So, I got really good at doctor appointments. She's been seeing a lot of doctors since her surgery. I miss the nice lady who called me "Doggy" and worked on Mom's neck. She said Mom could take off her collar right around November/December and we started to work on getting Mom in to see a cardiologist, audiologist, physical therapist.
The collar was an issue. Mom had to sleep at a 45 degree angle and Mom was just plain uncomfortable. She would toss and turn and cry out in pain. I would do my best, I would lay close to her and she'd rest her hands on me or I'd put my face close to hers and she'd tell me how much she loved that.
It was during this time I learned how to wake her by placing my face on the bed and bumping my chin on the bed. She loved it and I have been doing it since. I sometimes put my nose on her ribs and bump my chin on her ribs or gently poke her back or rub her back with my nose. She's so gentle when she wakes when I do that and she smiles and rubs my cheek and says she's awake or that she needs a few more minutes. If that doesn't wake her I put my front feet on the bed and clean her face with my tongue - she hates that! If that doesn't work I jump over her and then wrap my front paw around her forearm or gently put a paw on her ribs or chest to wake her. Mom laughs then.
After her surgery she was pretty weak for a while. She would get close to fainting and say she needed air, which meant she would be close to fainting. For a long time her voice was tiny and windy and it took until almost December before it was normal. A lot of spinal fluid and blood had ended up in her chest.
Mom got me a great Christmas gift of bones and a toy and Freyja stayed over and we had too much fun. Sadly, Freyja and my other girlfriend fought and knocked Mom over and we think they broke Mom's hand - even though Mom, as usual, didn't see a doctor. It was more a minor hairline thing than a full break.
We did a lot of tests too. Big machines where I practiced laying nearby doing my Go To Mat and impressing the technicians with my dedication to my Mom. One of the machines was testing her heart and I had to lay 10 feet away from her on a mat for 8 minutes at a time while it clanged and banged around her head. I did and when they pulled her out and she needed to sit up, she would call me and I'd just line right up and stand so she could use my harness. The person working with us was really amazed at how I worked.
Mom faired through the winter okay, but mostly I think she was in idol mode. The big event of the year was I got a new niece. Her name is Cyerra and she smells wonderful. She's cute too. We went out to see her when Mom was still windy voiced and weak. She wasn't allowed to hold her yet, but Mom wouldn't hear of it. She was too excited and couldn't hardly wait the week between when Cyerra was born and she got to see her.
Mom was holding her in her lap when I stuck my nose under her bum and snorfed and then I just got too excited and ran my nose in her little bum like I do when I am really enjoying the grass. I really like my niece! I wish I saw more of her.
So, we did a ton of doctor appointments since last we spoke. We continue to see a lot of doctors. I am really good at them and I have learned to look at the door and then at Mom and tell her when a doctor is about to come in or move my ears in a way that warns her. It eases her anxiety and helps.
Now I get to go see my friend Jack once a week and I lay by the door while Mom talks to him. They talk about things that upset Mom, but Jack is good about calming Mom, so I just keep the door safe and make sure no one comes in and watch her. Jack always tells me I'm a good dog, which I love, and then I help Mom walk back to the van and off to home we go so Mom can either take a nap or we play with my chickens.
Life has become pretty set as a service dog and I love it.
Mom got into some trouble with a client whom she was helping. A young woman with some mental health issues ended up with a very young PomChi. I loved that little dog. He was such a great dog. Mom says he came from a puppymill and the people who got him got him in a parking lot. Kinda sad.
Another client of hers kept talking about the puppy biting the kids, biting the adults and the owner being at a total loss on how to raise the puppy and having been told by her mental health provider to get a service dog. Problem, when she went to adopt a Chihuahua at Spokanimal she was denied because of her small child and how he treated the animal. Out of anger she had purchased the puppy mill puppy to prove Spokanimal wrong and now the small puppy was fear biting.
The clincher was when, long before he should ever have been taken in, he was taken to a groomers for nail trimming and showed serious fear of other dogs and the groomer called him Cujo. Due to finances Mom offered free day boarding and training.
The puppy, came to stay with us and at first very afraid of all of us dogs, he soon learned we were cool and became my best friend. We have videos of him playing with me and lots of pictures of us together. I adored him.
Mom took him on Field Trips, to classes and taught him Sit, Down, Target, Zen, Come and Loose Leash Walking and how to lick the hand and not bite it. At one point she noticed he was looking too thin, had an injured ear and other signs of something not good happening; plus the owner was in a high risk pregnancy and had been in and out of the hospital many times. An offer of housing him for 3 weeks was made and accepted.
It turns out his ear was bit by a human, he was below weight by 1 pound and the management at the apartment reported he'd been loose so often she kept him for hours at a time in her office to prevent him from being hit in the parking lot.
Mom, now aware more was happening with the puppy than she believed before, knew it would take a long time with SCRAPS to investigate and help him, so she worked up a contract where all costs for training would be dropped (the client was paying for classes at the time) and when she went to return the dog was faced with an unexpected angry parent of the client.
See, her client had misheard the referring client and thought Mom was writing up some type of horrible contract instead of the type she did. Instead of payment for her services, Mom simply offered co-ownership during the training time until such time as the dog graduated and six months after - for that offer the owner got all of Mom's services - board and train, private training and classes at no cost. This included helping teach her child how to behave with the dog, her how to monitor and redirect the child and dog and to train the dog to a full service dog or companion dog, whatever her choice. Either way, the dog and SHE needed training.
Defaults on the contract were purposeful abuse to the dog, neglect of the dog and the dog losing weight for reasons outside of illness. Other defaults included the dog escaping the apartment (after so many escapes where she didn't even know the dog was out a zero tolerance was written in, but Mom was actually going to use a "three strikes" system with her and keep a record of each escape) and missing 2 classes. The reason for the last was because, up to that point, the client hadn't attended a single class with her dog. The referring client and Mom had done all of the training work with the dog and the client just let the dog run wild and escape the apartment when she had him. It was important she build and establish an understanding of how to work with her dog if she was to get any value from what Mom was offering.
All that was expected of the client in the contract was basic care for the dog. Nothing more than would be expected of any pet owner. Veterinary care when ill, food, water and shelter. No special food requirements - not even "the best the owner can afford" was written into the contract. No, feeding schedule, no dental schedule, no shot schedule nothing like that. Basic care. Keep the dog alive and healthy. That was it. Nothing extreme was asked of the client. It was a very simple contract!
But the father never knew that - he felt she was asking something extreme and that Mom wouldn't return the dog if she didn't sign the contract. This was something they made up - Mom never said that, but they were claiming this the moment she got out of the car.
Max was there and he told me everything. She had sent the dog ahead of her and didn't have him. They demanded him and Mom said she didn't have him. They didn't believe her. When she opened her van door to get Max they rushed into her van without permission to get the dog, only to find Mom had told the truth. They then threatened to call the cops and Mom said to go ahead, but she'd call SCRAPS. They stopped and the fight, one sided, continued. Mom ignored them.
In the end, she said she was concerned for the dog's safety and when she did and was screamed at again by the client's father, she simply went into the referring client's apartment and sat down. That was when the dog's owner came in and talked to her. She explained that the dog had come to her with sprained hips, a bitten ear and 1 pound underweight. She showed her the contract and said she didn't want her to sign it that night because everything was too emotional and she wanted her to think on it.
The client had a friend there. The friend said the contract looked good and she thought it a good idea. They left and Mom waited. She was waiting to return the dog, which she always planned to return. He was never being held as ransom, but she wasn't about to hand him over in the middle of that much emotion either.
A few minutes later the owner returned and said, "I know I don't have to, but I want too." and signed the contract. Shortly after that she sent her father away and everyone calmed enough Mom felt the dog was safe enough to be given over. She said the dog was always going to be given to her, signed contract or not, but not in that much emotion. The owner not only understood, but agreed she would have grabbed him so hard she would have hurt him. He was 12 weeks old at the time. She then asked Mom to keep him for the night so she could go out and hang with friends.
One week later the dog's Mom had allowed her son to put items in the dog's water and to solve it would take his water away from him and put the dog in his crate. She had been told he was so fearful he wouldn't eat, and that the owner had admitted to biting the dog's ear the first time.
See, when Mom had said she knew he had been bitten by a human and they thought it was the child, the owner was really upset. She kept asking Mom over and over how she knew a human has bitten the dog. Mom was too tired to pick up on the repeat questioning or she would have asked WHY she was so focused on that point. It was near 10:00 P.M. when they resolved the issue with the contract and by that point she was being grilled on "How do you know it was a human bite?" and Mom was not picking up her anxiety.
Two days later, after the contract was signed, she told two people she was the one who had bitten the dog on the ear and hadn't realized she had caused him such injury. She did it to calm herself. Mom became concerned. A child could be a once up thing; an adult calming themselves by biting a dog is a whole different story. The dog was in much greater danger, especially if the human was so willing to sit and bold face lie.
That was when Mom was told about the dog not eating well, fearful in the crate and the child chasing the dog. Mom had to talk to the client, but her schedule was full until Wednesday. The client also wanted to talk to her it turned out. That meant they could setup a schedule and begin training.
The first class had gone extremely well and she was a natural with timing and energy with the tiny dog, so all should go well if Mom could just get her past her worst behaviors and help her redirect her anxieties.
Then Mom got the report on the water and how she's taking it from the dog, the dog is still not eating and she's now begging the referring client to help feed him so he won't lose weight because he won't eat a bite in her home. That told Mom he was too stressed in her home to function and he was not coming to day training like he was supposed to.
Mom finally went to see her late, after a long day and heard the child chasing the dog and the dog scream. She had a client consult before she could see her. She went in and was handed the dog, who was thin, bit her on the ear and had a bite mark in his ear. She confirmed he hadn't been eating or eating well in the home, that she'd been keeping water from him, that her son has been chasing him and told her she knew of her confession about biting the dog. The referring client had left the apartment, the owner had a friend as a witness.
Mom told her she was in breech of contract therefore she was taking the dog and the owner told Mom to leave. Mom turned to leave, the owner jumped in Mom's ways and tried to push Mom off her feet and grab the dog and since Mom had opened the door to leave and saw the referring client waiting for her she passed the dog to her so she wouldn't fall on him and she could catch her balance. The owner turned away from Mom and body slammed the referring client and started to claw at her and continued to claw at her as she walked away while Mom side stepped around her and out of the apartment and left. The referring client was telling the owner to stop assaulting her and passed the dog to a third party. That ended the ordeal.
Or so Mom thought. She would end up charged with First Degree Burglary originally. The owner claimed that the referring client twisted her fingers while IN her apartment and Mom and the other person ran out with the dog. After many trips to the Court House and visits with Mom's Public Defender, Kevin Griffin, the charges got dropped down to Trespass. Mom was trespassing when she didn't leave when she was told to leave and the owner of the dog blocked her. Go figure.
The dog is with the owner still. This story isn't over. But I learned a lot. I learned how to calmly lay in the pews of a court room. How to do a security station quickly. I am an expert at the court house and beloved by many a security guard. I got my practice on with the buttons as we did this and got good at them. What I did learn is, Mom cared enough about one of the people involved she was more than willing to compromise her position to get him off completely.
Uncle Mark was the third person and because of his brain injury and how he talks he doesn't always represent himself well. Also, he's had some bad stuff on his record in the past, which meant he would have had the worst sentence of all involved. Mom had NEVER been in trouble with the law ever.
All Uncle Mark did was get handed a puppy, but his lawyer just told him to sign the papers for Guilty and go to prison. Really? NO!
So, Mom fought for Uncle Mark from her position. She worked with the prosecutor that she'd plead to a lessor charge, nothing with a "theft" in it, if Uncle Mark got off 100%. It worked and she held up her end. No way Uncle Mark was going to prison for being handed a puppy!
In one year the trespassing charge will be off her record and it will be as if it never happened. Other than a great story for her kids to tell.
Mom was at the same time coming up on her SSDI hearing and for 2 years had a lawyer for that upcoming hearing. That is, until 4 months out. Then she gets a letter in the mail and her lawyer had dropped her. GO figure.
She then scrambled around for a lawyer and three tell her no and finally she gets one that says yes. This is all around the same time she's fighting for Uncle Mark, trying to keep her client from going off the deep end in anxiety (yep, the client got caught and understood it was an accident) and her meds are under major adjustment. Excitement.
Dana Madison took her on, scrambled 3 months out from her hearing and got all of her ducks in a row and she won her SSDI hearing. Mom is officially disabled. Nice work Mr. Madison!
Mom has had some upheaval in her medications. The doctors upped one medication that causes her memory issues, speech issues and balance issues.
They also, without informing her, increased the level of hydrocodone she was taking, which increased her need for naps. It also affected her ability to drive. Mom started to fall asleep behind the wheel. Good thing she is working next door now and doesn't need to drive as much!
Overall, the medications are helping, but they make her sleepy and silly. I spend a lot of my day making sure she doesn't fall, doesn't walk into things and helping her around the house.
That leads to me. In the past year I have really learned what it means to be a service dog. I am more in sync with Mom and we walk and work like a team now. It's nice. We almost think like one person. She does a lot of refresh training with me and if I am sketchy on something instead of getting mad at me she just pulls out the treats and we add pennies to my bank.
Part of my work is visiting my Grandma Foster. She's 88 and in a nursing home and I get to eat foods that are bad for me because it makes Grandma feel better. I am many dogs to Grandma, but my chin rest and my laying quiet by Grandma is something that makes Grandma happy too. Because I am a service dog I am allowed in the building. Grandma has other old people friends and sometimes I greet them, but my goal person is my Grandma.
Sometimes I walk with her wheelchair. I am so glad Mom taught me to walk with them and I am not weirded out by them. Sometimes I get to help her eat her lunch. Sometimes I just lay by her and keep her company and listen to her stories.
With Mom I help with yard work, herding chickens (we have six), picking up things off of shelves, most of my work is helping her walk and I even learned to do it from both the left and the right sides, passive blocking, grounding and alerting to people coming in the room and more.
I tell her when to wake, tell her when Dieter needs out or when he's had a seizure. I even howled to warn her to sit down the day she fell through the floor. Didn't work.
I do silly things to cheer her up and I do gentle things to calm her down. Mom says I do so much for her, but I just see it as being her friend, her partner and her dog.
I hope to share more often now that Mom is back to feeling stronger and more like herself. It's been a tough recovery since the surgery; but I am so glad I have my Mom.