What’s New/ National Marrow Donor Program volunteering

•September 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, this summer has been an intense, busy one. Tor doesn’t seem to do the heat very well, nor does he like wearing the paw-protectors I make him wear during the day (to keep him from burning his paw pads on the scorching ground). However, he VERY MUCH likes drinking water. Which, in Phoenix, is a very good thing. I don’t go out in the heat of the day unless I am going to work, or the YMCA. This Phoenix heat is just not a good thing for anyone. So, I try not to take Tor out in it, either. Still, when I do, he is quite a trooper. When we get back home, he always goes straight for the water bowl as if he hasn’t drank water all day.

I have been to most of the Phoenix WNBA home games this summer, and of course, Tor has also gone with me every time. The first few times, he spent most of his evening watching the basketball bounce back and forth across the court, tracking the ball’s every move. It was pretty entertaining, just watching him! Now, he only becomes distracted from his work when he sees other kids around bouncing a basketball in the walkways of the arena. Which I still think is kinda interesting, since he has watched me and my friends shoot hoops many many times at parks. You would think he would be used to it by now… guess not. He’s just too playful.

Right now I’m just tutoring/home schooling my 2 students, working out the details for taking the GRE test, and planning a road trip to California in November with my sister and 3 friends. So, I am keeping busy. Last weekend, on Sunday afternoon, I volunteered to be the “bait” for Brigid’s Brigade. They were setting up tables at the local mall to get people to sign up for the Marrow Donor Registry. The problem, though, is that the mall wouldn’t allow the volunteers to approach people, they had to come to the volunteers. Sooo, graduates and puppy raisers from CCI were asked to volunteer to bring their super-adorable dogs as people-bait. I educated them a little on CCI, and then explained why I was there, helping the Marrow Donor Registry. My shift was from 3-5, and I recruited many people in that 2 hour period, thanks in part to Tor’s cuteness. I met quite a few really fun, nice people who were also volunteering their time for the cause, including a woman just a little older than me who had orchestrated the whole thing, after being a cancer survivor herself. The whole thing was very fun!

In case you are wondering what the Marrow Donor Registry is all about; it is a program that matches people who have cancer, and are in need of a bone marrow transplant, with volunteers who are willing to donate theirs. There are thousands of people who are in need of a bone marrow transplant every year, and only about 30% of the time do they have someone in their family who is also match. So, at that point, the only other option is for these people to try to find a volunteer in the Registry who IS a match. There is a 1 in 20,000 chance that a match can be found. Therefore, the more people who are registered as possible donors, the higher the odds for the person who has cancer to actually find a match, and therefore increase their chances. And, when you register, that only thing you have to do is fill out a questionnaire and get your cheek swabbed (to analyze who you might be a possible match with). That’s it–unless you ever become a match with someone, in which case you can then choose exactly what procedure(s) you feel comfortable doing- donating blood, liquid marrow, etc.

This subject is close to my heart, as my family (and close family friends) has had experiences with cancer, Leukemia, etc. We have seen how difficult the bone marrow transplant process can be and how it can also make such a difference in peoples’ lives. If you or anyone you know has/had cancer, you know how scary and painful it can be. Please consider signing up with the National Marrow Donor Program. Who knows, you may be the only one able to save someone else’s life, the difference between life and death. Here’s the link: ¬†http://www.marrow.org/index.html



•September 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, I know I haven’t posted anything in quite awhile. I think that’s a mix of just being super-busy, and knowing that if I do, I will have to mention Capri. Which I wasn’t ready to do for awhile. If you are reading my blog, you probably already know, Capri died the end of June. Early on a weekend morning, I realized Capri wasn’t eating or drinking, and wouldn’t come out from her kennel. She was panting quite a bit too. A few hours later, she didn’t even want to get up to relieve herself outside. So, after some discussion and weighing the pro’s and con’s, I came to the conclusion that it would be best to take Capri to the vet to be euthanized. I can honestly say that was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. I knew the day would come, but I always hoped it wouldn’t be any time soon. I knew the next day, Sunday, if Capri was worse, I would have to take her to the 24hr emergency vet’s office, as our regular vet isn’t open on Sundays. No one really knows her very well at the emergency vet’s, but the vets at Kennel Care, where I usually always take Capri, have known her since I first brought her home, and were the ones who diagnosed her Lymphoma. I know how much they care about her and knew she would be in good hands at Kennel Care. That same afternoon, my mom, dad, and I took Capri for her last car ride. Gill said her good-byes at home, as she has never felt comfortable being with any of our pets while they are being euthanized.
Capri was given the absolute best, most compassionate care a dog could possibly want. As she took her last breath, I sat with her on the floor of the vet’s office, petting her head, holding her paw (her favorite thing ever), and telling her what a good girl she is. Even our vet got teary-eyed.
After that day, it took at least a good week before I could even think about her without crying. I’ve had many friends and family offer support and a listening ear. Even though I don’t always take it, I very much appreciate the thought. So, thanks, to all of you.

Fun road trips (and public access denial along the way)!!

•May 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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!!


Capri update:
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?

Decisions, decisions

•May 2, 2009 • 1 Comment

Happy Blogging Against Disablism Day!! (Just had to mention that, seeing as how this is my blog, I would like to think I have contributed at least somewhat)

Okay, back to my main reason for this post. One thing I have noticed since having Tor, is that I am having to make a lot more decisions about when and where to take him with me. I know I used to make those decisions all the time with Capri, but I seem to have had ¬†temporarily forgotten that. I have been going swimming almost every day, for one, and Tor wouldn’t be able to go there. I wouldn’t have a safe place to put him while I was swimming. Also, I am tutoring right now for work, and I can’t bring Tor with me then, since I am working in someone else’s home- who also has 2 dogs, already. So, I am realizing exactly how important it is going to be that I get a job somewhere I can bring Tor with me. He is a huge help, but, in some situations, it just would not be a good idea to bring him, usually because of a health or safety concern. Pretty much anywhere else I go, though, he always goes with me.¬†

Two weeks ago, on Sunday, I went with some friends to a Phoenix festival at Indian Steele School Park. Whenever I go to a Renaisance Festival, State Fair, or any other public festival-y type thing, I always bring my service dog- these kinds of places can be crowded and often difficult to traverse because so much of it is on grass, gravel, dirt, etc. So, a service dog is amazingly helpful ( I have even been to Disneyland and Sea World w/ a dog)! The problem with living in Phoenix, though, is that no one likes to be outside in the summer, or really hot days in the spring. NO ONE- people, animals, even trees!! Well, this particular Sunday was one of the hottest days of this spring, with a high of 92 degrees. Just my luck. Since I planned to be at the festival around noon, and stay til it closed at 8pm, that meant a very long day, out in major heat! Add a fur coat, and, well, that’s just nuts! Plus there were 2 concerts in the evening, which meant- tightly-packed, loud, and sometimes drunk crowds. Plus, the day before, I checked the weather for the following day. That’s when I was absolutely sure I just couldn’t make this dog come with me,all day, in such nasty heat. I must admit, I was really disappointed. I know now that he could have been a huge help, seeing as how most of the vendors and activities were on the grass. But, I just couldn’t put Tor’s health in jeopardy for my own personal gain.

So, I left Tor with my parents, with very strict instructions. My family and maybe 2 or 3 other people are the only ones I trust enough to leave my working dog with. His training is much too valuable to lose as a result of leaving him with anyone who does not understand his training/follow my directions. A few of the main rules I always have when Tor is given free reign of the house (which is most of the time) are:

1) He can not be in his “kennel” for more than 4 hours at a time. Tor drinks more water than any dog I have ever had, so sometimes he has to go “hurry” even more often than that. He also needs exercise. If I ever did leave him in his kennel much longer than that, eventually he might not be able to “hold it” any longer. Then, he would have gone “hurry” without being given the command (not good), AND his kennel would, even after a good cleaning, -at least to a dog nose, probably continue smelling like a place that is ok to “hurry” in.

2) ALWAYS know where Tor is. This is a rule I had to create especially for Tor, as Capri didn’t have to be watched continually. Tor just turned 2, and still has tons of silly, puppy energy. He likes to tear paper, lick the floor, sniff/try to eat out of the kitties’ litter box, and play “run around the house with Capri.” Of course, if you saw him working, you would never know it, he seems like the most well-behaved dog in the entire word. But, ha ha!! I know better. His crazy puppy-energy makes me smile, and I love him for it. It makes life more fun. Still, though, it requires always having at least one eye and half my hearing dedicated just to staying aware of his activities. Otherwise, he could end up acquiring bad habits that may continue when he is working (dogs don’t usually distinguish b/t when a behavior is okay or not okay, which is why they are often just trained never to do something that could be rude, disruptive, or just generally gross in public).

3) Let Tor outside at least every 3 hours to “hurry.” He must be put on his leash, walked over to the grass or gravel, told “sit,” and then he must wait until he is told, “hurry.” Then, he is given the chance to do his business. Like I mentioed earlier, he tends to drink tons of water during the day, so he has to go out a bit more often than other adult dogs might. Every single time Tor has to “go,” that is what I do. No exceptions. Most dogs don’t particularly enjoy toileting on command, when there is sooo much more yard they could pick from, and choose exactly WHEN to go, too. So, if I were to just open the back door and let him run out and “hurry” on his own watch, it would become extremely difficult to get him to go on command in the 5 minutes I have between classes, or the few minutes I have before my students get back from Art.He just wouldn’t be used to it. Plus, then every time I was going through grass (such as at the festival mentioned above), he would probably just “hurry” whenever he suddenly felt the urge, instead of waiting for the command. It’s what he would be used to.

So, there you have it. My (and, in some cases, CCI’s) main rules for having and continuing to have a well-behaved, healthy, safe, sweet, happy service dog. I have known people to learn these “strict rules” the owners of working dogs have, and to believe the owner is either being controlling, power-hungry, too strict, mean, etc. Yes, I have heard it many times, from people I meet in public, to friends who have a working dog. However, they generally do not understand that, if these rules were not inforced, the sweet, polite, well-behaved dog they are currently observing would be a nightmare; toileting in the mall, licking the purse of the lady next to them in the elevator (yes, I’ve seen it, not a CCI dog, though), growling at the guy in the Mickey Mouse suit, sampling the food off a plate of the man we had to walk by to get to our table in the restaraunt, etc. The fact that working dogs are generally well-behaved is exactly why they are even allowed in public in the first place and that privelidge is not something I, or any other assistance dog team would ever want to lose.

Btw, for those of you who wanted to know what Tor’s fancy new collar looks like, here he is in it:




Also, I finally have photographic proof that my retired CCI dog and current service dog, BOTH really like each other. For once, they stopped playing so that I could get a still, non-blurry picture





On another note, for those of you who know my retired CCI dog, Capri, just thought I would give you an update. She seems to be slowing down more in the past few weeks, and just generally a little quiter and not happy as often. She still gets excited whenever I come in the door, but the chemo is definitely affecting her stamina. Because of her new fear of the oncologist’s and her sad, clingy behavoir after IV chemo, I decided to stop the IV meds. Her lymph nodes were “stable” (as in no change) when she went to oncology this week, and she is now getting chemo meds at home, hidden in bread and butter. Still, I’m not sure it is worth it, since the first time we tried it a few weeks ago, she just generally didn’t seem herself, or very happy. That is unusual for her. I am leaving for a few days- not this weeked, but the following- to go to Kansas. Capri will be staying here with my dad. So, I have agreed to have her take another dose of oral chemo so that I will feel better leaving her for those few days. Depending on what she feels like on it, and how effective it is the second time around, I’ll decide if it is worth her taking again, or if we should just put her on Prednisone. Prednisone wouldn’t treat the lymphoma, but help with the symptoms and just generally give her more of a happier, less-painful time while the lymphoma takes its course. I don’t know, I’ll just have to see how it goes. As long as she is happy and comfortable, I am happy.

idiosyncrasies, park fun, and Marley look-alikes

•April 10, 2009 • 2 Comments

Tor has been home for almost two months. He has most definitely become loved by all, especially my family. He has been given quite a few nicknames, even though Tor is already about as short as you can get!! He is know as Tor-Tor, Tornado,¬†Tortellini, Bubba, Tort, Fat Lips, Baby Boy, Silly Boy, etc., depending on who you talk to. My favorite thing he does is when I am not paying attention to him, if he wants to play, he will come up behind me and shove his nose against my back, as if he were tapping me. It is so cute!! I will usually turn around and look at him, which I know is encouraging him. I just can’t help it, it’s soo funny! Which, in turn, often means he will smoosh his nose on my back again. I guess it makes sense, seeing as how my back is so close to his nose! He also makes little grunts to express himself, since he’s not supposed to bark or growl. I’m not sure if it is just something CCI dogs tend to do (because Capri does that, too) or if it is an inherited thing (Capri’s dad, Bobby, is Tor’s maternal grandfather). Either way, it sure is funny. At this moment, as I write this, Tor is laying down in front of me, with his chin on my chair’s footrest. He has loved laying his chin on my feet or footrest since the first few days I have had him. It is so endearing, the way he always follows me around and stays close to me. He is always in the same room as I am, if not right next to me. So cute!!

Last night I went to the park with my sister, a few friends, and my “brother.” One of my friends hadn’t seen Tor before, but ended up totally falling for his cute, lovable personality. He ended up taking Tor for a little run up and down the playground equipment; up stairs, across the bridge, back down. They both had so much fun, I wondered if I was going to get my dog back!! Usually I wouldn’t let my dog go running around on playground equipment, but it was pretty late at night and we were the only ones there, so I just had to let him have a little fun after working so hard all day!

One thing I have noticed whenever I go out to stores is all the comments I get about Tor looking like Marley. Yea, as in the yellow lab from the book Marley and Me. Plus, now that the movie has come out just a few months ago, even more people know who this Marley dog is. So, I often I hear, “looks like Marley,” or “oh look, a Marley dog!!” At first I found this funny, but now I’m just kinda used to it. If I wasn’t real used to labs, Marley is probably what would come to my head first, too.

Last Sunday, I went to a dog show in Glendale to help at CCI’s booth they had there. They were mostly hoping to get more puppyraisers I think, but also to get the word out about CCI’s purpose. I got there at 7:55am, so the two two hours I was there, very few people came by. After my shift was up, my mom, Tor, and I headed out to check out all the vendors in the stadium. It was quite a sight, so many dog-lovers in one place!

I was quite proud of Tor, too, when the show dog in the booth next to us- a yellow lab-was being told to sit. That lab was sooo being ASKED to sit. It was kinda like, “sit? Can you sit for me? Siiiiiiitt.” I was trying so hard not to laugh, Tor just turned two and this yellow lab SHOW DOG next to us, at four years old, was being begged to do a “sit.” I think CCI puppyraisers and CCI trainers have some of the highest standards of pretty much anyone else, and it certainly shows in the dogs, even the ones that don’t make it as a service dog!¬†

After checking out all the different breed booths, including some awesome, humongous, Great Danes (I really want one), I was on a mission to find Tor the perfect collar. He has been wearing the blue one CCI gave me when we graduated. Which is great, since I love blue so much, but I just thought Tor should have a change. We looked up and down every single one of those vendor booths, until I finally found Lola Limited, Inc. Yaaayyyy!!! I was very happy they were there. I found Lola Limited at an International Association of Assistance Dog Partnerships (IAADP) conference I went to in 2005. Their dog collars are some of the most beautiful, unique I have ever seen. Plus, the owner has a service dog who is always sleeping on it’s bed near the booth. The first dog collar I ever bought from them was a purple and silver one for Capri, which she got comments on all the time. So, when I saw them again, I was most excited!

Eventually, I came away from the vendor booths with a rather fancy green and gold collar for Tor, a pack of so-called “tuff” tennis balls for dogs that are supposed to be much harder to destroy, and a soft, silver rubber ball that is supposed to be indestructible. “Ha ha ha,” I said, right. Noooooo, not for Tor. He will find a way. Plus, it is soft rubber, how could it possibly be that tough?? But, when they promised I could return it and get a refund if it broke/cracked, I gave in. And man, am I ever glad I did. He thinks it is the greatest thing ever. It has a hole in either end and makes a great, “moving air” kinda noise when you throw it. It also bounces all kinds of different directions.¬†

I also got to watch the agility competitions in REAL LIFE!! I love watching agility, but have only seen it on TV before, so we just HAD to go check it out! I ended up mostly watching the beginners, which was fun. The dogs and their people were trying to get through the different obstacles in a certain pattern, and the dogs would often end up going back to do something again, simply because they thought it was fun. Or, the dog would start wandering around the course sniffing things, having not idea that they were being timed. So cute. Tor had tons of energy, I think it might be really fun to try his out on an agility course. He has the smarts and the want to please and obey. He would probably have tons of fun, not to mention it would keep those brain synapses a-workin.

If you have never seen agility before, check out this youtube link. It is pretty cool, the weave poles are my very favorite to watch!!

luckiest working dog ever

•March 24, 2009 • 1 Comment

Tor is officially the luckiest dog ever. How many other dogs get to go to a broadway show? On Sunday evening, I went to ASU’s Gammage Auditorium to see Rent. Although Tor was kinda wiggly, and kept watching people, he was still very good. We sat 3 rows from the front, on the very end in front of the huge speakers. Considering that Rent is a musical, there were many times that it was very loud. I loved watching the musical, since I have only seen it as a movie before. Plus, three of the actors in it were from the movie, which made it even more fun! Other than Tor’s inquisitiveness as to what everyone was doing, he was great. He got up once or twice, but I leaned down by his ear and told him, “don’t, down” and he went right back down, with his chin on my feet. I had Tor start out with his head facing away from the stage, but slowly he seemed to turn himself around once in awhile, or look back at the actors. He found them most interesting! During intermission, Tor got to go out to the GRASS and “hurry,” which he thought was the best. I think he has a new-found appreciation of grass. After the show, I met a couple who has one of CCI’s released dogs, who developed Valley Fever. They were pretty excited to see a CCI service dog, so I released Tor and let them pet him. I am sure it is disappointing when puppyraisers raise a CCI puppy and it doesn’t end up making it as a working dog, since that is their primary reason for puppyraising. But, I don’t think I totally grasped how disappointing it could be for some until that day. However, at the same time, I am very glad CCI doesn’t make dogs work if they aren’t in good health or if they don’t want to.

Speaking of CCI dogs who don’t have a job, Capri has been enjoying staying home. I took her to chemo last Friday. When she got out of my truck she actually seemed pretty excited to be at the oncologist’s office. She wasn’t very happy to see me leave, but I know once she can’t see me she’s much more herself. This past week or so, Capri has gotten much quieter, been sleeping more, and even becoming more snuggly. As I write this, she is sleeping on the couch next to me, always her favorite spot. I shared Capri’s changes in energy with the oncologist, and found out later that day that her lymph nodes are getting larger, especially the ones in the neck area. They also mentioned that Capri is starting to hesitate and pout when she is poked for her blood draw and then at least once more for the IV. So, since the chemo seems to not be working like it used to, and Capri is finding all the needles so unpleasant, I have decided to stop the IV chemo. I just feel her last few weeks and/or months of life don’t need added discomfort. If it is possible to find pill-based chemo she can take at home, that is effective, that will be the plan. Two days after chemo, some of Capri’s energy did come back, and she even played with Tor outside for awhile. So, hopefully, she will continue to have some of that playful energy for awhile. If anyone can get Capri to play, it is Tor! Those two looovveee each other!

P.S. If you have never seen any of Ron Burns’ paintings (mostly dogs, some cats) there is a link on the right side of this page, under “blogroll.” I would definitely suggest checking it out. He did a huge, bright painting of a CCI dog a few years ago, in it’s blue working vest. I got to see it in real-life awhile back in a studio in Scottsdale. I think his paintings are absolutely amazing!!

More “hurry” issues

•March 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Something I just realized today. CCI grinds into graduates about how we should always pick up after our dog when they “go hurry.” Well, I have found myself in some very inconvenient places lately, with no outdoor garbage cans around. I do pick up whatever Tor leaves, but then comes the question of where to deposit it. Hmmmm… can’t leave it on the ground-not even in a bag, can’t put the bag in the car very long if you have a sense of smell, can’t put it in the trash can a foot away from a store entrance. Soooo… this is gonna sound bad. But, what can I say, at least I am trying- I have been known to put the tied bags in the bed of my truck a few times. Ok, so the few times I have done this, I usually found a place rather quickly to throw it away. Well, this week I haven’t been lucky enough to find a trash can outdoors; not at the mall, vet’s office, etc. Just bad luck all around. So, I have apparently collected 3 bags-worth of dog-doo in the bed of my truck this week. Each day, I forgot about it, until it came time for me to find a trash can again. Then I’d swear to myself I would remember it this time. But, nnooooo, so tonight I finally threw ’em all away at home, in the big trash can in the back yard. And, hopefully, I will start remembering better; it’s just so difficult to remember when I’m so short that I can’t actually see down into the bed of my truck.