Southern Service Dawgs

Because I haven’t enough to do, I started up an older project a few months ago.

A long time ago, back when I first started training Joella, I got involved in a Yahoo group for folks who were training their own Service Dogs. It was an interesting group of folks that’s for sure! Anyway, we realized there were a bunch of us who lived kinda sorta close together and we decided to have a gathering. I can’t remember the date but Jo was young so it was probably ’01 or ’02. We had a get together at Elena’s house in Charlotte. It was rather fun! I guess there were about seven dogs of various sizes (Akita, Keeshound, Aussie, Rottweiler, Beagle, several Mutts) but you know, not much barking at all! And they had a blast. We let them off leash in Elena’s fenced-in yard once we figured they were getting along and off they went.

And it was good for us humans to get together, too, to meet in person and get to discuss our dogs in person. I’m visual to a fault so getting to see what people meant when they were discussing something really helped me. I am still really good friends with Elena and am online friends with at least one other person from that gathering.

My project that I restarted is the Southern Service Dog website, It’s been in existence since shortly after that gathering. I tried to keep up with all the SD laws in the Southern states but states change their websites a lot (which breaks links). But now there are two organizations that are doing a good job of keeping track of the laws and keeping it all organized. I also had several listings of commands several of our dogs had, what we were working on, photos of the dogs at work and play, etc. I really wanted to emphasize that Service Dogs were DOGS, not robots. They had down time and yet all of them would “work” with the cape off. The cape was just for the public’s benefit, really. Anyway, since I am getting back into the Service Dog thang again and doing more research, I dusted off the website and revamped it. It’s still got a long way to go, however.

It used to be based purely on html code. Oh, that was fun to do. Then I did it with CSS which was slightly better. But now I have it on WordPress which will really keep it organized and easier to update. I am basically starting over since so much of the information from the old site no longer applies. Which brings me to the point of this missive. If anyone lives in the South and has a Service Dog, or would like a Service Dog, or trains dogs, or breeds dogs that would make good Service Dogs or has anything to do with dogs and Service Dogs, I invite you to join me on this endeavor. I would like to have regular blog posts by individuals (other than me!) on topics related to Service Dogs in some way.

Interested? Comment below or on my Facebook page!

Fenced In

We need to rebuild the dog lot fence. It won’t be in the same area but on the other side of the house, going down into the garden (or what once was the garden). That means the pear tree has to go. We’ll start measuring soon, deciding the size. Then calling around for estimates. The original dog lot was HUGE. The dogs miss it muchly.

The old fence was put in, wow, how many years ago? Long time ago, that’s for sure. Fifteen maybe? The part that attaches to the back porch was done later. And the Dog Deck was done back in ’09. Yeah, time flies when you’re pouring money into an old house. Which happens a lot here.

We have decided to hire a company to put it in versus us doing it ourselves. We could have a fence party, which is how the first one went in. It was a blast! But now all our friends are as old as we are. Instead, we’ll have a fence opening party and folks can bring their dogs to pee on every post. Having someone else put one in will cost more but hopefully will last longer. Before the limbs fell, most of the posts were being held up by sheer determination and honeysuckle vines.

Anyway, this is a Google maps pic of the house. The red line is where the fence used to be. Well, technically it is still there but parts of it were smashed. The yellow is all they have left and includes the Dog Deck. The pink line is about where we’d like to put it.

Another reason we need a dog fence? We have three big dogs. Mike is the smallest at 60lbs, Whisper is around 75lbs, and Sam at 85lbs. And sometime in the spring, we’ll be getting a puppy. They’ll all need space to stretch out and run.

Yes, you read that right. I’ll be getting a puppy. We’ve talked about it for a while. It’s still not written in stone final (I owe Elena an essay) but we’re getting things done that need to be done, even if the puppy doesn’t happen. Dog fence tops the list. Next is lift for truck. If I am to get a puppy to train as a Service Dog, then I need to go places more. That’s the whole point, to get me out of the house. And I can’t do that because I can’t load the chair by myself. After that is more general house arrangement stuff. You know how it goes. One thing leads to another. You can’t get one thing done until you get this other thing but you can’t get that one done until that one over there is done and….yeah, old houses. Gotta love ’em.

The Pig Didn’t Fly Because….

I finally found something I was looking for! An article from the perspective of the woman with the pig on the plane. If she were legitimate, one would exist. On my one hand, perhaps she is. Perhaps she does have issues and truly desired to have this animal with her on her trip. And that is her right according to the Air Carriers Access Act (links at the bottom) which covers planes which the ADA does not.

She (I’ll call her RB) is upset from it, of course. RB has had to take her Facebook page down. Photos of RB’s face were posted on a news site and people who were in photos with RB on her Facebook page prior to the incident were not happy to be identified with her. Go friends and co-workers! Love to you, too!

I tried to read the article in a way that I would understand her side. RB must be miserable and even more mentally pushed back. And I did try. I always do. Because I always hold out the hope that there was a mistake somewhere, you know? That surely to shit someone really did not take a pig on a plane, faking it as an emotional support animal!

But there are a few things that stuck out. And this was someone who was not with her but speaking from elsewhere but it does make me wonder even further. Anyway, Victor Kinoian, the owner of My Pet Piggy LLC where the woman bought her pig, says she (the passenger) worked with the airlines to ensure the airlines was aware she was arriving with her pig. Then he says:

“American Airlines knew they needed to accommodate my customer, so after calling & triple checking for approval to make sure a pig as an ESA (emotional support animal) was allowed to fly, she received no help from them that day or placed in an appropriate seat to ensure safe travels & proper accommodation for her ESA.”

Red flag. For one, it is not the airlines that determines the seating. The passenger does. Why did SHE pick a seat in the middle of the plane? Why not the bulkhead? As a person who has flown with a Rottweiler, I didn’t expect the airline to appropriately seat me when I got there. I expected me to pick out the best seat ahead of time. I’m not a child. And she’s not mentally ill, she’s not mentally challenged, she has a need for emotional support. That means she has the mental capacity to determine this for herself. Ahead of time. This wasn’t Southwest she was flying.

And she didn’t need help from them. She could walk to her seat by herself. She could put her bag away by herself. Her special needs were for emotional support. If she needed special accommodation to assist with that (seated early to help with crowds, for example), then she would have gotten it.

“After passengers became very standoffish towards Hobey, he had an accident, & as we all know, accidents do happen.”

Um, not by Service Dogs. I would be devastated if my SD pooped on a plane. If this guy who is selling pigs to be emotional support animals thinks “accidents happen”, then he’s an idiot. I know that pigs not eating “slop” must have better smelling poop than pigs that do, but we’re talking about a very crammed airplane. I don’t care who poops, it’s gonna stink for several rows.

And if Joella, my Rottweiler Service Dog, if she had gotten upset every time someone was “standoffish” toward her? She’d have crapped a lot. Thank gawd she just gave them her softest look instead and said “Why don’t you like me?” and moved on.

“What is expected of an ESA? Are they not allowed to have accidents? If my 90 yr old grandma has an accident mid flight, is she to be removed?! It’s not to be funny, but if there wasn’t so much grey area for situations like this to occur, this would have never happen. My customer was setup for failure by the airport and deserves an apology and an apology to all the passengers on the plane for having poor regulation and lack of common sense.”

What is expected? They are held to high standards, sir. They are representing not only all the other ESAs that come after them, but all the Service Dogs, too. And you, sir, are setting a poor standard. I expect my Service Dog to act in such a way no one knows she is there. I expect my SD to respond appropriately to stress (hide behind me, right Joella?) and not poop on the floor.

There is no grey area. It is written as a law called the Air Carriers Access Act. Read it. Perhaps your “customer” should, too. I take that back. There are grey areas. They are there on purpose. It is there because no passenger, no ESA, no SD, no situation is identical to the next. You cannot rubber stamp this and expect us all to fit.

RB could be legitimate. If she is, she needs to tell the guy she bought the pig from to shut the F up ’cause he’s an idiot and is not helping her or anyone else one dang bit. He’s enjoying his few minutes in the limelight while she is at home, probably with the curtains closed. Does she deserve the heckling? Did she really get herself a seat not in the bulkhead? I’ve seen photos of the pig in the airport. It’s not *that* big but it would not have been happy in that little space at her feet from Rhode Island to South Carolina. Did she really expect the airlines to take care of her that much? If she did, then she is…well, she needs to plan a little bit better the next time.

Correction: I originally called the law the Air Carriers Act but it is the Air Carriers Access Act. I have corrected all of the references. I should have known it was too easy and too few letters! Elena is much more smarter than me and caught it. – PaulaO

Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) – web version | pdf version
Air Carriers Access Act FAQ (pdf)
ACAA Summary from Disability Travel
Air Consumer Rules – scroll down to “Part 382”
Another article about RB (basically says the same thing but has more photos of the pig)

Whisper Update

So an update on Whisper girl.

It’s been over two months on the two different enzymes to treat the “exocrine pancreatic inefficiency” (EPI) thing, something GSDs get. Then she got really sick and tired of the enzymes and refused to eat. She’d eat anything else but not her meals. She would either lay down or turn and leave the room.

Last Wednesday (4th), Lorna took her to the vet (I had a killer headache). Whisper had not gained any weight maybe a pound or two. So our wonderful vet started over again, looking at the entire Whisper puzzle again.

– The blood test for the EPI had come back borderline anyway but it can be. We had assumed it was the cause for the weight loss and the lack of weight gain since it is oh so typical of the breed. Dr K tossed that diagnosis out the door.
– Whisper’s urine had a ton of bacteria but she had no fever. White blood cell count was normal. (see? puzzle)
– Red blood cell count was low. She was anemic.
– We decided to do some other blood tests to see some other numbers and based on those, we may or may not do an ultrasound. One of the tests was a better red blood cell count which would tell how long she had been anemic.
– Based on those results, which were even more puzzling, we opted to do the ultrasound the next day. They were looking for several things. Whisper had gone through a heat (yay) several months ago so it could be a uterine infection, which would account for the bacteria and the anemia but not the weight loss. There could be something intestinal which would account for the weight loss and the anemia but not the bacteria. An ultrasound would see both of those things as well as other organs.

The ultrasound results were puzzling, of course.
– Liver looked good.
– The intestines were fine. If she had the EPI, they would be thickened so that dx just officially got kicked. (which is good ’cause that enzyme is expensive!)
– The uterus was fine, although slightly enlarged but not unusual. No infection there.
– But the spleen had an “undefined” area. In ultrasound speak, you want everything to be defined. You want to know this is this and that is that. You don’t want blurry and fuzzy. It seemed to be just one area of it so it could be an infection that just isn’t big enough to warrant a fever.

After discussion with Dr K, we decided Whisper would get spayed and they would do exploratory surgery to look at the spleen and a few other places. That was done today.

Whisper’s entire spleen was “thickened”. It was removed and was sent off for biopsy. Based on the results of that, we’ll know what to do next. Dogs (and humans) can live without a spleen, even though it is a blood filtering organ.

We went to see her this afternoon. She was still kinda stoned but far too happy to see us. She began bleeding from her surgical wound while we were there and they had to do patch work on her.

We will speak with the Great Dr Knepshield tomorrow and know more specifics.

Gumption, Where Art Thou?

I worked hard to get line edits for To Dream out to the editor. And now…I don’t want to do anything. I do, but I don’t. I don’t even want to play ‘puter games. Maybe it’s spring. Maybe it’s the storm front about to come through. Maybe it’s Mars in retrograde with Mercury and Saturn is somethinganother.

I’ve got other things to do, too! I’m over halfway through Perchance, the third book in the Soliloquy series (To Sleep, To Dream, Perchance, To Die). I am working on the next Butch Girl book, even though the title of it eludes me. It is Nikki’s story and the working title is Butch Girls and U-Hauls. I’m also working on Harri’s story, Butch Girls and Stereotypes since the two books are either going to happen at the same time or something. They are linked together.

And I want to get Perchance done and at least one BG book done so I can FINALLY FINALLY get Simple Sarah done! Good freakin’ grief! I know you love that book, but it is time to let go, Paula.

If heavy sighing counted as working as a writer, I’d be famous.

He Was So Sassy

Sassafras came to us like so many others. He just chose us and arrived. We at first thought he belonged to someone else but then we saw his long fur was looking matted, a sign he was a stray. Great. He wouldn’t let us near him. Ran if we got too close. Spent all day hanging out at our place. He loved laying in the sun up on some wood we had but he’d take off if a human dared to get within ten feet.

When he started looking thin, we decided it was time to do something. We put some dry food in a metal bowl and took it to the end of the ramp where the cement pad is. We rattled the bowl, a universal sound for cats. He was out there and had ran to hide under one of the cars. We went to sit on the steps, partly just to get him used to us being outside, but mostly because we were talking about something another we wanted to do outside. We heard him eating so figured in a few weeks, maybe we’d catch him.

He finished eating, sauntered down the ramp toward us, and threw himself into Lorna’s lap. Just like that, he was home. This cat we could not get close to had decided we were all right after all.

That was way back in, we think, 2003. He was, we think, about 5 or so years old. So he was about 13-16yrs old. So he wasn’t a spring chicken! He was on medication for hypertension and a special diet for kidney failure. His kidney values weren’t too bad, but were on their way and the theory was the sooner we started the diet, the slower the failure would happen. Two months ago, his kidney value was still just within the realm of “iffy” but not “ohmygod” bad.

Today, April 29, 2014, we let him go. He wouldn’t eat for Lorna Friday morning but when I gave him food a few hours later, he ate a little. Some other stuff happened and we got him a “work in” appointment Friday afternoon and he stayed there Friday night.

Basically, Sass was dehydrated and constipated. His kidneys was putting out the fluid so fast, his body wasn’t able to use any of it. When I picked him up on Saturday, I was told he should have a BM sometime over the weekend, if not, to call them Monday. He didn’t. Monday we got an appt. with our usual vet, Dr. Knepshield, who gave him a thorough exam.

The plan of action for Monday night was to do fluids again and do an ultrasound in the morning. We left him there again and went out to eat before going home. When we got home, Dr. K had left a message to say that when she got him to the back where the lighting was better, they noticed that one side of his nose seemed swollen. They were going to start him on an antibiotic into his I.V. but did we still want to do the ultrasound? An infection (tooth, sinus, etc) could be causing most of the other issues. We said sure, do it.

Dr. K called me this morning and I knew from her voice that it wasn’t good. Sass had a mass on his liver (cancer), his somethinganother duct from his kidneys was something (she was using big words), and his blood work came back not good at all. In other words, Sass had a lot of problems and being constipated was just the most outward symptom and the final symptom. There was nothing we could do. We were not even talking about months, we were talking about less than a week.

We had the option to learn how to give him the fluids and bring him home for a day or two and we did seriously consider that. Lorna’s given a cat fluids before (they get it subcutaneously vs in a vein). But Sass hated, absolutely hated getting into the crate and going to the vet. Every time he had to go in for something, he had to be bathed because he would either poop or pee (or both) all over the crate and himself. It just was not worth it. We’re talking about quality of life at that point and that experience far outweighed everything else.

So we let him go.

We’ll miss you, big man. Say hi to everyone for us.

Spring Cleaning, Part 1

I bit the bullet and cleaned off my dresser today. You know it’s a job when the first thing I did was grab a trash bag. Not just any trash bag, but a 42 gallon contractor’s bag. Okay, so L was working on her side of the room, too, but you get the idea. My dresser is this long, low thing that I’ve always disliked. The drawers aren’t easy to pull out. Heck, they don’t have handles. It’s one of those you reach under the drawer and grab a groove and pull. Looks smooth but my hands hate it.

Every time I “clean” it, I keep putting the same crap back. The concept or “everything in its place and a place for everything” doesn’t work in this house. Yet.

Today I decided that if it didn’t have a place and if it didn’t have a place ’cause I’d never use it again or whatever, then I didn’t need to keep it.

You know you’re a lesbian when…

– you find a pack of u-joint fasteners. And then find another.
– you find 3 baseballs. And you don’t play baseball. You stink at it.
– you find a plethora of unmatched socks
– you find a long screwdriver, a spark plug, and a AAA battery wrapped together with a rubber band as if they were to serve a purpose
– you see no problem with finding the three items together but it bothers you that you can’t remember what they were for
– you are more shocked to find only two cards, the Ace of Clubs and the 2 of Spades. The rest of the deck is missing.
– you do, however, find the entire set of the Queens Rule deck (anyone remember those?)
– you find a promotional card from Karin Kallmaker with her kiss on it.
– you find another promotional doohickey (an LED light with a compass and whistle!) from a now defunct online bookstore and for a brief, every so brief moment, you are torn as to which one you are happiest to find
– you chuck the LED light with compass and whistle because while the battery will die, the kiss never will
– your girlfriend claims the other LED light with compass and whistle because she thinks it is cool and that your butch fascination with KK is both weird and cute at the same time
– you find another promotional card from Lynn Ames and you stand it up next to the one with the kiss
– you find more unmatched socks
– you find yet more promotional doohickeys but none are as cool nor have kisses so they get chucked
– you wonder if the unmatched socks are like mutt dogs that have continued to interbreed to the point a match will never happen again

I can see the top of my dresser, which is amazing. I’ve cleaned out all but three of the drawers. Once they are cleaned out, the dresser is going bye-bye and will be replaced by something more accessible.