Being Awesome (as usual)

20 Sep

Hi friends –

I’m sure we’ve shared this somewhere along the way, so forgive me if I repeat myself. I’m a Dane of habit and I like my routine, well…any routine. This goes for just about everything from my meals to my butt scratches and back rubs while I sit on Dad’s lap. Yes, I get lap sits just like the cats. (Formerly “basement monsters”) I AM still a Widdle and I figure I can milk the puppy thing until I’m at least five or six. (You should see what the human puppies get away with!) This routine even extends to rides in the car. Now that Dad and I are starting to figure out our new environment the DPS (Dane Positioning System) is back in effect. For all of you who don’t know what this is; well, it’s where I decide I know where the car is supposed to be going and when I see we’ve taken the wrong road I pop up and get my face as close to the windshield as possible.

The DPS was in effect earlier this week when we passed right by a turn for Lily’s school and went to a brand new building. I insisted that Dad took a wrong turn. I even left a puddle of drool on the center console. Nuthin’? Alright, I guess we’re doing something new… AGAIN! I asked what we were doing here. Dad said that we were at the dentist’s office. I didn’t think I needed to go in so I smiled big and asked if I had something in my teeth. He said I could relax; the visit was for him, not me.

We entered the office and were handed a packet of paperwork. Everyone at the office was really nice and respectful of our space. I think Momma might have tipped them off because she’d been there weeks before to get an ache fixed. Either way, good work. As we were called back we noticed Blue lady (the hygienist in her blue scrubs) looking back at us as we made our way down the hall like we may not make it under our own power, but figured it was just the fact that I make a service vest look amazing! As we entered, I noticed the chair prominently in the center of the space. The first assessment is, which side do I take to get us both around everything safely? I take the left side while Dad is busy deciding where to place my fluffy so that I can relax and be out of the way. He places my fluffy in the far right corner and is ready to ask me for a down-stay. Easy ‘nuff. While we are handling our business we can’t help but to be amused by the Blue Lady. The poor girl was so sweet, as they say in the South, Bless her heart. She was describing where the chair was in the room with relation to Dad. We quickly figured that she thought I was a sight dog and Dad has vision impairment. (Too funny to call her on and no need to embarrass our new friend, especially since she would soon have sharp things in Dad’s mouth. Pick your battles people, that’s all I’m sayin’.)

We both get settled down after a few minutes. I don’t drift off though; we are not on my couch with a stuffie. I had my eye on her. She opened up the box on the wall to pull out a robot arm (X-RAY machine). Then she put a big blanket on Dad’s lap and stuffed things in his mouth. I couldn’t help but think that Mom might like some of those to shut him up sometimes. Blue Lady then points it right at his face and repeats several times moving the mouth thing each time and talking to Dad. It seemed like some interrogation tactic to me, but Dad must have done OK because she put the robot away. Blue Lady calls in Blue Man and they both look at his mouth and Blue Man leaves. I got nervous again. She apparently didn’t know what to do. (I asked later, dad said that Blue Man was the dentist, and he said that once the deep cleaning was done Dad was in great shape otherwise. What a relief, not even a cavity.)  Blue Lady carried on, first with a needle to numb his gums and then with the tiny pressure washer, man was that annoying, it was a very high pitch. (Editor’s Note: This was a scaling so it was much more in depth than a regular cleaning.) I did get worried about him a few times, so I got up to check on him. When he could he would verbally assure me and request I return to my fluffy, which, of course, I did. There were a couple times though that he was “orally occupied” and overly reclined when I felt the need to get a closer look. When this happened dad put either his right or left hand out, depending on the side I chose for approach. Dad allowed me to gently touch his hand with my nose, so that I could make contact and really be sure he was alright. Then he would snap, point to my fluffy and then point his finger to the floor with purpose. Being a smart boy, I knew that meant for me to resume my down-stay.* (See, Miss Maria I always listen to him in public – when Mom isn’t there…) Finally we were done with the area she set out to clean. Blue Lady then asked if we wanted to continue or pick up later. Considering all the extra steps of a first visit, Dad asked if we could just go home. She agreed. I think she wanted to go home too since it was late afternoon.

We allowed those that asked early in our visit a chance to pet me in the waiting room so that I wouldn’t get confused between work and greeting time. On the drive home Dad apologized for the noise and said he didn’t know what to expect, but we’d bring my Mutt Muffs for future visits.

*Editor’s Note: This is long one so I am adding it way down here. We all know that Casper is amazing but sometimes he even amazes us. When Casper first came home with us we had an issue with down-stay at home. In public he was great, but while we ate dinner at home he wanted to get up and sniff what we had. We started emphatically pointing to the ground when we told him down and that worked. When he was being really stubborn we just added a point and Voila! Eventually we found that in public it worked to just point when we either couldn’t speak, like in this case, or are in an area where we shouldn’t speak, like church or a play. It works! Of course we still use a vocal command often because there are times when our hands are occupied. He has both down pat. 
I was worried about how he would handle Dan’s cleaning and thought he might end up having to come back home and stay with me next time. Nope. He was a pro as you can see. I was super impressed and I wasn’t even there to see it. 

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The Chaos of Travel with Pets

17 Sep

First off, let me apologize for taking so long to write this post. With the move things were already chaotic. Then as a favor I agreed to be the substitute librarian at an elementary school while the regular teacher is out on maternity leave. Then my immune system went bust with all the kiddos around me! Oh, and I am taking 2 online classes. So there is that.

So now, I am somewhat well and have no homework. (Actually I left my homework at the school library so have nothing I can do tonight.) Here we go.

I have wanted to write about traveling/moving across country with pets. This was probably the biggest part of the adventure. Honestly, it was something we were really worried about.

Our initial plan was to only drive one car from Connecticut to Oklahoma. We would have had 2 adults, 2 human puppies, the dane, and 3 cats all in one car. It could have been done, but not comfortably. Still, Dan and I are kind of disgusting in that we hate to be apart for any length of time so we wanted to be in the same car.

Well, that didn’t work out. I got a new car instead of just selling my old one and getting one in Oklahoma. That meant that we had more room, which was good, but we both had to drive, which was not so great. The biggest plus was that the human puppies could be split up. They were 9 and 11 when we left (the oldest has since turned 12) and they bicker ALL THE TIME. And, of course, the cats could be away from Casper. So our travel experiences were very different. I will start with Dan’s car, the one with Casper.

Traveling with a service dog is not the same as a regular pet. He is very used to being in the car, even for a long time. We did make sure there was plenty of food and water in the car. When you are traveling you don’t know when or where you can get that for your pet. We used clean seltzer bottles to carry extra water. Since Casper has a special diet it was extra important to have his food ready. We got meals ready in large zipper bags in advance. The process of getting his food ready is a chore. He has a few supplements plus allergy medicine in the morning. I had to even label AM and PM bags. Not much fun, but super convenient when we were on the go. We also put in an extra blanket for him.

Then there were the cats. That is never easy. I have never heard of a cat that likes to ride in the car. I had 2 separate carriers for them so they wouldn’t fight. I got soft sided ones for 2 reasons. 1. If there was a tight fit somewhere it could be squeezed and 2. It seems more comfortable for them.  Their food is easy. I just put it in Tupperware so I didn’t have to take the whole bag. I also had water for them just in case. The main thing was litter boxes. I toyed with the idea of having one in the car and letting them roam during breaks but wrangling them into the carriers was such a chore we decided they would not be let out until the hotel stops. (We did short days for this reason and I will get to that.) I also got some herbal supplements for them to calm and distress them. Sprit Essences is a great brand owned by Jackson Galaxy, the Cat Daddy from My Cat from Hell. There are dozens to choose from. I got one called Easy Traveler and also Changing Times. They were sprayed in the carriers every day. They still meowed while we drove, but not nearly as much as I had expected.

Because the cats would get no breaks we decided short days were in order. If you were to drive from our old home to our new home and only stop for gas and food, it takes about 26 hours. Typically I do this in 2 days. This time we did it in 3. It also gave us time to visit with family on the way. (Another post should come for that.) Still, though, this was not enough. On the first night I realized one cat peed in the carrier and it leaked all over my new car! I was not thrilled. I had to find detergent to wash the carriers and a sheet I had in the car, and then I got smart. I lined the carriers and the car under them with puppy training pads. I ended up not needing them, but at least I was safe and I highly recommend this just in case.

Finding a hotel with a service animal is easy (or should be). By law all hotels must allow a service animal free of charge. With the cats, though it was a little more difficult. We were limited where we could stay. Thank goodness for the Internet. I calculated our drives and booked hotels in advance. You should check the pet policies when you do this. The pet fee is different everywhere. We stayed at the same chain the whole time. One place charged me $75, another charged $10. Don’t try to sneak them in. They will find out. I bought disposable litter boxes. If you have never seen them you should check them out. WonderBox is one brand. They are made of recycled paper. I use them at home too because after a week or so I can just throw the whole thing out. While traveling this is especially useful. You don’t want a stinky litter box in your car and even if you dump it, the thing still stinks. I packed one a day and brought in litter and large garbage bags too so you can wrap it all up for the cleaning crew.

Then there are your stops on the way. With Casper we can go in and enjoy our time out of the car. With cats, not so much. It was WAY too hot to leave them in the car. I thought I could leave the car running and lock it while we were inside. This could have worked, but was stressful so we didn’t. I tried to get Dan to go in and eat and bring me food, but he wouldn’t. Instead we got everything to go and ate sitting around the cars. (We don’t do fast food so drive thru was not an option. (Bob Evans restaurants are a life saver in the Midwest.) It worked. We just took turns in the bathroom.

Overall it was not nearly as chaotic as we had expected. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking forward to doing this again, but we survived. Just remember, if you have to travel with animals PLAN AHEAD.

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