A Day In the Life

Note: Edited for grammar and typos – and a couple things I forgot about and left out!

What does our life look like now that we are 6 months into this? Well, as i mentioned in a previous post, where I go Emmy goes. Period. Yesterday was a good example. (As USUAL I INTENDED to take pictures, but forget in the heat of the moment. Sorry!)

Got up early to make coffee and our micro-breakfast for the Ol’ Curmudgeon and me. Emmy supervised from her “place” in the kitchen. We worked on getting the Ol’ Curmudgeon up and going (he sleeps like a rock), then went downstairs for Emmy’s “run” on the treadmill.

After about 30 minutes, Emmy had done her 20 minute, 1.45 mile trot and had eaten breakfast. We came upstairs in time for me to eat with the Ol’ Curmudgeon. Emmy flopped down on her “place” in the living room right near me to digest. We laughingly call it her “postprandial torpor.”

After breakfast, I left Emmy to her doggie dreams, and went back to the bedroom to get ready to go. Shortly, she woke up, missed me, and came back to find me. She flopped down to watch me put on makeup. When I got ready to get dressed, she helped by picking up several dropped items (my hands were not very agile). I haven’t taught her to help get me dressed as yet, but that is on the agenda. She knows it is hard for me to get my socks and panties and slacks on, because she comes over and checks out what I’m doing. On the one hand, it is slightly irritating because it slows me down. On the other hand, however, she is already working something out in her mind. She did the same thing when I was undressing for about 2 months before I started teaching her to get me out of my socks and slacks. She learned very rapidly – I think because she was working something out in her mind for a while ahead of time.

Before I put on my nice, clean, light yellow slacks, I took Emmy to the “grooming stand” I set up at the back corner of her kennel. Because I have no strength or agility in my hands to speak of, and much reduced strength and range of motion in my arms, I have to use some method of restraint for preparing her to go out. I have a lead secured on that kennel corner with about 2 feet of length so she can’t move very far. Once she is attached, I can move a secretary chair (5 rollers, no arms, set low) very close to her. A couple of dishtowels on my lap, and a bowl of treats (her kibble) handy and I’m ready to go.

Give her a treat for being a good girl and letting me attach her – she knows what is coming! Use Pet Care deodorizing, cleaning wipes liberally, getting her fur damp. She enjoys the fact that I am rubbing on her body and down her legs and all over her chest and belly. I use two on her face alone. Give her a treat for cooperating. I’m talking to her the whole time – narrating what I’m doing, telling her she’s a good girl, etc. Then I brush her to get off any loosened hairs. Another treat for the brushing.

Next is her ears. I was using a home-made ear-cleaning solution of 1/8 c rubbing alcohol, 1/8 c distilled white vinegar, and 3/4 c water. However, Emmy hated the smell so much, and tried to escape so vigorously, I changed and went to commercial pet ear-cleaning wipes. If there is an increased amount of earwax or if there is indication of yeast, I also use a veterinarian recommended commercial ear solution. Because it has a nice, fresh scent, I generally use it 1 or 2 times a week on general purposes. She has gotten so she tolerates the ear cleaning pretty placidly, but I always give her a treat, anyway.

Next is inspecting her nails. If necessary, I will either file or grind them a bit. Full nail treatment is a separate procedure, and I don’t do it just before going out. I give her a treat for cooperating with the nail inspection.

Finally, I do the part she hates the most- it requires several treats – brushing her teeth. I have several different flavors of doggie toothpaste, and rotate through them depending on what is going on. If it’s just general cleaning, I’ll use the peanut-flavored toothpaste. She likes it the best, but it’s a sticky gel and it is a pain to clean up the toothbrush after using it, so I don’t use it real frequently. It doesn’t deodorize her breath as well as some of the others. This time, I used the “fresh taste”. It has no scent, but it really does deodorize her breath. As far as cleaning her teeth, that’s up to me and the toothbrush. On “bad” days, I’ll just wipe her teeth with a dishcloth. But this time I used the toothbrush and the fresh taste toothpaste. I “trap” her between the side of the kennel and my chair, with her head on my thigh as I sit in the chair. She KNOWS what is coming, and is resigned. She doesn’t try to escape it at this point, but sighs deeply. I prepare the toothbrush with the toothpaste, lift the side of her muzzle, and slide the toothbrush along her back teeth. She starts trying to escape, but the lead and my placement along her side prevent it. She doesn’t get overly vigorous about it (thank goodness), but she obviously does not like this part of the process. I brush the buccal side of her back teeth, top and bottom, then the lingual (tongue) side of the teeth. I give her a treat and a rest and some verbal reassurance. She wags her tail.

A little more toothpaste on the brush, and I start in on the other side of her mouth. Same process. I have to hold her mouth open to get the lingual side of her teeth. She does not try to bite – even accidentally. She gets another treat for going through this. Now it’s time to do the front teeth and her nice pointy canines. I can brush her top teeth fairly easily, even the lingual side of her teeth, but the bottom teeth are a little more difficult. When we are done, I give her a “jackpot” of treats (2 kibbles instead of just one), and unhook her from the lead.

She is so excited at being free from the restraint, she happy-dances all around me and makes happy little snuffling noises. We have some fun for a few minutes, and I gave her one last little treat, then I headed back to get dressed. Oops! Before I got dressed, I put on my big fuzzy bathrobe and took Emmy out the back door to “do business!”

Once I’m dressed, it’s time to “dress” Emmy in her cape and her lead. She does not like “getting dressed,” and I always give her a treat in one hand as I slide the cape over her head, and again as I slip the gentle leader over her muzzle.

She immediately becomes very subdued and serious. She knows it’s “working” time.

We went downstairs (me in the stairlift) and I “dressed” her one last time in her safety-harness. Then she jumped into the back seat, turned around to face me, and lay down. I asked her to “crawl” toward me, and she did, so she was close enough for me to fasten the connection to the seatbelt without hurting my back. I gave her a treat after taking off her gentle leader. Then I closed the door.

We drove about 50 minutes down to the client’s office. This is one of the ones in a building with a huge foyer – the kind I used to fear because if I dropped my cane (an all-too-frequent event) with no one around, I would either be stuck standing (teetering) there until someone came along, or I would try to try to pick it up myself and risk falling. (“Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”) Now, I’m totally unafraid. If I drop my cane, Emmy picks it up and gives it to me! We came down the elevator from the parking lot, and went out the front door to the only “grassy knoll” within 2 blocks. Emmy dutifully piddled, and we re-entered the building.

We went up the elevator with admiring looks and very complementary comments from the people in the foyer, and the elevator. People were very patient as I made the wait for me to block the elevator door and for Emmy go “through,” sit and wait for her next cue.

We met the client in his office library, and the “clients of my client” came in, too. Emmy “sacked out” beside me – the chairs had rungs that were too low for her to get “under” – while the meeting was going on. Not a peep from her. She dreamed her little doggie dreams for about 2 hours.

Then the client and his wife wanted to know how Emmy helps me. They have been very supportive. Emmy was delighted to “show off” (and I was, too)! So we demonstrated how she can get my cane, get my cellphone, get my dropped jacket, help me get out of my jacket by pulling on my sleeve, and showed how she can “nudge” a light switch up and “paw” it down. They were enchanted and amazed. They had no idea how much help she could be for me.

Next, my client and his wife took me to lunch – of course Emmy went, too – to the Food Court of the nearby giant shopping mall. OMG! Emmy had not been in a mall in nearly 6 months! She behaved beautifully – I should have had more faith in her and her training. She had to be reminded to “leave it,” a couple of times, but she went under my chair and sacked out, again.

I was so tired, I had to leave early and come straight home after lunch. The Ol’ Curmudgeon got home (first day to work out of the house since his angioplasty – I was concerned enough that I had left my cellphone turned on during the meeting) about the time I did. I told him there was no way I was up to fixing supper, and suggested a can of soup. Actually, he fixed a rather nice shellfish stirfry that was fairly quick and very tasty.

I managed to sleep for about 6 hours last night, but when I got up I was soooo fatigued and achey that I went to sleep as soon as we had our micro-breakfast. Poor Emmy, I was too wiped out to “trot” her last night, and too wiped out to do it this am. I’ll have to add a little time and a few extra 1/10’s of a mile tonight. The Ol’ Curmudgeon was too tired to help me out with it last night and in too much of a rush to get out of the house this AM. I think this is the first time we’ve missed 2 sets in a row. Emmy is very confused – she keeps going to the steps and looking down them, then coming back to me.

Me? I’m wrapped in my fuzzy green robe keeping my joints warm, and napping off and on in my Laz-E-Boy. I swear, it’s a toss-up as to which is more comfortable – our bed or my chair! Emmy is snoozing on her living room “place.” All’s right with our world. Tomorrow we’ll go places again!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. greatdaneservicedog
    Mar 19, 2009 @ 08:59:19

    What a fantastic girl you have! The confidence a service dog gives us is often overlooked by people who haven’t ever been afraid of going somewhere, like a large foyer. It’s not a task, per se, but it’s one of the best things about having an SD: “I can’t” becomes “I can”.


  2. Suzanne
    Mar 23, 2009 @ 16:08:15

    What a wonderful story. I hope lots and lots of people who know nothing about disabilities or service dogs see this. Emmy is a wonder, and so are you. After all, you keep her trained well (not as easy as it sounds) and you keep her groomed and well and happy. “Good show! Jolly good show!”


  3. Suzanne
    Mar 23, 2009 @ 16:25:24

    I forgot to say that several years ago on a cat care forum, there was recommended a solution for cats’ and dogs’ ears. Combine 1 oz of mineral spirits and 1 drop of tea tree oil in a dropper bottle. Drop a few drops of this in each ear and massage in well to help with cleaning and controlling ear mites. (I know Emmy does not have ear mites.) The tea tree oil has a nice, minty smell, and it’s also anti-bacterial. This might make a nice ear conditioner for Emmy every once in a while if she hates the smell of the other stuff so much.


  4. turtlemom3
    Mar 23, 2009 @ 17:30:35

    Only problem is that Labs are “droop eared” dogs and get yeast infections easily. So I need a conditioner and washing solution that is not oily. Oil holds dampness in and encourages yeast to grow. Been-there-done-that in terms of yeast! I’ll just stay with the stuff I’m currently using. But thanks for the suggestions!


  5. Suzanne
    Mar 23, 2009 @ 17:52:06

    I did not know that “droop eared” dogs get yeast infections in their ears!! Poor doggies! I should have known that you would have done all the research that can be done on the subject. 🙂 You’re such a good “doggie mama.”


  6. turtlemom3
    Mar 23, 2009 @ 18:29:36

    Thanks! 😀


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