You Never Know…

You never know how much you depend on a car until you no longer have one. Yesterday, my neurologist advised me to stop driving until my seizures are under control. In order to drive again, I have to be six months seizure free.

Today was the first day going to work, sans car. A friend picked me up for work. She lives a few miles away and my house is literally on her way to work. However, I was on my own to get home.

Public transportation in a rural area is limited. In order for me to ride a bus from work home, I have a bus transfer and a walk of a mile at the end. The first bus takes me downtown, in the opposite direction of home. I then catch another bus that takes me to a road a bit over a mile from my house. It would take a little over an hour. Any combination of bus routes involve a minimum walk of a mile and a half. And will take over an hour to get home. Walking is not a problem. Walking after a day of overstimulation, exhausting.

Today, I figured the time is the same, it will probably have less sensory stimulation walking. I live about 3.5 miles from work. It took an hour to walk. The last 20 minutes, I had a screaming migraine. It was just too much overstimulation after a day at work. Scratch walking home.

I am not upset over the loss of driving. I understand why I can’t. My convenience does not trump safety of myself and others.

I miss the almost total loss of independence this brings. For the next six months, I have to depend on rides from friends or the bus for pretty much everything. That’s hard.

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Running Makes You Crazy

Running fills your mind with random thoughts, some of them more bizarre than others.

As I ran down the street, out of the corner of my eye I see a sign: “tramp railers.” Say what? What the heck is a tramp railer… Never mind, I don’t think I want to know. I look a second time: “ramp trailers.” There was a U-Haul rental site. I hadn’t run fast enough or far enough for that type of having.

Hey, there’s a squirrel. I wonder how they run on those wires without falling… I hope he doesn’t try the power line or some crow is going to have fried squirrel for dinner.

Is that freaking dog on a leash?! Ok. Damn, that was sh*t I nearly stepped in.

I hope I get home before it rains. That wind is getting cold. Damn, it’s raining.

Squirrels really do look like ferrets.

People shouldn’t wear matching fluorescent green tights and shorts.

I really need to change the bedding in the ferrets’ cage.

Only two more miles.

Why do miles always get longer the further you run? Who moved my mile marker? I should write a book…

Yes, running makes you crazy. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

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The Last Race

Yesterday, I ran my last race: Walla Walla Crush 10k. It was an overcast day, periodically spitting some rain. The course is beautiful, going through local grape orchards, then a road loop with views of the Blue Mountains. The terrain was rolling hills, with a combination of dirt track, gravel roads, and paved. It is a nice course to run.

However, running races is no longer fun. Getting through a race is a feat. Ear plugs- check, sun glasses- check, hat- check; a place to hide out from the crowd, noise, and speakers at the starting area- if I’m lucky. I find the sensory stimulation of the starting area overwhelming. I start the race tired, cranky, overstimulated. Yesterday, I started angry. I seriously wanted to drop that microphone down the porta john. I tire more rapidly on a course than running on my own- even at the same level of effort. Then, I have to deal with the noises of the race: other runners, people cheering, traffic, cow bells, air horns, whatever. Finally, the finish line with crowds of runners and even more noise over the loudspeakers. It’s just too much stimulation. And running slower than before the injury is demoralizing. I train as hard as my brain and body will let me. Yet, I face slower times. Even trying to tell myself that just getting from start to finish is an accomplishment, it’s hard to completely let go of the competition and achievements of the past.

So, I’m done- with road runs. I still plan to run. As a matter of fact, I ran today. No watch, no time, no worry about distance. I just ran. Perhaps I’ll even train to run another half marathon, by myself. No crowds. My own start line and my own finish.

Keep running.

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I took a good spill at mile 5. I guess I wanted a mud run.

Meeting the Family

Last weekend, Riley and his trainer came to my house so Riley and his new siblings could meet each other. Heidjchdjaka…..

Dis is Kaliyah. I stoled the fingy dat mommy uzes ta rites an stuff. I hidded unda da cowch. I gets ta tell dis storee. Dat day wez exitun. Me an Bobby knewz sumfing wez happunun. Mommy gotz uz owt uf da cage eerly dat mornun. We plazed wif Brigid an me an Bobby chased in da tonnels. We gotted tweats an Brigid chased Bobby and I pounced on her. She ranned and wented up da cat climer thingie. I climed aftur her an she battud me wif her paw…

Den da door ranged. Dere was a new hooman an a big dog. We metz dogs befor. Sum are mean. Ofers like ta snif an play. Dis dog wez nice. He sniffed but he haz big paws. Bobby and me wez scared sumtimes wen his big pawz jumped at us. We hidded unda da couch and wached him. We sniffed noses again. He wez nice. Me and Bobby liked him.

Stupid ferret. I managed to rescue the iPad. Kaliyah, Bobby, and Riley me to each other. I introduced Bobby first. They sniffed and Bobby gave a lick on the nose. His body language was curious, no afraid. When I put him down, he went nose to nose again, then scampered off to play. He basically went about his business, ignoring Riley, except when Riley tried to puppy pounce. Riley showed absolutely no prey drive or aggression. He just thought the ferret was a fascinating new friend to play with. I brought Kaliyah out and introduced her to Riley. She was curious also. The only times the ferrets showed any concern was when Riley pawed them. Big paws, small ferrets. For Riley’s part, it was an exercise in self control, as he is still puppy enough to want to play!

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Watching Kaliyah

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Meeting Bobby

After the introductions, Riley, his trainer (Krystal), and I went for a walk. Riley was still excited about meeting the ferrets and was not focused on leash manners at first. Even “misbehaving,” he walked without pulling. In a short time, he calmed down and walked like a pro. We practiced on different terrains.

Riley is a fantastic dog and well on the way to becoming an outstanding service dog. Riley was walking calmly next to me when he suddenly decided to walk in front of me and started pacing. Krystal said something about this being different behavior. Within about 5 seconds of Riley doing that, I had a seizure. Krystal told me he immediately braced and watched me. My seizures are partial, focal ones. I lose awareness, my eyes twitch, and I become disoriented when the seizure ends. My balance is off and I can fall.
We decided to return to my house. As we walked up my street, a man was mowing his lawn. Riley repeated his earlier behavior. I had a second seizure. The young dog taught himself to alert to seizures!

When we got home, Krystal and Riley came inside. Riley drank half the water bowl. Thirsty boy. In the interim, Brigid had left her safety perch, hidden on the chairs under the table. She comfortably walked through the house, watching Riley, but unafraid. Riley is familiar with cats and wanted to befriend this cat also. Brigid wasn’t quite ready to meet him up close. However, she is not afraid of him.

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Riley and Brigid Watching Each Other

The introductions were successful.

Riley is already functioning as a service dog when he is with me. His training continues, as he needs to learn to perform several more tasks and polish the ones he already knows. He is also only 7 months old and needs more “seasoning” before beginning his career.

If you can donate to his training fund, please help. Share the campaign!

Riley’s Fund

Thank you for your service

As a Veteran, I often hear the phrase “thank you for your service.” At one level, I appreciate that people recognize, at least on some level, the sacrifices members of the military make daily. However, there is more to appreciating the impact and costs of service than saying thank you.

Veterans struggle with issues such as Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD, depression, homelessness, and suicide. We need more than “thank you” and a referral to the nearest VA. The VA has its problems but does provide needed services. However, there is more demand on the system than VA is staffed and funded to address.

Have you ever helped a Veteran? It doesn’t have to be complicated, or a large time commitment, or monetary gift. Consider volunteering at a VA. Or donating to programs like Wounded Warrior Program Give to Wounded Warrior ProjectAn example of a need that is often missed: the VA gets HUD/VASH grants to help Veterans who are homeless get into affordable housing. Frequently, these Veterans have little or no resources. They may have a roof over their heads but lack cleaning supplies to clean their apartment. Or they have no furniture. One Veteran I know slept on the floor in a sleeping bag for over a month before he could buy an air mattress. Now, he has a regular mattress with no frame. But, he’s happy. He’s no longer homeless. What you can do to help: contact a local VA homeless program and ask if they need something for a Veteran going into housing. Another person I know has one bowl, a plate, fork, spoon, and knife. His apartment came with a microwave. Everything he eats is either something not requiring cooking or microwaveable food. Something small like a set of plates, bowls, and cutlery can make a difference.

I’ve blogged several times about fundraising for Riley. I have service connected PTSD and a Traumatic Brain Injury. Riley is primarily being trained to help with my TBI, as that is the most limiting medical problem. However, he is also being “cross trained” in several PTSD tasks. So far, only 12 people have donated to my GoFundMe campaign. Part of me is frustrated, thinking that since my TBI is not combat related, it’s not “sexy” enough to get donations. Meanwhile, I see a report about a fundraising campaign that earn $14,000 so a woman could pay for an abortion. What is up with that?

Please, if you want to thank a Veteran, or a service member currently on duty, do something tangible. We need more than words. I’d appreciate a donation to my campaign, but if you choose to donate to another Veteran or program, I still appreciate the fact you chose to help.

Have a wonderful day.

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Go Figure

So, I bought a new tunnel/ tube for My cat, Brigid. She loves the wider tunnel I already had. This one’s entrance is more narrow and it’s longer. Brigid doesn’t Ike it. However, my ferrets thoroughly enjoy it. Brigid does enjoy watching the ferrets play in it and playing “whack a weasel” as they poke their heads out. Maybe she’ll discover the joys of playing in the tube eventually. It took awhile to like the wider tunnel.

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A Pet Adviser: Special Report

Lydia H:

This is an excellent set of articles about the problem of fake service dogs. It is sad that many people think it is their “right” to take their pets everywhere with them and lie to make it happen. Every time a poorly trained pet “service dog” misbehaves in public,it makes it harder for people partnered with a trained dog to work.

I support the requirement to show the dog is trained. However, the laws need to be written intelligently. For example, Riley is being trained by a certified professional trainer who is registered with Service Animal Registry of America. He has been in training since he was 49 days old. When he is through, he will have over 8 months of training and over 500 hours. He is being trained to exactly what I need him to do. Neither the military or the VA will recognize his training unless an Assistance Dogs International trainer is willing to certify him. He will EXCEED their standards of training. But, they are the only group recognized as trainers. And, there is no such thing as a free or low cost service dog. Most ADI programs require recipients to find raise at least half the cost of the dog. Some waive this requirement for veterans.

I chose to stay local and pay for my dog’s training for several reasons. One, the closest program is 175 miles one way from me. I don’t travel without assistance due to my disabilities. Two, I wouldn’t be able to be part of the training process. With staying local, I get to work with Riley several times a month. I am part of his training and we are already bonding. Three, he is being trained for exactly the tasks I need. Nothing I don’t need. Four, the ADI programs in my state have a 2-5 year waiting list. Five, my trainer and I got to choose the dog and the breed. No allergies with a standard poodle. And a very bright dog.

The laws will need to be written to be more inclusive of training options. As for Riley, at least most VAs aren’t enforcing the ADI only issue too strenuously. And,my trainer is looking into finding an ADI trainer to sign off on him.

Originally posted on Rally, My Service Dog:

I found this awesome article recently. It is definitely worth a read!

http://www.petsadviser.com/service-dog-report.pdf

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