New Trick Learned!

I know people feel that teaching a K9 to do something it is a “trick” however, Ma get’s so excited when I learn things that I think they mean more to her than just a “trick.”  The last few days, I have learned (pretty quickly I might add) the ability to put certain single action and combine it with another action to make an activity helpful to Ma.  The first item that has been put to good use, is learning to pick up trash, open the trash can (foot peddle action to open lid) and then placing said trash into the trash can.

I am unsure that it’s something we will use outside of the home (hence trash can’s aren’t always reachable since I am a bit of short little girl and most don’t have the foot pedal to open them), but Ma has mentioned that that next trick will be going down to the local college and be learning to target the Handicap door pads to open the door for Ma when her hands are full.

For those that don’t know, Ma is normally got her hands full when Pa, who is visually impaired, and I are on both sides, and she is either pushing a grocery cart or needs a hand free to open a door.  It’s nice when other’s recognize her plight and open the door for her, but it will so much easier if I learn the in’s and out’s of the handicap door pads that will help her in this endeavor.  We hope to find the local state college to allow us to use the few that we know exist there near the handicapped offices so that we are not in the way, but meanwhile, it would be nice to find that I can use others (theatre is one) and help Maw when she needs it too.

Until then, Ma and I continue to work on other things, such as using pedal light switch to turn off and on lights (like the one below.)

lightrockers

Unbelievable!

This is a story that truly I need to share.. just in case, there are those who have run (and I am sure you have) into the same situation that Ma, Pa and I were part of just a matter of about of 24 hours ago in our local grocery store. Now granted, we have had dirty looks, snide remarks and ultimately even a few comments here and there that have been off-color and otherwise downright humiliating when we are all out together. Some of which I haven’t gone into yet just because in most cases, it was truly the idea that the “attack” was either due to uneducated employees for ADA laws as well as even a few people who freaked out due to “allergies” to dogs or even childhood trauma that involved a dog.  But in this case, I have to say that I could feel and see the strain that rushed across my Ma’s face and truly put my Pa (who is blind) at complete odds with the man who decided that verbally attacking us was going to put his in his position in which he wanted to remove us from the store,  and for anyone else who was within hearing distance.  I encouraged Ma to write a letter to the elderly gentleman who truly didn’t even deserve the educational blip that Ma always tries to educate other people who do not know how to act around the dogs, let alone the people who are truly fearful of them.Here is the letter:

Here is the letter:

Dear Elderly ole’ Man who has nothing to do but harass the disabled,

Your visit to Smith’s Market in the SW area of my city was welcomed but I am so glad that I was the only one who had no interaction with you.  I was having a beautiful day, even if Bear (aka Pa) and I were attempting to fill our cabinets with food and to get out as soon as possible.  After having visited this store 100’s of times with both my Katana and her predecessor Sampson, I have never been harassed by employee’s let alone the patrons and that is the one reason I have felt soo safe going to this store to shop for what I need.  There is always that one person who seems to attack and otherwise make snide remarks due to the idea that there is a large 100lb Mastiff standing next to me, helping me keep balance as well as giving me a steadier sense of mobility and continues to be that extra helping hand when I am unable to bend over to pick up items off the floor and even keep me from having a full-blown attack that would bring even more attention to myself …something I do not want or need.

I was having a beautiful day, even if Bear (aka Pa) and I were attempting to fill our cabinets with food and to get out as soon as possible.  After having visited this store 100’s of times with both my Katana and her predecessor Sampson, I have never been harassed by employee’s let alone the patrons and that is the one reason I have felt soo safe going to this store to shop for what I need.  There is always that one person who seems’s to stop me and ask questions, most of which are a repeat of others who ultimately want or need to know some of the in’s and outs of the legal responsibilities for the dogs that are used for service dogs.  Because there IS NO CERTIFICATION for service dogs, I find it harder to explain to them the tests, training and extensive evaluations that are given by multiple trainers (as well as myself) that will give her the temperament of a calm and cool K9. In this case, Katana has over 3 AKC CGC™ (Canine Good Citizenship) certificates and has passed with flying colors.  She only has one more to take, but because of health reasons on Ma’s part, it has been put on hold for a few more weeks so that we can be sure our evaluator is able to do her evaluation.

As you stood there, staring at my dog for over 3-4minutes refusing to move your cart, and I was very courteous about asking you to move so that I could get to the items that you were blocking, you insisted that the “dog” was the issue and how vicious my animal was and he was afraid to move in fear for your life. First and foremost, at this point, my dog hadn’t even paid you much head let alone barked NOR growled at you.  I surely was aware that this point you were staring at my dog (something the tag on her vest says NOT to do is gain Eye Contact with her)… This can be a cue for a dog to do one of two things, play or a challenge that can set some canines off into an aggressive stance.  But the words that left your mouth was astounding to me and started the hackles on my neck up on end.

“Sir, could you please excuse me, I do need to get to the cheese that you are in front of.”

“I was just looking at your vicious dog there… I have no intention of moving until I know I am safe.”

“Sir, truly, she is a service dog and have many hundred’s of hours training and passing her through AKC certification tests that prove her temperament is not at all what you think she is.  She would rather lick you to death than to take a chunk out of you. It’s not in her nature UNLESS you are aggressive towards her or my family. She has not been challenged on that level ever, and I don’t want her to stop so please move on and allow me to finish my shopping.”

“Yeah, everyone says that…” as he started to move forward slightly giving me the room needed to reach for what I wanted.

As he walked off, Bear made a statement, “Do you take us as morons?  What kind of person would bring in a violent or aggressive dog into a public environment and risk not only hurting others but hurting themselves?”

“Get in line!” said the old coot.

At this point, Ma was shaking. I couldn’t tell whether it was because she

The elderly man’s sarcastic response was enough to send me off as the conversation continued to go something like this:

 

Pa:  You do realize it’s ass****s like you that ruin the day for people like us who use an animal such as this to have normal lives.

Ma: You know, it’s people like you that have very much turned my head to the teachings that taught me to ‘respect my elders’ but in this case, you have tested me, and the theory in which that you deserve any type of respect I hope you feel better, harassing two people who are both disabled and ultimately have a K9 assistance animal that will make our lives more fulfilling and more normal.  I could care less of your opinion of my K9 as I assure you, I wouldn’t let her nor you touch her with a 20′ foot pole.

But as he started to move and Katana and I decided to slide behind him to get what I wanted from the shelf his right hand with a balled up fist swung backward missing my dog by a foot, and my husband by not much more.  He outright went to the physical attack mode directed at my dog and I have to say that if I had had the mind to, and he connected his fist to either my dog or my husband, he would have struggled to walk out of the grocery store under his own power.

I will say, I may not be muscular, strong, or trained in any of the plethora’s of martial arts, but a good old’ boxing match would have ensued at that point.  I TRULY love the elderly, but in this case, I find that this man was impossible, and if anything violent towards my dog, my husband and myself by harassing us.  By the time I had thought to follow him, with my cell phone dialing 911 to get the assault on record, it was a situation in which it would have been too late.

After losing him in the store, we quickly got out ourselves, checked out, and decided that we are not being stalked by a 70+-year-old man that obviously had issues with (service) dogs and their handlers. I know I am not the only one that has ultimately found very little conflict in my past, but I am sure that it won’t be the last, and would LOVE to hear some stories from those who have had something similar happen to them.Please, feel free to write me information how you handled the problem and what you feel you could have done without or done with to educate them OR even to get them to turn their heads and make them think twice about harassing other handlers.

I love the elderly, and after being raised by my grandparents, I have a soft spot in my heart to those that I meet and I enjoy the stories and antidotes that they give me to make me smile… but in his case, I truly hope that I am not so grouchy, and gruff that people find me less valuable than they do valuable.  I can only hope that at some point, someone who is afraid of dogs, or is not a dog lover that the best way to get through an uncomfortable situation is to WALK AWAY SILENTLY…. it truly makes the individuals, including the K9, more relieved in which we can all be better for because as my grandparents taught me, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all!”

Sincerely,

Ma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a Downside to a Service Dog?

I came across this article the other day that was recently come across my normal reading repertoire and had to smile.  This individual speaks of her Leader Dog and as much as I understand the trials and tribulations of a Service Dog, I couldn’t imagine the other challenges that came across the Blind that use a Leader Dog.  You see, my husband is blind and even though I am not personally involved in Leader Dog training, I get asked all the time why my husband won’t use one.  Personally, I tell them it’s his decision, but ultimately he has seen/heard others with them and then has seen the struggles of being completely reliant of a K9 companion and said it wasn’t for him.  He is a stubborn man, but I do have one story I want to share of my own.

Sampson, my beautiful Bullmastiff that for some reason, saved my life twice while I was struggling with my health.  I ended up with a blood infection that shut me down, and drove me to high fevers to the point where I could not warm up, no matter how many blankets I put over me and no matter how many hot baths I took.  Having such a high fever, he also knew that I was unaware of my surroundings and the dangerous part of falling asleep in a bath tub that I could have drown in.  He sat right at the head of my tub and every time I started to nod off, I got a bit fat tongue of Sampson juice across my face and a nuzzle to wake me up.  And then when I got out of the tub, he jumped up on the bed (which was a forbidden sin) but then curled up around me all 150 lbs of him, and spooned me after having grabbed the blanket and covered me up with it.  For that, I knew that he and I were inseparable and he became a huge part of our family.

When Pa lost his eyesight, it was amazing to watch him click and know exactly what had happened to Pa.  Having not eaten yet, Pa, great grand ma, and Ma went to a Sweet Tomatoes for a salad and because Pa could not carry his tray, I took his tray and handed Sampson’s lead.  Sampson was AMAZING as he looked up at Pa and took a step forward each time Pa did, and followed me to the table without the use of a leader harness and even a cane. Pa’s emotions were running high so instead of sitting near me, he sat with his giant head in Pa’s lap and refused to move as he knew Pa needed some reassurance after having his eyesight taken.  Sampson was his safe zone and it was so amazing to watch as I, never taught him that.

So in reading the story “The Downside to a Guide Dog” I had to chuckle, as my new K9 in training does so many of the things that Viviene does to her Handler that Katana does with me.  This also shows the connection between Handler and Dog and why I get so darn angry when others reach out to pet Katana even with a huge sign on her side that says, “PLEASE DO NOT PET!” I still get interrupted and people reach out to pet her….. I am so going to fix this if it’s the last thing I do!

Hell’s Kitchen: My Home

I have had two summers here in this desert, and truthfully no summer is any easier than the one before.  I spend most of my time being lazy in front of the fan at home, and then Ma, on occasion will take me out after she struggle to put my shoes on to protect my feet from the hot pavement.  For that, I am extremely grateful, but lately I have been growing a bit more, and my old shoes are coming off too easily and I need new ones.

Ma and I recently got to enjoy the SuperZoo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, BUT… (and this is a word to the wise)… Their idea of parking for the handicap leaves a little bit to be desired.  Parking where you can gain access to Valet (which by unwritten rule even if Valet is full, they must take and park the Handicap identified vehicles. I always tip when I valet, but at this instance was told that the closest walk was to park in the convention center parking center.  Was a huge mistake after realizing that their “Handicap” parking was limited to the wall near the elevators and when I attempted to park, I had to park completely at the opposite end of the garage and was charge for it as well.  Mandalay Bay, please do yourself a favor and educate your Valet’s about parking for the disabled, as well as the idea that making us park at the furthest turret from the hall we wanted to go to was and IS the most devastating thing I experienced there.  It is obvious that I am disabled, and that my dog does her best to keep me moving forward and from falling over.  But walking 30 minutes uphill is hard on someone who is still on her feet, but for those that use walkers, and wheelchairs… this was miserable.  Please help us… and make things easier for us to obtain our goal of reaching our convention.

The heat has been awful so training has slowed down and will probably continue to do so. We hope to start training up again at end of this month, and in that time, Ma has a 3tour Marine in need of a K9 to help him live normally as I do with Ma.  This will be her first demo dog and hopefully she can accommodate him and get him the help he needs in the best way possible.  After all, he brought us freedom, why not give him that generosity in return?

Meanwhile, there have been more articles about how the public and local businesses have been dealing with Service Dogs.  Please read on as we share these difficult stories and help businesses understand what they can and can’t ask of us when we are accompanied with a service dog and a service dog in training… please read on!

My First County Fair!

OMGarsh!  I had a most exciting and yet exhausting day at the County Fair!  My Uncle  O’Brian and his wife (who I adore!) had got Ma and Pop tickets to attend with them and so Ma packed up a large cooler and all my doggie type things I might need and we took a drive about an hour away yesterday early in the morning.  The morning was pleasant with some cloud cover and we arrived early as we could getting great parking places.  We got Pa a “wheelchair” that made it easier for him to get around, and the people there were SOOOO friendly.  The minute I got out of the truck, my big paw’s couldn’t get me in there fast enough to smell all the amazing scents I have never smelled before!

The first place we went we got into the “plant” and “art” building where Ma and Aunt O’Brian sat and listened to a lecture on Roses. Ma knew quite a bunch about them though and she seemed quite pleased to know that she had retained the information from her Grandpa in his love of his old rose bushes that he always had in the yard.

Then we went off to watch a dog show that was performing.  IT WAS PACKED, and even though I couldn’t see the dogs like I wanted to, Ma stood back so that she wasn’t so sure our presence there would be a distraction to the pup’s performing.  One dog, called Nubs, was a “tri-pod” dog missing one of his back legs (since birth) and wow could that dog run and jump and catch frisbee’s.  I have just recently found out how much I love frisbee’s myself so I did kind of envy their fun.  And they had a Huge Pool where they ran really fast and jumped off the platform to measure how far they had lept.  I was sure I could be competition for them, but Ma wouldn’t let me.

Then Pa wanted to go watch an “Old West” gun fight show.  Needless to say, I didn’t like the loud noises, and I was shaking pretty good.  I am not sure if it was because of all the people and smells and noise or in addition to the now 90 degree temperatures that we were feeling. Either way, Ma noticed that I was too anxious and we went for a walk a good distance from the show and decided that we would wait to go back and find our friends.

Pa got hungry and so we walked around and found his “Sausage on a Stick” that he kept asking for and when we arrived, we had gotten a fresh one made for us.  Too hot to eat, we rejoined Auntie and Uncle in the “Small Animal” building where there was a HUGE cooler in there and we sat and enjoyed our time cooling off.  I honestly think that most of the people in there thought I was on display because SO many had already started asking Ma questions about me.  The most active question was, “What kind of dog is he…?” Ma was too funny as she did her best to make sure I was a little girl and then felt as if she was a recording repeating over and over my breed. Some KNEW what I was, which made me puff up like a Rooster (which there were plenty of them there) and wag my nubby tail in excitement. Others, had to guess, and I think I heard everything from Pit Bull to Boxer (which seem to be normal) to even a mix of things. Either way, I just loved all the attention.

While we were there, a really nice couple came and with them they had a “mini-human” with them that made the funnies noises.  And then, it got really loud and mad!  Screaming and crying (I think that is what it was) but the other “Ma” figure laid the mini-human down and down closer where I could get a better closer look.  Ma and Pa seemed to get along with this couple really well and found out they had some things in common.  I hope I get to see the mini-human again as Ma and the other Ma figure exchanged information and so I am excited to maybe get to check out the human yet again!

While in the room there, there were so many different types of animals there.  There were baby piglets with their Ma, and then a goat (that is what ma called them) and her two 4 day old kidlets.  The ma would bring her nose to the fence and sniff at me, and when I tried to sniff at her, she would back away, so I wasn’t too able to get close, but they smelled like nothing I had smelled before.  There were also a few cows there, and they were very interested in me, but they were too big and knew better, so I backed off from them.  The wild turkey and her mate, the miniature horses, and the giant one, the ducks, funny looking chickens and other stuff … what an exciting day. They all had their own smells, and sounds.

After several hours in the heat, the weather turned, and it started to cool down, but we were on the road before it got too dark.  I think I slept the entire way home and when I got home, Ma and Pa were beyond tired too… they and I fell right to sleep and we have been lazy all day today too.  I have slept most of the day myself!

What an amazing day and Ma seemed to be very happy with me and fed me lots of treats today as she kept saying how proud of me she was.  I guess I did good, despite me being curious.  I hope I get to see some more of these animals again soon.  I might make a new friend !

Katana Receives New Title!

Ma and I had another test. Darn I hate these tests, because they pop them on me and I get a little nervous. But, my evaluator had good patience and we worked extra hard to pass ALL 10 of the Canine Urban Good Citizenship test that I took back in February. Some of the testing that I was tested on was (Taken from the AKC website):

  1. Exit/enter doorway with no pulling in dog-friendly buildings. Exit building to start test, additional Public buildings items are below.
  2. Walk through a crowd on a busy urban sidewalk.
    • People come toward the dog from 1-ft. away
    • Tolerate distractions (people wearing hats, coats, men, women, etc).
  3. Appropriate reaction to city distractions. This includes movement, noises, and walking on a variety of surfaces. Examples:
    • Noises: horns, sirens, construction noise, etc.
    • Moving objects: skateboard, bike, carts, person running
    • Surfaces: concrete, grass, grates, plastic tarp, wet sidewalk
  4. Crossing street: Stop at corner, stand or sit to wait and cross with no pulling (on leash, with owner). Crosses street under control.
  5. Ignore food on sidewalk. (Dropped food, or cups, bags, cans, in which food was wrapped).
  6. Person walks up and pets the dog. May be carrying an item such as a small dog in a bag, a computer bag, etc. Person does not put the bag down to pet the dog.
  7. Public Building (that is dog friendly). Walks under control in building (slick surface, carpeted floor). Down stay (3 min) in lobby or outdoor area, or waits while owner has a meal or snack.
  8. Stairs, steps, or elevator under control.
    • Steps (at least 3 – up and down)
    • Elevator (Enters under control, exits, rides under control)
  9. Housetrained for apartment, condo, city living. Owner may verify this item. Evaluator may also observe in public buildings, or have observed in training classes.
  10. Transportation. Owner’s choice depending on transportation needs.
    • Car. Enters/exits, remains under control during the ride. (Crate? Seatbelt?)
    • Subway. Small dog in bag for ride. (large dogs are not always permitted; know and abide by the Transit Policies in your area).
    • Dog friendly (enters/exits or allows to be put in/taken out) under control.

I hear that there is another test that I have to take. An “Advanced” of all I have learned, and I am a bit nervous as usual, but I am sure Ma will prepare me properly for it.  Meanwhile, I have had some time to rest from training, and usually I am a bit more active, but having some time off to be a bit lazy has been worth it.

Here is my certificate!  *giggles*… I *puffs it up* am Mastiff!  Hear me roar!

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New Title’s Awarded!

I had some testing last week and well the results are IN!

I have achieved the CGC title (that was a few months ago) but now I have the UCGC (Urban) and I hope to be testing the Advanced CGC soon!

I wasn’t so sure about the elevator test, but I had been on them a  few times.  I was quite excited when I got the results in and now I am being showered in yummy liver treats!

YEAH!  I am so excited!

Ethal’s Hoomans

 

I recently took an amazing trip with Ma back down to see my buddy Ethal, another mobility dog that is just a few days younger than I.  I have known Ethal for what seems like years (Especially for a puppy) and I always enjoy going to see her, but this time, I had a bit of a surprise.  There was a human puppy there!  His name is Bradley and he thought he was one of us crawling on the floor and barking as well. I haven’t played with any human puppies before, and found out they are not near as durable as we dogs.  He let out a few squeaks when Ethal and I got rambunctious and cried a bit, but it didn’t seem to make him afraid of us.  I even shared my bed when he decided that my crate was meant for two of us, crawling in there on his own and closing the door**.  I was willing to share, but it seems he has his own bed and he slept in it when we weren’t playing. His Ma said it was a fun time for him, and a learning time for me.  Little ones are a bit more breakable than big people like Ma and so I had to be careful, but the one benefit of the little ones… They always have something good to eat with their hands!

 

 

My friends as a canine come in all shapes and sizes, and as I learn my way in the world, it seems that even Gypsy, the resident feline has found me to be tolerable.  She fascinates me how she eats… And she seems to take pleasure in taunting me that I am unable to reach her bowl of food while I watch.  I do hope one day she shares… But not sure she wants to share my liver treats which are AO yummiest.  She seems to turn up her nose at most treats… Not sure I understand why because I LIVE for treats!

Katana and Gypsy

Katana and Gypsy, “The Nuzzle!”

In the end though, my best friend is still my faithful rubber chicken!  Which has, up and ran away on me again.  I suspect it is Pa who has hid her from me this time.  I heard him say something about my “timing” was bad while the chicken squawked while he was watching a movie.  I am sure she will return soon enough, but meanwhile, at least I can share my bed with her and have sweet, tastey dreams of her and me romping in fields of daffodiles!

Katana and her Chicken!

Katana and her Chicken!

**(NOTE from Ma: Before anyone starts in on the fact that the child is in the crate and looks ‘locked’ the door is only closed and he pulled it closed himself and at NO time was either the child or pup NOT closely supervised by a bare minimum of 3 additional adults at any given moment.
These pictures were taken to show the gentle manner in which both child and pup became quick friends and to display the affection they both found for each other)

 

 

The Dog and Ma’s Vacation to See Ethal

OOH! I am finally recuperated, and so is Ma from her needed vacation to see my friend Ethal and Ethals hooman family.  Of course, we remembered each other right off and found ourselves playing, romping and knocking out knees with our antics.  One day, I thought I was seeing TRIPLETS!?

Ethal’s sisters, Ivy Rose and Leah !!! A pack of Old English Bulldogs visited and boy was it overwhelming!

The picture below is a bit blurry due to the fact that, how do you get 4 9month old puppies that weigh about 75 pounds a piece to sit still?

Not quite sure who is who!