Today (actually yesterday because I was too tired to journal last night) Emmy and I practiced some new (to me) cues that will become more and more important as time goes on and the arthritis progresses. With God’s blessing, perhaps things will go into remission and I will begin to feel better, but God may have other ideas and allow my frailties to progress.
Emmy and I practiced “target” (she can open a “handicap accessible” electric door by pressing the plate with her paw! We also practiced “paw.” On this command and with an indication of which light switch is involved, she can turn off the lights. Turning them on is “nudge,” and she does it with her nose. Nudging is something she really likes to do, so using that as a beginning, I will be able to teach her how to lift the bottom part of the stairlift track that hinges down. Cool!
Over the next day or so, I need to write up the plan for teaching Emmy to use the Able phone, and under what circumstances. Of course, on command, but if I’ve fallen and am unable to cue her, I need to be sure she will press the target on the phone right away. It’s like programming. First, figure out all the little steps that go into it, then teach them “backward” in a very step-wise, planned fashion. Oh yes, be prepared to jump ahead if she has a “lightbulb” moment and grasps several steps at one time!
Last night we went on two outings. First, and most importantly, there was a “Meet the Clients” event at a catering establishment in downtown Columbia. I realized while I was there, that the PR aspect of having an assistance dog will be tremendously important! This event was for the Board members, donors, and the other volunteers to see us and see who the dogs were going to. They, obviously, were very enthusiastic and “pro” assistance dog, but even they were amazed at all the things these dogs will do for us! E’s dog will work with her and her autistic son. The dog, Aubrey, will help calm the child and help keep him on balance and on task. When he tries to go off in a direction away from his Mom, Aubrey will “brace” (from standing, sitting or lying), becoming a “statue” to prevent S from going anywhere. This is only one of Aubrey’s amazing repertoire of actions that will be beneficial for S and his Mom. Steph and her dog will be working in a physical / occupational therapy setting. Yeats is a “facility” dog rather than a strictly service dog. Yeats will work with disabled clients in their physical and occupational therapy regimens. For instance, Yeats can tug on a shoe to lift the client’s leg off the floor. This will be important in many ways that I don’t know about, but Steph is totally excited about it so it must be very important! Each of us had an opportunity to not only meet and greet the Board and donors and volunteers, but we each spoke briefly about what our dogs will mean to us. I broke down in the middle of it. This is NOT like me! I don’t know if it is the bond I feel with Emmy already (how can it get any deeper?) or my being so fatigued. But every time I try to explain about all the things Emmy will do for me, I seem to melt into tears.
Emmy did something that I thought was just sorta “normal” – she “got” my fallen paper napkin (used, with food smells on it) and gave it to me (“thank you”) without slobbering on it or chewing at it. Even the trainers seemed to be surprised, but I wasn’t. Emmy seemed to realize that she had to be on her very best behavior, and came through like a champ!
Following the event (wine, cheese and snacks) both the Ol’ Curmudgeon and I were hungry, so we decided to stop in at the Waffle House. The cook saw us coming and started for the door. I thought, “uh-oh!” but he opened it for me and Emmy went “through” and sat until released just beautifully! He didn’t try to pet her, he knew about service dogs(!). As there weren’t many customers in there, we chatted with him a bit. Emmy went right under the table and went to sleep against my leg. The guy has an autistic nephew! We talked about Aubrey and what she will be doing with her family. He was interested, and I gave him a couple of PAALS cards. Don’t know if he will pass them on to his brother, but it’s a start. And now he knows that PAALS exists and may even tell people who will become donors!
While we were eating, Emmy got restless, so we took a short break while I took her out on the grassy area and she piddled for me. The traffic was streaming by, and she became distracted, so we just went back in. After we finished up our meal and got back to “our” place, she went on the area she was familiar with, and “did business” just fine. No distractions.
More later! God bless Aunt D and Uncle O and keep them here on earth at least until they have the chance to meet Emmy!
God save the people affected by Hurricanes Hannah and Ike. What devastation!
And God bless the people at PAALS who have done such an incredible job of training my Emmy and now training me to work with her! Help me to pass certification so I can take her home and become more mobile and stronger.
Pictures coming when I can get them onto the computer!