One Year Later…

28 Jun

It has been one year today since I officially became a recipient of a service dog. I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I remember forcing myself awake after spending the night in the guest cabin of the farm. I slept on a couch the entire night with a Great Dane, so I really didn’t sleep at all. I was waiting semi-patiently to go out on another training session with Casper and Megan or Maria (SDP’s resident trainers), possibly all of us together. Really any combination would do in my mind as long as I could prove that I was a worthy handler of this amazing dog. I knew there was a lot going on in the main house and I was only granted limited access because they had a brand new litter of would be service pups. Casper and I wandered the farm, chatted with volunteers, and relaxed on the aforementioned couch. I knew Casper and I were bonded when I went to move my truck from the lower parking area to a spot next to the cabin and he jumped in the cab to ride with me. Later that same day a bed that had been donated to SDP needed to be picked up, it wouldn’t fit in my Ranger so I moved my truck once again, so the full size truck with the bed could get close to the door of the cabin. Once again, Casper jumped in for the 40 foot ride. This time, Megan saw him hitch a ride and asked if he did that on his own. When I said he did, we had a laugh and then she said, “If he wants to go for a ride, take him for a ride and see how he does with you.” I did just that, just a quick few miles, and back to the farm. There wasn’t much time past, maybe enough to get back into the cabin when Megan entered and told me “take your boy home!” I remember it took me a moment to process this statement, breaking it down in my head like an algebraic equation, and then leaving as quickly as I could before someone changed their mind. I was so stunned I didn’t even pause to use the bathroom, and I really had to go! I stopped before the highway to let Lauri know we were coming home and held my bladder to the nearest rest stop.

Every day since I have been so proud to have Casper as my partner, neigh, a member of the family. He has been a helper, a friend, a set of shoulders for me to lean on in every since of the phrase, a teacher, and so much more. Taking a service dog everywhere you go is not always easy. There are times of compromise and frustration, and of joy and elation. There has been exponentially more awesome than suck. He has had so many positive effects on my life, as well as that of Lauri and the girls that I can’t imagine my life without Casper. He walks my path, our path. We are so very thankful for what he has brought to us. I could go on and on but tonight fewer words are needed. So I will leave it at these and say Thank you Casper, I love you with all my heart.

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Challenges and Rewards

19 Jun

Hi Friends –

I know you all like to hear about my new adventures so I thought I’d tell you about this past weekend. As you may know from my blog and facebook page, we have been working hard to get the kennel show ready so that we can start the Oklahoma chapter of our story. This episode picks up on the Saturday before Father’s Day.  The basement monsters and I got Dad up for food and walks kind of early, but we did let him sleep in a bit, just so he felt like it was a weekend.  Dad “jumped” in rain box. (You really don’t want to see him jump and the term is used quite loosely.) I hopped up in bed for cuddles with Momma and got so comfy that when Dad was ready to make his Dunkin’ run for Mom’s Bagel and Latte I didn’t move. I let him take his cane and fly solo. (I mean Ghah Dad, it’s like you can’t do ANYTHING without me.) Dad got home and delivered breakfast. Mom seemed happy to wake up to her iced latte being sloshed around on its trip up the stairs next to her toasty bagel and creamy cheese. After a few sips and nibbles, of which I got none, thank you very much, Mom got ready for her last day of work in an office. (Spoiler Alert) The plan is to start her own business of all things crafty and become a published writer while taking care of the kids and Dad. That sounds like a full time job and then some!

After breakfast Dad took out his notepad, a metal, flat snake looking thingy he called a measuring tape and held it up against what seemed to be random objects around the house. He wrote out what I was hoping could be my grocery list for the week, but it wasn’t, we only had yet another list for Home Depot. With the list in hand we set out for every Danes training ground. We arrived early enough for most Saturdays, but the parking lot seemed to full of people and cars for some reason. It was way too nice of a day for so many people, but we’re troopers so we entered ready to tackle that list. I’m getting a lot better walking next to a cart so we were focused on getting closet doors and new screen door for our slider.(I broke the screen but Dad didn’t even get mad, maybe because it was old anyway?) As we get toward the back of the store with the isle in sight Dad didn’t see a pet dog come out of the isle behind us, but I did. The dog grumbled at me, so I proceeded to tell him that I was working and he was not trained to be out like I was. The only problem was that as I did that I pulled in the opposite direction we were headed and nearly spun Dad around. (…like a record baby, right round, right round…sorry the song popped in my head for some reason. I’m not even sure I’ve heard that song, weird…) we were frustrated, but on a mission so we continued about fifty feet when someone working there commented to us. “Well, I guess someone isn’t getting a cookie today.”  Dad said I was fine, and questioned the pet to the employee. She quickly corrected and told us how she has seen us often and how well we usually do. We continued on and looked in the isle of doors for some help matching our numbers to products that would work best. No help was found, but we did meet several customers who insisted on being in my space. I could tell Dad was angry and we left the isle only to find another pet in a cart barking at us. Dad was furious at this point because of two, out of uniform dogs (quite obviously NOT of any service) and what seemed like a barn yard of people on the first nice Sunday Stew day of the year. Dad had an empty cart he pushed like a weapon toward the door and we left with nothing purchased. As it happened, Momma sent him a message and he told her, with expletives, how the day was going. (He never, does that.) Mom rightly suggested he talk to a manager, but we were DONE.  If we talked to anyone someone was in danger of being treated fairly, so went home to work on other projects. (Mom called the manager for us, who admitted that they had not been keeping to their policy and apologized.)

Sunday came and the basement monsters and I started our day as usual. Get Dad up to poor us our breakfast, and take me for a walk. Dad showered and I cuddled Momma. Dad wanted his Sunday morning breakfast out. When we have the time he really likes restaurant breakfast so we went by the first place and they had an unusually long line. Mom said it was because of Father’s Day. We went to a second, and maybe a third. All of them had crazy lines. Dad said there should be a “regular’s preference” rule. These people who take Dad out once a year for the cheapest meal possible should be forced to wait behind those of us that support our local restaurateurs weekly. Dad ended up going home hungry and Mom made us breakfast herself. Dad said it was yummy, and Lucy (the 18 year old basement monster who eats everything) agreed, as she lapped up the left over bits of cheesy egg white and sausage flavor. As the day went on Mom tried to get Dad to unwind a bit, it really didn’t work. I don’t think he’ll truly hit center until we are in our new kennel, but we can hope.

Later in the day Mom packed a bag with a fluffy, bottle of water, anti-buggy juice and my Mutt-Muffs. We were on our way to my first concert. I’ve been to movies, and even plays, but never a concert. Mom and Dad laughed and said that Miss Carlene would say we “do weird stuff” so we added this event to our expanding list of” weird” and headed onward. When we left the house I had a comfortable feeling because it was the same path to see Miss Jessica (Dad’s Personal Trainer, although I don’t know why she’s called that? She has other clients, but maybe he doesn’t know, Shhh.) He took a right, when he should have gone straight. I told him but he listened to the navigation lady on the windshield over me! We ended up at the Simsbury Meadows to Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss and Union Station, and Kacey Musgraves. Dad said he wasn’t a big fan of Kacey, but Mom liked her. Union Station was amazing, as was Willie. I had my Mutt-Muffs on by the time the bands hit the stage so I didn’t get the “full effect”, Dad said that was good. Mom and Dad found themselves explaining me, and my hearing protection to at least a packs worth of people.  When questioned, they questioned back; it’s loud for you, right? Dogs hear a wider range than we do, right? So why wouldn’t we protect him? This seemed to make sense to most.  I met some really nice people and handed out several of my cards. We met a lady that works at our office but never approached because she wanted to be sure she followed service dog etiquette. We also were surprised to meet a CP (Vicki from Granby) who watches the SDP cams and knew who I was! We even chatted up our neighbors in the row; some really supper nice folks. Of course with the sweet there is the balance of sour. There were the absent minded who nearly stepped on me so we moved a chair out as a buffer, problem solved there. The people who bought tickets in front of us proclaimed that I was a huge vicious dog and questioned my presence as well as the status of Mom & Dad’s eyesight. Mom quickly reminded them that their statements were rude and inappropriate. Further we were in “handicap seating” and not moving because he was afraid of me. I really don’t know why? I didn’t even lift my head to acknowledge him, never mind threaten anyone. The show went on and we had a great time until whatever was in some people’s water bowl got the better of them and we had unfortunate conversations trying to ask people to take their unnecessary conversations back to their seats rather than being  near us where thy didn’t belong. It escalated to the point of the police asking the people harassing Mom and to move on. The whole incident was puppy like and Mom and Dad, although frustrated, by the time they got home wished they had handled themselves differently. The actual interaction will not be discussed in further detail, because after all, I had my trusty Mutt-Muffs and luckily for “those people” I didn’t hear what was said. Dad told Mom, with a grin, that the concert could have been better if Five Finger Death Punch was also on the bill. She told Dad that he would have done that show without her. Even I can’t keep up with all the different things Dad calls music.

All things considered it was a great night. Great music, great people, (mostly) and a once in a lifetime event we are all happy to experience. I really wish I could have had the chance to meet Willie, I’m sure he would have loved me. That would have been a priceless picture! Boy that was a long weekend and I can’t wait for my nap time at the office.

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