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21 Months - 23 Months: Final Evaluation Days 445 - 479

Malcolm Reynolds at your service.
In my final evaluation before Mom talked to Aunt Robin and saw if my In Training Patch could come off, Mom worked hard on some things with me.  I was going with her daily to client consults and demos in class and I was shopping with her all the time.  Some of my days were as long as 8 or 9 hours!  It was a hard push.

To make things even harder Mom had put a mat on the floor in the training center and insisted I stay on it, even if she was working another dog and I was to be quiet.  I couldn't smack talk the dog or her if she was working with another dog and she got down right mad at me if I gave her gruff or got up and wandered on my own.  Oh, it was serious mean time on Mom's part.

She was serious about my behaviors in public too.  I was to straighten up and fly right and make her proud.  I was to ignore other dogs and when in the beginning I tried to tell her I didn't think I could,  not unless she stuffed me full of treats, because I had noticed the treats had dried up, she told me to suck it up and get over it.  Well, I guess it was time to tighten my scrotum and get my big boy attitude in place.

We went to doctor's appointments, got Mom's x-rays with my going behind the wall with the ladies while she was getting multiple shots.  I laid quiet while she worked dogs in their homes and didn't get in the way or I did my play and socialization thing and then put on my harness and headed out and worked like I hadn't just spent the last 30 minutes playing with another dog.

I laid in parks and learned to ignore passing dogs while still with the wheelchair, but I am still learning about passing dogs while the wheelchair is moving.  I barked at a Guide Dog and Mom chewed me out for an entire bridge.  My bad.

I learned that if she put me in a down/stay I was in a down/stay - period.  I learned if she asked me to do a task I was to do it then and there and no goofing off Mister - I am working now and even if I may be wearing an In Training patch, I am now a working dog polishing the very last of my higher level public access skills and ensuring I remembered my lower public access skills.

I worked with many other student dogs to ensure I could work with any dog I went out with.  I can.  I am very professional with many dogs.

I polished up my retrieve and my directional cues and started adding new skills such as pushing buttons and helping with pulling doors open.  So, now I need to just keep plugging in skills as Mom needs them and polishing up with age.

Check out my shoes!
Mom wasn't mean about it, but the boundaries were tight and it was clear I had firm, black and white boundaries.  That's when things got a big weird.  See, Mom set up for us to meet the ambulance people in July and I was okay with them and walking around the ambulance until she wanted me to walk to it on the side.  I got scared and Mom thought it was the heat of the pavement, but it wasn't, it was the sound of the engine or so she thought.  It so so much more.

See, Mom had always had the van turned off when I approached it and always made me come to a complete stopped when we heard the sound of a engine when a car or van came toward us.  So, when the ambulance was running and she went to walk me into it, well, I stopped.  The rules are black and white you see.  You can't go to a running car, van or ambulance.  End of statement.  I know the rules.

Mom didn't get it, but she accepted my telling her not to go to the running ambulance and we went to the sidewalk.  She was really stressed and tired that day and had a lot of worries.  She, she had her surgery coming and was still arranging that and trying to get her bathroom setup to be done into a handicap accessible bathroom for the surgery and was working with SNAP and all.  A lot was happening and my Mom was under so much stress and her brain was fried.

She watched all of the other dogs go into the ambulance no problem and finally solved why I didn't.  She took me there and I drug her to the van and she brought me back and asked for the engine to be turned off and in I went.  Uh huh.  She got it.  After that she taught me with ambulances it is okay to go in them with the engine running and I am okay with it now, but boy, for a bit, it was freaky.

Then we worked on my helping other dogs learning how to play and socialize and that seemed to help me and then it happened.  See, Mom thought I may not be allergic to duck eggs, so she bought me some and gave me some.  I was.  I am allergic to the proteins in all eggs.  At the same time I either ate or was stung by a bee.  I won't tell.

I ended up with the hives running along my entire spine so thickly that you couldn't find a spot that wasn't a hive.  Some of them got so deep that I lost all of the hair and top layer of skin and down into the moist layer of tissue underneath.

The beginning of my tail problems.

The worst problem happened at my tail.  In a short period of Mom napping, which was happening more due to Mom not sleeping well, being over tired from working so hard and needing extra sleep and thus laying down in the middle of the day for a quick nap to recharge.  In the 30 minutes she had napped the first time I had torn a hank of fur out of my tail and left it bloody.  Within a short time I would leave myself bloody and in danger of infection.

Mom would end up shaving my butt, a lot, and I would be in horrible pain due to hive breaking out on my horse tail nerve system and oozing and gooing all over.  The first time she shaved me Aunt Kim Imel had shared her shaver and given Mom a special wash that kept me from getting an infection.  Boy did that sting!

The beginning of the end of them.
I ended up landing myself in Mom's lap when Grandma poured it over my tail to clean it up.  By the end of the week, when the last of the hives had broken out and Aunt Diana had brought her clippers and scissors to trim me up and clear up my bum so I could heal and get out of what I was certain was a torture device, the cone, I threw Mom to the floor and bruised her bum and was screaming and crying and licking faces to escape the pain.

Each time for another week Mom cleaned my bum I cried and it was a total of 2 almost 3 weeks I was on medial leave before I could go back to work for Mom and help her.  It would be before my birthday and before the final ambulance run, but I was really out of the service dog job for a while, even helping in the home, because I felt so bad I was not even interested in eating.  Mom ended up putting me on steroids and antibiotics just to finish making me better and by then I had cleared up on my bum, but she'd spent a lot of time fixing me up.

She never complained.  She cried because I was in pain.  She loved on me and did my care like I was her baby, but not once was she mad that I couldn't help her.

The day I returned to work she was beaming.  Just beaming.  I had some work on tightening up my skills again, but it didn't take much.  I wasn't far off from graduation, I was able to pick up like I hadn't left pretty much and the break seemed to reset me.

She had put me on probiotics and that seemed to really do my mood good and we ended with her telling and showing Aunt Robin where I was.  Aunt Robin had Uncle Bill tell her how I looked and they talked about it.

Mom was told that her surgery would happen on August 31st, 2015 and sometime in September I was looking at having my Public Access Test when Uncle Bill could get time off.  I was pretty stoked.  I was looking at getting my In Training patch off.  I felt ready.  I was doing the job.  I am a service dog.  Just let me be one!

So now is the perfect time, ask me your questions on how Mom got me ready, cause the next step is the big one.  What do you want to know that Mom did in the last 35 days with me before it happened - cause you'll see in my next post - I made it.  What do you want to know?

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