Friday, November 16, 2007

Playing Catch up

I well and truly can't believe how fast the time goes by. I go to bed one night, it was summer and I was loving it. I get up the next morning, it is dark, wet, windy and starting to be serious about cold. I'm not loving it. This is a serious summer gal through and through. So on to the catch-up part.

In August, Sanity and I headed up to Bedford, NH to teach a BTSchool. Here are some of my pictures, notes and posts in response to questions I was asked about the trip.

First some pictures.

The boring lecture part.

Learning how to handle a longe line without getting tied up in knots.

"Can I please eat that little fuzzy thing?" or is it "No you may not eat that little fuzzy thing."

"Oh what a clever dog I am. See me NOT eat the fuzzy." "Yes, you are a wonderful dog to be so strong and make the correct choice." "Good girl, good girl, indeed."

Using a table makes teaching the down easier in many ways and sometimes you start out with a big dog sitting on that table and by the time you get it into a down

it somehow shrunk to a toy. Truly a bit of magic...

In this case, we started out to teach the stand on the table and

the dog fell off onto the floor, got way bigger and we finished up with a nice stand both times.

When you use the right equipment and you move the way you should even a box can learn how to come when called.

Doing a figure eight pattern as part of the final exam on the last day.

The following was written in response to someone insisting that they had flown on Southwest with their Great Pyrenees service dog and there was plenty of room.
I have no idea when you last flew Southwest, but for the life of me I simply cannot imagine how you managed to squeeze a Great Pyrenees SD into the allotted space for a service dog. See the picture for a visual of the amount of space we were allotted.

As you can see we were in the bulkhead seating and the seats behind us were even smaller and more cramped than what we had. The airlines attendants insisted that Sanity HAD to be confined to the area in front of my seat.

Quite frankly, there wasn't any other room since every single seat was taken. Did you purchase a couple of extra seats for your dog? I know that I am considering doing that for future trips. I fly Northwestern in a couple of weeks and am dreading the thought of yet another trip with Sanity having to hold a sit/stay the entire time and both my legs going totally to sleep from lack of any movement. I just take enough pain pills to mask the pain it causes and have resigned myself to not being able to walk at all when the plane lands.

One of the things that was really different on this trip was that I actually struck up a conversation with a stranger in the airport and that conversation carried on all the way to Bedford. I have wondered several times since that trip just how my seatmate fared with the business she was conducting.

How Sanity spends her time while waiting to board.

Here is a post I wrote about the flying part of the trip both going and coming home.

On this last trip, while waiting to board at BWI I did something that I normally never do. I actually struck up a conversation with two other women. Both were in wheelchairs and had been parked at the "early board"
shortly after I arrived. For some time now I have wanted to know if what I was tipping was the right amount to do what I wanted it to do. No better way to find out that to ask, and so I did. This comparing of tipping practices led to some interesting general conversation and quickly it was approaching boarding time.

Since I was on the other side of the rail and had transferred out of the wheelchair and to a seat it was time for me to transfer back and go about the business of getting in line. The conversation between myself and the other two women had been most cordial and entertaining UNTIL I came around the corner of the rail and Sanity became visible. Now mind you, we had already been talking in a most pleasant manner for more than 45 minutes when this happened.

The first woman said, "I don't like dogs and want nothing to do with them."
With that she turned her back on me and that was truly the end of that.
The second woman said, "I have a Golden at home." With that she smiled, we continued our very enjoyable conversation until boarding time and then I saved her a seat and we picked where we left off and continued right up till landing time. We laughed about the fact that we were both meeting a stranger and both of us were "the lady in the wheelchair dressed in a green top".

The point to this entire tale is that one woman had very strong negative feelings about dogs and towards dog owners. The very last thing any of us need is to fuel that sort of negativity by allowing our service dog to leave so much as a single hair behind that might end up on her clothing. Those people are loud, pushy, and pretty hateful in their behavior when pushed.
Small dogs need to be treated like their larger cousins and remain on the floor at all times or, if for some reason, they must be off the floor then they need to remain in the owner's arms or lap. A stranger attempting to touch or pet my dog will more than likely find my hand blocking their attempt and there has been more than one time when my cane did rather forceful blocking.

On the return trip after the struggle to get passed the gate and go through the security check point there was the 4 hour wait for the plane. Yes, four hours. As what has become pretty usual these days, the plane was delayed.
This meant the waiting area was jam-packed with humanity. I managed to carve out a small space and then using the wheelchair as a sort of wall made a 3 sided protected area for Sanity. This left one side unprotected until I simply moved my cane and set it with the handle in my hand and its tip on the floor on the other side of Sanity who remained in a down in her bed.
This time a parent of the brats who were trying to sneak up on her and then running away actually moved the brats off.

Now Sanity is pretty darn unflappable and very solid in temperament and demeanor, but no way will I put her in the position of having to choose.
When a large, obnoxious man came and loomed over us and in a booming voice wanted to pet her, my left hand calmly slid to her muzzle and in no uncertain terms I told him to buzz off. I don't know that she would have done a thing, but I'm also not the least bit interested in testing that theory. I have no problem telling a nuisance to take a hike in no uncertain terms and I would not be the least bit shy about opening my mouth and screaming at the top of my lungs, if that was what it takes to drive a heckler away from me and mine. There is just too much at stake to allow room for any chance thing that could be used against all who use service dogs.

How little did I know my words of concern and worry about the trip to TN would be played out in a big way.

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