We’re Back & We Passed Our PAT!

26th June 2016

Hi everyone

Sorry it’s been such a long time since my last post, both my Person and I have been really busy.

Here’s a brief update of what’s happened in the last few months:

My Person and I are enjoying living in our new apartment, it’s nice to have the freedom. We haven’t had any problems so far, it’s been great.

My Person is doing a cert 3 in dog behaviour and training so that she can become a dog trainer in the future. She will also be starting a small business management course so that she will be able to start her own business.

That’s pretty much it. My Person has been studying and I have been training, I have competed in my first agility trial and I’ll be going in another in July.

I know it doesn’t sound like a lot has been going on but we just haven’t been able to find the time to sit down and post updates lately. Our deepest apologies.

Anyway,

Today was a very big day for my Person and I, over the past year we have been writing about my service dog training adventures and today I did my PAT (public access test).

I PASSED WITH FLYING COLOURS

The assessors were thrilled with my progress, and they thought it was really cute when I picked up my lead and carried it to my person while doing the recall.

Obviously my training won’t end here. There are still a lot of things I need to work on, like taking public transport and flying in an airplane. And I still get a little excited when I see other dogs, especially when they want to play with me, but I am a lot better and I’m getting better everyday.

So I will try to post more regular updates, on my training and my Person’s training.

Thanks 🙂

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Super Mega Exciting (and Terrifying) News!

27th January

Today we got some super exciting (and a little scary) news. My Person and I are still at Father’s house until mid-February, but when we get home we are MOVING OUT!

My Person has wanted to move out for a while but found it difficult because of a number of reasons. Anxiety being one of the biggest, but also a financial factor. We were lucky enough to get a Youth Allowance which will cover the rent and should still have enough left over to live on. My Person is studying at the moment (through TAFE) so that means she doesn’t have enough energy left to get a job, even a part-time one. But we are definitely working on it!

With the financial factor pretty much covered it was just the anxiety we needed to address. That’s where I come in. With me around my Person is never alone, I alert her to any weird noises and bark whenever a stranger comes to the door. So there is no need for my Person to be scared anymore.

The place we will be moving to is only small. It has two bed rooms but one will be for an office, there is a lounge room that will also be my dining area, a kitchen, and bathroom/laundry. There is a backyard and a clothes line. They allow pets and the rent is very reasonable.

It is still close by Mother’s house so that if anything goes wrong there is someone close by, but still far enough away for my Person to be completely independent.

My Person and I are very excited, though a little nervous. It’s a very big step for my Person but it is a good one, and probably the second one in getting her life back on track (getting me was the first one 🙂 ). We are also considering getting a cat because I get a bit lonely when I don’t have animal friends around, I’m so used to having cats and dogs and puppies around all the time, but we are still debating this.

When we move in we will be sure to post some photos.

Australia Day 2016

26th January

Today is Australia Day, or Invasion Day. But whatever your point of view Australia has a lot to celebrate. We certainly wouldn’t want to live anywhere else 🙂

The celebrations started early today, around 8AM. My Person and I only woke up at 7:45AM which gave us only fifteen minutes to get dressed and set up outside for the traditional Australia Day BBQ.

We had a lot of people over. Our Canadian neighbours and Irish neighbours, and some other Irish friends of theirs and some other family friends too.

There was a lot of food and drinks. The drinking actually started at 11AM but that is perfectly acceptable on Australia day, and it continued well into the night. There were all sorts of strange food, that aren’t usually Australia day foods. Like black and white pudding (kindly donated by our Irish neighbours) and fancy sausages (with herbs and spices – not the normal ones from Coles). But there was also nibblies, cheesecake and lamingtons (a must on Australia day).

We went swimming and played pool games. I was in charge of fetching the balls and toys that got thrown out of the pool. I was very happy with this job. We played Pictonary too. It was very, very funny. The funniest drawing of the day would be when someone got “obstetrician” as the thing they had to describe.

I also got to meet some new doggy friends. Madra and Skillos, two mastiff crosses that belong to our Irish neighbours. They usually don’t get along well with dogs they don’t know and I get a little silly around other dogs because I’m so excited. But they were fine with me, they barely paid any attention to me at all. And I was very good, I was on my best behaviour.

It was a very exhausting day, but a good one. I look forward to next year.

Helping With the Gardening

24th January

Service dogs are trained to help their handlers manage in their everyday life. What we do will vary depending on our owners and what we can do is only limited by your imagination (and training ability).

One of the things I help my Person with is chronic fatigue. I do things that a person without this illness could do themselves. Like carry her belongings in a doggy backpack so that she doesn’t have to carry a bag, I retrieve things from the ground so that she doesn’t have to bend down. And other things to help her conserve her limited energy.

This morning she was helping cut down branches in the garden. My Person had to put the branches and leaf litter in the wheelbarrow and take them about 30m down the driveway to the pile waiting to go to the dump.

It was about 30 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Very, very hot. Not the best conditions for a chronic fatigue sufferer.

Some of the branches were very big and awkward to carry. They wouldn’t fit in the wheelbarrow and my Person can’t carry them. So she thought “Hm. How am I going to do this?”

I was sniffing around the garden, chasing lizards.

This would probably be a good time to mention that I am a dog of many hats. Amoung other things I am a service dog, agility dog and a sled dog.

So my Person went and got my sledding harness, a lovely padded purple cross back, and bungee line. She tied the bungee line to the branch and clipped it to my harness. I was very excited because I knew I was going to work. A different type of work to service dog work, I know the difference between my service dog coat, my sled harness and my agility harness. I do get excited every time I see them but I know how I need to behave depending on which one I am wearing.

I dragged the branches easily down to the pile. It took half the time it would have if my Person had tried to use the wheelbarrow, and an eighth of the time it would have if my Person had tried to carry them herself.  I could only take one or two at a time because they were quite big and it was very hot. But I got the job done and I was very pleased with myself. My Person was very happy too.

While many people would think that my Person getting me to do this when she probably could have just dragged then there herself is ridiculous and she should just “suck it up” and deal with it. I am a service dog. I am trained to help my Person in whatever way she needs. Today it just so happened that she needed help moving branches.

Going to the Movies With a Service Dog & Anxiety

14th January

For many people going to the movie theatre is a great way to relax and still feel like you got out of the house. But for someone with anxiety, my Person at least, it is far from relaxing, enjoyable experience it should be.

The stress usually starts the night before, when the decision is made to go to the movies. My Person spends hours (literally) checking session times, checking maps and making sure that the place actually exists. Because of stress my Person won’t get a good night sleep, imagining all the problems that may happen; driving there, buying tickets, finding seats, and the usual public access disputes that come with having a service dog.

In the morning my Person wakes up early, packs her bag and a bag for me (dog treats, a blanket to lay on, my ID card and other important documents, dog poo bags etc), gets dressed, checks that all the windows and doors are locked, that the car has petrol and then waits for another two hours until it is actually time to leave.

All this preparation may seem ridiculous to some but it makes my Person feel better, knowing that she hasn’t forgotten anything important.

The most stressful part of going to the movie theatre, for my Person at least, is waiting in line. Wondering whether or not we are going to be pulled aside by a security guard or staff member and told to leave because of me (a clearly marked and well behaved service dog), or whether the person at the counter is going to charge us for another seat or make us sit in disabled only seating or otherwise treat us differently because my Person has a service dog.

But today was very easy. The person at the counter didn’t say anything about me, they didn’t even look at me. It was like I was invisible, which is the best way to treat a service dog. My Person really appreciated it. Though the people behind us in line and everyone else waiting to go into the movie behaved just the way you would expect.

“Wow! A dog!”

“Look! A dog!”

“What’s a dog doing here?”

“Aww! Doggy!”

The usual.

We requested a seat at the back of the theatre, because there is more leg room so that I can lay at my Person’s feet. And we had the whole back row to ourselves, so I could stretch out as much as I wanted. My Person brings for me a blanket to lay on because theatre floors are usually pretty gross, and I also have a biscuit to snack on.

When the ads, previews and eventually the movie starts I always sit up and look at the screen. Not because I’m interested in the movie but I like to know where sounds are coming from, otherwise I get a little anxious and stressed. When I know where the sound is coming from I lay down on the ground and go to sleep for the rest of the movie.

During the movie my Person can relax, but there is still the mild worry of what to do if you need to go to the bathroom? Obviously you leave the theatre and then come back when you’re done. But remember, these seemingly simple things are usually major dramas for people who suffer anxiety.

When the movie is finished my Person is usually quite relaxed and in a good mood. She finds it funny when we leave the theatre all the people going “I didn’t know there was a dog in here!” or “Hey? Did you know there was a dog in here?”

I am a service dog. What do people expect from me? Should I be barking at the screen, stealing popcorn from strangers, whining and complaining throughout the movie? No. I was asleep. Each time we leave the theatre there are a tonne of people who are AMAZED to discover that there was a dog in the theatre the entire time.

The best part about going to the movie theatre is going home. Not because the movie was awful, or the people were mean, or anything like that. But just because it has been an incredibly stressful 15 hours, and it is a relief to be able to get home and have a nap on the lounge.

 

Catching up on Posts

Hi there!

Hope everyone had a wonderful christmas and new year!

We have been so busy lately that I haven’t been able to do any posts lately, so now that I have some time to sit down and write some things there is going to be a flood of posts from last month (last year) and eventually I will be up to date.

So please bare with me for the next little while.

Thanks 🙂

Accommodation Issue

2nd December 2015

Today my Person was booking the accommodation for our trip up to Father’s. And as you would know from my last post that trying to organise this trip has been nothing but disastrous so far. With the way things have been going we really shouldn’t have been surprised by the events of today.

One place my Person booked accepted animals, even in the cabins (which is unusual). Everyone was pretty happy with that. And it looks like a nice place too, so even better!

But the second place my Person tried to book didn’t take animals. After making the booking online and saying in the “additional comments” section that she will be bringing a service dog with her and that all the documents will be available on request my Person got a phone call from the Admin Lady.

The Admin Lady told my Person that rather than booking online she should have rung up to ask about the “Pet Friendly Rooms” that were available – these rooms were NOT mentioned on the website. My Person explained that I WASN’T a pet, and that legally I am considered medical equipment. This didn’t matter to the Admin Lady.

She INSISTED that we use the Pet Friendly Room, it wouldn’t have been a problem for my Person except that we had paid for a Twin Share room (two beds – one for my Person and one for Little Sister) and the pet room only had ONE bed. We explained that there were two people staying but the Admin Lady didn’t care.

She asked what breed I was and how much I weighed – Why? Why is that relevant? – Well apparently the Pet Friendly Room is only available for dogs who are UNDER 10kg. I weigh in around 30kg, I’m a big dog. Again my Person tried to explain that I WAS NOT A PET and that she wanted to stay in the room that we had booked.

The Admin Lady said that that wasn’t an option because of hygiene issues. What if the next people to use the room are allergic to dogs?! They’ll sneeze!

THAT’S why you won’t let us use the room we paid for?! Because someone MAY sneeze? DON’T YOU CLEAN THE ROOM AFTER SOMEONE HAS USED IT?!

Anyway.

This was very upsetting for my Person, so Mother took over after this.

Mother asked what the issue was and again the Admin Lady explained that we were required to use the Pet Friendly Room. Then the Admin Lady went on to say that new managers were taking over next week and they may have “different ideas” but at the moment that was her rule. Mother said that it has nothing to do with anyone’s “ideas” and it is actually the law.

And guess what?

As soon as the law was brought into it the Admin Lady changed the whole conversation!

Suddenly the Admin Lady was saying that it had nothing to do with me and that she was only calling to say that they didn’t have any Twin Share rooms available. WHAT?!

Mother said that the Admin Lady should check the online booking system because there were plenty of available rooms, and that we were cancelling our booking and that we want a full refund despite their policy because it was their “mistake”, not ours.

This was really the first time we have had our public access rights questioned and I won’t lie, it’s stressful. It is a horrible experience having your basic human rights challenged and denied by total strangers, but this is something every service dog and their handler goes through unfortunately.

Thankfully the next hotel Admin Man we spoke to was very friendly and helpful and more than accommodating.

I’m sorry that the last few posts have basically been rant posts, but things have been a little tough at the moment. I’m sure things will pick up soon but there may be a couple more of these posts coming.

Thanks for listening  🙂