28 January 2013

Six is Beautiful!

Happy Woofday baby boy! Today you are six beautiful years old and HEALTHY! I can't remember the last time Thane was healthy like this, albeit still a bit scruffy looking with coat growth. It is indeed a day of Celebration! I don't know what the future holds for us or how long this will last, but today I am very happy- happy indeed!

The rain outside which often dampens spirits this time of year, can't dampen my spirits today.

When you came into my life, it was for a healthy start- a healthy partnership, but instead I got one to continue teaching me lessons. Thank you baby boy for the lessons. As hard as they have been to learn; as hard as the journeys have been to travel; I have grown through the experiences.

Just in the last year, you have taught me that sticking to my gut feelings is the right call. Of course, the smarter call would be to move on to someone who will listen! Next time, I'll do just that!

You helped my own health, not just yours when the gluten intolerance surfaced (thanks to miss incompetence) I never realized I was fighting for me, when I was fighting for you. Because of you, I sit here with a clear brain- able to think and process my thoughts without fighting the cloud of dulled transmission. Thank you for that

Your silliness is what gets me through each day- all those unexpected antics that you do, but when it really counts, I know you will light my way

I won't ever forget getting disoriented coming home from the Dollar Tree shortly after our move; letting you take over was hilarious. You would take me the back route we had never travelled before, now wouldn't you? I guess you needed a bit more adventure huh? LOL

I guess the bottomline is, I don't know how I would have made it through this move without you here at my side. I am so grateful that your public access retirement was so short lived. I truly missed you at my side, but knew I had to put your needs first (until the treatment you needed was provided)

Today, though, it is all about fun and games! Lets get the Celebration started!

27 January 2013


I thought I would share some of the unexpected occurrences that followed our move. I will share more about the move another time.

I've always known Thane was a creature of routine. If something was done a certain way more than once, it was as if it was written in stone that was the only way it could ever be done.

The day we moved was so hectic, but the Thane funnies began once we got off max at our new home. It was dark when we arrived, with my wheelchair in low power. We were heading towards the complex when I said to Thane (out of habit) *take us home*. Instantaneously, Thane did a turn about heading back to max WHOOPS!

When we headed to bed that night, we had set up the bed in the opposite direction it had been in before. I climbed into bed, slipped to the other side to make room for Thane on the outer side of bed, as we had always done before. What happened next made me laugh hard. I was laying there expecting Thane to curl up beside me; instead I received a lap of very confused Border Collie. I was on his side, in his mind. It did not matter where the outside edge was, to him, I was in his spot. I compromised on this and scootched myself over to what was now the outside edge of the bed. He curled up and was out like a light in no time at all.

It took a number of days for me to venture out with Thane as it was all I could do just to move following the severe overuse of the packing, move, and unpacking. Once more, Thane was very hung up on the *norms* directionally. He had a hard time for instance with our return home from New Seasons since we still were able to use the same stop as before (just way closer to home now). To him, I was all confused and had to be told how wrong I was on which side of the tracks (thus which direction of travel) we should go to wait for the max train arrival. It was sorta funny, but not unexpected. I took to returning to some of the early partnership directional commands to help him adjust to the changes.

*Not now* has had to come into play a lot as he heads to a bus stop that heads to our old home. Of course during our lengthy down time with communication, we had to take some trips to our old home town. It was both good and confusing for him. He kept trying to take us to our old home. It was good for us both, but especially good for Thane to see that we can still go there.

It's been a little over a month now. The really firm (AKA stubborn) stance about what stops we should be taking are slowly easing up. This new home is becoming home to him with a little incentive/ direction from me. grin

The Ugly Face of Mold

From the time I moved, I have felt like I went from a bad situation and jumped into the frying pan due to a complex that misled and even outright lied about what the situation would be like for me here. There is one change amidst this chaos though that I had not anticipated; a change for the better.

Since 2009, Thane has been a self mutilator. There were untreated health problems in the midst of this, but once diagnosed and treated at my insistence, you'd think things would go back to the way they were pre-mutilation. This never happened though other than during an interval when he was on long term antibiotics for Lyme.

Out in public, Thane was one dog; at home, he was another. It was very stressful for me to have to be on guard all the time. Eventually I had to resort to e-collars for Thane to reduce the level of stress for me. I hated doing so, but it was essential for skin healing, coat growth, and my sanity.

I learned of the renovation which forced my recent move in with just ten days notice right before Thanksgiving. While everyone else was enjoying their holiday feasts, I was packing like a mad woman before the renovation work left me too ill to do so.

Once we settled in somewhat in the new location and I began to pull the e-collar off in the morning, I realized that Thane was no longer chewing himself! At first I thought it was mostly me spending more time with him after Frontiers incompetence hooking up my phone and internet (eventually FIRED and me going to Comcast to get service), but when it continued in the improved state once my internet was connected again, I came upon a realization.

When your home is falling apart along the seams (and then some), with siding so soft when it rains that it will crumble off in your hands, moldy walls, loss of belongings to mold, it's pretty guaranteed that the carpets are moldy too.

The part of all this that is hard for me, is just how much suffering we endured because the management company did not budget their funding appropriately or pursue a grant until the complex was at the state where it would have to be either condemned or fixed . Those with a history of/ currently having a compromised immune system are much more susceptible to the effects of mold (this includes both Thane and I)

Once I realized the key here was environmental mold (especially since we both have had improved health after the move), I began to do some reading on the impacts of sustained mold exposure. The picture was not pretty

Wikipedia has a good general article on Mold Health Issues Beyond the more common impacts to the respiratory system. Another resource, Department of Health and Human Services, Mold and Human Health: Health Effects of Indoor Mold, confirms the impacts of mold. One form of mold, releases mycotoxins which can have devastating effects, especially when one is literally laying in mold.

Everyone knows when mold presents, it should be cleaned up right away. We all clean our showers, use de-humidifiers in moist areas especially in wetter climates like the pacific northwest, but what happens when the mold is obscured- present in the dark carpet flooring we walk, wheel, or lay upon?

The results can be nasty health complications and suffering. Though all of this can apply to the humans in your household, this post is about the hard lesson I have had to learn (at Met's and Thane's expenses). My hope is that it will prevent your four legged family members from the same perils.

20 January 2013

A Decade of Love

It's Carnival Time Again!

When I heard the topic for this tenth edition of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival being hosted by Sharon at After Gadget, Perfect Ten (or Perfect or Ten), I tried hard to come up with something fitting to my present partnership with Thane or even one that could address both my wonderful boys, but try as I might, all that entered my mind were topics fitting for my first partnership with Chimette (AKA Met). I figured this time, maybe it was just Met's turn to shine through.

When I adopted Chimette, I had no real expectations of either of us. I had hope, but I also had the echoing words from a service dog program, You can not do this yourself. With the encouragement of a friend, I said goodbye to that program and learned what it meant to be a service dog owner trainer.

Rolling out of the rescue center with my tri-color six month old Border Collie/ GSD pup I had chosen to train as a hearing dog,  I had no idea the role he would play in my life over the next decade as he taught me to love life in spite of the severe progressive nature my disabilities would take on. Most envision service dogs from a limited skill perspective. Either they are hearing dogs or guide dogs or mobility service skilled dogs or psychiatric dogs. I had those same limited views when I adopted Met put into my mind by a program that was incapable of making the dream a reality for most of the multi-disabled. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined a dog doing as much for me as Met and I learned to do together over our decade long partnership.

Training though was truly fun. With each little step, our bond developed and strengthened, enabling us both to trust in the other. At first trust was difficult for Met as a rescued, most likely abused, vaccinosis pup. I was patient and accepted the reality that he probably would not be fit for more than an in home hearing dog. Though he had already proven himself by eight months of age when he saved my life from a smoking alert system signaler that did not turn off, he had issues with some social skills that needed to be addressed before public access could be considered.

Time had a way of healing wounds (for both of us). Instead of a timid dog partnered with a person who had a negative outlook on life after nearly dying and severe disability set in, this team wound up as a bold guide, hearing, service, medical alert dog who turned me into someone who loved life regardless of the obstacles it presented me with.

The journey wasn't always smooth. Between my progressive disabilities, our health, and my novice level of training and dog handling, if any partnership was destined to fail before it even got out the door, this one was the one.

At times the support was minimal in the service dog community, not to mention the community in which I lived. It was still a time when it was a fairly new concept to train one's own service dog. I often got responses from trainers or individuals pointing me to one program or another where I could obtain a service dog. By that time, responses like that were so laughable. I had my service dog. Why would I want to go to a program that would tell me what I had done was unachievable without them!

The smoke detector blares and Met is at my side in full alert mode. I drop items where I can't reach and he snatches them up before I can finish saying *mommy needs*. I need to do one of the many transfers each day and he lays at my feet preventing them from sliding forward. I need to get across the street or to the store and he is in full guide dog mode. When I developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (AKA MCS), he would go into medical alert mode when we got into areas of bad toxicity all as a means to protect me from a life threatening emergency. As each disability compounded, the two of us trained together to develop skills that kept me independent and the two of us safe in the community.

In the last year, there was more medical than good memories (for both of us). That does not change how I think of the decade that he was at my side. When I think of us, I think of the day the picture below was taken; how carefree and happy I felt while learning to trust him. I think of the freedom he provided for me to be myself, independently functioning in the world despite being a deafblind incomplete quad with severe multiple chemical sensitivities. I think of how fortunate I was to have my first partnership be such a successful one. Above all the feelings I have about Met in my life, I think about how fortunate I was to be the one who adopted Met. I was so lucky to have him working at my side for a decade.