Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Last Day - Graduation!

Introducing from left to right: Kate from Your Neighbourhood Credit
Union - the Sponsors of Pina; Linda and Pina; David and Helen - Pina's Foster Parents for the first year of her life

It has been a long and emotional day! We did the circuit of skills commands this morning, followed by three talks: one from Alex Ivic explaining the contents of our graduation packets that we would be receiving in the evening, one from Julie ?, who is in charge of Fundraising, speaking to us about the Purina DogGuides Walks, and the final one from Melissa who is the Media Contact person. Then it was bath time for the dogs so that they would look nice for "grad"! After lunch, we were given permission for our first solo outings with our dogs off the premises without trainers!!!! Pina and I headed to Tim Horton's, and who should be there but Diane and Zeke, Chris, Alex, and Pesto! I returned to the residence to start packing, and then the dogs had their last "group play" at 4:00. Tony, the cook, had prepared a special graduation dinner of baked potatoes, roast beef, and carrots, followed by apple pie. There were actually table cloths on the tables, and the staff and trainers served us all. A very nice last supper.
The graduation ceremony was tri-lingual - English, French and Sign Language. Each group's lead trainer spoke, followed by a speaker or speakers representing each group of clients - HED, SRD and SSD, and the graduation packages were distributed. Then the emotional part - we met with the sponsors and foster parents of our dogs! The couple who raised Pina are from Waterloo, and the sponsor organization is also headquartered in the KW Area. It was an absolute fluke that Pina was matched with me - from Kitchener. I promised the Credit Union rep, and Pina's foster parents that I would happily be in touch with them as I continue my "Life With Pina". Although I had told her that I didn't need her to come, Lindsay did arrive for the festivities, and it truly was nice to have her here!
And so, dear blog, here endeth the first chapter. Chapter Two may continue, but not until I have made the transition back to my old life with my new dog, and taken care of some other pressing commitments. Good night.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We're winding down..........

Above: Jerry and Lilo having a bit of a problem with "Push/Open" -they were not meant to end up on opposite sides of the door!
Left: Pina and I enjoying a glorious fall day by Lake Ontario on our final group outing

My anxiety/anticipation level was quite high before coming to Oakville, and now it is mounting again as departure time looms! I know precisely how I want things set up for Pina in Kitchener (naturally wishing that the set-up could match exactly what I have here at DogGuide School but knowing that it can't!) David and Andrew have done their best to meet my specifications, but there has been some frustration and miscommunication on all sides! I'll just take a deep breath, and sort things out when I get home!
I no longer remember what we did this morning - I think we did a circuit of various commands, and Tracy demonstrated the "Steady" command which is to be used sparingly and only when absolutely needed whereby the dog stands rigidly to be used as an aid to balance or to get up from a fall. Our class did play a small prank on Tracy - Diane arrived without her dog (having hidden Zeke in Alex's room just opposite our classroom), waited for Tracy to notice that Zeke was not with Diane,and then Diane faked having forgotten her dog in her room on the third floor! Diane was the perfect one to do this, having, at various times over the past three weeks, lost earrings, her keys and even a tooth!
After lunch, we went over the contract that we are to sign with DogGuides Canada, affixed our signatures and now we and the dogs are a legal "team"! We then went on our outing - a trek down Wilson St. to a lovely little park overlooking Lake Ontario. It felt very good to be out in sunshine and fresh air!
Our class had our own special "pre-Grad" dinner this evening, having set up a private "dining room" in our classroom, far away from the noise of the kitchen, and the other groups and dogs. We invited our trainers, Tracy and Paulette to join us for pizza, pop, and Joannie's mom's apple crisp. We then presented them with a gift from our class - a card and a lovely orchid for each one. As Chris, Alex's mom, explained to them: "Since you are entrusting us to take care of the dogs that we have been given, we thought that you should both have something "live" to take care of!"
I had written a personal message for each of my classmates, Tracy, Paulette, and Chris, on "Thank You" cards featuring a sweet picture of five Lab puppies and decided to distribute them at our party tonight. Tomorrow evening may get a little crazy with all the graduating dogs and students, staff, the foster "puppy" parents of all our dogs, friends and family, and frenzied packing for those who are leaving very early Friday morning to fly home to various parts of Canada! The time here has gone by incredibly quickly!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Escape to Oakville Place Mall

Self-Portrait in Washroom at Mall

Yes! We were allowed out in public on our own for a bit today! Mind you, we did a "group" exercise under supervision upon arrival at the mall - having the dogs "Up/Push" the button to open the door, and then touring the mall as a group, using the elevator to the second floor two at a time under the watchful eyes of Tracy and Paulette, then going to the Food Court for lunch. A trip down memory lane for "Madame Jarrett" occurred, reminiscent of those Grade 8 trips to Quebec City, when Tracy handed out $10 to each of us to go to purchase what we wanted to eat, asking us to bring back a receipt and any change!Except that I am 61, not 14! But, after lunch, we were given free time and I toured both levels of the mall with my canine companion, made a few purchases, and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of being on my own! I also drove myself, Pina, and one of the trainers from the HED (Hearing Ear Dog) class to the mall and back, so that, too, felt quasi-normal! Hopefully it won't be too too difficult to re-integrate into society after my cloistered life of three weeks here.
We returned "home" at about 2:30, and Tracy suggested that we and the dogs rest until after dinner, and that we would do a short training session and let the dogs have a "group play" then. That would have been a wonderful plan, except that when I lay down for a wee nap, the HED class was doing an extremely loud-yelling-names-activity in the hallway right outside my door. Oh well, I am only in this room for three more days.
We added one new skill after dinner - an "UP/OPEN" to push on lever-type door handles. That won't be too helpful in my house (and I wouldn't want the wood scratched in any case!) but it might work elsewhere!
As we near the end of this training session in Oakville, I am becoming increasingly cognizant of just how much work will be involved once Pina and I are at home. To maintain the bond that is truly in its infancy at this point, to increase it, to keep and build on the respect that my dog has for me, so that she will want to continue to work for me, is going to require time, effort and vigilance. I think I am up to it. Let's hope so!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Last week of classes has begun!

Photo: "SSD Dogs" showing how they are NOT distracted from the "STAY" command, even when enticed to do so by having treats and toys tossed on to the floor in front of them! L to R: Pesto, Zeke, Fredy, Lilo and Perfect Pina.

Small disaster after break this morning! I had just finished doing my own personal "relief" (ah, the power of the euphemism!), and about to check in with Tracy/Paulette to say that I needed to take Pina to the "busy-busy" area before we reconvened, when I cut the corner on the doorway just a little too closely when exiting the washroom,trying all the while to keep Pina in a "Behind" command, and managed to dislodge the basket off the front of my scooter, sending the contents (including the small clip-on bag full of doggie treats!) flying and spreading all over the floor of my room!Because our dogs are not allowed to eat from the floor, I had to put Filey (yikes, I mean Pina!) in a "Stay" position while I picked up and reassembled everything. She did stay, and then held off doing her "busy-busy" until we were in the appropriate place, but we were late for class!
Classes today consisted firstly of a "Health" talk - from choosing a vet, to dental care, to nail-clipping, to flea prevention, to weight-management, etc.; then we reviewed "Take-Give", "Go-Get", "Tugs-Close", "Up/Push-Close" and "Paw-Close". I actually no longer remember what skills we are reviewing and which ones are new, and I'm starting to lose the correct terminology - at one point I just wanted to yell "Slam! Dunk!" to see what Pina might do! Our class went for a neighbourhood stroll in the afternoon (it felt so good to get out in the fresh air!), ending with a practice call for help (the dogs did the practice!). Our homework tonight was to have the dogs do two sequences of "Tugs" (to open) "Fetch" (an item) "Give" the item and then "Up/Push-Close" at the refrigerator and at the dryer. I am still eagerly waiting for the go-ahead to use the "Tugs-Close" on our room doors - maybe tomorrow (big help -read "sarcasm", since we leave on Friday morning!)Goodnight blog readers - I'll need every ounce of energy for our trip to the mall tomorrow!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Visitors' Day - Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ahhh! Aren't Pina and Legend a cute pair??? Legend may not be making direct eye contact with the lovely black beauty by his side, but he does have her paw gently held beneath his own!

Well, I committed two crimes today here at Doggie Camp! Both were with absolutely no malice of intent, and, in fact, both were done with the very best of intentions! With no classes today, and not expecting visitors until the afternoon, if at all, Pina and I were a little bored. So I took her to the classroom to do a little review work on skills. Bad, bad Linda! The dogs were supposed to have the day off today! One of the trainers from one of the other programs "caught" me, and explained, very kindly, that I wasn't supposed to "work" Filey (oh oh! I meant Pina!) today! Misdemeanour #2 occurred about a half hour later, when, with Pina on leash and Halti, I happened to hear Alex, his mom, and Pesto having a "play time". We all thought that it would be nice for the siblings to have a chance to play together for a while. Wrong!!! Another trainer "caught" us, and explained, again kindly and gently, that we were only to have the dogs have playtime on their own, unless the trainers were there to supervise - we have had two "group" playdates, but, yes, that was under supervision! The other "bad" thing that happened during this unauthorized playtime, is that Pina and Pesto were having a grand old time playing "tug of war" with a rope toy. "Tug of war" is ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN for Special Skills Dogs! Since they are so highly trained to retrieve items, and give them to us, any "tugging" game (especially as it gets quite rough and intense with another dog) is counter-productive! Wow - I still have lots to learn and only four more days to do so!
We were encouraged to "crate" our dogs in our rooms for up to an hour today, and leave them there with a marrow bone, and a radio playing, as a practice to avoid any separation anxiety. My own separation anxiety was dealt with by "scooting" on this glorious sunny day to Tim Horton's (three blocks away), to have my "usual" (for those who don't know me well, that's a small French Vanilla Cappuccino and a double-toasted cinnamon-raisin bagel with butter), and a chance to start reading, for the first time since coming here,"Three Cups of Tea".
And then, I did have visitors this afternoon! Andrew and Norah stopped by around 3:30 on their way back from Toronto to Kitchener (they had gone to the hockey game last evening, and stayed with friends), and then Lindsay and Lee showed up at about 5:30 en route to Kitchener to pick up their car/return Lee's mom's van (which they had been using to move things to their new abode in Toronto). It was wonderful to see my children (and their "significant others")and Pina was generally impressive with her behaviour and showing off a few skills. I felt badly that David wasn't able to come today. When he was here last Sunday, we had only had the dogs for four days, and interaction with anyone else was discouraged. Today, we were told to first make sure that our dogs were controlled, and then to let them interact physically with family members for a couple of minutes. This really is going to be one of the most difficult challenges - having a "working" dog after having had a family "pet" dog! Four more days of classes!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A bit of a nothing day - dogwise!

Pictured are the siblings, Pesto and Pina, with their humans, Alex and Linda. Alex is one terrific young man - I have enjoyed his infectious laughter, and his insightful observations, so much. His mom, Chris, is a wonderful "honorary" member of the SSD class!
Because I had special permission to leave Oakville for four hours today (11-3) to attend the Awards Luncheon at the MS Ontario AGM in Toronto, there really isn't much to add today about the ongoing adventure here at Doggie Camp! We had our morning "circle sharing" about how last evening and the night had gone. I brought some "show and tell" items to contribute. I had purchased a cheap but seemingly sturdy rubber doggie toy at Liquidation World yesterday, and Pina (I almost typed "Filey", our Golden Retriever who died in October 2008!)was having a wonderful time playing with it in my room, when I noticed she had managed to bite off a chunk of it! I quickly removed this new toy before she decided to chew and/or accidently swallow and choke on it! The high quality (and more expensive) twisted rope pull that I had purchased at the pet store was definitely the better option (even if she does chew and tear off some of the frayed ends). The trainers have assured me that this is not a problem - just think of it as dental floss! So, "caveat emptor" - you get what you pay for! I also demonstrated the extra Lifeline foam button (which is another way of calling for help besides the necklace which I wear around my neck at home)which I will be training Pina to "Nudge-Alert". While I was in Toronto, the rest of the class went on a city-bus training session (something that I don't need to deal with at this point, thankfully) and they did work on one new skill, "Go Get", involving sending the dog to "retrieve" a person in your home and bringing that person to your side if you needed assistance. David had better beware once Pina and I learn this one!(I'll have to do some remedial work on Monday, I guess!) Tracy (the trainer) left notes on the whiteboard in our classroom about Visitor's Day tomorrow - as long as our dogs are "under control" and do the "sit", "wait", "okay" - then family members can have a short physical interaction with them. The dogs will be out of harness, so that is why it is permissable. Hope I get some visitors!

Friday, November 6, 2009

One week to!

Today's picture gallery: 1) Photo on top can be called "Laundry Train, Ho!" showing me on my way back to my room from a very inaccessible laundry room, with machines whose doors open in the "wrong" direction, going through the HED classroom (whose clients were fortunately elsewhere) 2) Photo on the bottom - Pina is on the right, with Legend and Lilo to the left, all in perfect "Stay" position, even with our trainer, Tracy, trying to distract them by prancing Midnight, the collie, around them!
All in all, a good day today! No new skills were added, and Pina did well on the review of previously introduced ones. We did lose Michelle (Legend) and Diane (Zeke) after morning break - they both had not slept well last night, and went to take naps before the afternoon's outing. Poor Diane - Zeke had the "runs" last night, and on one of her trips to the "relief room" near midnight, she inadvertently locked herself out of her room! What made it even worse is that she is on the third floor, and the key to the elevator was on the lanyard with her room key! She had to knock on Joannie's door and call the staff member on duty to resolve the problem.
It was chilly, but wonderfully sunny, as we scooted and wheeled our way to Liquidation World, for another practice session of navigating aisles in stores, and preparing for people's reactions to the dogs. Upon our return, after a break, we worked on a circuit of Tugs, Fetches, Gives, Push, Push, Push, "Alert" and Help.
We broke a little early today, and our group met to go over the draft for our graduation speech for next Thursday night. I cannot believe that I will be leaving here in one week's time! Will I be ready to deal with the continued responsibility of reinforcing the skills of this incredibly trained dog? Yikes! Good night!
P.S. A humourous, but true, anecdote - While reviewing the commands for putting on the dog's equipment, and with Pina fussing a bit over the Halti, I got a little flustered, and while getting the harness, leash, collar, and Halti all untangled and sorted, while trying to keep Pina in a perfect "Sit" and "Wait" position, all the while giving commands, I inadvertently called her the wrong name:................................................................................................................."Penis! Halti"!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pet Store Day!

The photos with today's entry show firstly, most of our group (Diane and Zeke had already left the lounge area when Daniel, a caregiver to a young man in the Seizure Response Group, asked to have his picture taken with us). From left to right: Joannie with Fredy, Chris behind her son Alex with Pina's brother, Pesto, Linda with Pina, Michelle and Legend, Jerry and Lilo, and Daniel on the floor, and in the second photo -Alex with Pesto, and me with Pesto's sister, Pina (irritating Joannie and Fredy managed to mess up the background - that's nasty,Linda! Try to be more gracious!)
Well, last night marked my best night's sleep since coming to Oakville, and obviously a very much-needed one after yesterday's emotional upheaval. My alarm woke me, not Pina, for a change! I decided that since she was still sleeping (I couldn't see her and presumed that she was in her kennel), I would do my morning stretching exercises, and maybe even have time to get dressed before taking her to the "relief area". (I've gone in my pj's the last few mornings.)I did do that, taking care not to turn on any lights, and then, as I was doing up my shoes, still not believing that she was being so good.........................I discovered that she wasn't!!!! At some point during the night, that little rascal had climbed up on to the blue easy chair, shifted my purse out of the way, snuggled into the coat I had left flung there, and was happily still sleeping!!! I hadn't seen her because the room is quite dark with the blinds closed! "Perfect Pina" just dropped a few places in the ranking - she may not turn out to be scholarship material after all!I corrected her with a loud, firm "Off" which she probably inwardly laughed at - she had likely been on the chair for hours! That small regression in training was followed by my knocking the bowl of her dry food over while trying to transport it to my room to feed her - it was on the base of my scooter. These dogs are not allowed to eat from the floor, so I quickly put her in the kennel and hurried to pick up one and three-quarters cup's worth of dry chicken and rice pellets. This mishap was followed by my spilling orange juice up in the dining area. Potentially not a great start to my day, but fortunately things got better.
In our class circle discussion, several of us raised concerns with Tracy, our lead trainer, about how the physical set-up of the kitchen/dining/lounge area was so "un-friendly" to people using mobility aids! Tracy must have taken our concerns to the powers-that-be, because, by this evening, some changes had been made for the better! We are all very much aware that we are the very fortunate beneficiaries of a not-for-profit organization, but the changes we were suggesting did not involve a cost!
Our skills work this morning consisted of "Tugs" and "Fetch" to open a clothes-dryer door, and to retrieve an item from the dryer; "Fetch phone" to pick up and deliver a portable phone from a desk or counter top; (did I remember to talk about "Fetch leash" from yesterday?)and finally "Alert" to press a HelpLine button with a paw. Tracy advised me about the training I can do to have Pina
"Nudge" my LifeLine foam circle thingamajig that I am going to install under the kitchen island.
Then the afternoon outing to a Pet Store! The most special part of that trip for me was being asked if I would mind driving myself and Pina, since I am the only one here with a car. (The two accessible vans they have here wouldn't be able to accomodate all of us, our dogs and our mobility devices in one trip, and the Pet Store is some distance away.) Would I mind??!!!! The sheer joy of being a free individual again was wonderful! Pina handled the new experience quite well, and I was in heaven! I did purchase some special treats for her, and was pleasantly surprised at the sizeable discount we received because we were with DogGuides of Canada. It's nice to know that there are some advantages to being disabled! And so ends today. It is so hard to believe that in one week Pina and I will have graduated and will be on our way home! I do look forward to being in my own surroundings and with friends and family whom I have known for much longer than three weeks!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Picture Day!

Almost Perfect Pina pressed my patella at precisely 6:50 a.m. this morning - the second day in a row! I did have my alarm set for 7:00 a.m, so that wasn't too bad, and she did go back and lie down peacefully until I was up and ready to take her to the relief area! My sleeping patterns are going to have to change a bit when I get home with this new baby! (David will be pleased - I do tend to stay up too late at night.)
Well, as evidenced by the photos, today was picture day at DogGuide School, with both individual and class photos being taken of the three classes - SSD (Special Skills Dogs), HED (Hearing Ear Dogs), and SRD (Seizure Response Dogs). That took up most of the morning! This afternoon, Tracy, the trainer, visited each of us in our rooms to have the dogs work on a "Fetch" and "Give" exercise in a different, more private, and individualized venue, as well as the bark for "Help" command. We then went back to the classroom to add "Fetch" to the "Tugs" command, so that when Pina opened the fridge door, she also brought me a bottle of water! (Mmmm, I'm just not quite sure if she can work up to my bottle of white wine when we get home!)Following break, the dogs had a "Group Playtime" which was hilarious to watch, and impossible to get photos of! We stopped class early today, and told to take the rest of the day "off" as far as working any more on any skills - we all, dogs and humans alike, have been working very hard, and need a break! This human named Linda definitely needed a break - for some inexplicable reason, I was emotionally distraught this afternoon, and, naturally, Pina fed off of that, and was not nearly as compliant as she has been, and this, naturally, did not help me at all! I put Pina in her kennel in my room, and had a half-hour nap before dinner. This did help, and I am making myself a promise to go to bed early tonight!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week Two continues.............

Well, dear dogblog readers whoever and wherever you are, no photo with this entry! Not that there weren't a lot of "photo ops", but yours truly just didn't have the energy to take too many today. The one I did have someone take in Fortino's, the grocery store about six blocks away, just ended up depressing me because it was another "wagon train" shot. I think I will feel so much better when Pina and I are home just being Pina and Linda, rather than part of the SSD (Special Skills Dogs) "class-in-training". Please don't misunderstand - the trainers are terrific people and I have truly enjoyed almost all of the others in my group! I must be truthful - there is one "client" in our group who is beginning to be quite irritating, and I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I feel badly for the dog who has been placed with her, because it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the dog is removed from her keeping within the next six months. What a waste of a highly trained dog that would be! It is hardly my place to be judgemental in this situation, so I won't dwell on this, but rather focus on my own progress with Pina Colada! We added two new skills today - "Push" on the kind of door with the horizontal bar type of opener, and "Tugs"! I was so happy "Tugs" has finally been introduced, especially living in this residence! I can hardly wait until we are allowed to have our dogs do this for us outside of class! (Patience, patience..............I'll tell you what "Tugs" is in a moment.) Just to explain - the dogs have all been completely trained in all these skills, BUT they have been doing them for the trainers who trained them. In establishing the very important bonding with us, the new "humans" in their lives, "baby steps" need to be taken as we build up the dogs respect and willingness to do these things for us. Not all of the skills will be needed by all of the clients, but we are being exposed to them, and are encouraged to practice them all. Now "Tugs" is the skill where the dog can open/close doors,chest drawers,cupboard doors, refrigerator doors, washing machine/dryer doors provided that a tie, or a sock rope, or pull of some sort is attached to the item to be opened/closed. I may not have Pina use this skill too too much at home (although I can think of a couple of places where it might be handy), but here? It has been such a pain dealing with the two large doors in my room - the one from the hall into my room, and the door to the bathroom - when on my scooter with a dog's leash in one hand, and manoeuvring the scooter with the other, and constantly being at a wrong angle to try to close the door! I'll use "Tugs" as soon as we are given permission to make my life here a little easier!
I am feeling a little "brain-dead" today, perhaps suffering from information overload! With the introduction yesterday of the SSD harness as the official "uniform" when out in public came additional do's and don't's.(I already messed one of those up tonight - she is not supposed to do her "busy-busy" when in harness, and I forgot to take it off when we went to the "busy-busy" toileting area!) Good night - Pina and I must get our beauty sleep because it is picture day tomorrow!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week Two has begun..................

Photo captions: Piña sporting her new "leathers" - the SSD (Special Skills Dog) harness which she must wear in public to legitimately be allowed public access anywhere, and Piña and myself at Tim Hortons - my first French Vanilla Cappuccino in a week!

And so begins the second of my three-week Oakville "holiday"! Piña and I both had a good night's sleep, and she then acted as my back-up alarm clock! I had set the alarm for 7:00 am, awoke at 6:50, and drifted off again, only to open my eyes just before the alarm went off to see my dog waiting patiently at my bedside! What a good dog! (We are into a great deal of positive reinforcement here.) In class this morning, we reviewed "Stay", "Fetch", "Give", and "Push" - she did well on all four commands. Good girl, Piña! Just before lunch, they opened the gift shop for us to browse - the items here are not for the dogs (we have an outing to a pet store later this week, or next, for them), but for the humans, and to support Lions' Foundation. I did my part by purchasing a tee-shirt and a squall jacket. After lunch.............ta da!........we were "let out"! The group excursion (read "caravan" or "wagon train"!) consisting of two scooters (one large, one small - mine!), two electric wheelchairs, one manual wheelchair, and a walker, six dogs, six clients and three trainers made quite the procession down Wilson St. to Tim Hortons, where the humans were treated! For me, that treat was preceded by my second "melt-down". I just found it too overwhelming and frustrating to be a part of that large of a disabled group trying to fit into small spaces! I am far too used to being "Ms. Independance"! Fortunately, my little emotional reaction passed relatively quickly, and having fresh air and sunshine for a change was wonderful! We came back, had a break, and then reworked the "Fetch" and "Come" command, before being assigned 15-minute playtimes for after supper, where we can take our dogs, one at a time into the large "gym" area, and let them go crazy with toys, allowing them to be just "ordinary dogs" for a while, instead of "working dogs". Dinner was special, in that Chris, young Alex's mom, had overheard Jerry talking about it being his birthday, and had gone to buy a birthday cake for him, which we shared with everyone in the dining room. It was then that I learned....gulp!....that I am the elder stateswoman of our "motley" crew, being some seven months older than Jerry!
I'll report on playtime tomorrow - I think we will both be too exhausted after our workout tonight.
P.S. Almost forgot! My friend Barb made an excellent suggestion in an e-mail to me this morning. I should either drop the "d" in my name to become "Lina" to rhyme with "Pina", or I should change Pina's name to "Pinda". It would make it all so much easier, don't you think?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Our day of rest - not!

Well, if I ever figure out how to post a photo and my written blog so that they appear as I intended, you will see how I have artfully arranged Piña's Playtime as a study in black and orange in honour of Hallowe'en! Shortly after the photo was taken, I discovered that the orange ball had been half-eaten! So much for Perfect Piña! Blog readers, take note! I have discovered how to give my dog's name a bit of an "international" flair. She is no longer plain Pina, but Princess Piña Colada (should I decide to go the "Dog Show" route - NOT!)
Today was the first day without any classes (which resume tomorrow), and I think Piña and I both missed the structure to the day. Last night was the first night she had "permission" to sleep outside of her "kennel" in my room, so I gave it a try. She chose to play with the blanket that I had so lovingly placed on the floor for her to sleep on, so I had to remove it before she shredded it. I left the kennel door open, but it is around a corner from where I sleep, so I am not sure if she slept in there the whole night, or not. She did come over to give me a little nudge around 3:30 a.m., but I decided to ignore that it was happening, and she went away!
You no doubt have heard the adage that bad things happen in threes? Thank goodness, all three were minor, and happened this morning, so that I didn't have to have that on my mind the rest of the day! The washer and dryer to which we have access is in a very small room with a door that opens inward and doesn't like to stay open. By the time, my dog, my scooter, me and my rolling laundry basket were in there, the fact that the machines have been stupidly placed so that the doors each open to the centre, made it extremely difficult to switch the load of washing from one to the other. I tried putting my dog in a "Stay" out in the narrow hallway, but that did not work with other people and dogs trying to get through - YIKES!!! By the time I got everything and everybody back to my room, I just wanted to cry! (Bad thing #1) As a result of the laundry fiasco, I was late for lunch, and the last of the pizza was gone! (Bad thing #2). In attempting to placate myself with a cup of coffee,and navigating opening the very inaccessible fridge to get the carton of cream, all the while with a dog attached to my left hand, I ended up spilling cream on my jeans and the scooter (which Piña delighted in licking up). (Bad thing #3)
Thank goodness, things improved in the afternoon. It was Visitor's Day, and David (as in "Whitfield", my husband)came to see me. That, in itself, was emotional! We both have so much to learn and adapt to with the arrival of this "working dog" into our lives! It was so good to see and talk with someone from my real life! After saying a teary good-bye to David, I fed and "busy-busy"-ed Piña, and was about to go up the ramp to supper when I heard a strange sound in my room! The first phone call I had received here!
It was wonderful to have a chat with Lindsay. I had managed to contact Andrew last evening, so now, with my family ties re-connected a bit, I feel re-energized and ready to face Week 2 of Doggie Camp. Good night all!