leopardwolf: (Default)
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.
leopardwolf: (Default)
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.
leopardwolf: (Default)
A friend offered to watch Chakotay so I could "test drive" some foster dogs from the local shelters or rescues and such. I have been looking for months, much how I did when I went looking for and found Journey. Nothing in the local area young enough, big enough or heartworm negative. I came across a listing for a dog claiming he was a Lab X Mastiff mix, which I thought was perfect for size and possible good characteristics. Went to see him... the dog was smaller than Ember, and more of a Pitty mix. He was beautiful and beautiful personality, but too small. So I asked to see what else they had. Only one really fitting big enough was an American Bulldog. Had good personality and some basic obedience, we tried cat testing in the cat room and he didn't seem interested in them and even went up to sniff one cage and got nailed and didn't even react, just turned away. Perfect I thought. Went back to test him with Ember and they liked each other. Okay, willing to give him a chance. He doesn't weigh 70lbs like we thought by the size of him, but 103lbs! Mega perfect! Find out he's heartworm positive. Nrgh. Okay. Shelter is willing to work with me, so I agree to try him on foster. Always cautious when introducing strange dogs to my cats, especially one as big and strong as him....he gets excited when he realizes they are there, and it is prey drive excitement. I tried a few different approaches to get him to calm and ignore them, which he actually caught on to amazingly well when realizing he got yummy things for ignoring the cats. But he kept doing the eerie freeze/silence/stare predatory stalking behavior thing. He also tried to nip at Wasabi through the kennel when Wa came over to politely say hello ( if the bars had not been there between them the dog would have made contact, which is very dangerous ). I can't risk that with my cats. I can't risk he go after some other random animal in public and risk dragging me down or worse. I am totally fine working with large, powerful dogs. I have all my life. But at the same time I can't risk injury to myself to fight against trying to reshape that kind of prey drive on a dog that big. I hate to say it, but I don't have the time or energy or finances to do so. So I will be bringing him back tomorrow. Back to square one. It is getting harder and harder for Ember to do what I need her to do for me, and I am afraid she'd work herself to death if I didn't stop her. I am afraid of facing being in public without a service dog after all the freedom and peace of mind I have had with my partners, but I am running out of time and options. Fundraisers don't work ( I can't even help save a cat with a broken leg fast enough). The waiting list for CPL or any program is going to be longer than I can wait, and I don't have $5k-$7k just to travel for team training. I don't even have $2k to get a well bred pup with health guarantee (if something is wrong breeder will take it back and replace it and their parents are screened for HD/ED and temperament tested CGC and above). I feel like just totally giving up. I can't do it anymore.
leopardwolf: (My Mind Escapes Me)
The Social Security Administration denied my Disability claim.

Despite the overwhelming evidence I submitted. Probably because they didn't bother reading any of it. Not surprising. Their job is to deny everyone.

Time to appeal and fight back. It'll go to hearing before a judge. I knew it would happen this way, I was expecting it. My current plan is to represent myself. I have already been formulating a best method of approach. I will probably be contacting people to request testimonies and witness statements as evidence for the court case.

I will need help and support through this difficult process. My life depends on this having a positive outcome. That may sound dramatic, but it is the truth. Without aid, I have nothing. I am out of options.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Apologies for the recent radio silence. Been having a real rough go at it the past week or so. My teeth/jaws have gotten worse and the changing weather makes them flair real bad. The nerve pain I get from it is overwhelming. My Gaba meds just manage to take the edge off. But then breakthrough pain hits and I take more Gaba to beat it back. Once enough is in my system, sedating effects kick in and I am lucky if I can manage to remain awake and coherent to get anything done.

On top of that, Wasabi has been sick recently and unexpected vet bills popped up. He is stable for the moment and on a new special diet, but may need surgery for teeth and other stuff. Really uneasy about putting him under with his age of around 12 years old ( he was an adult farm rescue estimated at a year or so old when I found him ).

I had Chakotay in two training classes, but had to drop one to get the refund because his next round of vaccinations are due and I didn't get money I was supposed to for that because of other drama. The only reason we can remain in the other is because a friend/fellow trainer is kind enough to let us sit in on a puppy class she has as an assistant trainer so Chakotay still gets the exposure and socialization. Really need to generate more money for service dog purposes.

Still waiting to hear back from SSA. Have a doctor's appointment on the 12th with my Rheumatologist. Trying to find out about getting in for oral surgery somewhere so I can FINALLY get these horrible teeth taken care of. They need to come out and I need implants, which is going to cost a small fortune ( insurance does not cover implants normally, even if I had insurance, which I do not). Because of my EDS and other medical quirks, I can't do dentures. The longer I wait, the worse it gets and I am risking more serious bone loss and complications in my jaw and facial structure. I am already in constant pain and having major difficulties chewing/eating and talking for extended amounts of time. It is miserable, but there isn't much I can do without the money.

I tried going through LSU dental school but haven't heard back on the new referral in months and last I asked they claimed they didn't do them anyway ( which I find odd since you know, where else is a dental surgeon going to learn to do the procedure? ). They told me I'd have to find somewhere else to go. So now I am searching for an oral surgeon locally who might empathize with my situation and be willing to somehow work with me before this becomes more serious than it already is and requires more extensive corrective surgery of not just dental structure, but entire jaw bone structure.

Happier updates with puppy pictures and art stuff later.

Disability Update

Thursday, April 14th, 2016 06:48 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)
Stage one of Disability determinations completed. I called SSA today and apparently I have a new worker, which explains part of the run around. She confirmed everything with me and told me she'd be submitting my case to their doctors for review tomorrow.

Now waiting to hear back on the medical determination stage. This is the big one, where the longest wait normally is. Cross your fingers, and send tons of positive thoughts and prayers for a positive outcome. Hoping for the best, expecting the worst.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Quick update. Ankle is still tender but as long as I am not on it too long I can tolerate the pain enough to walk on it for short amounts of time and for short distances. Puppy is doing good, will write more about that in a puppy update I am working on.


Getting increasingly aggravated with the SSA and this disability determination process. They sent me ANOTHER letter requesting info I already gave them. This is the third time they have done so.

I filled out the application online and it specifically asked for this info and I filled in the blanks. Then I also submitted it with the info I gave them to copy in person. All of that info was carefully organized and selected because they had already asked for it, or I knew they would ask for it, so I included it thinking it would help them and make the process more efficient.

So how can you not have it and still be requesting it unless clearly you haven't bothered to actually look through my entire file?

Or you are just wasting time, resources and paper.

The fact that one of my conditions is actually listed on the SSA "auto determination list" should make this entire process totally irrelevant. But noooope.

Because, government.

Puppy Names Take 2

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016 02:40 pm
leopardwolf: (Default)



Originally it seemed like Tesher would be the pup's name. I liked it, he seems to respond to it, and there is symbolic meaning behind it. So I thought. But I like to research meanings behind things. I found that it is actually the Hebrew word meaning "tip". As in giving your waiter a "tip" or "gratuity" at a restaurant. And Tesher-t in Egyptian is blood, red land/desert, or a vessel for drawing water (wisdom/truth - thus teacher?).

So for those reasons alone, we'll probably nix it. The other problem is people I interact with on a daily basis ( thus he would interact with also ) are having difficulties remembering it (and pronouncing it correctly).

Amusingly, the longer fictional name Chakotay seems easier to remember, maybe because of how the spoken syllables flow together. Anyone who watched Star Trek Voyager will know and remember it. In the Star Trek universe, in the language of Chakotay's ancestors, the name means something akin to "Man Who Walks the Earth But Who Only Sees the Sky/Stars".

Some people had a hard time with remembering Journey's name at first too, and that is far more common in usage than the other possible names I came up with for this new pup.

I like unique and "off the beaten path" sorts of things with meaning behind them. Plus it offers far less chance of a "common" name causing a problem in public or confusion in social situations with people who might have the same name or a similar sounding name.

Tesla is easier to remember it seems, simply because of the greatness behind such a name. Genius and inventor. Energy, electricity, spark, brilliance, lightening (tesla coils), all those things come to mind in symbolic association.

Solar might be the easiest of all to remember. There was solar storm activity and solar wind activity increase the day he was born. Solar is Sol, the sun, brilliance, life giver, guiding light. Lots of similar symbolic meanings.

So now I will flail some, edit some training videos documenting progress, and maybe roll a D6 to see which name comes out on top.
leopardwolf: (Default)
(TLDR Version) I went and met with trainers and staff at Canine Partners. I had a chance to work with some of their dogs in the special mobility harnesses they use. They think I'm a good candidate for a service dog through them. I have been added to their waiting list. They're going to start looking for a dog partner that matches my needs. So excited! Now I just need someone who can come with me and stay during the month of team training.



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

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


= = = = =





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











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






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






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






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






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


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


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

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

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


Overall, they think that I am a good candidate to receive a service dog from them. I have been added to their waiting list. They're going to start looking for a dog partner that matches my needs. So excited! Now I just need someone who can come with me and stay during the month of team training.
leopardwolf: (Default)
Apologies for the delay updating this past month. I ended up staying in NJ longer than expected because I went to meet with a service dog organization for a client interview for a new dog. I was sick while I was there with a flareup, and came home sick with a sinus infection turned into bronchitis and upper respiratory infection. Went to the doctor and got antibiotics and an inhaler. It's been pretty miserable but I am starting to feel a little better. That said, I am getting back to work on the projects I left off with and will be sharing progress along the way on Patreon.

Christmas / Yule cards are also on the way, for those who asked or sent them last year, since my whole plot of silly "Christmas in July" sort of got botched, they are actually on time for this year's holiday haha. I think I'll send another batch randomly at some point too just to make up for it. Because we all need cheer year round! Hope everyone is doing well.
leopardwolf: (Default)
We found an amazing new forever home for Journey. He'll be with a wonderful couple who have had Shepherds all their lives. They lost their last Shepherd not long ago to old age, and the gentleman couldn't go long without getting another. They have promised to love him and spoil him. We are invited to come out and visit anytime. They live down by Houma on the bayou, real Cajun country! Journey has his neuter surgery Tuesday ( managed to get a sooner appointment ), he'll recover a few days so I can make sure he's okay, and then he'll move in with his new family. Already teary thinking about it. I'm going to miss this dog so much. On the way home from meeting this couple, it was rainy, and then the sun shined through. There was a beautiful rainbow. I took it as a sign to mean things were as they should be, falling into place as needed.



leopardwolf: (Lhunie Floof - Foxfeather)
As of Friday I heard back from CPL about my application for a new assistance dog.

"Your application is with the trainers. I want to let you know that Fall Team Training will start Saturday so we are in hyper drive here so the trainers might not get a chance to review the application until after team training. - Carol"

Fingers crossed this puts me one step closer to being accepted!


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

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LeopardWolf - Lhunpaurwen - Lhunie

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