Well, last Thursday afternoon, my mom, my sister (Gill), and I all started off on a road trip to Kansas to visit relatives. This was the first road trip I have taken with Tor, other than our 8 hours driving home from the training center. He did extremely well, and is a great little traveller. I expected that, with all his energy, he would have a difficult time staying still in the car for 6-12 hours a day- but he was better than any of the humans!! On just about every rest we took, I took him in the restrooms with me, if no other reason just so he could stretch him legs, and then gave him a chance to “hurry.” I think my sister even got a little closer to him, since she was sitting in the backseat about half the time, which is where Tor was. When we stopped at a gas station for about 1 1/2 hours to wait out a tornado in Oklahoma, Tor still did great. Us humans resorted to coloring Disney princess bookmarks from the gas station and making videos of ourselves. Because we apparently don’t have as much patience as Tor- we just couldn’t sit still doing nothing for that long.
On our trip, we stayed in 3 different hotel rooms, all of which Tor did just fine in. I usually sleep with Capri on my bed, but since we didn’t bring her, I let Tor on my bed. I think he has slept on my bed maybe 2 other times, so I am not especially used to the different sleeping habits between Capri and Tor. Well, for one, when I tell Tor “jump,” he sails rather ungracefully into the air, and, more often than not, lands ON me, instead of NEXT TO me in bed. Which, of course, causes me first to exclaim, “ugh!!” rather loudly as the air is forced out of my chest, and then, when I get my breath back, I am generally sent into gails of laughter. No joke; it happens almost every time. I am beginning to think he is just doing it on purpose. Of course, when sharing a hotel room with my mom and sister, this can cause a little bit of a problem, since I am usually the last one to go to sleep. They will be in a deep sleep, and then suddenly, are woken up by my Tor-just jumped-straight-on-me noises. But, hey, Tor loves to snuggle. I mean-LOVES to. So, I am very happy about that and more than willing to share my bed with him. Plus- he’s extremely warm.
First thing in the mornings, I would wake up, put my sweatshirt on- like I used to when I was at NAU- so that my PJs weren’t quite THAT obvious, and run outside the hotel to let Tor “hurry.” Then, after I was all ready for the day, while I waited for the rest of my family, I always took Tor outside and would take him for a run around the hotel parking lot. I would have him do laps until either I was tired, or it was time to leave. He just really needs the chance to get energy out on trips, since he spends so much time laying down, not moving a whole lot.
At my aunt and unlce’s house in Kansas, Tor got to get up close and personal with their cows, calves, horses, 4 cats, 2 little dogs, and a 4-wheeler. Through it all, he did pretty well. The first time he met the horses, he was unsure about them, not wanting to get very close- and actually backing up. But, the next night we went back and he seemed to do better. The cows, on the other hand, well-he just thinks they are absolutely FASCINATING!! But, hey- so do I. I mean, it’s not that often a city girl such a I gets to get so close to cows that I can pet them. And when they made noise- OH MY GOSH, Tor though that was even better! Too bad we couldn’t fit a cow in our backyard. That could be kinda fun :-)
Well, I had a very fun time with my mom’s side of the family, some of whom I haven’t seen in many years. And, everyone got to meet Tor, who was only previously known via this blog. He made just about everyone fall in love with him, but I think my little 5 year old cousin takes the prize as “most-enamored-with-Tor.” I think part of it was that he was so amazed to finally be holding the leash of a dog that would actually listen to him give commands. He spent quite a bit of time running Tor through “sit” and “down” until I was sure Tor was probably just going to protest, simply based on the fact that he was tired of going up and down so much. But, no, Tor was more than good with my little cousin and even “listened” to him read a Clifford book. I just had to follow after so that when Tor was told to “sit,” he didn’t just sit there all night, waiting to be released from the implied “stay” that goes along with the sit command.
I didn’t let Tor off leash very much at my aunt and uncle’s house, just because I know how much trouble Tor can get into, even when I THINK I am watching him. However, late one evening, he was given a little time off leash to play inside. Jackie and Todd, the resident dogs, were sweet enough to let Tor borrow their toys since Tor had already flattened the tennis ball I had brought for him. He became especially partial to a certain stuffed John Deere tractor toy, which he kept convincing people to throw across the room for him. He had a hard time giving that toy up, for sure. I think I’m gonna have to find one like it online, since I’ve never seen it in stores here in Arizona. Hmm.. maybe it’s a country thing?
On our drive back from Kansas, our first day, we spent about 10 hours in the car, not stopping for the night until we got to Albuquerque, NM. About 40 miles before we got to Albuquerque, we made our last bathroom break at a Phillip’s 66. It was probably around 8pm. Just like always, I took Tor for a short run while my mom and sister went in to use the restroom. After, I also made my way back across the parking lot and got about 15 feet in the gas station door, when an older man behind the counter exclaimed, in a loud, firm voice, “no pets!!” It completely surprised me. I have only run into a public access problem 2 other times, and then after a 1-2 sentence conversation, I was let in, although sometimes begrudgingly. This guy, though, was different. He just kept repeating- NO PETS. I tried to tell him Tor was not a pet, but he just wouldn’t listen. He didn’t WANT to listen and wouldn’t even give me a chance to talk. I finally pulled out my public access card I got from CCI (and have never had to use before, since it is not required by law), and tried to show it to him, but he just turned his head and refused to look at it. At one point during my discussion/argument with him, he asked, “is it a dog?” I said yes, of course, he is a dog (I would have liked to have said- UH, DUH, SMART-ASS, but then that would not have been very polite, now, would it?). His response was, “well, then it is a pet. NO PETS. Look at the sign on the door.” Then, he came around from behind the counter and proceeded to stand about 2 feet in front of me. That’s when I started to feel a little scared. If I hadn’t known my family was in the restrooms, I probably would have just left. But, hey- I had to pee- BAD!! And you don’t mess with me when I have been in a car ALL DAY and have to pee like none other. I was then told that I could take him outside and have someone hold Tor’s leash while I went to the bathroom. Riiiight. Like THAT was gonna happen. Because apparently disabled people don’t ever go anywhere by themselves. So, I told him what he was doing was against the law and that it would be fine with me if he called the police to settle this thing. He didn’t want to. So, I suggested I call the police and proceeded to reach for my cell phone. Crap, I’d left it in the car. Just my luck! Well, just about then, as I am mentioning that I could call the police, my mom comes walking out of the restroom. Apparently she could tell something was up just by looking at my face. He repeated, “no pets,” and my mom then told him Tor was not a pet. No such luck. So, my mom-and soon after that, my sister- tried to deal with this guy, while Tor and I went to the bathroom. I was so upset and angry, I was shaking all over. I hadn’t been that angry in quite awhile. I mean, I didn’t yell or become real threatening, but still, I was certainly not going to just give in and leave, letting this guy totally violate the law. Plus— I HAD TO PEE!!
Well, when I came back out the guy refused to look at me, and even when my sister and mom bought some drinks for the road, he wouldn’t even look at them while he rang them up. I’m guessing he was rather embarrassed, but, in my opinion, he SHOULD have been. Heck, my sister even (very nicely and politely) read him the exact wording from the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) saying I could have my “assistance dog” with me in “any place open to the public,” straight from the back of my public access card. Which got absolutely no response. So, there you have it. This no-name man without a name tag completely harassed me to the point of being afraid- which is not easy to do. I learned a little more about how to deal with people who think they can tell me I can’t bring my working dog with me. All around, quite an important lesson, and this incident WILL be reported to CCI, and ADI (Assistance Dogs International)), which I am also a member of. It is now my mission to make sure Phillips 66 gas stations have educated ALL of their employees about assistance dog access issues. And, I am hoping this continues to be the worst public access experience I have, as I do not wish to go through something like this again. But, hey, I must admit- it IS a rather amusing story to tell :-)
In the way of pictures, I wanted to put 2 up here, but both of them are vertical photos, and apparently the free version of wordpress blogs will only allow horizontal photos. I tried a few times, but it just keeps turning Tor sideways, which looks really funny. So instead, here is a link to my facebook photosfrom my Kansas trip. It’s a public link, to my Kansas photo album, ONLY. You do not need to join facebook in order to view them, and I even tried it out myself to make sure it works!!
This past Thursday, Capri had another oncology appointment. Everyone seems to notice how Capri has changed lately. She has been having a 3-week cycle of feeling not very well for 2 weeks and then feeling okay for one week. We can all see it. She lays around on the couch all day, and sometimes doesn’t even get up to come greet people when we come home. That’s very unusual for her. So, after consulting with her oncologist, I was given a few options; keep giving her oral chemo- and let her keep feeling not very well, go back to IV chemo- which Capri really doesn’t like anymore and still has quite a few “bad” days while on, or just give her Prednisone and let “nature” run it’s course-AKA, the lymphoma will take over. Rather quickly. I know she has not had “normal” sized lymph nodes for quite awhile, but at least they had not gotten any bigger, since she has been on chemo. That is- until lately. But, I really don’t see the point in making Capri go through chemo anymore if it is getting to the point that she finds it so uncomfortable, and the side effects keep her from enjoying life. It seems like more than half the time, she is just simply existing, rather than happy. And I don’t want that for her, I want her to be happy and comfortable for as long as possible. If any dogs deserves that, it is Capri, after all of her dedicated working years she has given to me.
So, I have chosen the Prednisone option. For me, making this decision has been a real reality check. It was extremely difficult. Yet, in the end, I know it was for the right reasons. As of yesterday, Capri has been taking Prednisone twice a day. Already, I can see her perking up a little, being a bit more active and just generally seeming happier. For me, this affirms that my choice, although very difficult, was the right thing to do. On this treatment, she has been given 1-2 months to live. That’s the hardest part, knowing she won’t be around much longer, but, hey- she is feeling better already. What more can I ask for in such a situation as this?