doing amazingly well, no reactions to the blenders or loud things they use.

He's had random people come up wanting to pet him before asking, but normally just looks toward them and wags. He may move slightly toward them, but otherwise he will normally ignore people and lay quietly next to me unless I tell him he can say hello. He's even ignored the temptation of people thinking it was "cute" to call to him and make noises to get his attention, or encourage their kids to do the same. The times he has gotten distracted, I have been able to regain his attention before puppy tendency kicks in.

He has his moments. He's just a puppy and still learning, and most folks realize that. Many people have been impressed he is doing so well and so focused for such a young pup. He's developing quite a personality, getting to the age where he becomes more curious and independent. Upcoming training should be interesting, working with distractions, duration, and distance. We'll also be building on foundation heel skills and working toward more advanced heel work. Looking forward to it!


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