Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Traveling Home from Training at 4 Paws...AND MORE!

I know, I know...you've been dying to know how things are going.  I completely understand!  I can't believe it has been two weeks since we got home.  Yes, we are alive and okay.  The minute we got home, life jumped back into the fast lane and away we've gone.  :o)  Instead of getting home on a Saturday evening and having a relaxing Sunday at home, it was off to the races Tuesday morning getting back into routine of getting kids up and ready and off to school.  Wow, I was definitely on vacation while we were in Ohio!!!

Jacey fell asleep with Dubbie nearby...

We got to the airport to stand in line for checking in and going through security.  It's a good thing we got there when we did or we may have missed our flight.  I'm grateful to have such a small airport to fly out of here in Montana because going through check in and security is a BREEZE compared to Detroit!   The only downfall that comes with a small airport, in Montana, is that it is expensive to fly anywhere! 

I must say it was a nice reprieve in Detroit by only having two flights home instead of three.  On our first flight before take off, the lady sitting behind Judd in the aisle seat told Jacey in a playful yet serious way that "they" don't allow crying on airplanes.  She said it over and over so sweetly.  I just laughed and told her, "Just wait..."  The guy sitting next to her laughed.  I was serious!  And true to form, Jacey had a fairly good meltdown in the middle of the flight.  This lady had taken a walk down the aisle and had come back in the middle of this lovely meltdown and just stood in her seat area watching me struggle trying to get Jacey to calm down.  I tried coloring, books, magazines, cookies, juice, matching cards, and all of my other tricks that I keep up my sleeves to no avail.  Jacey was seriously over-tired and sick of being confined - who could really blame her for wanting out of the plane.  I know I did!  Well, this lady continued to stare over our seats at us as Jacey continued in her meltdown.  I finally asked her, "Is there something I can help you with?!"  To which she responded, "It looks like someone could use Super Nanny."  I quickly said that Jacey had Autism and turned back around to deal with Jacey.  I was furious!  I wasn't about to say another word to this woman or it was going to be ugly.

Have you seen Super Nanny?  Who is it that Super Nanny really comes to "fix"?  Yes, the children become much more well-behaved but it is the PARENTING that has issues.  If only this woman knew.  I would have loved to tell her to give it a try for a day.  The things people say!  Judd didn't think much of her comment but I read a lot more into it than he did - hey, I'm female, what can you expect?!  Either way, I was grateful to finally have Jacey calm down until of course, the last twenty to thirty minutes of the flight while we were descending.  Judd took her for a walk up and down the aisle and eventually she snuggled into me and fell asleep for a short bit.  I might be willing to admit that I may have as well!

Going for a "walk"!

Finally...she crashes!

The last flight from Salt Lake City to Great Falls was a quick one.  But in true form, Jacey was unhappy as we descended.  It took FIVE flights and how many flight attendants before this final flight attendant gave us drinking cups with HOT, wet napkins in them to place over Jacey's ears.  It would help to relieve the pressure since she wouldn't suck on anything.  I was very grateful for someone trying to help.  Jacey would allow me to hold them over her ears for so long and then would want to look at them.  There was an older gal across the aisle from us that also gave Jacey a piece of gum.  She chewed on it for a while but I knew it would eventually get swallowed.  I was extremely grateful to the different feeling in the air on this last and final descent.  People wanted to help!

So....here we are today at the end of December.  Christmas has come and gone somehow.  Jacey and Dublin are doing great.  Jacey has really sped up the process of feeding Dublin by turning the treat bag upside down and letting it all fall out.  :o)  It is great to see the bonding continuing to take shape.  Jacey LOVES ziplock bags lately, so I will put a few of Dubbie's treats into one.  She runs around the house with him following close behind.  The giggles are great to listen to! 

Jacey continues to love Dublin's place. 
She even allows Kenna to come and enjoy!

Jacey was tethered to Dublin at the school Christmas Concert. 
She did great with him by her side!

Sasha and Dublin.

I think the best Christmas present I received on Christmas day was while Judd took Jacey and Dublin outside so he could work on our fence.  (Yes, he finally let me order all of the materials to enclose our yard!)  Dublin and Jacey were playing quite well together and it was fun to see him chase her around.  I went back to cleaning up from the morning when I heard whining, yelping, and barking.  I first thought that it was our other dog Sasha but she was in the house.  I opened the back door to see what was going on....  It turns out that Jacey had left the yard and had gone around to the front of our house.  Dublin couldn't see her anymore!  What a great gift!  Jeremy had said during training that Dublin would do that eventually when Jacey disappeared from his sight.  It truly shows the bonding is going well.  To know that I will get a warning from Dubbie if Jacey gets away....

Getting some snuggles with Dublin.

I am so grateful for this experience and for this new journey we are on.  We've done a couple of tracks with Dublin since getting home.  One was in Walmart a few days before Christmas - yep, it was interesting but successful!  We also did two in our yard on Christmas Eve.  I put our "Graduation" picture as my wallpaper for the computer.  It's somewhat surreal to see us sitting with a dog with the trainers surrounding us.  It was just yesterday that I was drooling over someone else who was graduating with their service dog, wishing for my day to be here.  I can now say that we are official 4 Paws Graduates.  We definitely still have our work cut out for us in transferring the behavior disruption techniques over to Jacey and continuing our practice tracks.  (Good thing I didn't have to track Jacey yesterday - 37 degrees with wind gusts up to 30 mph.  Jacey's scent would probably have ended up in South Dakota!) 

I am forever indebted to those who helped us get to where we are at today.  For all the donations that came in to get us to our $13,000 goal, to the donations for help in our traveling, to the anonymous donor who bought our airline tickets, and for all the thoughts and prayers sent our way.  Jacey is truly blessed!  And now her blessing follows her around the house to see what she is up to!  Thanks for making this a reality for us.  I hope to do better in keeping everyone updated as to what's going on, but please forgive me in advance for the time in between posts, as I feel like a chicken running around with its head cut off some days! 

Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy New Year!  Until next time....


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Traveling Home from Training at 4 Paws

As you read yesterday, I went to bed WAY too late Friday night.  Well, Jacey decided that I apparently didn't need any sleep at all by waking up at 2:30 in the morning.  I quickly gave her more Melatonin but she didn't go back to sleep until after 4:30.  I'm pretty sure I was in and out during this time.  She was relaxed enough that she stayed in bed and played with the TV remote.  I then woke up at 6:00 to get ready and finish packing our last minute stuff.  We went to breakfast and left the hotel at 7:30.  We took a classmate's father to the airport with us because he was flying out shortly after us. 

We woke Jacey up to get ready for breakfast and to get on the road.  She was pretty mellow!

Our last breakfast at Homewood Suites.

Jacey prefers our food over hers this morning.

It went smoothly in the airport.  Going through security was a breeze except for having to basically put ourselves back together with all of our loot.  Jacey's coat and shoes, my coat and shoes, Judd's computer back into it's case, Dublin's harness and collar back on, and more.  I think it took us longer to get our stuff put back together than it did waiting in line to go through security. 

I told Dublin down...Jacey followed the command very well also!

Waiting for the plane in Dayton, Ohio.

I bought some Teddy Grahams within the airport because Jacey decided to dump what was left of her snacks onto the seat of our rental car.  (They were a life saver when we got on the plane.)  Jacey did not enjoy just sitting on the plane in her carseat waiting for everyone to load and waiting for takeoff.  Dublin did fairly well on the airplane.  During take off you could see his bomb slightly quiver.  I talked "happy" to him and gave him some treats.  Throughout the flight, I'd lean over, as best I could, and praise him and give him more treats.  And of course, about twenty to thirty minutes before landing, Jacey decided she'd had enough fun.  Once we landed, Dublin seemed more than thrilled to get off the plane.  :o)  But of course, it took a little time to be allowed off. 

Once we got into Detroit, Judd and I had to part ways on the "people mover".  I walked with Dublin along the side of it while Judd tried to keep up with Jacey as she ran along it.  Dublin behaved well in the airport.  Judd and I got separated at the first escalator when I had to go up in the elevator.  I guess he went back down and then up with Jacey while he waited for us.  I thought they had just gone on ahead.  Needless to say, it was about half way to the end of a tram line that I realized there even was a tram.  I think we got out of the elevator at gate thirty-something.  They had the people movers along the walkway, but of course Dublin and I weren't allowed on them (they don't want his paws to get caught at the ends so we aren't allowed to take the dog on them).  Our gate was A72.  Yep, I walked a loooooong way before figuring out there was a tram that wasn't going to do me any good at that point.  Judd and Jacey showed up at the gate shortly after I arrived there.  I guess they saw me ahead and started heading that way.  I was pooped by the time I got there considering I was hauling the carseat...and a big belly!  :o)
Judd grabbed Taco Bell for us for lunch.  We ate at the gate and shortly into our gourmet meal, they announced that our flight was canceled due to weather in Minneapolis.  Judd quickly went to find out what other flights we might be able to get on to get home.  In the end, all flights to Minneapolis were canceled as the airport was shut down there.  We couldn't get to Denver, Salt Lake City, or Seattle even.  Judd tried for getting out on Sunday to no avale.  We have guaranteed flights out of Detroit for Monday to Salt Lake City with a short layover and then on to Great Falls.

So by this point of attempting to get on other flights, Judd got a cart for all of our stuff.  Jacey got to ride on it, strapped in her carseat.  We went to the baggage claim area and spent more time there trying to get our bags out from the back.  They didn't want to give them to us, but considering we were going to be here all weekend with Dublin and Jacey, we needed the dog food and diapers out of the bags.  They told us it would take a couple of hours to find them and get them out so we went in search of a hotel.  The airline also gave us dinner vouchers which they didn't have to do. 

Ahhh, a cart to carry all of our stuff!

Judd works on getting our checked baggage for our "weekend vacation" in Detroit!

Riding the shuttle to the hotel.

We are staying at the Fairfield Marriot right by the airport.  A couple hours after settling in, the airline called to let us know that our bags were available for us to pick up.  Judd took the shuttle back to the airport and got them.  For dinner, we walked two blocks down to a Big Bob's Restaurant.  We enjoyed a nice meal and I indulged with a banana split.  Mmmmm, it was really good.  I'm ready to go back and get another one.

Jacey got all of her loot out from her backpack.

Jacey crashed for a little nap!

Jacey and Judd went swimming for a short bit in the hotel's pool while I watched from the sidelines with Dublin.  There was a little girl that was having a swimming pool party for her birthday so there were a bunch of kids making a lot of noise.  I brought my knitting project and took pictures of the two of them.  We made the swimming short because of the noise.  Jacey went to bed well and slept in to about 7:30 this morning. 

Waiting for Judd to get ready for swimming.  Jacey enjoyed the shower!

Dublin considered joining her...but held off for a day!

Our little fish seems happy!

Enjoying her time with Daddy!

Jacey crashed hard after swimming.  :o)

We went down to breakfast at 8:00 and they had a fairly good breakfast selection for us, which was nice to find.  We went back to the room where I sorted out the laundry needing to be done.  Judd got on the phone with Delta to find out about our flights for Monday and to see if there was any possibility of getting out today.  We'll be flying out Monday for Salt Lake City.  It's been kind of nice just hanging out.  Jacey was a bit cranky while Judd went to do laundry and get work done.  But she snapped out of it and had a blast giggling in the shower area. 

Jacey enjoyed our bags while I sorted laundry.

Judd came back and we took Dublin for a couple of tracks.  He did good.  You knew exactly when he heard her because his tail would start wagging like crazy and he'd be off to get her.  It was great to see their bonding taking shape!  Judd then went across to McDonald's and grabbed us lunch.  We stayed at the hotel because it was snowing outside and I didn't want Jacey out in it - she's been out in the weather enough the past two weeks.

After eating lunch down in the breakfast area, Judd and Jacey got their swimsuits back on in the room and went swimming.  Again, I took my knitting.  It was a lot quieter in the pool area which was a welcome relief!  Jacey is such a joy to watch giggle as she gets in and out of the hot tub. 

Jacey comes to say hello to Dublin and me.

Smiles for the camera!

Jacey enjoyed going back and forth in the hot tub with dad.

Dad shows Jacey the little shower.

Hmmmm...what should I do next?  Shower or hot tub?

Getting dried off just to go back to play with the little shower.

Looks like a rough life doesn't it?

The little shower...

We're back in the hotel room enjoying as much "R and R" as Jacey will allow us.  She took a good nap, allowing me to update yesterday's post with pictures.

Until later...


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 11 of Training at 4 Paws - TEST DAY!

I know I'm a day off from when I should have posted about our final day of class at 4 Paws.  However, since we went to visit Don and Bonnie right after graduation and then got back to the hotel to pack up all of our "stuff", I figure you could wait.  Hopefully you weren't up too late waiting for something that never got done last night.  Sorry if you did.  I was up until around midnight making sure everything was cleaned out of the hotel room and packed well.

Jacey wanted to play in Dublin's kennel.  He wanted to join her!  :o)
(Imagine hearing giggles when looking at this picture!!!)

I was the first up for the public access test at the mall.  Judd and Jacey stayed back at the hotel while I went to work with Dublin.  Jacey woke up at 6:30 Friday morning and Judd was already up.  He gave her some Melatonin thinking that she'd be able to go back to sleep for a while.  Well, she did by the time I had to leave for the mall!  :o)  Judd was able to get some work done with a quiet hotel room. 

I met up with the trainers at the mall.  Jennifer followed behind me a ways and had to see certain things done with Dublin.  Such as walking by a stroller, having someone come up and pet him, stopping and having him sit, stopping and putting him in a down, from a down calling him to me and having him come, dropping the leash and quickly picking it back up, having a surprise "noise" to make sure he didn't spook, and I'm sure there are other things that I am forgetting, besides of course having him heel to me.  He did fabulous on our twenty minute walk.  After that, we went and found a comfortable spot in the food court for another fifteen minutes for our "restaurant" test.  Dublin took a good little nap under the table while I made a few phone calls.

Jennifer came back to let me know that we officially passed our test and that we could head to 4 Paws to do our paperwork.  Dublin and I were the first to get there and went through the contracts, vet history, and all the other needed things to be able to bring him home with us.  He got his heartworm and fleas/ticks medicines also.  He even got a bandanna!  :o)

I went back to the hotel after 4 Paws and picked Jacey and Judd up so we could run some errands.  Afterwards we went back to the hotel and were able to sit and "veg" for a little bit before heading back for graduation. 

Jacey got to play for a bit before graduation began.  Of course, she went to find the crayons! 

Karen Shirk, Founder of 4 Paws for Ability

Judd and Dublin await our turn for pictures.

Graduation was fantastic.  Each family got to go sit in front of the "4 Paws Graduates" sign and had LOTS of pictures taken of them.  Jeremy then awarded each child with a certificate stating that their dog was a legal three-unit service dog.  Afterwards, there was cake (with yummy frosting!), chips, and drinks.  Lots of visiting and more pictures.  I can hardly believe that our eleven days of training are over and done.  The time really flew by!!!  It was bittersweet yesterday, knowing that each family passed their test and having to say goodbye to new friends.

Chris and Mercy
Griffin and Nokia

Riley and Beauford
William and Pumpkin
Owen, Annabelle and Cyber

Sean and Flutter

Drake and Sushi

Matthew and Flash

Tucker and Champ

Alexander and Zoom

Noel and Kiwi

We PASSED!!!  Jacey and Dublin

Afterwards, there was cake (with yummy frosting!), chips, and drinks.  Lots of visiting and more pictures.  I can hardly believe that our eleven days of training are over and done.  The time really flew by!!!  It was bittersweet yesterday, knowing that each family passed their test and having to say goodbye to new friends.

4 Paws Graduation Cake

Jacey and Judd shared a piece of cake.

Once Dad's cake ran out, Mom was looking pretty cool!

Jacey found a lonely piece of cake on one of the chairs.  Turns out to be Crista's.
She was more than happy to share with Jacey!  :o)

Jennifer - Senior Trainer, Jeremy - Head Trainer
Christy - Trainer, Me, Judd
Jacey and Dublin

It was such a wonderful experience meeting other families that had some of the same issues that we have with Jacey.  Judd had to just about drag me out of 4 Paws because like Judd says, I have a lot more words to use up each day than he does.  :o)  We had to stick to the clock because we were again invited to Don and Bonnie's home for dinner - PiZzA!!! 

The evening was a complete 180 from our first visit with them.  I'm sure they thought we had brought a different child.  Judd and I were shocked by Jacey being so calm as she was, considering she had a nap earlier in the day.  Don and Bonnie had gone and bought a coloring book and crayons for Jacey along with a bag of foam blocks.  Jacey felt right at home there and dumped the entire bag out on the floor.  She then went and dumped the crayons out and colored/scribbled a few pages.  The pizza they ordered was really good and it was nice to see Jacey eat.  (She wouldn't eat lunch earlier in the day.)  She also enjoyed her pop!  She was entertained with the blocks and coloring, and of course was interested in sitting in my lap to do the coloring.  :o) 

Jacey brings the blocks to the table to play with.

We had a wonderful visit with Don and Bonnie.  I'm glad that we went back and that I was able to enjoy myself so much.  It was interesting because Don brought in two coyotes that he had trapped that I wanted to see.  Dublin wasn't sure what to think of them.  He got pretty shaky and his tail went between his legs.  Apparently he shed a bit in their kitchen also.  We tried really hard to make it a positive experience for him but he wouldn't go near them.  I just "happy" talked him and gave him treats.  I told Judd that it is his job to get Dublin adjusted to this considering what he has in store for him when we get home!  Dublin didn't want to go near Judd the rest of the evening which is something we are going to ask Jeremy about when we get home. 

Jacey brought lots of smiles to all of us after dinner when they brought out the ice cream.  We figured we would just share bites with her to keep her a bit cleaner.  But she had other plans.  Bonnie went ahead and gave her a small scoop in a bowl of her own.  After sitting down at the table, Jacey managed to do a quick switch-aroo with Judd who had a full bowl of ice cream.  She wasn't going to give it up either.  There were laughs over Judd trying to sneak some ice cream out of her bowl and her not allowing it. 

Don was a softie, giving Jacey some chocolate syrup for her (dad's) ice cream!

Dad's ice cream sure tastes good!

Do you think she enjoyed her ice cream?

She got really hyper and started running around the house with the bag for the blocks over her head.  She also dumped the blocks on their kitchen table.  More giggles were heard and the guys started playing with Jacey.  They attempted to clean up the blocks and put them back in their bag but Jacey would run by and grab it.  She'd then giggle like crazy as she dumped it all out.  I think she enjoyed the game!  :o) 

Anyways, we had a great time with Don and Bonnie.  Jacey needed a bath and we needed to pack for our trip home so we had to finally say goodbye.  It was an enjoyable part of our trip that I never thought we would do while in Ohio.  Thanks Don and Bonnie!  And yes, it was the same Jacey we brought over the first night...although you probably don't believe me!  :o)

Don gets a few more giggles out of Jacey before we leave.

I stayed up way too late getting everything ready for our trip home the following morning.  I think I finally managed getting to bed a little after midnight. 

Graduation day was fabulous and our evening was relaxed and very enjoyable.  I'll update you with our travels today, tomorrow.  I'm pooped! 

Have a great one...