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.