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Tag Archives: family

Vacation: Part II

Hi Friends –

The plane touched down and we completed our flight. I got off the plane and was so happy I walked with a bounce in my step and a smile on my face. Dad asked why I was so happy. He thought I was scared on the plane or needed to go out. I said no way I just want to see the sandy eggos! I don’t know why Dad almost fell over laughing. He gathered himself and as kindly as he could, while still making fun explained that we were in San Diego a part of California to see my family; not in California to see sandy eggos, like some road-side attraction. I said it wasn’t MY fault, HE needs to annunciate better! With that Dad and I sat out of the way while Mom and the girls picked up our luggage.

After the luggage, we picked up the rental van. We soon learned why the name of the company was significant. Hertz, because it Hertz to have to drive in anything they rent you. This van made so many noises we prayed that the thing would keep running long enough to make it through the weekend. (I heard dad actually say a prayer that the car not die unti Monday; we’d be leaving on a Sunday!) The engine sounded like there was beach sand in the cylinders. The suspension bottomed out on anything steeper than a speed bump and to top it off the computerized displays were set to km/h. (Yes, the clock was even wrong.) To make this so much better we were on the I-5 in rush-hour traffic. This would be fine except for the fact that they needed to check into the hotel, find our room and unload the van, all before I add to the fact that I haven’t done my business in hours (about four) or had anything to eat all day. That list seems easy enough, but I haven’t mentioned that Dad’s parents were in the same hotel waiting for our arrival and they all needed to change clothes and meet Gramma and Grandpa, along with Aunt Carrie’s family for dinner reservations at a restaurant. I’m wasn’t sure how we would fit everything in. It turned out to be a race against time, but we made it all happen. Time may have, in fact turned wibbley wobbley to do it, but I even had time to meet Gramma and Grandpa before we followed them in the wrong direction to the restaurant. Don’t worry, Dad was smart and updated our GPS before we left and asked his sister for the name and address of the restaurant so we could find our way. We made the reservation and beat Gramma and Grandpa there. (Dinner smelled wonderful!)

The next day, after a great night’s sleep (for me, because I get to sleep in the kid’s bed when we stay in a hotel) we met Gramma and Grandpa at our room and we all piled in our van and went out for breakfast. The café was very welcoming and Dad said the had great food. (Again, I have to take his word for it.) Don’t worry, I had fun here too. I got to watch as Dad spilled coffee all over himself. He’s a bit jumpy, (to say it kindly) and this was timed perfectly! He turned to look out the open door to the patio at a few pedestrians while drinking coffee and holding a conversation with Grandpa. Just as the cup reached his lips, Alyssa drops Grandma’s phone on the metal covered table, causing a big crashing sound, and Dad to jump so big his butt actually left the seat! This caused coffee to come flowing from the cup all over his Brooks Brothers shirt and jeans. (It was a discounted shirt mom got huge discounts on while she was an employee, but she doesn’t work there anymore so he needs to be careful!) Dad doesn’t like to look a mess when it’s time to look presentable. He did a good job laughing it off within moments as he and Grandpa talked about “payback moments in parenting.” The rest of breakfast went smoothly and we left the café.

Once Dad and I made it to the sidewalk Mom alerted us that there were dogs approaching and since I can still be a bit reactive, especially if they bark at me, Mom talked to the guardian while dad and I made our plan to lessen the chances for an interaction. The other dogs were admitted barkers so their guardian made a wide swing around, but came in directly (within two feet) behind us. This caused what we tried to avoid. The dogs barked at me. I told them they were not being good boys and we ended up showing Grandma and Grandpa how I help Dad recover from a fall.

La Jolla Shore

La Jolla Shore

La Jolla

La Jolla

After I helped Dad recover we hopped in the rental and found, with the help of the GPS, the La Jolla shoreline. Here we enjoyed the coast and took some great pictures. The number of dogs out for walks and play dates was alarming for a week day so we opted to find a “no pets” activity. We loaded up again, and headed to the Birch Aquarium. We walked through and saw the exhibit while Grandpa chose to stay outside the gates and enjoy a cigar. After we finished and met back at the gate it was about lunch time. Grandma & Grandpa weren’t ready to eat yet so we dropped them back at their room and we found a place for the family to refuel. After lunch at a local deli (that Mom LOVED!!!) and a chance for me to “do my business” we also settled back to our rooms for a nap so we would be ready to go for the evening’s events… (to be continued in part 3 of our adventure)

View from the Birch Aquarium

View from the Birch Aquarium

Human Puppies at the Aquarium

Human Puppies at the Aquarium

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Learning and Growing (the hard way)

With this blog you will find many entries written from Casper’s perspective.  We like to play with what we think might go through his mind as we go about our daily life. From time to time you will find pieces that come directly from me and share what I think and how I feel. I’m apprehensive to write many of them; okay, all of them. Today is no different, and I will do as I always do and leave it up to my editor (Lauri) to decide whether this passes muster or gets swept up with Casper’s cookie crumbs and the cat hair.

There is a reason I’m unsure if I should share this or not, that reason comes down to one word, and a concept that is uncomfortable for most of us, that word is failure. Yes, failure. For me, just the word sends a shiver down my spine and a sinking feeling to my stomach. To help us feel better about it I would like to share a quote. “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill (To name drop, my understanding is that we are related on my maternal side of the family.) With this in mind, let me change tracks here and make this post about having the courage to continue. (There, I feel better already!) Since I’m not dead, and far from, done all that’s left, is continuing…and to learn from the rough patches. I’m sharing this because I assume that many would not.

The road to success starts back in Connecticut, at the Ye ole Condo, where we first brought Casper to live with us. I will tell you now I love him (and Lauri) more than you can understand. I’ll say this now so you keep it in mind as we go. The Condo was great and fit my needs for quite some time. We quickly out grew the home as Lauri and I committed to each other, not to mention the two kids, three cats and Casper. Not only did we run out of indoor space, but I quickly felt confined by the association rules around dogs and the lack of freedom for Casper to stretch out and run the way he could before he was released for service. I vowed that when we moved he would have a fenced yard so he could run free.  We found our home and although we are replacing the fence because 75% of it is inadequate for the long run, it is fenced and safe for him to run in. I somehow thought that if I didn’t give him space to be free and to ‘be a dog’ that I wasn’t showing him the love he deserves for wanting to work for me. (Casper really loves his job. He practically runs into his vest and correction collar when I hold them open.) So this, if I haven’t foreshadowed it, is where I went wrong. I didn’t see that I went wrong, others did, Lauri did and she told me. I didn’t listen. I heard her but I was blinded by what I wanted for Bubba. I mean look at him out there zooming around the yard, exchanging barks at the neighbor dogs from time to time, and digging a little trench in the flower bed. He’s happy, right? Sure, he’s happy. Until I need him and he plays, with a big wide grin and tongue lolling while I try to call him to me. To him it was a back yard game we played; fun! For me it was the stuff of my nightmares. My dog that I love with my whole heart didn’t want to obey. When I was super frustrated I got told how wrong I was by the woman I am going to spend the rest of my life with. (Editor’s Note: I did not say, “Hey, you are wrong.” I just suggested, and maybe yelled a couple times, that he needed to chill out a bit.) These things, for me, are crushing; virtually blinding. Keep in mind this process took weeks.

I now had two different dogs. One dog in a vest, that is good in public and one dog that was a jerk at home. I am stubborn, to put it nicely. I knew, deep down, that I had to go back to basics. One step crawl, a lead when “doing your business”, and treats for responses I wanted. I was even told this by Lauri and trusted advisors, but somehow I didn’t act. The only explanation I can come up with is that I needed proof, again. OK then, let’s prove the two faces of Casper. We went to an event at Creek County Fairgrounds called Vintage Market Days. The event was centered in a large arena that most often, houses large animal events, based on the dirt and straw floor, and waste receptacles labeled for or against specific output. There were food vendors selling everything from funnel cake to BBQ to stir-fry outside. Inside there were easily a hundred vendors selling all types of antique and hand-made up-cycled items. We didn’t buy anything because most of what I saw was at full retail and we were in a tag-sale state of mind. Still it was great to see creativity abound. On top of this, it was a great “work” environment for me and Casper. We took each other through tight booths crammed with items and through throngs of people. We did this as if we were a professional dance team. We even had one woman, behind me; reach through my bent arm to pet Casper. I’m sure if it were a guy I would have tried to liberate that arm from its torso, but Lauri and I sufficiently “notified” her not to touch a service dog! He did an amazing job.

There is another picture to paint and it is a dog that doesn’t want to work in his yard. When I try to use him to brace while I pick poo, it’s HIS poo, but fine. Then when we go out for the final walk of the night wants to play in his yard and will not come until he is damn good and ready. I tried and could not get him to come without a stuffie. Lauri and I finally got him inside after I was damp, dirty and so upset that I was seeing red. This is a night that I got the “I told you so…” treatment and neither of us slept. I was mad at her, I was mad at Casper, and I was furious with myself because in reality the entire event was something I had created. This could be horrible, horrible news and if I don’t do something I could lose my service partner, and if we string enough sleepless nights together Lauri too; but like I said in the beginning I love both of them too much to allow that ridiculousness.

So, epic fail, now what? Now we look at what we know. We know Casper really does know his job, he wants to do his job, and we work well together. We also know that I stopped listening, I stopped seeing, and I needed to change. That ought to be enough to make the machine function so I set out to get us all back. I put cookies in my pocket, a lead and correction collar on Bubba, and went outside. We one step crawled around the yard. We one step crawled down the driveway and up the street to the corner and back. We worked quickly at exhausting the treats in my pocket. We proved he will in fact work in his yard. In the days since I always keep a supply of treats in my pocket and a calm demeanor. I can now call him in (off lead) from the yard at will with a happy tone and a treat. If I do need him in immediately, he will happily do his ‘business’ on a long lead and come back in. Yes, he gets a treat every time now. (Editor’s Note: It only took a day or two to get back on track. They both know what they are doing, but just got lazy.)

The next test was to take this show back in public. To do this I tried the Leanlix treat stick (…that Lauri bought us to start recall training in the yard and I so famously ignored weeks before.) Lauri and I dropped the girls off with their grandparents and we decided it was a beautiful day to visit the Philbrook Museum of Art. We walked indoors and out. We worked up and down stairs with no rails, past Koi ponds, past other visitors. We even worked past a garden cat who wanted to make sure Casper knew he was the boss. We worked and I treated each success with a beefy lick. (I think Casper may want to write about Philbrook too, so I won’t steal his thunder.) The day, and Casper, was perfect in every way.

I have learned what Casper was teaching. He taught me to not take the little things for granted. Just because someone is your friend it does not mean it’s alright not to thank them for their help. Friends and family don’t have to be there for you when you get angry and thoughtless. In Casper’s case cookies and treats and letting him know I value him by working together as often as possible.  In Lauri’s case, letting her know I value her by actually listening and taking the advice that she, and others give, rather than just hearing the words. Just because I didn’t want to hear her doesn’t make what she had to share was wrong. (I knew damn well she was right, and I was just being a brat.) (Editor’s Note: He totally was. We have RARELY fought. He is usually the most thoughtful man on the planet. I hesitate to ever yell at him or boss him around, but he needed it!) Please don’t make the mistakes I made and not pay attention. Your well-being may be on the line. Now it’s just about time that I refill my pocket and take a drive or a walk and see what I’m looking at, hear what I’m listening to, and be grateful for what crosses my path. If I can do these things there is no possible outcome but success.