Kenai enjoying the sunshine, 14 mo old
Our meeting with the trainers Friday was encouraging, for me at least. Yay! We mostly talked, while Kenai acted the nervous nelly. I waited for them outside without his vest so they could meet properly, and I thought he was going to crawl out of his skin when a truck’s air brakes released. The trainer’s husband’s walker made him nervous too.
Kenai was spooky, wouldn’t stay down inside the restaurant..I didn’t like it, and would have taken him back to the car, but the trainer wanted to let him settle himself, and just ignored most of it. Their approach is to let the dog work through it, I think. Susanne has a very calm and reassuring air about her, that Kenai took to immediately. I wasn’t surprised he did his downs et all for her better.
The gotta-act-right drilled into me was nervous about Kenai’s not staying down and relaxing. Maybe I am too concerned about possibly being asked to leave a place? Perhaps I’ve just heard too much “owner trained dogs are terrible”, and have semi-consciously set out to prove them wrong. (We will someday, ya know.)
This Steak and Shake is very used to Susanne and Steve bringing their SDit in, and it was a peculiar relief to not have to worry about it. A whole bag of access concerns about taking Kenai places like Wal-mart just moved off my back to Susanne’s, and I actually almost felt the weight lift.
I went through the command and task list they gave us when we got home, and turned it into a detailed eval of where Kenai is right now. It’s on a page under his training progress. I also made a list of tasks I’d like him to learn in the future, and places I want to be able to go again someday.
Like a craft fair. The milling crowds, noise, and tight quarters can be disorienting to me, eventually messing with my balance, and making me tired. But the big fat funnel cakes are calling! Maybe soon Kenai can walk me around, keep me from wobbling, shield me from the pushy bumper people, and guide me back to my car when I want to go home.
Oh, and going to church again! The sound systems are the problem. Even in tiny little places, they have sound systems for some reason. To be cool for the teenagers I guess, or for those who are hard of hearing. But the volume is always too loud for someone as sensitive to noise as I am, and after an hour, I wouldn’t be able to find my way to the bathroom to throw up. Meniere’s disease and migraines strike again.
If I could find a little old country church that realizes small spaces don’t need amplifiers, me and Brown would learn to handle the running kids, up and down for singing, and parking his lovely big bum out of the usher’s way. I miss church. I would be put out with the big little guy if he disrupted my warbling!
Wishful future stuff aside, I was amazed at just how much Kenai had learned. Yeah, he’s slid off the reliable teeter-totter for the moment, but he knows and is in various states of solid on nearly 30 commands and tasks. The last ten mostly have to wait until he’s done growing. This here kindergarden level obedience teacher (me) has managed by grace and books to get us into college level work. Wow.
Told ya the meeting was encouraging!
So we’re ready to hit the road again, with direction along our learning path. The subtitle I choose last February for this blog is “my wandering way into training my own service dog”, and it was slightly prophetic, huh? Wander, ouuups, dust off and march has been the cadence.
That’s okay, though. There’s something spiritual about a disabled person who finds the courage to switch into “I can”, the love not to give up, and the hope to think about the future as better. All that would be missed in many ways were I to have taken a program dog when it was possible for me to train my own service dog.
No, not ‘dissing program dogs. I’m just thinking about what training Kenai’s done for me as a person with limitations; not just pulling me into considering what I can do and how to do it, but the fact that I’m doing for myself what I can do myself.
There are many people who simply couldn’t do all this, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. That’s why SD training programs are so important. I just wish more programs had owner training side programs, for those of us who can, but need the experts to guide us a little. It would seriously shorten the waiting lists for service dogs.
Anyway, owner training has been a huge paradigm shift for me, and it’s what I needed.
So I’m back to being secure in our future together, and have gotten ready to get to work with some help. Strange, so many others have said they too hit a patch of doubt when their dogs hit adolescence. Part of the process I suppose. I bet the dogs get tired of us humans and our flubs about this time too! Grin.
Kenai was a bit “hung over” for a couple days, from the big hour long scare he endured. But he got a chance to make himself all muddy running in the kennel with BB outside it, a boy fun thing. He’s tall enough there usually isn’t too much splatter on the undercarriage, but those giant snow-shoe paws spread out when he runs–they were packed with clods of sticky clay.
Good thing he’s used to getting his feet cleaned, ’cause it took awhile. His brother BB just nearly needed hosing down, the silly little wump. His butt slopes like a German Shepherd so everything from the shoulders back was a mess. Had a big grin on his slobbery face, though. He was happy boy, and snored later to prove it.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on February 8, 2009
Kenai looking ever so regal in his new vest! And check out the shine on that fur again.
This pic was from Saturday, our public practice time without his gentle leader. He was doing so well! Tuesday he turned 47 weeks old. It’s interesting in a useless sort of way that counting his age in weeks makes him “older” than just going by months. There’s 52 weeks in a year, not 48 weeks, and 48 divided by 4 is 12 months.
Oh well, when he turns a year old officially, January 1, 2009 (New Year’s baby), I’ll stop counting weeks and just go by months old on his growth and progress pages. He and Beebs are New Year’s babies. BB’s official AKC registry name is “Shakira’s New Year’s Champagne”, since his color is a little lighter than Kenai’s. It fits his bubbly personality too!
Kenai’s registered as “Shakira’s New Year’s Celebration”. I chose “celebration” because he is a celebration for me; he’s going to make going places and doing things possible that I generally don’t without help. That’s worth celebrating! He’s already brought about some remarkable changes for me, and in me. My lovely lion pawed dear is worth more than the world to me.
Kenai’s had a couple days at home, okay 3 days, getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday. Our friends, Wade and Melba are coming over. We’ve split the cooking between us, which makes it easier for me to actually enjoy their company. I hate that inner tension of wanting to see my friends, but dreading the fatigue and pain that comes from having company. Bluck!
I’ve been able to scrub the couch, since it picks up the oils and odor from the boys laying on it. BB especially has a very strong body odor. I’ve also dusted, and today I’ll run the sweeper to pick up as much pretty brown hair as I can. There’s not as much coming off the Brothers Grin as there used to be!
Kenai’s weigh in Monday has me floating! He’s gained 1.3 pounds–I can’t see the vertebrae of his spine anymore, nor the ridges of his shoulder blades. The depression between his hip bones is gone, and I’m only seeing the last two ribs now. Not to mention his coat has shine enough to show up in a picture once again.
I’ve done something novel, at least for me: I opened a cafepress store with Kenai’s pics on mugs, shirts, and other gift items. There’s a link in the text box to the right. I’m slowly changing the jpeg pics to png pics for better quality printing, but this darn dial up has trouble with the larger png uploads. And being a fumble-bumble when it comes to photo stuff, I haven’t figured out how to put captions and such on the pics. Working on it, though.
Maybe there’ll be some income to pay for his expenses. Between the two boys, it’s $145 a month for enzymes, almost $100 a month for food. Special K really needs a harness soon, and that’s a costly thing to buy. So I’ve made a 10% mark up on the cafepress–If 10% is good enough for Jesus, it outta be good enough for me.
I’m not depending on cafepress income, not with the current economic situation in the US, but it surely would make the budget breathe easier. Me too. Mom three. Who knows, maybe I’ll give BB a shop too? Besides, a boy should have stuff, right? Sasquatch stuff!
Since it is Thanksgiving, I probably should give thanks for heaps of good things in my life. I’ve got a pair of really good friends I can count on for anything, Wade and Melba. I’ve got a terrific Mom, who supports me financially while I’m not able to support her and I. I’ve got a pair of baby bottoms, one all wiggly and fun (BB), and one that’s strong and caring (Kenai).
I’ve gotten encouragement from so many people via comments on this blog, which I don’t always get a thankful reply back to. I’ve had such good advice and reassurance from the yahoo epi group, helping me get my boys back to health and vigor. Mom’s been able to pay for their care, thank God. My health has held up enough to care, train, and provide exercise for Kenai–it could be so much worse, remembering how hellish the first few years of my 30’s were.
I could rattle on, but the idea is remembering the good things and giving them more emotional weight than the not so good things. I’m not as steady in my thankfulness as I could be, but who is? It’s a lesson that could be learned from dogs, isn’t it? Enjoying whatever is in front of us right now with all our hearts is no little lesson!
Thank you Kenai, my growing up rhino baby. You’re a gift from heaven itself.
Posted by greatdaneservicedog on November 26, 2008