Continuing Education

14 Apr

I made a promise to tell you everything that happens with regards to our favorite speckle-kneed ghost. Sometimes that’s great fun, other times it’s difficult. This seems to be one of the difficult times. I didn’t think it would be, but it is. Now, don’t worry he’s fine, we’re all fine. (Lauri will say I always say that. I do, but it’s true.) I wasn’t sure how to explain this blog post to you, or maybe more importantly to myself. So to shift my focus I opened social media for a distraction and saw a quote that helped.

Do the best you can until you know better. 

Then, when you know better, do better.

~ Maya Angelou

That being said, we are doing better, and I feel lighter about this post. I can never say this enough. Casper is an amazing dog. He is smart and learns so fast. Maybe it’s a mantra for me? Maybe I say it because I have had people question his “service dog” status because he has a couple “ticks.” We are actively working on those issues. If the process we’re working through needs validation, I will present it.

As you know we made big changes in our lives and moved over a thousand miles from the place I called home for a very long time. With that change, I went from working in an office to working from home. We moved from a condo to a ranch, and many, many other changes. With these changes also came changes for Casper. Everything about life and routine changed, for all of us. The people in our family needed that change. The animals, maybe not so much, but I know they love us so they came along. Well, mostly because we put them in a car and drove them here, but whatever.

Casper is rock solid in so many ways, and a bit like drying concrete in others. He will be solid, once we allow it. In order to allow him to be the best he can be I had to admit that I need help (again, still…). So, this post is again, me admitting to my human-ness and what we’re doing to keep me from failing my dog. If we still lived in New England I would enlist Service Dog Project to get the help I need, but we’re over a thousand miles from them. Instead, we took the time to find the right group a little more local. This was not an easy task, and took a bit of work on our part to find someone who saw Casper and I as something more than a chance to make money. It was actually tough to even get some to return our emails and phone calls. If anyone displayed anything less than being caring and genuine, I thanked them and moved on. Lauri found us Spirit Ranch in Tulsa.

Casper loves Miss Amy. She is patent with him, and with me. I’m sure I require as much patience as him, so that’s good. She has helped me to identify his anxiety and suggested ways of helping him work through it. We are working on socialization and we are getting back to basics with the “one-step crawl.” I am working on taking advantage of opportunity. For example, this past weekend, during a horseback riding session, we laid a blanket out and I sat down, ignoring him, while he figured out he can be comfortable with the smells and the sounds. He had dogs barking at him from 200 feet away behind a fence for forty minutes. The only time I corrected was when he pulled and barked back (once). I ignored him the rest of the time. That was difficult for me. We also brought him to see 3 horses and a miniature donkey that our church has adopted. I allowed him a loose long lead and the opportunity to take it all in, greet the horses, sniff the smells, and allow him to just be (again, harder for me than you might imagine). Another day, with the weather not being so great we worked in the mall. We happened to arrive before the stores opened so we joined the “mall walkers.”  We “one-stepped” the mall. Then we sat at a café table. I didn’t put him in a down-stay with a command. I just let him be and ignored him. He was confused and anxious. As we waited the tail came out from the tuck that he had it in. Not long after the mall opened. The fountain I sat next to purposely, turned on and spat water up in the air. People walked by and chatted with me about my dog. The roll-up gates opened storefronts to welcome shoppers in. All the while Casper kept looking to me for a command, or reassurance, something. When nothing came he let out a big yawn and relaxed. We did another lap while we stayed in step. I stopped at random seating areas giving no assurance or commands if none were needed. It was a learning experience.

I was not aware that Casper was anxious or pulling out of a need to lead. Now, that I’m aware of his hyper vigilance it is my turn to let him know that all he needs is to be with me, and I will take care of the rest. I want him to be comfortable and happy in every situation and I am determined to provide just that.

We are getting there.

Visit with Gamma and Gampa: Pt I

7 Mar

Hi Family –

(This post is LONG overdue, but Dad has had a LOT happening at work.)

I just got back from a long weekend. It was a Thursday through Monday trip to Florida. The trip was great. I had a barrel of fun, but there is some back story to this trip and a lot of ups and and downs to share. So, as I mentioned, the back story: This trip had been canceled at least twice over the past year. It was originally scheduled for the human puppies’ spring break, last year. We were still in Connecticut, then and planned to drive down. Dad had bought the roof rack crossbars for my Pilot and planned to get a luggage box so we’d have cabin space. That trip was canceled when the human puppies’ biological dad was sick, and on top of that, a basement monster got sick and needed daily medication and care. The next time we canceled the trip we wanted to spend a couple days this past Christmas break but the accounting just didn’t add up with all we’ve been up to over the past year or so. I was a sad puppy because I really wanted to spend time with my Gamma and Gampa (Dad’s parents). I had only met them at my human cousin’s Bat Mitzvah. (What fun! But, we’ve talked about that in a previous post.) It’s true, we have done lots this year, but we really wanted to make a point of going to see our family.

Mom found a flight that worked for everyone, so a couple weeks of planning and we were ready. Mom was able to find a a caretaker for the cats in Miss Tari. (She is the associate minister at our church.) Miss Tari loves me so she agreed to look in on my kittens. This was really no small request, Our old lady, Lucy, requires at least two visits a day, because if she eats too much in one sitting she gets sick. The other problem is that the kittens will eat everything that is put down if you don’t watch them. It is wonderful to have friends. We couldn’t leave town without everyone that helps us.

Based off of our last experience with airports I reminded Mom and Dad what it was like finding relief areas in the short layover windows. Dad remembers all too well, the run from one end of an airport to other. Going outside, and then back in; going through security again, and then barely making a connection. This time we made a decision to drive 5.5 hours to Dallas to get us on a direct flight and then drive 2 more hours to our destination. This was a good trade off of time because it ended up being much cheaper, and much less stress for Dad and I. This is not to say that we had an uneventful time navigating the airports and their staff.

We got parked at Dallas Love field, after the drive, that I may have mentioned took 5.5 hours! Then we began the trek to the ticketing area. I have no idea who decided to put the parking so far from ticketing and security. I suppose it was good to stretch out a bit before boarding. We finally made it and all entered the line to check bags and get boarding passes. The agents were all busy helping those ahead of us so an agent directed us to a self check kiosk. Great, now just to drop our bags and… wait what?! Another agent stops us and tells Dad that he and I need to go to the counter?! Mom tells her no and Dad says, “The dog comes with me,” and we all walk on. I think she was stunned; it was funny. We made our way through TSA, easy as kibble. After all of this with our pre-board pass in hand it is time to board. We made our way to the plane and there were people already in both bulkhead rows. Mom steps in and explain, to a flight attendant that I am behind her and we need one of those rows. She tells us that NOBODY IS MOVING! OK, well, that just made life SO easy. Dad ended up in the middle of an aisle, next to a huge guy that wouldn’t stop moving. I won’t share much more here, other than to say the airline will be getting a letter got a letter about the flight attendant because she continued to be very rude.

More to come soon…

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