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.”

from: http://paals.org/frequently-asked-questions

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!!!

Related articles

Advertisements

Emmy Retired June 22, 2013 :-(

Emmy is officially retired, now. Son and family came over for an afternoon of learning how to feed, exercise, groom and check Emmy over for health indicators. He and his family are having a great time with her. (Who wouldn’t?) She is doing well, and is a happy camper.

Son’s plans include trying her out as a therapy dog, and the boys maybe getting Scout badges in dog care and training. Where he’ll find the time, I have no idea, but they are good plans! Emmy will have a ball. She loves kids!

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.

Stardate: -310020.30408824136

. . . Or December 24, 2012 at 1:38pm.

It appears that Emmy’s allergies are not getting any better. SIGH!

Emmy gets my dropped cane

Emmy gets my dropped cane

Maybe she will be back sometime in late January – depending on the Pups-In-Flight scheduling. These free flights depend on availability, and the ticketing is on standby status. The Holiday blocking won’t end until a week or so after the New Year. We might have 3 or 4 opportunities for transport that suddenly close 2 days or 1 day or even just hours before the scheduled flight – and the process has to start all over again – before she actually gets home.

Allergies or not, though, Emmy is “My Girl,” and I’ll do everything I possibly can to help her!

At the hotel the first night we had with her.

At the hotel the first night we had with her.

Oh, how I miss her!!

Right After Her October Grooming

Right After Her October Grooming

Nearly Six Weeks

http://turtlemom3.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/nearly-six-weeks/

Three-and-a-Half Weeks And Counting

Colorado Meadows

Colorado Meadows (Photo credit: QualityFrog)

Well, Emmy has been out in Colorado for 3 1/2 weeks, now. Seems longer, somehow. But that’s what the calendar shows. So far, the wonderful family she is staying with, reports when she’s off the diphenhydramine, she still demonstrates serious itching by scratching herself, licking and gnawing at her feet and legs, and “burrowing” behavior to scratch around her eyes. It really distressed me when she was doing that here, and I was hoping she wouldn’t still be doing it at this point. The family she is staying with has put her back on the diphenhydramine (25 mg in the morning and 50 mg at bedtime). It only works for a few hours, then she is back to all the allergic behaviors she has had for the last 4 years, and which have grown in intensity over time.

US AIRWAYS CENTER

US AIRWAYS CENTER (Photo credit: abrunete)

I’m hoping another week or two will make the difference. At any rate, she will return sometime in January – as soon as the flight can be arranged through US Airways’ Pups-in-Flight volunteer program. All flights are blocked out over the holidays, so the soonest I can expect her to return is the 2nd or 3rd week in January.

In the meantime, Himself is performing most Emmy’s tasks. He uses the reachers I have problems using (because of finger and hand weakness and pain) to pick up the small and medium-sized items I drop. He helps me dress and undress, and helps me with the laundry. But it is taking a toll on him and his heart and lung problems. So, cured or not, we NEED Emmy back in January!

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 [http://www.vetinfo.com/prednisone-side-effects-dogs.html]:

  • 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!

Recovery

Having undergone a right total knee replacement (R TKR), I am 4 weeks into recovery. That normally means 3 weeks of home health service with home physical therapy (PT) followed by another 6 or so weeks of outpatient PT. I’ve now just completed my first week of outpatient PT. My incision is healed well – the staples were removed on Monday 2 weeks ago.

Emmy has learned a whole new set of things to do! Interestingly, none of the PTs are very interested in her abilities. They don’t want her to do stuff for me, they want me to do things for myself. Well, facts of the matter are that I simply cannot do some things. I need a little gizmo to help me put on my socks – been using it for years! I also need assistance with getting my underbritches on and my slacks or shorts on. Emmy does that for me – I put my panties on the floor and work my feet into the waistband and into the legs. Emmy comes, checks it out, then picks up the waistband and lifts it up to me! Same with slacks or shorts, or even a skirt. She picks up the waistband and lifts it up to me!

PT gives me exercises to do at home between visits. Unfortunately, they don’t take into consideration that my mixture of RA and fibromyalgia flares the 1st or 2nd day after that. The flare knocks me off my pins for 2 days. Then, and only then can I do some home PT. But if I am too vigorous, it will lay me out for another couple of days. I do what I can, but try not to overdo it. The PTs will not be pleased with me!

Emmy helps with my PT. I lie on my back on the couch, and she noses my foot as I slide it up toward my bottom. She loves to “push” things, so she pushes my foot to help me get my knee bent as tightly as I can. Then she pushes my heel as I slide my foot down. This is a game she really loves to play! She can earn treats for that!

We continue to do the laundry together. I couldn’t do the laundry without her! She noses light switches up and paws them down as necessary. We practice downstairs where Himself has affixed a really large wall protector around the switch. Even keeping her nails short, she can scratch the paint and dig into the wallboard, so other switches we avoid unless I’m really feeling wimply!

I’m still using a walker. I’m a bit ataxic and off balance when using my cane. But even in the house, I put her leash on her collar when I’m walking with my cane. She knows just how to balance me. I feel much safer when she is on my right (“side”) and my cane is on my left.

Next year, sometime, the left knee will be done. And then she’ll walk on my left (“heel”) while I use my cane on my right. Smart little girl!

Thank you, Emmy! You are my wonder-dog!

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)

Emmy Wishes You a Happy New Year!

Happy 2011 from Emmy, Herself and Himself! May it exceed your desires in every respect!

Happy New Year!`

Happy New Year!!

 

Emmy and Me

Emmy and Me

 

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

%d bloggers like this: