What I am Thankful For

Many of my posts lately have focused on how crappy my life is right now and how hard I struggle for even basic things.  I decided on the day after Thanksgiving to write about thankfulness.

1. Although there are times that I want to just give up; I’m thankful to still be alive.

2. I have family and friends.  They try to support me even though they don’t fully understand.

3. My cat Brigid.  She is a healer is her own right.  She knows how to best comfort and help me.

4. The ferrets are hilarious.  They still bring me happiness.

5.  Being healthy enough to be physically active a bit.

6. I can walk without a walker or cane.

  

 

7. Nature; for its beauty and peace, for the earth that provides is what we need to live.  Even in its violence, it is powerful and beautiful.  Incredible. 
8. For my spiritual connection and beliefs. 

9. All my basic needs are met; food, warmth, water, shelter.  I have more than my basic needs.

10. I usually have hope things can get better 

 
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Iz  Kaliyah. Dis iz my brudder, Bobby. We hasz fankfuls.

1. Warm hammocks

2. Warm speep sacks

3. Fud

4. Watur 

5. Brigid, she’s fun to play wif.

6. Da hooman feeds uz, an water, an cleans our cage.

7. Each ovver.  Except Bobby hogz da fud.                                                      Kaliyah kicks me outt bed.

  (Hiss and wrestle fight breaks out)

  
  
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I am Brigid.  I am the cat. Granddaughter of Bast. 

My human worships me accordingly.  

  


 
Thankful.  

Vote! Who is cutest?

Picture One: Bobby

Picture One: Bobby

Picture One: Bobby

Picture Two: Kaliyah

Picture Two: Kaliyah

Picture Two: Kaliyah

Picture Three: Brigid

Picture Three: Brigid

Picture Three: Brigid

Picture Four:

Group Shot: Talisein, Koda, Lady Tosca

Group Shot: Talisein, Koda, Lady Tosca

The ferrets in the group shot are all at Rainbow Bridge, waiting.

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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Life Post TBI

It is hard to believe that the accident was over three years ago. While I have made a lot of progress from the days and weeks following the injury, I still struggle daily with issues caused by the injury. It is no longer a matter of therapies and diagnosis. Now, it is learning how to compensate for what has been permanently changed.

A vital step in the process is acceptance. Accepting does not mean I am giving up on continued improvement, no matter how slow or small. Acceptance means I recognize this is how I am, right now, today. I no longer look back with sadness over all I lost. I try to remain in the moment, not judging the moment. It allows me to look for solutions or work- arounds for what I no longer do well. I recognize that I need to stay on a schedule, plan ahead for shopping, rest when I’m tired. I also use ear plugs, sunglasses, and hates to help reduce sensory overload. I still run- not as far or fast- but I get to do what I love. I even went to the Gem and Mineral show last weekend. It was a short trip but I found a really sweet amethyst and quartz that is adding a bit of beauty in my office.

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Riley at three months old.

Riley is my service dog in training. He started his training at 49 days old. He is now six months old and doing well in training. This past weekend, he passed his Canine Good Citizen test. He also knows 4 tasks. This means he is moving on to the next phase in training: intensive task training and partnership. We will be spending much more time together.

Two weeks ago, I was working with Riley in a pet-friendly store. He performed his blocking task three times without prompting. At the end of the session, I was in line waiting to pay for something I found. His trainer was standing nearby watching us. I asked if it was possible to train Riley to block behind me. Sometimes, people crowd me in line. A friend drove me to Richland. She started crowding in behind, joking around. I gave Riley the block command and pointed behind me. I didn’t really expect him to understand, as he had not been trained in this variation. He performed it flawlessly. His trainer laughed and said she didn’t think it was going to be hard to teach. Riley also knows how to brace, open doors, and nudge when I’m overloaded.

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Riley last weekend- 6 months old

Riley has about 4 more months of training. When he comes home, he will be such a help in my daily life. Hopefully, with him, I can be more independent and less afraid.

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GoFundMe Campaign

As I write this blog, my ferrets are climbing up the back of my kitchen drawers in an attempt to get on the countertop. So far, they only succeed when I don’t have a drawer closed all the way. Neither one has learned Tosca’s trick of getting on her back and clawing the drawer open. Bobby and Kaliyah are always full of adventure. I bought a new tunnel for Brigid (the cat). She has yet to discover the joys of running through a tube. The ferrets immediately claimed it.

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Bobby.

In short, my life is proceeding as smoothly as possible.

The anti seizure medication seems to be working well. I’ve had a couple of seizures on the higher dose. So it may go up again at the next neurologist appointment.

Never give up hope.

Scout’s Journey. Becoming a Service Dog

Becoming a service dog is hard work.  My human found me at the “dog pound.”  I didn’t know why I was locked up or what I did wrong.  I was only 8 months old, still a puppy.  So many humans looked at me and some even played.  There was something different about this human.  I know she felt it, too.   Soon after, I went to the Walla Walla Penitentiary.  That was scary.  The doors all clang behind you and everything smells different.  I met my trainer.  I really have learned a lot from him.  I know how to sit, stay, down, and heel.  I no longer jump up on people to say hello.  I guess humans don’t like that.  I’ve been working hard at learning how to be polite so I can go to my new home.  I’ve been here two months.  That’s a long time when you’re a puppy.

 

This is me- Scout

 

Today, my trainer’s trainer, she’s in charge of the program, took me to visit my new home.  I remembered the lady.  She was really nice.  I met these odd animals called “ferrets.”  There were two of them.  I met them one at a time.  They were in a little barred place so I could see and smell them but not play.  The humans took the ferrets out and let them climb on me.  I wasn’t sure I liked that.  It didn’t hurt, but they smell weird.  I think I did ok.  I got scolded a few times for wanting to play.  I guess I nip-played at them.  I don’t think she was angry with me but maybe I’m not supposed to play with them?  I’m not really sure.  I also got in trouble for trying to chase the cat.  Well, she ran.  What else was I supposed to do?  All in all, I know the lady was impressed with what a good dog I am becoming.  I did my down/stays and come really well.  It was hard to concentrate because everything was so new!  There were so many smells to sniff.   I like this human.  And she likes me.  I wonder what I else I need to learn to be a “service dog?”  I know I get to help her.  That will be fun!

This is one of those strange ferret-things. I think her name is Kaliyah

 

This is funny. Brigid was a kitten and didn’t know what to make of the ferret-thing, either. I know what to do with cats- chase. But, I was told I couldn’t.

 

I overheard the humans talking.  I get to spend a night next weekend!  That will be so good to be with the new human a while.

They also talked about what I need to learn to do.  There’s so much!  In addition to my basic commands, I have to be comfortable out in public, no matter what happens.  I’ll get to go into stores and resteraunt.   I have to leave things alone, not beg, get on something called an elevator, go through “automatic doors,” get into and out of the car on command.  I like people, so being nice to them and not barking isn’t a problem.  I forget sometimes and jump up to say hi.  I’m working on that.   I also have to help my human when she needs it.  She gets scared if someone comes up behind or from the sides.  I’ll learn how to tell her someone is coming.  From what the humans say, I have to learn three “tasks” that directly address my human’s problems.  I’m a smart dog.  I can do it.  I’ll be “in training” for almost another year.  I’ll also get my own uniform of a harness and patches to wear, telling everyone I’m training to be a service dog.   There’s so much to learn!  This tells you about service dogs: http://psychdog.org/publicaccess.html   That’s what I have to learn to do.

 

 

I like her.

My human seems happy about getting me home soon.  I’ll be a good dog.  You watch!

Service Dog Wanted

The TBI really changed my life.   My health care provider recommends I get a service dog to help with some of the symptoms.  She thinks a service dog can help improve my life by providing assistance with things like the startle response and sensory overload.  Having a dog with me would help with safety and the dog can also make sure I’m in a good location if I “shut down.”  I’m excited about it!

The local VA provided me with contact information for the Walla Walla Penitentiary dog training program.  Shirley partners with the local Humane Society to get dogs into the program.  The dogs are trained by inmates in the minimum security unit.  They learn advanced obedience skills and can also have some of the service dog specific tasks trained.  Shirley has experience with service dogs and said she can help with some of the more advanced tasks.

Precious, one of the dogs “doing time” at the Penn!

 

I met with Shirley and Precious last week.  Shirley interviewed me about what my needs were in regards to a dog.  We talked about energy level, my current fur-family, running, etc.  We met at a local park and Precious accompanied Shirely.  Precious is a two year old Pit Bull mix.  She is a sweet dog and will make an excellent companion for someone.  She is a terrier, and a bit stubborn.  I didn’t see her as fitting into the family.  But, if you’re looking for a lovable, loyal, friendly dog for a family pet, Precious may be the dog for you!

After work today, Carol and I went past the Humane Society.  I met Scout and Tony.  Scout is an 8 month old black lab mix.  He is a bundle of energy!  Scout learned to sit for a treat within a few minutes and is a bright boy.  He is very people-oriented but loves his food.  However, he has a very gentle mouth when taking treats, which is a good quality.

Scout. What a handsome boy!

Scout and me.

 

Tony is a 6 month old Rottweiler mix.  He is scrawny and underweight right now.  He just came to the Humane Society as a stray a little over a week ago.  He didn’t fair well on his own.  He seems to be a calm boy, until it suits his purposes not to be.  More about that later.  He learned how to sit quickly and takes treats like a gentleman.  Tony is also focused on humans and enjoyed a good scratch.  I ran a little with him and he was a gentleman on the leash.  No tugging.  We visited about dinner time but he was more focused on spending time outside with us than the feeding taking place inside.  When we took him inside, he demonstrated his puppy abilities.  His collar was too loose.  He slipped the collar as we were putting him back into the pen.  He trotted around the area, inciting the other dogs into a barking frenzy!  Carol finally corralled him.  Stupid humans.  We put the collar back on him, over his head.  Um. Like that will work.  No, he slipped the leash a second time.  Mind you, a full dish of food was in his pen but he wanted to be with us, not back in the pen!  He trotted around, clearly keeping us in sight, but as a playful, not fearful action.  He came around to the pen.  I got his attention with a treat and tossed it in.  He’s a hungry puppy.  Treats rule.  I closed him in and took one final look at his soulful face.  I think he’d fit in.  Just like my ferrets.  Little escape artist with a sense of humor!  My friend was taking this picture and somehow got the camera unto video, so it’s like a 3 second clip.

I’m conflicted.  I really like both Scout and Tony.  They’re wonderful dogs and both can be very successful in the training and a great addition to the family.  Part of me leans towards Tony.  He’s had a rough go but still retained a gentle nature.

What happens next.  After I decide, the dog will be sent to prison!  He’ll go to the “care camp” until the next round of training sessions start in four weeks.  They’ll start socializing him and getting his weight back on.  Then, the training is anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks more.  During this time, he’ll have a few weekend “furloughs” to come home.  Shirley will observe and work with me to help any problems in the house.  If any further training needs to happen, the inmates will be told, so they can work with him.  After he graduates, he comes home.  At that point, we start with some of the more advanced service dog activities, such as getting him used to being in stores and crowds of people.  I have a service dog check-list for him to get the certification he needs.

 

 

 

 

Trail of Guilt

I had a rather rude awakening at 2:00 this morning.   I woke up to an unidentified scrabbling noise on the bed side table,  followed by the landing of a strange animal on my chest, and a wet nose in my face.  Needless to say, I woke up quickly.  The unidentified animal was tossed off the bed in my half-awake, startled state. After I turned on the light,  I looked around for Brigid and saw her wide-eyed face staring back at me.  She looked shocked.  The scrabbling continued under the bed.  I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know what was loose in the house.  After all, the ferrets were securely locked in their cage, and Brigid was right there on the bed with me.  What gremlin was now exploring the bedroom?  Brigid gave no response.

I gathered my courage and got out of bed to explore.  The scrabbling was now under my bookshelf.  There was no way I was sticking my face under there!  I have seen the horror movies and shows like “Infested.”  Nope, not me.

I decided to check the ferrets.  Perhaps one of them was loose.   As I turned on the light in their room, I felt a cold nose nudging my ankle.  I yelped, jumped, and looked down to see the familiar tail and back legs of Kaliyah disappearing into the tube in the hallway.  In a matter of seconds, her small head popped out.   Glancing at the cage, I noted her door was open.  I still haven’t figured out how that happened.

Not a gremlin, then, just a misbehaving ferret.  As I came close, Kaliyah demonstrated her flexibility and disappeared back into the tube.  I walked to the kitchen and turned on the lights to a disaster area.  Obviously, Kaliyah had been free for some time.  The top drawer was open and the countertop showed signs of thorough investigation.  Gravity was the theme.  Several items that used to be on the counter were now on the floor.  Fortunately, nothing was breakable.   Unfortunately, one subject of the gravity game was a partially used small sack of flour.  There were little white ferret foot prints all over the kitchen floor.  I glanced at the ferret.  Her fur was streaked suspiciously white, especially on her face and mask.  The ferret sneezed.   She looked at me with her innocent, adorable little face.  She was not in the least repentant, although she was guilty.

The counter was not the only object of ferrety exploration.  She also opened the pantry cabinet.  Kaliyah learned quite some time ago that she can climb from shelf to shelf, so long as the pantry door is closed to provide some support.  My open box of Cheerios was knocked over and spread throughout the pantry cabinet.  She also explored a box of pasta.

 The floor was quickly steam cleaned.  The counter and pantry were sorted out.

The satisfied little ferret was returned to her cage.  I returned to bed and glanced at the clock.  3:00 am.  I comment, “Some cat you are.  You slept right through it.”   Brigid, unimpressed, yawned, circled, and plopped down to sleep.  I laid awake, pondering the ways of ferrets and cats.