Southern Service Dawgs

Because I haven’t enough to do, I started up an older project a few months ago.

A long time ago, back when I first started training Joella, I got involved in a Yahoo group for folks who were training their own Service Dogs. It was an interesting group of folks that’s for sure! Anyway, we realized there were a bunch of us who lived kinda sorta close together and we decided to have a gathering. I can’t remember the date but Jo was young so it was probably ’01 or ’02. We had a get together at Elena’s house in Charlotte. It was rather fun! I guess there were about seven dogs of various sizes (Akita, Keeshound, Aussie, Rottweiler, Beagle, several Mutts) but you know, not much barking at all! And they had a blast. We let them off leash in Elena’s fenced-in yard once we figured they were getting along and off they went.

And it was good for us humans to get together, too, to meet in person and get to discuss our dogs in person. I’m visual to a fault so getting to see what people meant when they were discussing something really helped me. I am still really good friends with Elena and am online friends with at least one other person from that gathering.

My project that I restarted is the Southern Service Dog website, ServiceDawgs.org. It’s been in existence since shortly after that gathering. I tried to keep up with all the SD laws in the Southern states but states change their websites a lot (which breaks links). But now there are two organizations that are doing a good job of keeping track of the laws and keeping it all organized. I also had several listings of commands several of our dogs had, what we were working on, photos of the dogs at work and play, etc. I really wanted to emphasize that Service Dogs were DOGS, not robots. They had down time and yet all of them would “work” with the cape off. The cape was just for the public’s benefit, really. Anyway, since I am getting back into the Service Dog thang again and doing more research, I dusted off the website and revamped it. It’s still got a long way to go, however.

It used to be based purely on html code. Oh, that was fun to do. Then I did it with CSS which was slightly better. But now I have it on WordPress which will really keep it organized and easier to update. I am basically starting over since so much of the information from the old site no longer applies. Which brings me to the point of this missive. If anyone lives in the South and has a Service Dog, or would like a Service Dog, or trains dogs, or breeds dogs that would make good Service Dogs or has anything to do with dogs and Service Dogs, I invite you to join me on this endeavor. I would like to have regular blog posts by individuals (other than me!) on topics related to Service Dogs in some way.

Interested? Comment below or on my Facebook page!

Fenced In

We need to rebuild the dog lot fence. It won’t be in the same area but on the other side of the house, going down into the garden (or what once was the garden). That means the pear tree has to go. We’ll start measuring soon, deciding the size. Then calling around for estimates. The original dog lot was HUGE. The dogs miss it muchly.

The old fence was put in, wow, how many years ago? Long time ago, that’s for sure. Fifteen maybe? The part that attaches to the back porch was done later. And the Dog Deck was done back in ’09. Yeah, time flies when you’re pouring money into an old house. Which happens a lot here.

We have decided to hire a company to put it in versus us doing it ourselves. We could have a fence party, which is how the first one went in. It was a blast! But now all our friends are as old as we are. Instead, we’ll have a fence opening party and folks can bring their dogs to pee on every post. Having someone else put one in will cost more but hopefully will last longer. Before the limbs fell, most of the posts were being held up by sheer determination and honeysuckle vines.

Anyway, this is a Google maps pic of the house. The red line is where the fence used to be. Well, technically it is still there but parts of it were smashed. The yellow is all they have left and includes the Dog Deck. The pink line is about where we’d like to put it.

Another reason we need a dog fence? We have three big dogs. Mike is the smallest at 60lbs, Whisper is around 75lbs, and Sam at 85lbs. And sometime in the spring, we’ll be getting a puppy. They’ll all need space to stretch out and run.

Yes, you read that right. I’ll be getting a puppy. We’ve talked about it for a while. It’s still not written in stone final (I owe Elena an essay) but we’re getting things done that need to be done, even if the puppy doesn’t happen. Dog fence tops the list. Next is lift for truck. If I am to get a puppy to train as a Service Dog, then I need to go places more. That’s the whole point, to get me out of the house. And I can’t do that because I can’t load the chair by myself. After that is more general house arrangement stuff. You know how it goes. One thing leads to another. You can’t get one thing done until you get this other thing but you can’t get that one done until that one over there is done and….yeah, old houses. Gotta love ’em.

The Pig Didn’t Fly Because….

I finally found something I was looking for! An article from the perspective of the woman with the pig on the plane. If she were legitimate, one would exist. On my one hand, perhaps she is. Perhaps she does have issues and truly desired to have this animal with her on her trip. And that is her right according to the Air Carriers Access Act (links at the bottom) which covers planes which the ADA does not.

She (I’ll call her RB) is upset from it, of course. RB has had to take her Facebook page down. Photos of RB’s face were posted on a news site and people who were in photos with RB on her Facebook page prior to the incident were not happy to be identified with her. Go friends and co-workers! Love to you, too!

I tried to read the article in a way that I would understand her side. RB must be miserable and even more mentally pushed back. And I did try. I always do. Because I always hold out the hope that there was a mistake somewhere, you know? That surely to shit someone really did not take a pig on a plane, faking it as an emotional support animal!

But there are a few things that stuck out. And this was someone who was not with her but speaking from elsewhere but it does make me wonder even further. Anyway, Victor Kinoian, the owner of My Pet Piggy LLC where the woman bought her pig, says she (the passenger) worked with the airlines to ensure the airlines was aware she was arriving with her pig. Then he says:

“American Airlines knew they needed to accommodate my customer, so after calling & triple checking for approval to make sure a pig as an ESA (emotional support animal) was allowed to fly, she received no help from them that day or placed in an appropriate seat to ensure safe travels & proper accommodation for her ESA.”

Red flag. For one, it is not the airlines that determines the seating. The passenger does. Why did SHE pick a seat in the middle of the plane? Why not the bulkhead? As a person who has flown with a Rottweiler, I didn’t expect the airline to appropriately seat me when I got there. I expected me to pick out the best seat ahead of time. I’m not a child. And she’s not mentally ill, she’s not mentally challenged, she has a need for emotional support. That means she has the mental capacity to determine this for herself. Ahead of time. This wasn’t Southwest she was flying.

And she didn’t need help from them. She could walk to her seat by herself. She could put her bag away by herself. Her special needs were for emotional support. If she needed special accommodation to assist with that (seated early to help with crowds, for example), then she would have gotten it.

“After passengers became very standoffish towards Hobey, he had an accident, & as we all know, accidents do happen.”

Um, not by Service Dogs. I would be devastated if my SD pooped on a plane. If this guy who is selling pigs to be emotional support animals thinks “accidents happen”, then he’s an idiot. I know that pigs not eating “slop” must have better smelling poop than pigs that do, but we’re talking about a very crammed airplane. I don’t care who poops, it’s gonna stink for several rows.

And if Joella, my Rottweiler Service Dog, if she had gotten upset every time someone was “standoffish” toward her? She’d have crapped a lot. Thank gawd she just gave them her softest look instead and said “Why don’t you like me?” and moved on.

“What is expected of an ESA? Are they not allowed to have accidents? If my 90 yr old grandma has an accident mid flight, is she to be removed?! It’s not to be funny, but if there wasn’t so much grey area for situations like this to occur, this would have never happen. My customer was setup for failure by the airport and deserves an apology and an apology to all the passengers on the plane for having poor regulation and lack of common sense.”

What is expected? They are held to high standards, sir. They are representing not only all the other ESAs that come after them, but all the Service Dogs, too. And you, sir, are setting a poor standard. I expect my Service Dog to act in such a way no one knows she is there. I expect my SD to respond appropriately to stress (hide behind me, right Joella?) and not poop on the floor.

There is no grey area. It is written as a law called the Air Carriers Access Act. Read it. Perhaps your “customer” should, too. I take that back. There are grey areas. They are there on purpose. It is there because no passenger, no ESA, no SD, no situation is identical to the next. You cannot rubber stamp this and expect us all to fit.

RB could be legitimate. If she is, she needs to tell the guy she bought the pig from to shut the F up ’cause he’s an idiot and is not helping her or anyone else one dang bit. He’s enjoying his few minutes in the limelight while she is at home, probably with the curtains closed. Does she deserve the heckling? Did she really get herself a seat not in the bulkhead? I’ve seen photos of the pig in the airport. It’s not *that* big but it would not have been happy in that little space at her feet from Rhode Island to South Carolina. Did she really expect the airlines to take care of her that much? If she did, then she is…well, she needs to plan a little bit better the next time.

Correction: I originally called the law the Air Carriers Act but it is the Air Carriers Access Act. I have corrected all of the references. I should have known it was too easy and too few letters! Elena is much more smarter than me and caught it. – PaulaO

Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) – web version | pdf version
Air Carriers Access Act FAQ (pdf)
ACAA Summary from Disability Travel
Air Consumer Rules – scroll down to “Part 382”
Another article about RB (basically says the same thing but has more photos of the pig)

He Was So Sassy

Sassafras came to us like so many others. He just chose us and arrived. We at first thought he belonged to someone else but then we saw his long fur was looking matted, a sign he was a stray. Great. He wouldn’t let us near him. Ran if we got too close. Spent all day hanging out at our place. He loved laying in the sun up on some wood we had but he’d take off if a human dared to get within ten feet.

When he started looking thin, we decided it was time to do something. We put some dry food in a metal bowl and took it to the end of the ramp where the cement pad is. We rattled the bowl, a universal sound for cats. He was out there and had ran to hide under one of the cars. We went to sit on the steps, partly just to get him used to us being outside, but mostly because we were talking about something another we wanted to do outside. We heard him eating so figured in a few weeks, maybe we’d catch him.

He finished eating, sauntered down the ramp toward us, and threw himself into Lorna’s lap. Just like that, he was home. This cat we could not get close to had decided we were all right after all.

That was way back in, we think, 2003. He was, we think, about 5 or so years old. So he was about 13-16yrs old. So he wasn’t a spring chicken! He was on medication for hypertension and a special diet for kidney failure. His kidney values weren’t too bad, but were on their way and the theory was the sooner we started the diet, the slower the failure would happen. Two months ago, his kidney value was still just within the realm of “iffy” but not “ohmygod” bad.

Today, April 29, 2014, we let him go. He wouldn’t eat for Lorna Friday morning but when I gave him food a few hours later, he ate a little. Some other stuff happened and we got him a “work in” appointment Friday afternoon and he stayed there Friday night.

Basically, Sass was dehydrated and constipated. His kidneys was putting out the fluid so fast, his body wasn’t able to use any of it. When I picked him up on Saturday, I was told he should have a BM sometime over the weekend, if not, to call them Monday. He didn’t. Monday we got an appt. with our usual vet, Dr. Knepshield, who gave him a thorough exam.

The plan of action for Monday night was to do fluids again and do an ultrasound in the morning. We left him there again and went out to eat before going home. When we got home, Dr. K had left a message to say that when she got him to the back where the lighting was better, they noticed that one side of his nose seemed swollen. They were going to start him on an antibiotic into his I.V. but did we still want to do the ultrasound? An infection (tooth, sinus, etc) could be causing most of the other issues. We said sure, do it.

Dr. K called me this morning and I knew from her voice that it wasn’t good. Sass had a mass on his liver (cancer), his somethinganother duct from his kidneys was something (she was using big words), and his blood work came back not good at all. In other words, Sass had a lot of problems and being constipated was just the most outward symptom and the final symptom. There was nothing we could do. We were not even talking about months, we were talking about less than a week.

We had the option to learn how to give him the fluids and bring him home for a day or two and we did seriously consider that. Lorna’s given a cat fluids before (they get it subcutaneously vs in a vein). But Sass hated, absolutely hated getting into the crate and going to the vet. Every time he had to go in for something, he had to be bathed because he would either poop or pee (or both) all over the crate and himself. It just was not worth it. We’re talking about quality of life at that point and that experience far outweighed everything else.

So we let him go.

We’ll miss you, big man. Say hi to everyone for us.



Critter Care and Lovin’

What we are thankful for: there’s so many things, you know? But this Thanksgiving we are especially thankful for the wonderful veterinarians we have. Charlotte Street Animal Hospital is a great group of folk.

We took Annie Oakley (cat) in to the vets Monday night. She’s always been a finicky eater and her missing a meal here and there is nothing unusual. But it had been several days and she’d not eaten much at all. Saturday she took herself outside for a bit, Sunday we think she went outside to do her business but that was it. But Monday during the day, she just stayed in a lump and didn’t move.

We took her in and nothing really seemed obvious except she had a high fever (104F, normal is 101F), very very low blood pressure, and inconclusive blood work. They gave her dose of fluids (cats get it under the skin vs in a vein) and we were all surprised at how quickly her body absorbed it. She didn’t seem dehydrated by boy she sure was!

We decided to leave her there overnight so they could give her an I.V. of fluid and medication. That’s always tough to do, you know?

The next day, Dr. Knepshied (our usual vet) and the one from that night (Dr. Amber) tried to figure out what was up with Annie. It could be this, it could be that, it could be something else. Her fever was still up but the blood pressure was getting better. She had started eating but only a little. We got three phone calls during the day, updating us on her condition and what they were doing. She hadn’t seemed painful that night but after the fluids and getting the fever down a little, she was reacting to pain in her abdomen and lower spine. They did x-rays which were normal. No foreign object, no bad disk, no obvious anything. Silly, weird Annie. We went to check on her that late afternoon and to talk to the vet (Dr. Peters), trying to figure out what the hell was up with her. She had eaten some more (they had actual cooked, shredded chicken for her) but as soon as she saw us, she dove head first into the dry food they’d left out and was eating like she was starving. This is not unusual for cats. We took off the soft ‘cone of shame’ they use for cats so she could reach the food easier. She ate a lot and the techs and vet were happy. We were too! We left her there a second night, hoping the continued fluids would help with her fever and blood pressure.

Wednesday morning, the vet called (Dr. Amber) and they discovered that she was reacting more to the abdominal pain than spine. As she was getting better, she was reacting more so they could tell where she hurt and all that. We agreed to an ultrasound. A few hours later, bingo. We had our diagnosis. Pancreatitis. It was a diagnosis that was one we were looking at but had ruled out because the blood work didn’t reflect that. Nope, the little shit tricked us. The gall bladder was normal but the pancreas was enlarged and dark (infection). But the ducts from the gall bladder to the pancreas was huge. Dr. Knepshield had done the ultrasound and said it was the largest she’d ever seen.

The good news is the treatment we’d been doing (antibiotics, I.V. fluids, pain medication) was the typical treatment for what she had so it worked out. Because of the holiday, we brought her home last night. She is acting MUCH much better. Kinda slow still but she’s eating. She’s skittish which is to be expected. Damn it’s good to have everyone home!

Now, to back track a little. We saw Dr. Amber Monday night. They’re open until 9 every weeknight. She called us at 10pm that night to tell us how she was doing. Then, she called us at 8am and 9am to give updates. She’d come in on her day off to help with Annie and a dog that had also come in that night. Dr. Knepshield does surgeries on Tuesdays but she checked on Annie between each one. Then when she had an emergency surgery that afternoon, Dr. Peters stepped in. All of this for one little cat. Then the cooked chicken, then the multiple techs and front desk people that went back to pet and talk to her in efforts to get her to eat. Then Dr. Knepshield doing the ultrasound in between all of her other duties. And then and then and then….This is why we love our vets!

Granted, we sure paid for it! Holy cow, we’ve never had to pay out that much money before. Let’s just say we are on a payment plan. Not as bad as we thought but higher than we’d hoped. Worth every penny. Because there’s no cost you can put onto the obvious care and concern and extra mile these vets went to.

Weird Nocturnal Sound

We live out in a rural area. Open fields and small groups of trees, no real ‘forest’ any more. Where our house is, we’re in this dip, in a bowl like space, and sound echos. We hear our neighbors as if they were standing in our yard. Across the road (which is about level to the roof of our house), they have a pipe that drips water into an old bathtub. This is for the handful of cattle they have. Sometimes, we hear that water as if I am standing on the from porch, pouring it.

We’ve heard owls before here, mostly screech owls (which sound very creepy). But lately, this makes the third night, we hear this extremely weird call. The first night, we think someone is screaming, or calling out. Then we thought it was a weird house alarm or some dying dog. Whatever it was, it sounded as it if was in the front yard which means it could be anywhere within a square mile. It is really weird. Second night, about a week later, it only called out a few times. And tonight it did it again. I happened to be up (yes, at 4am; not been to bed yet) so I grabbed my iPod Touch and went out to the front porch.

The first time we heard it, it stopped when it heard me shut the front door. Which makes me think it was really close. This time, it was more distant and it didn’t stop. I recorded a few seconds out front then went to the back porch and recorded some more. Armed with that, I went online (Google is our friend) and I *think* it is a Great Horned Owl. Which would be way cool.

Here’s the sound from the front porch (it is raining and the calls have a dog down in the ‘trailer estates’ barking)

Here’s from the back porch (every time I thought it had stopped, I turned the iPod so I could turn it off but then it would start again. hence the scratching noises near the end).

Now, compare to this: (source – The Owl Pages)
Owlet calling for food
male squawk

What do y’all think?

Dog Ramp Revisited

We did some work on the dog ramp again. Nothing major, just added a railing. But the railing is about shin high to us so it is odd.

Joella does this thing we call “the bunny hop”. She barks and raises up so her front feet leave the ground. It’s just an inch or two. The more excited she is, the higher she goes. It’s funny to watch. Anyway, I was out back, on the side of the house with the dog ramp, and she was up there watching me. I can’t remember what I was doing. Anyway, she starts doing the bunny hop thing. She stumbles and her front foot slips off the top of the deck and she almost falls off.

We recently got a new riding mower (insert Tim Taylor ‘more power’ grunt) and I’ve been parking it in the back of the house. Joella loves to chase the lawnmowers and, not surprisingly, so does Mike. So I was using the new mower in the back near the dog ramp and saw Jo jumping and barking at me. Then she stumbled and almost fell off the edge again.

Then, a few days later, she is trying to come into the house but the boys are playing and they hit her. She falls down and nearly goes over the edge again.

We took the hint. We got some decking to make a nice wide railing and we put it up today. We wanted it high enough she could not fall but low enough they could see over it. We may later add a higher railing for human use but it’s not anything we are rushing to do.

This is Lorna standing on the ground as we put in the last piece. You can see how high the deck is on that side. It is even further down on the other side, where they do their looking and barking.

This is Lorna, Sam (the big guy), and Mike. Sam will no longer be able to jump from the ground up onto the deck (yes, he can do that with ease) but I think he’ll get over it. The railing is about chest high to him so it will be good. For some reason, Jo just would NOT come over to it. She didn’t want to so by george she wasn’t going to.

Finally, using her favorite treats, we get Jo to stand at the railing to make sure we got it good for her. We had to resort to measuring her and hoping we got it right because she just would not get near it when we were starting. Yes, she is a Princess. It turned out to be a little higher than we wanted but it will be fine.

We left an opening at one end because there just was no way to put in the railing without some redneck engineering. But when they do their barking and stuff, they are further down. We’re going to be watching to see if they move to that section just because there’s nothing there. (oh, and that’s my new lawn mower. A Cub Cadet.)

And here’s the finished thing. (click for larger version) And no, that railing at the end is not crooked. It is level. We think it is because the post on the left is higher than the post on the right so it looks tilted.

To refresh your memory (or to see what you missed)
Starting the ramp (12/7/09 – wow. has it been that long??)
Learning about the concept of “square”
And angles
Putting the boards down
Finished at last! (12/17/09)
Photos of it done (it snowed on 12/18 and covered it for over a week)