31 December 2011

There is Hope Yet

I have not wrote much about accomplishments this year. I have struggled a lot over the ground we have lost through Lyme as well as training indoor alerts as a general rule.

Lately I have been trying to work with Thane again in regards to the door alert. We lost a lot of ground with indoor alerts especially through Lyme. I had purchased a second tactile pager to use in our training. Since things fell apart, I decided to just start back at square one again. Some days he seems to get the aspect of show the door, but it takes work to put the alert and showing the door together. I keep it short to keep it fun, but we don't practice nearly enough- hampered by his med and supplement dosing schedule (some of which require as much as an hour of no food in the stomach time before and after)

Tonight was pawsitively amazing!

We were in the bedroom and Thane took off like he was on a mission, but I was unsure just what that might be since the tactile pager did not go off. I went part way which put me in the same room as him, but a good distance away. I did not go further because I was unsure where he was. A moment passed and he raced to me in his paws alert that we have trained as the hearing dog alert for in home alerts. After that, he raced me to the door.

I grabbed my mask to answer it because he was persistent. No one was there at the time, but if Thane heard the door, then someone was there. Of course I did not have treats, clicker, not even a toy, but boy I praised him for a job well done.

My neighbor has her grand daughter from hell staying with her. She is old enough to know better and to behave, but lets just say that she will always be a thorn in my side. The manager has been at her wits end with the situation. Tonight though her knock on the neighbors door before grandma notices I am gone paid off for us. There is something good to come out of it all.

I will admit I was having a downer day today in just dealing with how much of our year got swallowed up by Lyme. Having this take place tonight was just- how else can I put it, but Pawsitively Pawsome!

15 December 2011

Just *WOW*!

Lately I've been trying hard to work with Thane's excessive energy in regards to our work. Once I realized this was not a phase, but the process of Lyme receding, I began taking a more training approach to all of it.

Yesterday this paid off. The entire day was not perfect, but overall I saw that by using equipment like the GL, playing before outings, and walking long routes all could play a part in bringing our function as a team back to the way I remember it being.

Thane definitely needs more in this season than I am able to reasonably give him. Between the weather and my abilities, its a hard place to be as energy comes bounding back! We've been lucky this month though. We are experiencing an unseasonably dry December. Its often very cold, but as long as I can bundle up enough, we make good use of the days when I am able.

Yesterday I took a trip to New Seasons with him. Though he wanted to ice walk the floors excessively which took a lot of work to get him to slow down and walk on his feet, I still felt overall like things were going better than some previous outings lately where I was frankly half ready to retire him. The trip home went really smoothly- perhaps he was finally using up some of that extra energy grin.

We got home to discover that one of my neighbors had been running their exhaust fan and the exhaust fan cover I use to prevent neighbors from filling my apartment with their toxins had fallen off. It was horrible in here. This complex (despite what they try and make tenants believe) uses shared exhaust outlet. Rather than each apartment being a single outlet to the roof, they all come together and have a single outlet. This also means when one person runs their exhaust fan, it floods someone elses apartment. If that person happens to have MCS, it's not a pretty picture.

I was exhausted from the big trip to New Seasons, but we needed more foil tape for Dad to fix the vent cover. I planned to leave Thane home because I really did not expect he would want to turn back around and work again. He's the kind of dog who once you are home, it has taken a lot of work and training to get him willing to do something else again.

I was surprised when Thane was ready to go again. I harnessed him up and off we went to the hardware store- clear down where we catch the bus after taking the long walk in the morning. Thane worked flawlessly which was so great for me. We spent a lot of the evening playing toys in the bedroom. It was a lot of fun watching Thane begin to play by himself at times again. It was like I was seeing a side of Thane that I have not seen in a very long time.

I know Thane needs more than I am able to give him on a daily basis. That is a hard thing for me because I want to give him what he needs. That all said, I plan to do my very best as we continue to press through the remainder of Lyme and re-learn how to work together as a team with all this energy!

07 December 2011

The Energizer Bunny Returns

Those who have known me since Thane entered my life know that one of my nicknames for Thane is *The Energizer Bunny*. Those who know us IRL can attest to the amount of energy Thane had back then. The commercial of the energizer bunny who kept going and going and going pretty much summed up what Thane is like.

Thane had begun to settle as he matured. This was awesome for me as clearly had he been a program dog, this match never would have happened. I am an individual with the need of a medium harness pull at best and Thane well, his pull was hard. As he matured (or so that's what I believed it to be), his pull became more of a medium in at least three quarters of the situations we encountered.

Fast forward to present day- Lyme is receding and losing its grip on Thane. As it does, his symptoms are being checked off as they become resolved or at the least significantly diminished. The dog who collapsed in late June, is now a dog who has enough energy for every living being in this town! Needless to say I have discovered that Thane had not just matured, but Lyme had reduced the energy he had to give.

This year, I have been visited by profound nerve pain and increased sensory loss. Though it is easier to work with when I am not on the computer, as a deafblind individual, my computer is my lifeline to the world. This isn't just about social needs, but about business requirements as well. With all of this going on, Thane's increased energy and thus increased pull in harness has been beyond rough on me.

It was not until today that I learned this was about Lyme receding and not just about Thane being a handful, stubborn, or whatever other word you choose to employ here. smile This is not the way Thane was a month ago in any way shape or form.

When I got home today, I was pulling my hair out. I hurt so bad that all I could think or say was that if Thane did not find a way to snap out of this, the R word (retirement) may have to be employed in the area of guide dog. Thane is a combo trained service dog so it would not be the end of the road, but it would most definitely change my ability to function in the world.

You can imagine my resolve once I learned that this was about Lyme receding. On one hand it was a let down knowing this is here to stay, but on the other hand, I think it gave me some ideas on just how to approach what is taking place- ie wear the boy out with some hard play before heading out to town.

Boy we sure could use those kids he was growing up with about right now! LOL

06 December 2011

Dry Spells Are Good!

We are in a dry spell where the weather is concerned. After the excessive rain and flooding of November this is a very good thing in our book. Dry means we can do stuff- well sort of. Right now we are in an inversion where it is warmer in the mountains than it is here LOL It just means we have to wait until later in the day to head out and do anything much.

After the mishap last week with the max, there are ramifications I am still dealing with. Thane has been awesome adjusting to my temporary albeit more pronounced issues for the time being.

With this crisp and dry weather though, it's really fun to get out and work with Thane- even if it's just in town. It's giving me the opportunity to evaluate how he is coming along in regards to the effects of Lyme. Though his distraction level can be a bit high at times in areas where we are not used to encountering other people, overall I would say he is really coming along.

Focus, cognition, collagen (which affects eyes as well as skin and coat) are the symptoms that I am trying to evaluate at this stage of the game. I have to admit that in some areas the improvements are much more pronounced than in others, but I also know that patience is crucial at this stage of the game.

The fact that Thane was able to guide me in the dark last week and not just for a short distance has replaced any doubts I once had about his full return to duty. I feel hopeful though I have to remind myself at times that all of the healing won't be happening tomorrow. Smile

While the meteorologists complain about our lack of precipitation, I am making my list and checking it twice for adventures to take during this unseasonably dry start to December VBG

04 December 2011

Happy Woofday Chimette

Some people find it odd that I still celebrate these special days. I probably always will- not just for Met, but for all my successor dogs as well. OK I may not be able to celebrate these days with new toys and the like without breaking the bank by the time I am on my fourth or fifth dog, but these days will always hold special meaning in my heart.

If Met were still in our lives, he would now be fifteen years old. I often think about this concept. I have many friends like Rox'E at the Doghouse- Let the Fur Fly blog who have senior retired guide, hearing, or service dogs. Though I feel very happy for them that their dogs are still in their lives, I know that no matter what way I slice it, I would not want Met to still be in my life.

Please don't take this the wrong way. For over a decade, Met was my entire life quite literally. From the time he began public access, I can count on one hand the times when I went somewhere without him. In these situations, I had someone else with me. They were very specific situations where there was a huge reason for leaving him home alone. Because of my approach though, I was quite literally afraid of the outside world. By losing Met when I did, I was forced to face the reality of my progressive disabilities. In a sense, Met's death allowed me to gain a level of independence I never felt possible. Lets face it, I grew up a lot through a loss that I never imagined I would ever rise above.

Met's life was not an easy one. Though we gained great control over his vaccinosis, it was forever a balancing game of tweaking meds, supplements, or the like. It was a partnership where I had to think just as much or more about how what I needed to do would impact him as to my needs to head out. In hindsite, I see that this partnership should have ended before his time on earth did.

I don't have near the regrets now that I had when I lost him. Met's life taught me things that I never would have learned otherwise. Essentially I did a whole lot of growing up through the journey through vaccinosis and progressive disabilities.

One thing I was able to admit after Met's passing and still feel to this day is that I am relieved by his passing. Don't get me wrong- I still have moments from time to time when it stings and I just miss him, but I know that death was the kindest thing that ever could have happened. I can't imagine what his life would be like, had he not succumbed to the disease back in 2007. It was his time. I can see that just as clearly as I did back on that beautiful autumn day in 2007.

I will forever love and cherish the dog who showed me that my disabilities did not have to be so complicated and difficult to manage and rise above. I will forever be grateful for the journey filled with lessons- both good ones and tough ones; for in experiencing them, I was able to grow in ways I never fathomed possible

Forever those auburn eyes will be burned into my mind as they led me through life's uncertainties

Thankyou my sweet tri-colored boy for showing me just how much I could accomplish with you at my side

02 December 2011

Quite a Day!

Yesterday Thane and I had the opportunity to really get out of town without the need to do errands. He has been showing the boredom and high energy side that I recall from pre-Lyme during the rainy season. We got a rare dry spell for the start of December though and by all means I was going to take advantage of it.

It was quite cold when we set off, but beautiful. Thane loves the cool and cold weather (silly man). Me, on the other hand, as long as its dry and I can bundle up enough to keep warm enough, I am game. smile

At first I was not sure where we would wind up, but I really did not want to go back to the trail so soon and especially not on such a cold day. Its significantly colder in that woodsy trail area. Instead of the trail, I decided that we would head to Clackamas. I knew Thane had a lot of energy now thanks to the progress in his Lyme treatment and all the rain we have had lately keeping us penned up in the apartment.

We caught the bus and I was relieved that it was one of my favorite drivers and not the driver I had to report for refusing to ask people to move for me. This driver was awesome and gave me a pass until 5PM. I thought gee 5PM we could do an awful lot in that time (except we needed to be home before dark).

We got to my stop, and my chair would not move! I was a bit leery about this but this chair has always had a quirk. There is something called drive lockout with the tilt. It's supposed to engage at a certain point where it would be considered dangerous to drive and be tilted. In theory that is the way it works, but my chair has always locked out at all different ranges, even stupidly low ones. That said, this chair also had a problem with its joy stick control connection once because the idiots who put it together did not screw the pins in on the parallel cord. Its placed right in the armrest side cover which is easy to hit things when you misjudge your clearance. I kept thinking though that this was happening at the worst possible time. I both fiddled with that connection and lowered the tilt so I have no idea which was the answer- most likely the tilt as the connection still appeared solidly connected. PHEW! was what I felt when it started though.

Some people would have taken that as a signal to go home, but since I was pretty sure it was the tilt, we went ahead to the max. While on the max I decided to go look at the neat toys and other doggie stuff at REI. There are two REI's we could use, but one requires a bus that only runs once an hour. It also is not quite as good in the doggie wares  There were a few things I have wanted to see in person before deciding if they are an appropriate item both for Thane and with my MCS detox needs.

Off we went for the biggest adventure since the collapse from Lyme. We had a great time actually. Thane was so in tune with my needs while at the same time having this need to follow the edge (thanks Capstar). We checked out some neat toys which though they were quite unique, I knew they either would never detox or would not do so in the time frame I had to work with. There are some that I would definitely consider in the future.

There is one aspect I do not like about this outside mall, REI is near the end of it and you have to go around the entire circle and deal with idiots who think stepping in front of a guide dog and power wheelchair using handler is no big deal. I don't know how many times we had to swerve one way or another to miss leveling folks who are more interested in texting on their iphones than what is going on around them! LOL

On the way back there was another sidewalk approach that would allow us to leave the shop area pretty immediately so I said what the heck, I'm game *let's try it* WHOOPS! It had beautiful sidewalk access all the way up to the street but then no sidewalk, no crossing, NADA We backtracked through the parking lot a tad and managed to pull it off safely, but we won't take that shortcut again smile

Things had gone relatively smoothly and Thane was getting to ride his trains. He loves to take long train rides. We were headed home when all of a sudden, we were all disembarked! There had been a power outage with the Max system that affected a number of the stops. All of a sudden that wonderful bus pass was not looking like it was going to be good enough to get us home. It took 45 minutes to get a shuttle which they said was going to take at most ten minutes LOL That was the second shuttle and still not enough for the initial influx of people from three different max lines that all converged on one transit center.

We took everything in stride. It was a beautiful day albeit cold. The workers from Trimet did an exceptional job assuring I understood what was going on and that I got where I needed to be to get a shuttle. Being deafblind can be quite disconcerting when plans change and no one tells you what is happening- they all just disembark! LOL

I was wary though before I even got off the max. It was dark. I have not worked Thane in the dark since Lyme impacted him so dramatically which included an impact on his eyes. I also have severe photosensitivity. The contrast of the dark with all lighting- headlights, street lights, signs, fluorescent lighting, etc all are huge triggers for me. I was really unsettled by how my body was acting. Thane can sense these changes in me I believe. Anytime it happens he is a lot more cautious of my needs, his pull, his enthusiasm and takes great care with me so that we both get where we need to safely. This was much the case as we de-boarded max, thanked the gentleman who helped clear the path for me, and headed for the bus to ride the rest of the way to our town.

I was so proud of Thane! He showed he can work in the dark, but also found the bus we needed in a big transit center from a direction we have never taken to access that bus. When we got off in town it was such a relief to be out of the crammed like sardines travelling we had been doing all afternoon.I knew a lot of toxic cleanup awaited me. Right now though it was decision time. Was Thane really up to the task of guiding us all the way home or did I pull out my guide cane and heel him.

We had an all sidewalk route other than two small street crossings so I decided to give Thane the chance to shine and shine he did! I became very disoriented and yet, Thane kept moving us forward towards home- alerting me to any obstacle, bump, driveway, or intersection. This is the kind of situation in which he truly excels and makes me feel like all the hard work, worry, stress, and yes frustration have all been worth it!

This was not the kind of adventure I anticipated when we headed out the door, but Thane sure got to show me just what he was cut out for on this day full of changes.