ACCEPTED for 2nd Service Dog!!

mixed-smiley-046Joy reigns in our household! Kim from PAALS (Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services) called on Friday (yesterday) and said it is official – that I have been accepted as a client for a second mobility service dog! YAAAY!!

Now the final wait begins. There are “lots of dogs” in the pipeline. It is simply a matter of whether it will be this year or next year. That may seem like a long time. But given the number of people waiting and the number of dogs available (nationwide), that is a very short time! At the time I partnered with Emmy, there were over 2000 people waiting for service dogs and only 700 dogs available each year.

Emmy in 2012 - Right After Her October Grooming

Emmy in 2012 – Right After Her October Grooming


And more people apply all the time. Obviously not just with PAALS – there are about 300 service dog organizations across the country. Only about 100 of these are members of ADI (Assistance Dogs International) or other certifying organization.

In my last post I referred to another website that discussed how to spot fake service dogs. The reason there are fake service dogs “out there” is not just because the owners want their precious pet to go with them everywhere. There are people who need a service dog so badly and have waited so long that they “create” a service dog. While it may be well-trained by the owner, the owner-trained service dogs I am familiar with are less well-trained. They are not kept as clean and well-groomed as they should be. They frequently have a bad smell because of poor diet. Their behavior is not as good as it should be.

Yes, I admit my bias. Waiting – however long it takes – to get a service dog through a well-run organization that trains the dogs carefully and ensures their behavior through annual re-certification by unbiased testers means there will be no problems with my dog. I will be re-trained to be a good partner – to be sure I know what I need to do: daily grooming, brushing of teeth, brushing of fur, excellent diet, no table scraps, regular vet visits, keeping up with immunizations, quarterly bathing, and daily practice of the behaviors she (or he!) will have been trained to perform. Over the course of a week, each behavior should be practiced at least 3 or 4 times. If there is hesitancy or improper execution extra time must be spent to bring that behavior up to speed.

This level of care and ongoing training is somewhat difficult for me with my Rheumatoid Disease and Fibromyalgia and with the attendant pain and fatigue. But it is worth it. Frankly, taking care of Emmy (my previous service dog) forced me to move more and to be more active. “Therapeutic,” said my rheumatologist. “Moving around helps keep your joints from freezing up. Keeps your muscles working.” It’s true. I will admit I have less inclined to be active since Emmy retired – not just because of the diseases, but because it is hard to force myself to do the moving I need to do. Himself helps me with that (“Come on, old girl, come sit with me in the kitchen while I cook supper.” “Go with me to Home Depot.” “Time to go to the grocery. Come on.”), and the gardening I started doing the year before Emmy retired helps, too. But – I have to admit honestly that there are times I don’t move around when I could if I just “pushed” myself more.

So – we are very happy. A new dog will be here relatively soon! She will be my helper, my companion, and my new friend.

Between the Woofs – I: IADW 2013

So, this is International Assistance Dog Week (IADW), and I’m promoting it! Please do visit their website.

A new “Woof” is being trained for me and may be ready (fingers crossed that it doesn’t “wash out” – always a risk) sometime next summer.

“Why would a dog be removed from PAALS training program?

“A dog can be discharged from the program at anytime during the two-year period it’s being trained for any of the following reasons:

  • “Hip and elbows X-rays show that the dog may not be strong enough for a working role
  • “Temperament problems demonstrate that a dog is too shy, too aggressive, or too protective
  • “Skin allergies develop which can be too big a problem to be handled by a person with a disability
  • “The dog has difficulties with the stress of the kennel or public work.”


Golden Retriever Service Dog

Golden Retriever Service Dog

The only thing I know about the Woof is that it will be a Golden Retriever. In the meantime, I’m gearing up learning as much additional info as I can about dogs in general, assistance dogs in particular, training of dogs, feeding, grooming – etc.

Another place to visit would be the Working Like Dogs website. They have several resources and informational articles that any dog-lover will enjoy.

Right After Her October Grooming

Right After Her October Grooming

As I think about a new Woof, I also think about Emmy – OF COURSE! I did a lot of things right with her, but I recognize that I also did a number of things wrong. I have to do fewer things wrong with the new Woof, so I’m “practicing in my mind” the things I should do or not do in the future.

I’ll be posting irregularly – as usual – over the next year. Please subscribe or at least check in every so often to see the new posts. Some will be longer than this, some shorter with just a reference (or three) to other websites.

mixed-smiley-046Another request – please support PAALS! They work so hard, and are so dedicated to the provision of trained service dogs to people who need them – Service Dogs for Mobility Challenges, Service Dogs for Autism, Service Dogs for Facilities, Skilled Home Companions, and Service Dogs for PTSD or Traumatic Stress Disorder. Do explore their website – and Please donate-smallest!!!

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Stardate: -309719.1535705226

Well, Emmy’s been back since January 31. When she arrived she had well-furred ears (!) and looked great. She, naturally, was a bit shaky on her cues, but we finally got those pretty straightened out.

Now, after 2 1/2 months, and the onset of deep Atlanta spring, Emmy is back to itching, licking, gnawing, and scratching. I’ve started wiping her off, especially her feet and legs, when she comes in from being outside. I have tried a wet washrag, dog wipes, and baby wipes. The baby wipes work as well as the other two, leave a slight fragrance that doesn’t seem to bother Emmy, and are easier than the wet washrag. They help some, but not enough. Emmy has also had her first yeast infection (R ear) of the season – despite cleaning and drying ears daily – sometimes twice daily. So, I’ve added Posatex to the grooming routine – again. She is taking Hydroxyzine Pamoate (one of the older antihistamines) and it works better than the (cheaper) benadryl. She is less groggy, doesn’t sleep as much, and can function fairly well despite it. But she still has some problems with paying attention while under it’s influence. I give her a cue, and she stares me (or off into space) as if to say, “I’ve heard that before, I know I should know it, but I can’t get it together.”

We have talked with my liaison at PAALS, and we are looking at a “re-career” move for Emmy – to being a pet with my youngest son and his family. As for me, we have a lot of thinking to do. A smaller Lab from this year’s class, or wait for a Golden Retriever from next year’s class. We have decided to not go for this year’s class because I really need a larger dog, so that will make it next summer before I can be partnered again.

Another option our liaison mentioned is to apply with another service dog provider who might have a larger breed. Well, that’s certainly an option, BUT – we are very strongly attached to PAALS, it’s programs, what they stand for, and the people who are there and who train the dogs. Our liaison said PAALS will understand whatever decision we make because we know what I need and how soon it will be critical.

So, here we are. Already grieving about losing Emmy as my partner – after only 4 1/2 years together. But she’ll be with our youngest son and we’ll be able to see her from time to time.

SIGH! It’s a big decision any way we look at it.

Allergies Spawn Visit to Colorado!

Mast cells are involved in allergy. Allergies ...

Mast cells are involved in allergy. Allergies such as pollen allergy are related to the antibody known as IgE. Like other antibodies, each IgE antibody is specific; one acts against oak pollen, another against ragweed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t been writing here much recently. We’ve been trying to deal with Emmy’s allergies. [Sigh!] We discovered her food allergies include: Barley, peanuts, soy beans, and sweet potato top the list, with borderline allergies to beets, corn, rice (!) and yeast. Now, just try to find a dog food, moist or dry, that does not have corn, rice or soy in it! She was put on a special – expensive – diet food: Royal Kanin potato and duck (dry food). So, while we eat our chicken, she eats her – duck!

But there was more bad news: She is also allergic to: Alder, Ash, Bayberry, Beech, Box Elder, Maple, Juniper, Elm, Pecan, Hickory, Pine, Walnut, and Willow! Have you ever seen a southern neighborhood that did not have pine trees in it? Or maple trees? We have 18 pine trees on our property alone. Even if we had the $4000 to have them all taken down, all the years of pine needles on the ground – ground into dust – would still cause Emmy problems. There are maple, pecan, walnut and willow trees all over the neighborhood, too.

English: Baby pine trees under snow in Boreal,...

English: Baby pine trees under snow in Boreal, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But wait! There’s more! She’s allergic to grass: blue grass, Bermuda (!), and timothy. What yard in the southeast does not have at least some Bermuda grass in it? She’s allergic to weeds: cocklebur, daisy, dog fennel, English plantain, goldenrod (!), nettle, and pigweed. We can tell the change of seasons by ragweed here in the southeast. Seems goldenrod has the same cycle.

But Wait!! There is still more! She’s allergic to three very common molds (that are in our house despite attempts at mold abatement), mildly allergic to cats (I can’t get rid of the cats!) and dust mites (our house is dusty despite all attempts to keep it vacuumed and dusted), and highly allergic to FLEAS! The flea problem is under control. Emmy is on Advantage Multi, which covers fleas, ticks, and heart-worm. If there are fleas in the backyard, a flea jumping on her will go ERK! and die. But a bite before it dies leaves her itchy for days!

We keep her on the diet. We tried allergy shots (saw no difference after a year), and Atopica (cyclosporin) – a drug that changes the dog’s immune system, reducing it some to curb response to allergens – without success. When she went on diphenhydramine (Benadryl) she would scratch a little less, but would sleep all the time. She would get so groggy that she would be unable to respond to her cues appropriately.

After fighting with it for 3 years, a number of vets that PAALS consulted about it suggested a 2 month “break” in an arid climate. One of the “star” dog foster families recently moved to Colorado Springs (military transfer) and was willing to take Emmy in for a while. So, off to Colorado she went, thanks to US Airways Puppies-in-Flight program! She even flew first class! WOW!

She had a bit of a problem adjusting at first, but seems to be settling in. She has a new friend (6 month old puppy, Hope) to play with, and a cat to annoy. She is in dog heaven!

The only real hitch from our end (aside from her not being here) is that she still needs all the diphenhydramine she was taking (probably because of the cat). We are cautiously optimistic because she isn’t scratching and licking and gnawing herself while on the diphenhydramine [which she does here], but she does if the diphenhydramine dose is reduced. It’s only been 19 days, so I don’t want to get discouraged, yet.

If she is still allergic after 2 months out in Colorado, we may need to put her on prednisone when she gets back. In the past, I have asked the vet to put her on a prednisone taper just before recertification weekend each year – but no more than that. [A prednisone taper involves starting with a large dose one day, and cutting it back slightly each day for about 10 days, then off the medication.]

Prednisone is a wonderful drug – a miracle drug – for people with autoimmune diseases or with allergy problems. It reduces the response of the immune system down to a more “normal” level. Like all drugs, however, it has side effects – in dogs as well as in people []:

  • suppression of the immune system which makes the dog more susceptible to infections; [the immune system cannot protect the dog, so his health must be carefully monitored and secondary diseases must be treated as soon as they occur]
  • Increased appetite, that leads to weight gain
  • Increased thirst and more frequent urination
  • Water retention, caused by the sodium in the salt, in case the dog has a diet rich in salts
  • Fluid in the stomach
  • Myocardial arrest
  • Oily skin, which may be due to hormonal imbalance
  • Coarse hair, unhealthy looking coat
  • Sudden aggressiveness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Kidney problems
  • Ulcers, stomach problems
  • Colitis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Many of those are similar to the side effects of prednisone in humans. Because of the side effects, prednisone on a daily basis is discouraged – especially in a working dog. It will decrease both the dog’s life-span, and working life-span. I’m not happy about that, obviously. But even worse, if the allergies cannot be controlled, Emmy will have to be “re-careered” into a pet. That is very hard on working dog. Working dogs are not pets. They work for a living. Emmy is used to being with me 24-7 – going to the hair-dresser, going to the grocery, going to visit people, going to Red Hat meetings, going out to eat with me, even going to doctors’ offices and to hospitals. She has been left at home, perhaps twice or 3 times since we were partnered, and then only for 1-2 hours at a time, max. On days her allergies were bad, and she had taken full-dose of diphenhydramine, I would change my plans to be home with her. A working dog and her partner are simply inseparable. Working dogs not only want to work, they need to work. Being made into a pet will be very hard for poor little Emmy – not to mention me! So I keep hoping and praying that the visit to Colorado will work.

Please pray with me on this!

Service Dog Etiquette [reprise]

Emmy gets my dropped cane for me

[I am reposting this, with some additions / revisions from my old “Waiting For the Woof” blog. The ADA Law and Regs have changed a little.]

I recently read some information about service dog etiquette that makes a lot of sense.

Since not everyone knows about service dogs, not everyone knows about service dog etiquette.

First – a service dog is not a pet! A service dog has at least 2 years of intensive socialization and training behind him and is an expert in what he does. Most have been bred from working dog stock and not only thoroughly enjoy, but need to work.

A person who has a service dog has a very well-trained working dog. When you meet them, remember that the dog is working. Don’t interrupt it.

Always speak to the dog’s partner first, and always ask before beginning to interact with the dog.

Don’t pet the dog or make noises at the dog without permission of the dog’s partner.

If the partner says, “No,” then the answer is, “No,” and simply agree with it and go with it. It has nothing to do with you, it has to do with the service dog and his duties.

Never offer food to a service dog! This will distract him from his job. It can even cause injury to the disabled partner.

If you encounter a service dog in training or a puppy in training, ignore it! At this stage of training, they are easily distractible and can have a whole day’s training lost if interfered with.

It is impolite to ask the partner about his disability. If you are intrusive enough to ask such an invasive question, do not be surprised if the partner refuses to discuss it. The partner is not being offensive – he just doesn’t want his privacy invaded any more than you would.

Business Owners

If you are a business person, you may not prevent a person from bringing his service dog into your establishment with him. Both Federal and State laws specify that service dogs are to be permitted into any business or location where other members of the public may go. Even clinics or hospitals usually permit service dogs to come in.

If you don’t like dogs, or are afraid of them, simply put yourself on the other side of the person from the dog. Do not make a scene, or otherwise distract the dog.

If the dog “forgets” his manners and barks or growls at something or someone, you may inquire as to what the problem is. If someone has been teasing, poking or otherwise alarming the dog, they should be reprimanded. On the other hand, some service dogs alert their partners to impending seizures or crashing blood sugars by barking once or twice, and that may be the source of a bark or two.

You may ask the person to remove their service dog from the premises if the dog’s behavior is disruptive or destructive.

If another customer has a severe allergy to dogs, you might ask the person with the service dog if you can help them outside or if they can wait outside until the person with the allergy is through. This problem has not been defined by law, however. Balancing the health needs of the allergic against the rights of the disabled with service animals will probably be worked out in courts of law in the future.

If other customers complain about the presence of the service dog, explain that the service dog is medically necessary, and that Federal law AND State law protect the rights of the person to have their service dog with them in public places.

Many disabled people with service dogs carry pamphlets or cards that explain Federal ADA laws about service dogs. Some carry information about the training their dog has gone through and any certifications it has. You might politely ask the disabled person if they have such information with them if another customer is confused and you feel you don’t have enough information yourself to help the situation.

Places To Go For More Information

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Update: Primer for Small Businesses – section on service dogs

Americans with Disabilities Act: Title II 2010. Took effect on March 15, 2011.

Delta Society

Assistance Dogs International (ADI)

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP)

Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS)

We Passed!

I know this is a bit of a repeat of the previous post, but I wanted to demonstrate more precisely what it means to go through the Public Access Test.

September rolled in, and so did time for our annual recertification for Public Access. This is an intensive and thorough test of all of Emmy’s skills and my handling skills. We were tested similarly to the sample Public Access Test on the ADI website. I had been using that to be sure Emmy and I were spiffy on all the tasks.

We were met at the parking place in front of the Columbiana Mall main entrance.

First order of business – unload Emmy safely. CHECK!

Next – Have Emmy “do business.” Well, we had rushed over from the motel where she had “done business” right before getting into the car. She balks at this when she really doesn’t need to go. Her pattern is about 4 times a day, and her next time would be about 4-5 hours later, so I didn’t. But I did explain – inside the mall, when asked. SORTA CHECK – Hmmm. Gotta remember this for next year.

I told her to Leave It when I saw a piece of apple on the ground. – CHECK!

Next – get into the Mall safely. I punched the “automagic” door opener with my cane, told Emmy to wait – but didn’t give her enough lead, so she was forced to crowd in beside me, not real safe. SORTA CHECK – gotta remember for next year!!

Next – have Emmy Down-Stay while I went 6 feet and then again went 20 feet away from her. She was to Come when I called her. I had her pick up her Leash and bring it to me [SMILE] as long as she was to Come to me. That worked! CHECK!

Next – go through two departments of a store without “sniffing the merchandise.” Only one time did I have to remind her to Leave It. – CHECK!

Next – get on an elevator safely. We negotiated that well. – CHECK!

Next – get off an elevator safely. – CHECK!

Next – wander through a few more departments. Only one Leave It needed. – CHECK!

Next – demonstrate some of the things she does for me: picking up objects. She did this so well, that all the testers were tossing small objects onto the floor. Interestingly, she picked them all up – and brought them to me! I had to try to figure out which tester had tossed which object and deliver it to them! – CHECK!

Next – Demonstrate her ability to help me at checkouts by giving a clerk my money (in a wallet inside a paper bag), and then taking my purchase, placed in a paper bag along with my wallet and giving it to me. – CHECK!

Next – Play “pick up” a couple more times! – CHECK!

Next – Go down the elevator, calmly and safely entering and exiting – same deal as before. – CHECK!

Next – wend our way out the store to the food court (the part of the test I dislike the most). In the food court, I had to demonstrate that I knew how to keep her out of the way of servers or other patrons, and keep her from eating food offered by others. Emmy is a “chow hound” – she LOVES food! Keeping her from eating the wrong stuff is about half of the effort I need to put into her! Well, with some strong effort on my part, I kept people from giving her food, and kept her from eating stuff dropped on the floor. – CHECK!

Then they brought not 1, not 2, but 5 (!) children over to pet her! Emmy LOVES children, and will just wag her tail silly and lick them slimy all over given the opportunity. But for this, she was in her cape, and she knew she was working, and she couldn’t do that. I had to help her restrain herself, of course. But she managed, only turning her head once to look at the children. – CHECK!

The testers stepped over her a few times for more handler control checks. – CHECK!

Out into the mall, get Emmy to Brace to help me stand up from my wheelchair. Then sit on a bench and have Emmy go Under. – CHECK!

As we were travelling in the Mall, I told the testers about my e-friend, Denise, and her hearing dog Chloe. Chloe had mis-stepped on a metal-grate set of stairs and ended up losing 3 toenails. She was out of commission for nearly 2 months! This is one of the reasons we don’t let our service dogs go on escalators, too – so easy for a dog to get a toenail caught between the steps when they collapse, or to get them caught where the steps go into the mechanism at the end of the up or down stairs.  They they would be out of commission for 4 – 8 weeks, depending on the amount of injury! So metal-grate stairs will be on the forbidden list – or at least on the be very-very-very-very careful list! Some metal-grate stairs may not be avoidable – we just need to be careful on them. As I don’t  “do” stairs, that won’t be a problem for me! – CHECK!

We exited the building, with Emmy Targeting the handicap-button to open the door – PERFECTLY. – CHECK!

Then there was “doing business” afterward. – CHECK!

And entering the van safely. – CHECK!

OK! Emmy passed with flying colors. There were a couple of suggestions for me which I mentioned above. One of the testers said it was nice seeing a “mature team” after seeing all the new teams going through! I thought back two years – yep, we did do much better. Validation for me!

Must say, I appreciate the help of my oldest son’s wife who accompanied me to Columbia and pushed my wheelchair exactly the way I asked her to! She was great! And she is looking forward to doing this again in the future! We had a good time, did a bit of MIL-DIL bonding, and ate some things we shouldn’t! If she goes with me next year, we will have to plan a meal at the Texas Steakhouse over on Two Notch Rd.

It takes longer and longer to recover after things like this – extended stress, lack of sleep, tiring out without opportunity for napping or resting. I ran a fever for 3 days after returning. Oh, misery! I’ve spent almost a week sleeping nearly 16 hours a day – about 8 hours at night, 3 1/2 4 hour nap after breakfast, 3 – 4 hour nap after lunch! My hands are still swollen, as are my feet, and my hips and knees are most “unhappy.”

There is no ADI-certified tester in Georgia! I found that hard to believe, but it’s true! Hence, the need to travel to South Carolina for our annual Recertification. And it’s good to see some of the others from our “class” each year – not to mention Jen and the trainers, and, yes, the testers! They really try to make it as stress-free as they can. And they are good at it.

So, it’s over for this year, I have my certification card in my fanny-pak, and we are Ready to Roll!

I Try to be Prepared…

… but sometimes I’m less prepared than others. Like during our Public Access Recertification Test last Saturday. We had practiced and practiced the things we did poorly on last year. But I had the wrong time for our test, and we were late. OMG – I was just mortified!

But I tried to put that behind us, and just concentrate on what we needed to do.

I got her out of the car safely and appropriately. Then we went into the Columbiana Mall, and the first thing I did was not give Emmy enough leash, so when I told her to “Wait,” she was forced to try to crowd in with me. OOPS! I realized it, and gave her more leash. Yikes! I had also forgotten to tell them Emmy had “done business” just before we rushed into the car at the hotel to get there and didn’t need to “go” right then. Yikes! Again!

Well, first was the Recall test – Emmy had to be left in a “Down-Stay” then called from 6 feet, and again from 20 feet, bringing her leash to me each time. She was picture perfect! Whew! I reached into the treat bag – OOPS, again! I had forgotten to put any of the “high value” treats into the pouch!! In fact, I was running a little low on treats in the pouch! So I had to be sparing when giving her treats. Probably just as well in terms of her weight and nutrition status (although I was pleased at out last visit to see she is still, at 58.2 pounds, within 3 pounds of her weight when we became partners).

Then through a store that had an elevator – or two! My daughter-in-law (my “pusher!”) did the elevator bit just fine, and so did Emmy. She “Waited,” then went “Through” and sat down in the elevator, then “Moved” out of the way of my wheelchair! We went up one very small elevator, and came down another, very slightly larger, elevator with a “panorama.” We wandered through the store checking that I controlled Emmy, preventing her from “sniffing the merchandise.”

Later she had to demonstrate how she picks up things for me. She was perfect, again!! In fact, the testers (all 4 of them) were so intrigued, they threw down more things of different sizes, shapes and textures for her to retrieve! But the joke was on them – Emmy retrieved them all, and brought them to ME. So I had to sort out who had tossed out what and deal out the items to the right people!

In the food court we demonstrated how she can restrain herself when tempted and even teased with food (she was shaking and drooling, but she maintained restraint). She went “under” the table (as best she could – small mushroom tables with “X” feet), and stayed there until allowed up. SUCH a good girl!

Emmy did all kinds of things – brought things to people, went “Under” a bench I was sitting on, “Braced” to help me stand, resisted temptation when other people offered her food, remained calm as people stepped over and walked close to her and when not just 1 or 2 but FIVE children all came up at the same time to pet her! Then she absolutely NAILED the “Target” (pushing the button to open the handicapped door). She “did business” a little on command in the grassy plot by the car, and we got her into the car correctly and safely.

All was well!

We went to a high tension lunch, while all the testers gathered at a separate table (along with the head of the PAALS program) and decided our fate. We passed! All of a sudden I had an appetite again!! I have our certificate in hand for 2010-2011! Yea!

Emmy is so smart and so cooperative! How wonderful she is!

December Newsletter from PAALS!

xmas vanner.jpg

DECEMBER 2009AJ-at-prison-copy.jpg

A day according to Casper, A Prison PAALS trainee, written by one of his inmate handlers.

“I don’t know what day it is, but I woke up and my trainer took me out……My trainer took the round things out and I got them when he threw them and brought it back when he said “get it”.  I sure like doing that.  Then my trainer brushes my teeth.  Then he brushes my hair.  I walk with my trainer to see my friends Jen, Sheri (PAALS trainers), and everyone else……When the training was over, my trainer took me back to my kennel after stopping for a potty break. My trainer came in after awhile of being out with that tall guy next door.  I got to go through them doors after practicing “Waits” and “Let’s GO” cues. HA, I heard that, we’re off walking and walking.  I’ll keep watching him to see what’s next.  Hmmmm!  Sniff-Sniff.  I smell something strange.  It’s one of those furry animals (stray cats).  I’d like to check that out and  we’re going the right way.  “Pup, Pup”, oh darn what now?  I’m watching you trainer, oh good food.  It’s really kool now, we’re walking back, now he wants me to “say hello” again and again (how PAALS dogs practice meeting people while working).  I know I’m doing it right cause he’s telling me “atta boy” and giving me food.  This is really fun, here we go running!  While I didn’t know this old person could do that.  Now, I’m stopping, let me catch my breath.  Oh good he said “Down.”  This feels good, after he works the sits, downs, and everything.  Alright, we’re going in through the doors again.  Watch it fellow I’m coming through.  Good, last door, wow where did all these guys come from?  Yeah  I’m looking at you “don’t touch” unless my trainer says so.”

From the Warden:

“The prison PAALS program began this year with six inmates. One primary and one alternate for each of the puppies, Casper, Katie and A.J. (The progam added another dog, Spirit and 6 more inmates since then).  It seemed at first the inmates in the general population did not like the idea of having dogs on the prison yard because they thought they would be using the bathroom all over the place and just basically getting in the way. The inmates who were chosen for the program not only stepped up to the plate with puppies but they fell in love with them.

On October 28th one of the original handlers was feeling poorly and had reported to medical to be seen. At this point he did not indicate that he was in any acute distress and as always carried his pup with him. To show you how much these guys care for these puppies this inmate handler left medical and walked back down to his living unit handed the puppy off and started to walk back to medical. His priority was his dog. Not himself. Once the puppy was taken care of he attempted to go back to medical but his health was going down very quickly. Another inmate helped him into a wheel chair and he went back to medical. He quickly became pale and weak as his pulse was slowing. An ambulance was called, and he was taken to an outside hospital.

He later was admitted to the hospital and remained there until he passed away.

I am telling you this story to let you know how much these puppies mean to the inmates at this prison. It is making a difference in more ways than we will possibly ever know. This inmate’s priority was his dog before his own health.

This program as in the name, Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services, not only assists those who they are trained to assist but also to the inmates who train them at the prison, inmates observing the inmates working with the puppies and seeing the love that is shared between the puppies and their handlers but to the staff of the Kershaw prison as well.

As the Warden of the prison I am honored and proud to be a part of this worthy cause.  May God continue to bless this prison and this program.

Cecilia Reynolds

PAALS is grateful for the inmates who give their hearts and time to give back to make a difference.  We are especially thankful to Warden Reynolds, Associate Warden McKay and all of their staff for their dedication to Prison PAALS.  This holiday season we will especially miss one of our original team handlers who passed away recently.  Please remember all of these souls this holiday season.

A special thanks to all the volunteers who donated food for the Prison PAALS holiday celebration!

Yours in Service,

Jen Rogers

Meet our latest group of Recruits:
Akira and Charlie’s Litter !

Left to right:
Radford, RC, Chloe, Roberta
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“Red” was sent to another ADI program, East Coast Assistance Dogs, in exchange for Sparks.  She flew like a champ and is adjusting well!



Special Thanks to Sandra Gaines for helping coordinate our wedding and paals volunteer lunch.

Save the Date!

Doggone Days of Summer Camp 2010:

July 26-30 Beginner & Special Needs
August 2-6 Advanced


Barnes and Noble Gift wrapping for PAALS

12/17, 12/22
Richland Mall Columbia, SC

Snow Angel Pageant

Columbia, S

Special Thanks to the Name Sponsors:

Richland County Recreation Commission

Jennifer Campbell

Mibbie & Charlie Rogers

Macy Swift


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We Passed!

The weekend of Oct 23 – 24, we were in Columbia SC at PAALS for annual public access recertification. I’m happy to say that we passed! I need to work with Emmy on a couple of things, to “spiff” her up before next year.

We got back and I went into a series of flares. The Ol’ Curmudgeon was not in the best of shape, so we spent about 3 days resting. I had cases due, so I had to work, and he, too, had to work, but we were simply in horrible, horrible shape. I didn’t get any grocerying done until that Thursday.

Then the time change hit. Double whammy! So this week I’m trying to “unbleary” the eyes. YIKES!

Emmy is trying to develop an ear infection, and I’m staving it off with thorough ear cleaning and Momentamax. I think we’ll have to put her on Atopica pretty soon. She wakes up sneezing every morning, is gnawing her feet and obsessively licking her feet and legs, scratching her head and jaw. I was hoping to hear from IAADP about the possibility of getting a break on the cost of Atopica. Oh, well, we’ll have to just bite the bullet. Have to have my Emmy feeling good!!

It’s about stopped raining long enough for the yards to dry out, so I’ll have to call my new acquaintance and see about getting Emmy and her Border Collie together to play. And now, it’s time for me to say good night!

Our Magical Night with PAALS!!

We Went! We Saw! We Conquered!!

Revised (minor) @ 9:30am edt 4/27/09

We drove to Columbia SC on Thursday. I won’t go into all the craziness of packing. Suffice it to say – After all the packing, stacking, getting two of our adorable teen-aged grandsons to take the stuff down to the car and load it up . . . I left my dress and the Ol’ Curmudgeon’s suit at home, hanging in a hanging bag on the back of the bedroom door – where we found them when we returned. {{SIGH}} So the Ol’ Curmudgeon went to the ceremonies (semi-formal optional) in Friday casual. I, fortunately, had a simple black slacks and a black top with white over-embroidered scalloped neckline and sleeves and flowers. One of the volunteers said she wished she could pull “something” out of her suitcase that looked as nice. As I pointed out to the Ol’ Curmudgeon, I looked like a giant blackberry with a string around it, instead of looking like a giant blueberry with a string around it! LOLOL!

4pm KennelCare, Inc.
We napped most of the day on Friday, then gathered up Emmy and went to KennelCare. What was going on there? A giant Meet-Up with all her old doggie friends and the new puppies! There are 6 puppies in the program at the moment – and we met them. Emmy was sooo good. She met her old friends, did some doggie dancing around and sniffing of those parts we humans get embarrassed about, and generally had a wonderful time. Then all the old friends went to different corners of the room, and one by one the puppies were brought in to meet the older doggies. I can’t remember all their names. There was Katie – a little “mini-me” of Emmy! Black and with so many of the same characteristics it was uncanny! There was Caspar – a big blonde boy! He’s going to be a super-start. And he probably will top out about 80# or so when he’s grown. He’s gorgeous! Spirit was the youngest and smallest. She was a black lab, but “fuzzier” than most. So cute. She tilted her head from one side to the other so cute and made you just want to go hug her! The others, Jill and the other, were all just as cute, but were not quite as memorable to me as Katie, Spirit and Caspar. Goodness! Mostly, the doggies played with their Gentle Leaders on to reduce excitement and nipping. The doggies had a wonderful time!

The people at KennelCare were wonderful to us! Thanks to them for letting us use their “doggie daycare” playroom!

5:45pm Left KennelCare and went for a light supper. Please understand that we usually eat supper at 5pm and are on our way to beddy-bye by 8:30pm. This evening was a very late one for us. So we wandered around Columbia until we encountered Two Notch Rd, which we knew about. Went to Arby’s and got their smallest sandwich and some iced tea (milk for the Ol’ Curmudgeon).

Then back to the hotel to change into decent clothes. The Ol’ Curmudgeon looked so nice in his yellow shirt and navy pants and navy suspenders! As I said earlier, I looked like a giant blackberry with a string around my middle (my fannypack with doggie treats, poop bags, etc). We took a couple of wrong turns, but arrived at the graduation site only 10 minutes late! Thank goodness we weren’t the last to get there!

7:00 pm Graduation Ceremony, Windermere Country Club
Oh my! There was a little slide show for each of us graduating. They were set to music, and Emmy’s song was “I’ll be Your Hands and Feet.” It was a real tearjerker. There were slides of Emmy as a little pup learning to pick up items, carry things, get things. Aubrey’s was “Best Friend,” and I’ve forgotten what Yeat’s song was. Shame on me! Steph, if you would leave a comment with that song???

Erin and her family came up to talk about how Aubrey has helped their son who has Autism. Even their son spoke a few words! That was very hard for him to do, and shows how far he has come since getting Aubrey. Aubrey helps him get up, and helps him get dressed by getting his socks for him. When S. has a “meltdown,” Aubrey drapes herself over his lap and helps him feel “grounded.” This is very important for people with Autism.

Steph and Yeats went up second, and talked about facility dogs and how they help people who have strokes, brain and spine injuries, and other things that require physical therapy. Yeats has been instrumental in helping her treat patients. People have started getting up, moving their arms and legs in wider arcs, walking in the parallel bars. Yeats carries clipboards to the desk and does other things within his facility. Now, Steph is working at a senior living facility, and Yeats is helping the patients there, too.

The Ol’ Curmudgeon and I went up together for my 2 minutes of fame at the graduation. I spoke very briefly, but remembered to point out that across the US only 750 service dogs were placed each year, while there were at least 1500 to 2000 KNOWN people waiting. Some of the people aren’t even on the counted waiting lists because they weren’t yet on the lists – they were below that level! So the actual number of people needing and waiting for service dog placement probably was twice to three times the known numbers! Then I told the gathering how humbled and yet proud I am at the same time to have been the recipient of a service dog from PAALS’ first class. I told them I was able to go to the grocery alone – with Emmy. No fears of dropping cane, dropping items. She can pick them up for me! Throughout the evening, I spoke to a number of people and told them about some of the very important things Emmy has done for me.

7:30 pm Fundraising Event Drinks Served and Silent Auction Opens
The Ol’ Curmudgeon had built a couple of “dog-proof cat-boxes,” and one of them was entered into the auction. We told the people that the minimum bid must be $250 – and if other folks wanted one, the cost would be $250 each. The difference between what the supplies cost and the price we set, would be donated to PAALS. These structures are quite complicated, and take a good bit of time to build them. The material costs are high – about 50% of the price we set. We don’t charge for labor.

8:00 pm Dinner Served
It was a lovely buffet with lots of seafood, and some other things. I didn’t visit the buffet because trying to handle me and handle Emmy around a buffet full of great smells is a little much for my hands. So the Ol’ Curmudgeon went up to get food for us. I had some wine and was quite mellow.

8:30 pm Entertainment (Master Of Ceremonies & Magician- Bill Grimsley)

9:00 pm Silent Auction Closes & Live Auction Begins (provided by Holiday Auctions)
Actually, these two events were reversed. The Silent Auction closed at 9pm, but we were running a bit late, so the Live Auction began immediately, with the entertainment pushed to the end of the auction. WOW! The donations to the auction were incredible! So were the bids! At the end, Jen and Shari got on the little stage with Akira and Charlie. When Akira comes into heat again, Charlie will be mated to her. The cost for each litter is $2500. So bids went up for paying for the litter. One bid after another, pieces of bid at various levels, bids for bags of food, bids for vet care, bids for toys, bids for leashes, bids for bedding – all in all, enough bids were received to pay not only for this litter, but the next 2, also!! YEAAA!

I can’t begin to add up all the bids, and I have no idea how much was received via the Silent Auction. But I do believe the evening was a success, fund-raising-wise.

Bill Grimsley (the magician) was great. The Ol’ Curmudgeon takes great joy in watching really good sleight of hand, and smiled and chuckled OUT LOUD throughout the performance! A great success. I was so happy to see him like this! I believe it was just what he needed.

Of course we stayed up late. Really late! Didn’t get to the motel until nearly midnight, and didn’t get to bed until after 1am! Needless to say, we slept in – really late (for us)! I staggered up about 7:45am, got coffee, put out pills, and Mr. Grumpy growled at me. I encouraged him to go ahead and take his meds.

He took them, then went back to sleep for a couple more hours. We left about 10am, stopped for gas, stopped for breakfast at a Waffle House down the road (I LUV their pecan waffles), and drove straight on home. We stopped for gas at our favorite station about 4 miles from home. The Ol’ Curmudgeon went for gas while I went to the grocery. By that time, Emmy was nearly hysterical with fatigue and wanting to be HOME! She behaved very well at the grocery, but I can “read” her. She just wasn’t happy. Went to the car and she leapt into the FRONT seat – she’s never done that before! I managed to get her OFF, then she leapt into the backseat before I could get her seatbelt harness on her. I had to get her OFF again, and then put the harness on her, then get her to JUMP again. Actually, that last part was the easy part. She kept shifting from foot to foot. I could hardly get the harness on her.

When we got home, I called the two teen grandsons from next door to help us unload the car. After we got the groceries in the refrigerator, we kind of napped in our chairs for a bit. Finally, we had supper about 6:30pm. Yep, we were still “off schedule.” I reckon it will take us 2-3 more days before we are settled back in our skins.

Emmy first headed for the back yard and afterward finally collapsed on her “place” in the living room. She roused long enough to eat and visit the back yard again, then went back to sleep. Have I shared with you that she SNORES??? And she also “whuffs” in her sleep! So funny!

So we spent the night with the Ol’ Curmudgeon mumbling in his sleep, and with Emmy snoring and whuffing in her sleep, and me trying to stay asleep with all that going on. Believe it or not, I did sleep. Hard! And woke up around 7am to Emmy licking my hand and wanting to go OUT – NOW!!

We made it up – drank coffee (uummm! My own coffee is soooo good!) and had our soft-boiled eggs with toast and a little grilled hog jowl. The Ol’ Curmudgeon ate ALL of his hog jowl – didn’t even give me the rinds like he usually does.

And so we are HOME! We enjoyed our trip, but we are very, VERY happy to be HOME again! The “Magical Night with PAALS” was well worth the trip to Columbia, but we are VERY happy to be HOME-SWEET-HOME!

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