Friday, April 30, 2010

Introducing the Wee One in the last post and some words about Mom

So the cute little kitty is the newest animal dumped at our house. Someone put her in a box and left her in our driveway. She was very scared when Mom brought the box inside (thinking that it was one of Granddad's or Uncle Andrew's boxes) and opened it to find a tiny little fluffy kitten. She was a little bit skinny and scared of Lola and I.
She is very cuddly and has finally started to warm up to us. She spent last night on the bed with us and is starting to hang out with Mom and both of us dogs during the day! Right now her name is Francine but that might change as we get to know her better.
We don't know who keeps leaving animals at our house but Mom thinks that it must be someone who knows us (or of us). Unfortunately, that doesn't narrow it down much, since our family have lived in this area for a very long time. It makes everybody sad that we might know some one who abandons animals.
We always go back and forth about talking about Mom;s medical stuff. But we figure that it is such a big part of all of our lives that we should share. and we never know who might read this and be struggling with something similar.
Mom's doctor recommended that the best treatment for Mom's Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (a severe pain disease) is a Spinal Cord Stimulator, which has electrodes on her spinal cord that block the pain signals. It isn't a cure and won't stop her pain but it will help a lot. The insurance company required a psychological evaluation for approval. That was the doctor who didn't approve of Mom having a service dog.
Unfortunately, he denied Mom. He said that she either needs to do a very expensive ($35,000 after insurance) comprehensive treatment that Mom's doctor said wouldn't work because physical therapy makes Mom worse or very intensive personal counseling with another psychologist until they approve Mom. We are going to talk to Mom's doctor next week to see what he says. Mom has also gotten worse again (CRPS is progressive) and we need something until she get approved.
We are all staying upbeat and Mom is still trying to do everything she was before, just doing it in shorter sessions. She is still working on her business and training Lola and I and everything else. We are all excited because it is super warm outside and Granddad opened our pool! As soon as we get the pump fixed, we all get to swim (with life jackets on) and hang out by there!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-The latest animal dumped at our hosue (in a box no less!)

(Note from Mom: Please excuse how crappy I look. when I'm at home, I don't put on nice clothes or make up or do my hair since it is so difficult)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Please Don't Pet

Those words can create an amazing range of emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, understanding, interest...the list goes on.
There is a reason Mom and many other service dog handlers ask that people do not pet us while we are working. It is because we are working and it is hard to do our jobs when people are trying to pet us or talk to us.

Mom and I know how hard it is for people not to pet me. If we are at a store (especially a book store, like in the picture) I am in a down stay while Mom browses. Some people haven't been around calm dogs or they may be usually afraid of certain types of dogs. Mom doesn't want them to think I'm unfriendly (it is quite the opposite, as many people learn when I'm off duty) so she has my brochures to hand out.
Mom also taught me a special trick to make up for people not being able to pet me. When Mom tells me to say hello, I wave my paw at the people. We get a lot of smiles for that and Mom says it has really helped some people overcome the stereotype that any dog with a square head and a broad chest is mean or aggressive! Mom says that she wants to "pay it forward" to other dogs for what I do for her since she thinks she can't pay me back (which I still think is silly since I get to sleep on her bed on my own pillows, get the best food, chewies and stuffies/other toys. I even have a pool to lounge in when we're outside with Mom). But we all want to help homeless animals, especially those that are misrepresented.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-Now this is the South we love!

(aka finally emerging from the depths of a ridiculous and unheard of arctic winter in NC)

(Note: We have a special pool cover that is extra sturdy and made to be walked on. We also don't get to be outside without Mom to make sure we're safe. Basically Do not try this at home!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Less Fun Side of Service Dogs

Well, not for me but for Mom as my handler. Access Challenges. An access challenge is when a worker at a place service dogs are allowed to go (there are some places we can't go where itwould make a place unable to operate like sterile parts of a hospital) says that the service dog can't come in.
We have been very lucky that we have had few access challenges in the time I've been a service dog. A couple weeks ago, we went to Mom and Grandmom's favorite store to find some summer clothes for Mom. Mom was ready to try on some clothes and the attendant said first that I couldn't come in, then that we couldn't take all our clothes in, then that we could and then that the handicapped dressing room wasn't useable (Mom needs help from Grandmom to try on clothes and it is hard to fit 2 people and a service dog in my gear in a regular one). Then another worker came up and said I couldn't go in. Both people were very rude to Mom and Grandmom We explained to both of them what I did and that I am allowed by ADA law to be with Mom.
After Mom tried on her clothes (and we found out that the attendant had let a fully-abled woman with much more clothes than Mom in the handicapped room) we went to talk to the Manager. We explained what happened and that he might want to reteach them about the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To help inform people (both friendly and not) Mom has made brochures That talk about me and what I do and service dog laws and etiquette.

It has some pictures of me working and me with Mom. It also gives websites where people can learn more about service dogs, the ADA and me! These brochures really help Mom educate others about me and all service dogs. The more people that know good service dog etiquette and the laws, the easier and better it is for everyone.I am also registered with the stated. This isn't required by law but it is very helpful if a service dog team every has to go to court over an access challenge. I have a tag with my registration number, an ID card and a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services that say I am registered.
Mom had an upsetting encounter with a psychologist last week. For her to get her spinal cord stimulators (implants that block pain signals), the insurance company requires a psychological evaluation (similar to that for transplant patients) before we can proceed. The psychologist was rude and condescending to Mom and told her that how fast she got sick, how many doctors she has seen (because no one could figure her out and kept referring her to other) and having me as a service dog were all bad coping techniques. He didn't want to learn what I do and wouldn't answer Mom's, Grandmom's or Granddad's questions about what he meant. Mom is worried, since if this guy says no, Mom won't get her SCS's. So everyone keep your paws crossed that he says yes!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lipizzaner Stallions! (aka Big White Horses that dance)

Last Saturday we went to the Coliseum to see the Lipizzaner Stallions with Grandmom, Aunt and Mom's cousin. Mom has wanted to see these big white horses since she was very little (and saw the movie The Miracle of the White Stallions, which is still one of her favorites) but has always missed it.Granddad got tickets for everyone and they were floor seats (second row!). That means we were sitting down on the edges of the floor where the horses perform! Mom was a little worried that I would get scared or distracted. But she didn't need to. I looked at them when they first came out and smelled all the wonderful horse smells, but stayed on my mat like I was supposed to.
The horses were pretty cool. They could do all sorts of tricks and the moved really fast! It is pretty amazing that those giant white horses can dance and do all those moves! One horse even knew how to bow like Lola does!
When they did the really cool tricks, they told us that two of the four horses that do these really hard moves were very special. They were rescued from severe neglect and were rehabbed for years, then taught these tricks! So they have rescued horses in their show along with the well raised Lipizzaners!
They even had these horses do the tricks with the people on the horses backs! It was pretty amazing. Mom and I also met a new friend there who is sick like my mom! She was very nice and an animal lover like our family.
It was a very fun day! After the Lipizzaners, we went to one of Mom's favorite restaurants where she got to eat sushi (which is her most favorite food). Mom said she was very proud of me, since I had never been that close to horses before, and I was able to focus on my job and stay in work mode.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oops! Blame it on Mom

We are so sorry it has been so long since we posted but it has been a few crazy weeks for Mom. Her health,a s always, is up and down. We have had good adventures, which we will share in the next few days, and bad adventures, which we will also share. Mom has been trying to get her school stuff figured out and getting registered with Disability Services. She is also working very hard on her business, which went live last week!
Things should calm down some, so we will be back to regular posting. We will also be commenting more, since we have really slacked on that lately.