Halloween Fun

1st November

Halloween in Australia isn’t very big, and my family have never really celebrated it. But this year in our town a group who support people with disabilities put on a Zombie Walk. It was a fun afternoon at the race course with games, zombie movies and local bands, and everyone (around 600 people) went on a 6km walk through town to promote mental health awareness.

I went along with my Person, Little Sister, and my Person’s friend who we’ll call Geek-Friend. She is very nice and is very similar to my Person in as much as she suffers severe social anxiety, so she understands my Person’s situation very well. Geek-Friend, if you couldn’t guess, loves all sorts of geeky things and she comes over every week to watch shows like Star Wars and Futurama.

My Person dressed me up as a Houndour, which is a type of Pokemon. There were a few people who got my costume, but most people just thought I was a skeleton dog which was fine.

The people in charge of the event knew my Person and Little Sister from youth and disability groups, so they were very happy to see me accompanying my Person. Especially since I am primarily a psychiatric service dog and it was an event promoting mental health awareness.

However the security guards that worked at the race course who were there to make sure everyone was behaving themselves didn’t like having me there. We were expecting to have some access issues so my Person had brought along my coat and ID card. The first time my Person showed the security guard my ID it was clear the he was sceptical, but didn’t say anything and just walked off. When we came back from the Zombie Walk through town we stopped to talk to another friend and another security guard came over and asked to see the ID we had shown the other guy. We were very grateful when the friend we were talking to stepped in for us and reassured the guard that service dogs are allowed everywhere with their handler and that I was not a problem. The guard insisted that I take off my costume and put on my coat to “save all the confusion” the security guards were the only ones confused by this, no one else cared at all.

Apart from the anxiety and stress my Person had, caused by having to talk to big, scary security guards it was a very fun afternoon. I got lots of cuddles and pats, and everyone took photos of me. I didn’t even mind wearing my costume.

Hope everyone had a safe Halloween and got lots of yummy treats.

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My First Cinema Experience

26th September

It has been quite boring around here lately. My Person hasn’t been going to school and doesn’t have any sort of social life besides me and our family, so she hasn’t really left the house except to go grocery shopping.

So today we decided on a whim to go to the cinema. There was a movie playing that my Person had been putting off seeing because there was never anyone to go to with, but to hell with that! I wanted to go too.

We arrived quite early, because my Person was a little worried that we would have to justify my being there. But the only thing the man behind the counter said was, “Aw. What a beautiful dog”

In the theatre we found the disabled seating, we normally don’t use any disabled facilities because there are often other people who need it more than us. But there wasn’t anyone else using it so I got a nice big open space to lay in. My Person had a blanket for me to lay on so I didn’t accidentally lay in any sticky stuff (cinema floors are gross) and I got a tasty liver biscuit to snack on through the movie.

I was very well behaved during the movie, I slept through most of it though. Even when I accidentally got stepped on by an old man when he got up to take his grandson to the bathroom during the movie. And I wasn’t scared of the loud noises (it was an action movie) even though they made my Person jump.

After the movie had finished my Person and I waited until the theatre was almost empty to leave, it was pretty funny when the strangers who passed us as they realised that there was a dog in the theatre the whole time, they were very surprised. And when we were walking out of the theatre and down to the main exit we passed a little girl, she called to her father saying, “Daddy! Daddy! Look! There’s a dog behind you!” and her dad went, “That’s great…” and she went, “Look! Look! Look!” until he finally turned around. He was very shocked to actually find a dog behind him.

Hopefully this is something my Person and I can do more often. I like doing things with her and she wants to do more regular teenage things.

Antics Of Arlert The Autism Assistance Pup

Part 1

We should have learnt by now that Arlert, like a toddler, should never be let out of our sight. While he is adorable and cuddly and a big help during meltdowns the young Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pup is your stereotypical little boy and cannot be trusted, he is in fact been given the nickname “Devil Child” because of his carefree and destructive nature.

Today, thanks to Arlert, was very exciting – and a little infuriating.

Half a block had been left, wrapped up and buried under a pile of clothes and other junk, on the lounge chair. But nothing is ever safe from Arlert, who is the master tracker.

When the room was empty, Arlert tracked down the rouge chocolate block and devoured it. All 100grams of chocolate, and he also had a fair go at the wrapper too.

Here is a little perspective: Arlert weighs about 5kg, and he ate 100g of chocolate, which is 2% of his body weight. If a person weighs 60kg, they would have to eat over a kilo of chocolate to eat as much as Arlert did today.

By the time Arlert arrived at our local vet he was climbing the walls because of the caffeine overload, like he had just drunk a hundred cups of coffee.

Arlert was fine in the end but he has certainly not learnt anything from his experience. We know this because the moment we were home he shot straight into the lounge room and licked up all the remaining chocolate crumbs off the floor.

More updates of Arlert’s antics coming soon. 🙂

YES!! Graduation Day Has Finally Come!

17th September

Although I am just a dog I know how exciting this time of year is for HSC students, it marks the end of thirteen years of their school lives and the start of their adult life. But this year is especially exciting because, after dragging her HSC over two years due to illness and misadventure, MY PERSON HAS FINALLY GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL!!

I am VERY excited because it means that from now on I will never have to leave her side again! Even when she gets a job or goes to University/TAFE I will be able to go with her! Hooray! My Person, although she wanted to take me to High School with her, we decided that it would have been far too stressful because of all the younger and immature kids.

Congratulations to all HSC students who graduated this week! Good luck in the real world!

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Exciting Surprise When We Got Home

16th September

We had a nice surprise to come home to today, my Person’s new walker! I know, I know, it’s a little depressing to get excited about these sorts of things but this is the reality for people with chronic illnesses.

While my Person is capable on crutches they are not always appropriate, especially for a person who suffers chronic fatigue, so we have been trying to track down a four wheeled walker for a while now. And it has finally arrived! Hooray!

My Person and I are very excited, we’re looking forward to taking it for a test drive 🙂

Training Update

15th September

I have been working very hard lately, my Person and I have had some free time so we were learning some new tricks.

“REST” – this task is to help my Person when she is having a mild anxiety attack. I lay my head on her lap and stay there until she tells me to go back. There are some people who think that this is just something a dog does when they sense their handler is upset – but for most dogs it is not something they would think to do, or they do it for a second and move away when they are ready not when the handler is ready. So for most dogs it needs to be taught.

“HUG” – this task is to help my Person when she is having a major anxiety attack. I jump up and lay across her to perform deep pressure therapy.

Both these tasks were simple and easy to master but very useful when your handler has anxiety.

Since I am a big dog I take up a lot of space and end up blocking walkways and paths in shops when I lay down. So my Person taught me to crawl and lay under a chair, so that I am out of the way of other shoppers, or under her legs when there is no space under the chair.

I was a little scared of the confined space at first but when I realised that if I lay there I got a tasty treat I would happily crawl under the chair.

“DRINK” – this task is where I bring a small bag from the cupboard in the kitchen to my Person wherever she is. The bag has medication, a bottle of water and a small sugary snack. It has taken me a while to finally master this one since it is a very difficult task, but I am now able to reliably fetch the bag from another room and I can even go back and shut the cupboard door.

Another task my Person and I have just started learning is fetching the washing basket and helping her undress while in her wheelchair. I am only up to taking off socks and putting them in the basket but soon I’ll be able to move up to pants and long sleeved shirts.

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