Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday 11-30-2007

I swear I don't know where the time goes. It just seems to be galloping away without so much as a by-your-leave.

So what happened to Wednesday? Well, I taught a double Utility class and Sanity did the best she could to do the demo part. While I have some parts of Utility roughed in the rest is very shaky. As an example, signals are almost non-existent, ditto the moving stand. The directed retrieve is coming along, as is the go out and the beginnings of the directed jumping. Scent work should come along pretty fast since the beginning work is already in place. I still think it is going to be a stretch to stay ahead of the Utility students I have now.

Worked all the open exercises outside during the one short window of reasonably warm day. As I was crawling into bed I realized I had somehow managed to forget to do stays. Hope that doesn't get me this weekend.

Thursday was a flurry of lessons, working the day care/train pup and trying to get enough rest to be able to teach the evening class. By the time we got to class I realized I had yet to work Sanity even once. So my solution was to set up "stations".

The big room was was set with 4 lanes. First lane was a drop on recall lane. Second lane was a retrieve over the high jump. Third lane was for the retrieve on the flat. Fourth lane had a series of cones and was for doing heeling in a weave/circle pattern. In the smaller room there was a broad jump station and another station to be used for recalls/drops/retrieve on the flat. In the front lobby area I set up a negative space so people would work on the place command. And finally, in the dim back hallway, everyone was to do a recall of some sort.

For the next hour the place was really humming as people moved from station to station. One of the things this sort of set-up does is force the dogs and handlers to really focus on what they are doing and ignore what is going on next to them. It was great for Sanity and she managed to stay really focused for all the stations but the very first one. The drop on recall is really worrying me and then I have to worry about making sure my toss of the dumbbell is a good one. There has not been enough time to truly proof her on how to handle the off angle bad throws. Goodness, there is more than enough to worry about tomorrow.

At least it appears the slow down and the popping on my return may have been corrected. I hope, I hope.

Today by the time I had worked the JRT pup and taught a lesson I was really too pooped to do much more. So came in, ate some lunch and took a nap. Later we went out so I could get my hair cut. I was supposed to go get a picture of Sanity and I taken for publicity purposes and was just too tired. I'm going to get Jesse to go downstairs with me and see it we can come up with something right here. If not, then I will try to make myself go someplace on Monday.

We started with a set of out-of-sight stays and then began to work the stations.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

November 27, 2007

Tuesday and I don't have a clue as to what my problem is now. For some reason I just don't seem to be able to remember what day it is. First I thought it was Monday and then I decided it must be Wednesday. I suspect the tension is a building as the weekend gets closer and closer.

Started a JRT puppy today which just added to my confusion. Normally I start new dogs on Monday rather than later in the week. Guess I could blame the pup's owner for my confusion.

Found Sanity's reaction to my working the pup most interesting. This is the first time she has acted as if it bothered her a bit to have to "share" work time with another. Not sure why she is choosing to notice now when my working a board and train dog has never bothered her before. I must say I do like the results. She was starting to act silly. I wasn't in the mood. Since the pup still needed to be worked I just sent her to a kennel run and work the pup. The look on her face was priceless. She never took her eyes off me the entire time I was working him.

He is a cute little bugger, who goes by the name of Mr. Bean. Since it was his first day, he spent most of the work time tied to my waist as I went about the yard doing the pick up and other yard tasks. At 15 weeks that really was just about all he was up to doing for a first day.

When I got Sanity back out she was totally focused on what I wanted her to do. Yep, I did like the response. So much for the daytime training.

Later in the evening, Alison came to pick up Chance and as always she made use of the studio to work him for a while before leaving. It made for a good time to do a set of stays. Darn if Sanity didn't pop on my return at the end of the down/stay. It was just too much and I whacked her on the top of the head with my cane handle. The next set of stays were completed with NO popping or even a hint that she might be thinking about popping up. Hummm...makes me wonder if I shouldn't have cleaned the cobwebs out of her brain sooner.

November 26, 2007

Got in two good work sessions on Monday. She is looking pretty good. The broad jump was straight down the center with a good clean jump only to bobble the front in more ways than I would have thought possible. The very last time I had her do the broad jump (I think it must have been #30 or so) she did a great jump, a perfect front and a very nice finish. At least I know its in there somewhere.

Oh how I wish I had just a couple more weeks to practice the off angle retrieves. She is still so shakey on the return when the dumbbell lands off to either the right or the left. Guess the burden is really going to be on me to get in some super straight throws this coming weekend.

I am getting a drop every single time I give the down command. At least I am starting to feel a little more confident about what the response will be when I need it. Still working the drills and will continue to do so right up to the last of the four trials.

I'm still fighting with the popping problem on the down/stay, to which she has now added a very, very slow response to my down command all together. What frustration. I have a great and very solid down on command and down/stay and no drop on recall or I get a trade. This gives me a good drop on recall and the down-down/stay just flaps in the wind, so to speak.

Got my nails done today and so I did manage to do some pretty good heeling. My idea to put her trail collar on, carry the shoulder pack myself and really focus on the heeling is looking like it may pay off.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Halloween Pictures

Bah Humbug on these pictures or the uploading of them. I spent much time putting them in correct order only to have them show up in the order they wanted to be in, which isn't the way I wanted them. Oh well, enjoy them anyway.

As you can see they were taken on Halloween. Well actually they were taken the day after Halloween. We always do some sort of party, complete with costumes, cake and cookies. This year the dogs had to make do with people cookies since the "I'll pick up the cake" person totally forgot until it was too late. I can assure everyone the dogs didn't mind in the least.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

November 25, 2007

Well, all my grand plans of getting back to writing every day are certainly getting off to a slow start. So here is an overview of last week.

No lessons today and so that meant I was able to play catch up around the house, while avoiding the dread office filing task. We managed to get in 2 outside training sessions and 1 inside session. I am even starting to see some success at getting a drop from 15' or more on that most awful of all surfaces. The COLD one. She is starting to realize that when she goes out over the high jump I am going to insist that she come back the same way.

I actually broke down and hired someone to come in and help with all the filing. One very large yard size trash bag of not needed paper got carted out of the office today. The same process is most likely going to have to be repeated at least 5 or 6 more times. Who knows? I might actually be able to find things again. Now wouldn't that be nice.

In spite of being "forced" to do office work for the greater part of the day, we managed to get in 2 training sessions. I am going to have to work harder on the drop from a sit since she wants to launch herself without waiting to hear what the command is going to be. I continue to either return to heel position or require a left finish. Guess only time will tell if it will be enough to stop the anticipated finish. The popping on my return after the down/stay is going to be a major nightmare for me if I don't manage to get a better handle on the problem.

My single lesson of the day was a student preparing her dog for the Open class and that meant Sanity also did the open exercises as a part of her demo work. Every little bit helps.

Two Open class students this morning. By adding a couple of the day care dogs who already have the necessary training we were able to put together a pretty decent group to do the out of sight group stays. Left them sitting up by the front fence and then went in the office and watched them through the window. Sure enough, pedestrian traffic on the front sidewalk was more than Miss Sanity could stand and she just had to break her sit/stay. I have to say "yea" to that, since I always get really worried if things go too well during training. I want all the mistakes to happen while we are learning in a controlled environment and not out in public or worse yet, in the ring.

I'm still not happy with the drop from a sit at a distance. That weak link in the pattern means I still have a problem with the drop on recall in general.

I came up with a totally clever way of setting the high jump up in relationship to the board jump that makes used of the high jump to force the dog to think about making a clean U-turn and returning in a nice tight and just as importantly straight line. Anything to help with improving her thought process where both the high jump and the broad jump are concerned. Will try to remember to take a picture or two of the set-up.

Got my nails done today. As I had decided, I lugged the shoulder bag and had Sanity's special show collar on her. This made it possible for me to work on tight heeling and better sits on the way to the car, from the car to the nail shop and again on the return trip. It certainly isn't the best of training routines where heeling is concerned, but it beats nothing by a mile. One thing that did happen was when she stopped paying attention to me due to a distraction in the parking lot in front of the shop. Call it bad timing or call it good timing, but just at that point my leg did one of it's periodic buckles and I did a "bobble". Since she wasn't paying a bit of attention to what was going on with me I not only bumped into her, but actually stepped on her foot. After that, she was much more attentive. Humph! Guess I really should have been doing this sort of thing all along. It is just so easy to get sloppy.

Spent most of the day either cooking or cleaning up the kitchen. I came up with a great way of cooking a fresh turkey when the smallest size available is 12 lbs. and there are only two people eating. Had the butcher split the turkey in half length wise. I cooked one half and froze the other half for next month. Made a foil "boat" to put the stuffing in and then carefully laid the turkey, skin side up on top of the boat. It was great. All the skin was nicely browned and we had even more stuffing that we would have had with a whole bird.

Even the stuffing was a new idea for me. I love oyster stuffing and this time the way I made it was better than any I have ever made before. YUMMMMMM

As always, I saved all the giblets, the wing tip and some misc. skin that I really didn't need for the dogs. Tossed it all into a pot and did a slow simmer till fully cooked. Once cooled, I clean meat off the neck, cut up the rest of the giblets and whatever skin is in the pot and then toss it all back into the broth. Each and every single dog in the house gets a dipper full of the resulting mix ladled on top of their regular food. Have yet to have a single boarder complain about having to be here for a holiday. Even the pickiest of eaters turns into "eager eater" on these days.

Only managed one rather abbreviated session in the evening, cause I was just too tired to do more and much too tired to do anything fancy. We just hit each exercise once or twice and called it a day.

My Friday student failed to show up this morning. He called and pleaded that he had over indulged yesterday and just couldn't make it. So we actually managed 3 complete sessions again today. I had her do the broad jump first in the first session. No warm-up. No preliminary anything. Just heel up to the start point. Sit/stay/over. It was just a clean as could be and I have her jumping 68" now. Not as far as we used to have to jump them, but still 16" longer than will be required.

For the second practice session we started with the retrieve over the high jump. Again, hit it cold with no warm-up. She is routinely jumping 30" in practice and her ring height will be 26". No problem with the first retrieve or the jumping. Then the next 4 were a problem. I am deliberately doing off angle throws which means after she picks up the dumbbell and looks up, the jump is NOT in front of her. Some of the angles are really steep. She still needs lots of help in the verbal guidance department. Sometimes it would look as if she was going to manage to get back over the jump only to be just a tad bit off. Off enough that if I allowed it, she would be missing the jump all together. Since I have both a built in jump command and a sit at a distance command, I am able to redirect her or stop her and then redirect her. The goal is to make the very idea of coming back to me without taking that jump something she just won't do. It will happen, I just don't know if I have enough time to get it in place before this next weekend.

On the third practice session we started with the drop on recall. She got it right the very first time with no warm-up. I am so pleased. Now if only I can begin to feel as happy about the popping on the down/stay/return problem.

With a consultation and then two lessons I was way too tired to do more than one training session today. At least we did manage to get in a couple of extra broad jumps and one drop on recall set between students. And she didn't pop when I returned on the down. So I guess something is better than nothing.

I cleaned house today. Not my most favorite thing to do and it so totally wipes me out that the best I could do was a short 20 minutes that only covered the broad jump, drop on recall and the blasted stays. Darn if she wasn't popping again. Now I'm off to bed.

Friday, November 23, 2007

November 18, 2007

For the very first time, Sanity went to a training match. I knew there was one being held close enough for me to be able to drive and so we went. I had to know. Had to know if I was totally crazy or just a little bit crazy.

Imagine my surprise when Sanity managed a qualifying show. Yes, that's right. She actually managed to do a drop on recall. Mind you it was anything but pretty, but it was a drop and she did manage to get all the pieces in the correct order. With that out of the way, the retrieve on the flat was a piece of cake that could have benefited from a nicer delivery and finish, but...

Between the retrieve on the flat and the retrieve over the high jump, Miss Sanity decided to wander over and schmooze with the judge for a moment. I was most surprised when I looked down after taking my place to realize she wasn't there. Before I could say or do anything, her she comes as if she owned the world. The retrieve over the high jump only served to make her ever so pleased with herself. That meant I had to be quick, quick to jerk my head back when she leaped into the air with the full intent of giving me a full mouth kiss. "Not on your life, kid; not on your life." You would not believe how fast I can turtle my head.

And we faced the broad jump. I left her. I sent her. She sailed over that jump, made a nice turn, came back to me and actually sat for about .5 second before shooting around to the heel position.

Stays were just stays, but for the fact that she actually popped up as I got back to her. This is something that I will have to work very hard on for the next few weeks. I know why it is happening and I know how to fix it. Just hope I have the time.

About heeling. It is awful. Truly awful. After giving it lots of thought I have decided that for the time being, I am going to just have to carry her shoulder pack myself so we can work on formal heeling every single time we go anyplace. At least that way I can make good use of the time.

November 17, 2007

Well, with the CD now behind us looming strong and clear on the horizon are the next set of obedience trials. I suspect they are going to really try me. I still can't believe I have done what I did.

See I came home from Salisbury and thought, "I have four more trials entered. I hate Novice. There really isn't any good reason to stay in a class I hate." And so I picked up the phone and made the necessary phone calls. The end result is that we are now entered in the Open A class for the upcoming trials. A success will mean a Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) before the end of the month and the year. Now wouldn't that be nice?

Of course after the change in entries was made and couldn't be taken back it dawned on me that I actually didn't have either a drop on recall or a broad jump and the down/stay was on pretty shaky ground. Oh my, oh my indeed. Now what's a girl to do?

From Tuesday, November 12 until Sunday November 18, we managed three training sessions per day. No matter what, those three sessions got done. I am counting on the early foundation being strong enough to carry the day. I hope, I hope, I hope.

For the first two days each session was spent doing the complete beginning drop drills. They consist of a drop from a sit, a drop from a stand, a stand/stay and a sit/stay. Each is done 5 times. The first day I was 3' away, the second day I was 6' away. By day three I was able to start the call, drop, return cycle and by day four we had moved on to the 15' drill. Of course, it goes without saying that there were distractions in abundance.

The 15' drill consisted of a straight recall. Then in sequence came a call/drop/return; a call/drop/call; a drop/call/finish and finally a straight recall once again. To help combat Sanity's desire to go into business for herself and do an automatic finish I started the finish drill. This consists of a finish to the left. My returning to heel. A finish to the right and my stepping back into heel. So she has to wait, if for no other reason that because she has not a clue as to which thing I am going to want her to do.

Besides doing the drop on recall drills, we got really serious about the broad jump. Now, least you all think this is some sort of magic or something, let me say right off that all this year I have had an apprentice run Sanity over the broad jump for me. She has had literally hundreds of repetitions at jumping that jump on command. What she was lacking was doing it by herself and then making the turn and coming back to a front position.

Over and over we practiced that jump. First with the help of a 15' longe line and a little tap with the ecollar and then the ecollar was traded in on the low tech micro prong. Finally that, too went away and with it went the longe line.

What about the retrieves? Piece of cake. They became the backwash to something she knows and likes to do. A typical training session would start with the drop on recall drills, move to the retrieve on the flat, cut back to the broad jump and finish with the retrieve over the high jump.

Yet looming over all this was the ever present problem with heeling. My problem, not hers. Some how I have got to get a handle on it.

October and November Catch up

All the training and finally in October things came together. I entered Sanity in two obedience trials at the Howard County Fairgrounds. Alison was kind enough to drive us there even though she didn't have a dog entered.

Both days our class started at 8:30 in the morning. Both days the classes were so small they were done before 9:30 a.m. What a sad state of affairs and one I never in the world thought I would ever live to see. But enough about that and on to us.

For me, the Novice class is by far the most difficult. With two heeling patterns, just the amount of walking needed is miserable. With these two trials being outdoors, the ground was rough and seemed to continuously try to trip me. There there was the dew. At that time of morning, with the sun barely starting to shine on the area where the rings were, the grass was slick as ice. I finally came to terms with the entire picture and decided I will just have to be happy that I managed to stay on my feet, do the necessary pace changes and turns and forget about how truly awful I felt I had to look.

Two day, two third place ribbons and two legs toward the Companion Dog title. I really mustn't complain. After all, it was exactly as a couple of people pointed out to me, it's not like I did a whole lot of work on our "formal" heeling.

So I came home and decided Miss Sanity and I really ought to try just a little harder. November 11 we again stepped into the ring. This time it was in Salisbury and an indoor trial. For starters, even though the heeling was still ragged, it was much better than outside. Guess, that means I really should try to confine myself to indoor trials. We shall see about that.

This time the class was a bit larger, as in more than twice the size. That was nice to see. We managed a fourth place, third qualifying leg and the Companion Dog (CD) title is now a reality.

Here we are, fat lady and company with our ribbons.

I was then faced with shopping. My major complaint about the Salisbury Shows has always been the blasted shopping. I just don't seem to have any "won't" power when I get down there. If I win, I HAVE to shop as a reward. If I lose, I HAVE to shop as a consolation. Either way, I always end up spending way too much money. This time was no different.

Since Sanity finished her CD, I figured the shopping should be for her. These pictures were taken on Monday morning at about 5:30. As you can see, Miss Sanity is still half asleep.

The slip collar and matching leash is handmade of Kangaroo hide and the beaded collar. Well, it's handmade as well and just cried out to come live around Sanity's neck.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Catch up III or the trip to Florida

In September, Sanity and I headed for Florida to attend a marathon session Board of Directors meeting. Pre-meeting dinner on Friday evening led to two long, very long days of meeting non-stop but for breaks to eat and stretch a bit.

We shared our motel room with Paula, Jeb and Babette. Considering what I found when I came out of the bathroom with no other thought in my head than bed and sleep, I sure was glad Babette had arrived dogless.

What I found when I came out of the bathroom all ready to hop into bed.
Least you make the mistake of thinking there was any room for me, think again.

Yes, it is true that the room had two beds, but just take a look at the second bed. Now I ask you, what's a poor old woman to do?

I plead with Sanity to "DOOOOO something"

Jeb banished to the sofa for the night.

Now I can at least stretch out on the very edge of the bed.
Most of the time from first thing in the morning to late in the evening was spent sitting at a board room table struggling to make sense of all sorts of items. This trip was all about Board of Directors, International Association of Canine Professionals and trying to learn at a sort of double time speed. Talk about tired when I got home. My brain was fried.

On the up side, the actual travel time was smooth and without a single mishap. That certainly was a bonus.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Playing Catch up II

On the road again,

We got back from Bedford and less than three weeks later headed back out again. This time to Soddy-Daisy, TN. Sanity and I are getting pretty good about this travel stuff. So good, in fact, that the standard travel stuff just stays in the suitcase ready and waiting for the next trip. So good that the "best chair" doesn't even get shipped back here. Instead it just goes on to the next stop on the list all by itself.

Our trip from BWI to Chattanooga was not anything to remember. Just another trip, so to speak. The time spent in Soddy-Daisy, which is a suburb of Chattanooga was wonderful. Amy was a true super southern hostess with the mostest. Her small, but very adequate training building was just right and all the students worked their b*tts off.

Here's a dog who "gets it" and is liking what is happening.

A partial view of some of the students being bored by the lecture portion of the morning's lesson.

Lecture over, they get to try out what they just learned.

For some dogs and handlers, trying to figure out the what, where, how of the "place" command takes a bit of work. When it finally comes together, the success is just that much sweeter.

Can you say "fast". In this case, the blur gives you some idea of the speed.

OK, so it was a tad bit warm. I think someone said it was about 97 when this picture was taken. But hey, we had good shade and a nice breeze. Besides which, by now you all must know how much I love summer and hate cold, wet, winter. Certainly you didn't expect me to say it was hot, did you?

And then it was over and Sanity and I were headed home. After experiencing the wonderful hospitality of Amy, her neighbors, the restaurant owners and a host of others, the shock of Memphis was truly hard to take.

I don't have enough ways to say hostile environment. I don't have enough ways to say rude, cruel people. I don't have enough ways to say I really wasn't at all prepared for what happened when we deplaned in Memphis, TN.

Here is some of what I wrote about the experience:

"...Margot just got home at a little after 5 p.m. this evening. Yes, that's right. I left Amy at the airport in Chattanooga at 3 p.m. yesterday to catch a plane to Memphis and then on to Baltimore. Didn't get out of Memphis until after 9 a.m. this morning and then "they" sent me to Detroit, tried to leave me stranded in Detroit and I finally managed to get on a plane to Baltimore at about 2 p.m. Talked about busted, Sanity and I are both more than just a little bit tired."

And I wrote:

"...The one thing on this last trip that I flat refused to do was to remove collar and leash and send her through the metal detector by herself. BECAUSE there was one of those nasty GSD security dogs only about 30 feet away and it was barking and lunging in her direction and the damn fool of a handler was just standing there letting it happen with a stupid grin on his fat face. Head of TSA was called to make me comply and I still refused on the grounds it wasn't necessary since she was perfectly able to stand for wanding and I had no intentions of risking her safety when I had no way of knowing what the other handler was planning on doing. I don't have words strong enough to express how much I have come to hate and loath those officious bullies."

What happened was that once we arrived in Memphis we were rather unceremoniously dumped on a bench off to the side, along with one blind woman and two others with mobility issues and then left there until all of us had been forced to miss our planes. When we finally showed up at the complaint desk those behind the desk tried to say it was our fault we missed our planes.

When it was my turn to step up to the desk and talk to the Northwestern agent, she tried to insist I would just have to wait until the next day to catch a plane. Not only that, but as far as she was concerned I could do my waiting right there in the airport. I was pissed, to say the least. Ask her just where she would suggest I take my service dog to relive herself or was I supposed to tell her to relieve herself right there in front of the desk?

After something of an "uproar" from not just me, but all the people in line behind me, they finally gave us tickets for an overnight stay in a Holiday Inn, dinner and breakfast, plus transportation to and from the motel. There were so many people in the same boat that the motel van only had one seat left by the time Sanity and I got there. This meant standing around for yet another 15 minutes. Yes, that's right. It took 15 minutes of standing around before it finally occurred to the people already in the van that I couldn't get on with Sanity and the two of us fit in the very far left hand seat of the last row. DUH! So finally a couple of people moved and this left us with the first seat for me and the door well for her. No kidding! She actually had to sort of sit/stand/squat in the door well because there was on other place for her. Thank goodness we have been practicing the "fit in tight places" stuff since she was a puppy.

Of course, we also were faced with having to go through the security check point from H*ell not once but twice. The second time around was even worse than the first time.

Would I be willing to go back to Soddy-Daisy if I am invited? Of course. Will I ever fly Northwestern again? Not on your life will I give them a penny of my money ever again. They really were at the bottom of the Memphis mess. Course I would be looking for another way to get to Soddy-Daisy all together. The Memphis airport is the pits for people traveling with a service dog or anyone in need of any sort of assistance. Shame on you, Memphis Airport. Shame on you.

Next on the catch up list is Florida. A trip that came only a two very short weeks after Tennessee.

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.