Correction of mistake – The lovely lady I THOUGHT was going to get Grace is not. She is one of PAALS Board members, and is taking Grace for a week. And that’s what she meant when she said she was “taking Grace.” I just didn’t realize the “week” part. PAALS sees to it that the dogs stay with different people on a regular basis – that way they don’t get quite as attached to one person. Of course, who can resist these beautiful, well-behaved, obedient dogs? The people get attached and have a really hard time seeing the dogs go off with their new partners.
I’ve been sloppy in several of my cues, and have to go back to basics on them. Emmy thought she needed to “think for me,” and that must not be allowed. So, back to basics on those cues, and spiffying up the rest of them. I discovered my arms won’t let me position them to give a couple of the hand signals correctly, so I’ve been given permission to not use those hand signals. Just give the voice cues. Speaking isn’t a problem for me, so I’m relieved about that.
Yesterday – well yesterday was a big problem. I was in pretty bad flare. Not the “go-to-bed-go-directly-to-bed” kind, but the kind that I can sort of fight through and semi-function. But semi-functioning isn’t enough – especially on an outing. I had problems giving the right cues and thinking through problems – like getting on and off an elevator safely in the wheelchair. The dogs can be hurt and made skittish by one elevator accident where the door closes on them – even if it opens back up immediately. So I have to think about: Emmy’s position, Emmy’s actions, my position, my actions, my “pusher’s” position and actions. I have to look at the elevator, figure out how it works, which way the door(s) open, where I need to be to block the doors before Emmy gets in, see to it that Emmy “Waits” until I say “Through,” tell Emmy to “Wait,” have the “pusher” push me half-way through the doors, tell Emmy “Through” when the doors are blocked, tell Emmy “Move” then have the pusher push me the rest of the way in. WHEW! If it’s double doors, it’s larger and a little easier. If it’s a tiny elevator in a department store, like Belk’s, it’s a different story. AND, in a department store, I need to ensure that Emmy’s lovely, expressive tail that wags so enthusiastically, doesn’t harm any products, and that she doesn’t “sniff” at products, either. For a Labrador Retriever, this is EXTREMELY difficult. She is very well-behaved, and did not sniff at stuff, much, and I managed to catch her at it and tell her to “Leave It.” But that is a “fault” and will count against us on THE TEST! She is very good at her basic cues – Sit, Down, Stay, Stand, a trifle sloppy on Come when she is enthusiastically playing with other enthusiastic Labs, and very sloppy on Wait at doorways. So those are things I need to work on.
I will admit, however, that I wasn’t issuing cues very snappily, and my “voice of command” was totally absent. I was trying to simply “get through” the day long enough to get back to the hotel, take a pain pill, and go to bed. I made it. Today is better, but I’m still not really “up to par.” My hands are swollen and hurt which makes control of Emmy on lead a problem. That’s why we are using the Gentle-Leader (which she doesn’t like). There is a “good news-bad news” about the Gentle-Leader. The good news is – the slightest twitch sends messages to Emmy. The bad news is – the slightest twitch sends messages to Emmy. So I have to be very aware of all my hand motions.
I admit I get confused – especially on “bad” days or “foggy” days when Jen and Em and S and K are all telling me things and they are slightly different. Then the Ol’ Curmudgeon chimes in and I kind of go into shut-down. Training with Emmy I THOUGHT would be like nursing school – one way to do something, learn that one way, then learn variations. So I need to “adapt and overcome.” Don’t need to improvise. Have to be very consistent with Emmy.
On another note, youngest son has taken some of the weight off my shoulders by assuming the responsibility of keeping the entire family notified of what is going on with Aunt D. Last word is that she is resting better, on a vent, but not needing much supplemental oxygen to keep her oxygen saturation levels up. This is good news, and with the rest she is getting, perhaps she can overcome this and get well! Please keep her in your prayers.