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Just because you can doesn’t mean you should: A story of home maintenance, disability and access

This story begins about a year ago and includes everything AND the kitchen sink. Our kitchen has stone countertops, an under mount double basin sink and garbage disposal, with a single handle brushed nickel faucet and a separate matching sprayer.

Last year water started leaking from the sprayer handle. So I went to a big box home improvement store to find a replacement gasket set. The store had an assortment of kits so I picked one up and headed home feeling victorious. Then I proceeded to attempt to take the sprayer apart. It turns out the previous owner cross threaded the plastic base into the handle. This meant another trip to the store. This time I had to go to a specialty plumbing supply store because the big box only had white or black generic sprayer kits. I remember because I thought the easy route would be to buy the whole assembly but nothing matched close enough. I believe this was in the middle of an attempt to sell the house so the need for matching parts is quite important.

So we load up into the SUV again. The specialty store had the same kits as the big box! I was able to convince the employee to find me a silver/gray kit that I could use to reassemble the one I had at home after I used pliers to work the sprayer off. This was a win of sorts because working under the sink is nearly impossible based on the design choices of the builder. We finally got home and for the second (or third) time. I was able to make it work with the least amount of interference from my disability. (Insert mental happy dance here)

Fast forward to yesterday when I turned on the faucet and heard a quick pulsing thump as the water ran. I thought “geez, that sounds like there’s air in the water line”. I turned off the faucet, looked under the sink and everything was normal and dry. So I tried another sink, and heard nothing, so good it’s only that sink. Hmm. Okay, but air in a line should mean water everywhere, and nothing. Then this morning I hear from the kitchen, “Uh, we have a leak somewhere.” Wouldn’t ya know, it was the sprayer? This time the hose was split near the nut under the sink. The impossibly tight, no way to move the handle of a wrench, half an inch of clearance area.

Great, off to the store to find a wrench that will get into the tightest spots and a new hose. Lauri reminded me that it’s a Saturday and asked if I wanted to bring Casper on account that the big box turns a blind eye to pets in the store. Of course, I take him, because we’re a team.

Not two minutes into the store and we encounter a small dog in the child seat of a cart that promptly growls at Casper. The handler did a good job of correcting the behavior, the dogs sniffed each other as they passed, and we carried on. We found a new hose, and we exit the aisle. AS we do, two isles away we encounter a barking dog and 3 foot of lead – No handler, no vest, no composure. Casper wasn’t sure what happened, so he started to play bow. Please remember, his primary task is to ensure I am standing. If he bows, I lose balance. I requested him “up” and we moved in the opposite direction. An employee saw the interaction and commented that we did that well, and very quickly! As we moved on I replied that “we’re professionals”.

We continue to the tools, as we weave through people who have no idea that others exist in their world and seem amazed that actual service dogs do too. So, we worked with some nice guys who found me what I needed and we headed to the register. The checkout attendant complimented Casper; I assume because she sees more pets than service animals.

We get home and I have to ask for help to get the old hose off the sink. Then make up the new hose, with the old sprayer. I needed help there too, because well, motor skills…Then Lauri and I work together to get the new assembly on and tested.

There are no longer leaks under the sink, but there does seem to be leaks in service animal law enforcement.

It’s difficult to call fake vs justified service animal but just because you can take a pet in public doesn’t mean you should. Even the most basic of tasks can be exponentially more difficult with a disability. Not only can people who are uninformed be hazardous, but time-consuming. If I didn’t have a project in the mix I would have involved management because the potential for personal injury is great, and while I’ve always been able to recover, not everyone will be so fortunate.

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Service Dog Retirement??

If you have a Service Dog for any significant time one of the questions you are bound to have to answer will look something like the following:

  1. How long does (s)he work?
  2. How do you know when it’s time for a dog to retire?

These are perfectly valid questions and they deserve an answer. The problem in answering the question is that it doesn’t have a finite answer. This isn’t algebra solving for Y, it’s more like solving WHY?

The only answer I have found is that your dog will let you know. So, let’s interview a dog.

Dan: Casper, you’re five years old, do you still love your job? Are you ready to retire?

Casper: Yes, of course, I love my job! Retirement is NOT coming anytime soon!

Dan: How do you know?

Casper: Well, I would think I answered the question loud and clear today, right?

Dan: Tell our followers about it.

Casper: We got up today, just like any other week-day. Your alarm went off, you got out of bed and then gave me smooches before you showered; then we made breakfast for the critter crew and went outside…

Dan: Well, to clarify I fell after my legs gave out rounding the corner toward the end of the bed…

Casper: Did you ask me to tell the story?

Dan: Yes…

Casper: OK, so… YOU GAVE ME SMOOSHES!!!… Then you took your morning meetings while I chilled on my family room bed. After a while, you went back to grab some socks and shoes. I really don’t get your fascination with shoes, I hate them!

Dan: they help protect my feet from any number of hazards; it’s the same reason I try to get you to wear yours.

Casper: Anyway! You put shoes on. I got up, thinking it was time to go to work outside. We went outside for a “business break” then you went to the garage for your cane and told me to stay! It’s like you forgot the fact that I go where you go. Then you left the house without me and just said: “I’ll be back”. OK, Arnold, whatever! Where are you going? How long will you be? What am I supposed to do on my own? You didn’t even put Pit bulls and Parolees on TV for me.

Dan: I had to drop YOUR car off for a scheduled service, and they wouldn’t give me a loaner you’d fit in. I was home within a half hour, I didn’t even make any stops.

Casper: a Poor excuse. They’re all poor excuses!

Dan: Okay, Okay. I agree, and for the record, it’s weird for me too. I almost forgot I even needed to bring my cane. I didn’t even stop anywhere because I know how you are.

Casper: Whaaat? I was fine – just like you… always fine (but not really).

Dan: Funny, ‘cause Momma said you were “beside yourself” and pacing the house. And, your sister wouldn’t eat her breakfast until I got home and gave both of you pets and cuddles. I was greeted like I was away on a deployment or somethin’. Do you remember?

Casper: Of course I remember. I went to college! I have a smart bump to prove it. As a matter of fact, I was born AT A BOARDING SCHOOL and you had to be convinced you even needed me. Do YOU remember?

Dan: I remember.  That’s a story we told right here on the blog.

Casper: In summary. I’ll keep my job for the foreseeable future, thank you very much. I’ll try and be kind if I ever make the decision to retire. Just don’t send me upstate to a farm.

Dan: Never, buddy – Never