Give me your sadness. I will take it, as much as you need. If it kills us both, so be it. I am here.

#ServiceDogHandlerTag

DAYS 1 – 6 ON INSTAGRAM !!

Day 7: Which handler do you want to meet the most?
Same as Q.6!

Day 8: Best places to train?
Pet shop is one of the best places, definitely. It has ample distractions, little judgement, and no chance of being challenged. It is a good distance from my house and through the park, so it’s a good walk and training opportunity as well as actually getting things we need!

Day 9: Any advice for new teams?
I could probably think of a lot, and I do randomly, but the best thing I can think of right now is that dogs – including trained ones – aren’t robots. They are animals and they play up and they play around and they love you unconditionally. Some just aren’t suited for working, and that’s okay too. Some learn quickly, some need more encouragement and praise. Everyone works at different paces. You’re probably doing fine.

 

day one– What gear do you use?
Well, there’s been a few different things that I’ve tried out as I grew through learning exactly about working dogs and finding more gear. This looks rather nostalgic, so I’ll just give a brief description; PHOTO 1 is chocolate lab Milly, my first working dog. She was the one I had through learning about gear and dogs. She was just an ESA (Emotional Support Animal) and I had a home-made lead slip on her own lead. Then, as the year went on, I bought a proper black rope working lead, made another lead slip, and even made our first vest! Home-made out of a grey vest-top of mine, I sewed on printed patches and buckles. It was flimsy and unprofessional, and though I taught her a few tasks, I decided not to go in any strict non-dog place. We did only what I referred to as ’emergency public access’, when I simply had to bring her in because there was no other option, and this only happened a couple of times. I was respectful of working dogs from the start.
PHOTO 2 is black lab/lurcher Norbert, who I still walk now for his owner. He underwent a brief stint working for me after Milly’s family left the area, and so she left my life. Initially training him for his owner to push buttons to open doors, I talked to her (his owner) and I turned the walking into training to help me. Already having a bond with him, he learnt quickly, despite being a good age, and I used the same lead and slips I had for Milly, minus her headcollar (until I got one of my own to use on him), and decided to use a fluorescent ‘be seen’ jacket thing I’d gotten before, with again a few patches on it. He was good and I was more savvy to what I was doing, and despite the fact he only worked for a summer and a bit, and again we only did proper public access when absolutely necessary; he helped me do several things in that time that I wouldn’t have done alone, including coffee with a friend, in PHOTO 3. Not particularly fond of the bright yellow vest, I boldly searched for a good working vest online, and eventually found and purchased a OneTigris brown medium tactical vest. I attached patches and it was the best thing I’d had thus far.
Norbi was already old when I met him, and after a few trips to town, I quickly learnt he wasn’t fond of many people around, especially children, and especially in town. By the end of the year, I retired him to an ESA like Milly had been, and made plans for the new year. After failing with a puppy of my own, not for reasons related to working or training, but situational – in the new year, I met beautiful chocolate lab Charlie, with his owner who lives in the same close as me. This time, I set it off from the start. His owner was understanding and nice, and I immediately started walking him and training. Quickly, he learnt and we bonded. Using a new ‘training’ bandanna and a proper expensive blue vest with a handle, I went about public access properly as I could, recording our outings, referring to the public access test, and building things up. PHOTO 5. Working so well, but sparsely as time went on, I went ahead and after a little while, got a measured red vest to use as well – PHOTO 4. The lack of handle got to me but it looked even nicer and fit a little too well. Along with the proper lead slips I got along the way, and a headcollar similar to Milly’s I’d gotten after using a too-big Halti on Norbi, he looks what could be called ‘professional’, and we’re still training and working every so often, as I get worse in my mind and Charlie gets more foster-siblings. But anyway. That’s a very detailed explination of my gear through the years, and so the dogs I’ve worked with. One day I may find my actual own dog and actually live this life I have, but meanwhile… I’ve got Charlie.

This gallery contains 3 photos.

I’m really trying to get back into writing, and this blog is going to be used for documenting training and adventures with my new dog Charlie! We’ve had a few outings already since meeting in March, but aside from summarising them briefly in pictures, I probably will start actual posts from now. So! Today it was still very humid, despite the sun not being out as from other days, and so I decided we’d just have a nice off day. I picked Charlie up and we headed down the hill in a brisk pace set by him! We went and collected Norbi from Jazz (a dog I’ve walked and trained for her for years) and Charlie got lots of fuss from her, and her daughter and boyfriend too! Soon the three of us set off on a nice walk around Water Lane and I took a couple of pretty good pictures of the two dogs sitting side by side. We went the whole way around and back to Norbi’s to drop him off with a chat with Jazz about animals and fur shedding in the winter – my cat is the point of this at the moment, with her fur coming off in balls when you stroke her! Saying goodbye to Jazz and Norbi, me and Charlie headed back through the park, in which there was no one else, so Charlie got to roam at the end of his long lead in peace. We left the park and headed up the next hill (there’s a lot of hills here!), and when a bus stopped for people to get off, I saw a black lab with its owner holding their harness, accompanied by a Guide Dogs person in a official t-shirt! It was lovely to see a guide dog training with its new owner, and I walked past carefully, keeping Charlie on a tight reign – though he made no move against the other dog anyway but just in case – as the new owner put the red & white harness on the black lab, as instructed by the instructor. A guide and hearing dog! It made me smile as Charlie and I walked the rest of the way back home and we’re now just chilling out in the lounge, relaxing on the sofa (my rule is dogs are allowed on the sofas since comfort as both a task and general thing includes cuddling on the sofa, and so on). Charlie has almost finally settled down a bit after over half an hour!

2016-06-09 10.25.11

Charlie & Norbi

Changes + A New Recruit!

Just a short post to say that all the changes to this blog are because it’s finally going to be in use again! I have another candidate for my assistance dog, a lovely chocolate lab called Charlie who is 2 years old; he lives in the same close as me and his owner has given me free reign to train him to help me and then work with me out and about, giving me a degree of independence. We’ve barely known each other a week but the situation looks hopeful right now; Charlie is a bit hyper but very eager to please and learn, and he knows some things already! I’m looking forward to more adventures with him and I hope this will work out as him working with me in the end.

2016-03-10 11.41.30

So, Toby is gone. Here is the long, depressing and emotional post from that week. Just read the first paragraph; there’s no need to read all the rest if you just want to know about the Terrier. I may or may not keep this page and extend it to an ‘all-dog’ page, about my adventures with all dogs I cross paths with. But, for now, it’s done. Thanks for reading our adventures.

strugglingbutstillfighting

The taste never left me, and I don’t think it will
And it caused me to supplement whiskey with pills
But there was something inside that I couldn’t kill
Believe me, I really did try

Some say you get what you deserve, but they’re wrong
Sometimes you get what you’re given, and then it’s all gone
And you are lucky if you are sufficiently strong
To daily decide not to die

– The Sun’s Coming Over the Hill, Karine Polwart

http://karinepolwart.bandcamp.com/album/faultlines

I’m sick of this and I’m done with it. Best go back to the start then. As far start as last time I wrote here. I have the medicine, of course. Taking it every morning in secret, and it’s hurting me like hell. I don’t have a dog any more. He left last Saterday night, after I had one last cuddle. It hurt and it hurt to let him…

View original post 1,441 more words

So sorry for not updating when I am meant to!! I did mean to, but this past week has been a bit hard and crazy and stuff, the bottom line being my mother apparently can’t deal with Toby while I’m away at college for the day for half a week; so, we immediately reached the decision that he was going to have to go. There’s adverts up but no responses yet, and so I thought that there was no point carrying on his blog and that. But, this morning, when I finally came downstairs, mum was veeery thoughtful, and she told me that Toby hadn’t been snapping or nipping at all this morning. Now that’s progress. She had let him have a run in the garden too, burning off that terrier energy. So, well, I decided I may as well update this blog to cover our last week and as kind of a warning – yes, he may well be going soon, but, well, maaaaaybe ALL is not hopeless, from the interesting and thoughtful tone of my mother’s voice when she said that this morning… he is getting better at this stuff. And he still loves me. So there’s no promises, but perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope there.

2014-10-25 09.56.56

So, our adventures in the past week. Well, like previously stated, I am full time at college Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays. So I have little intel of how those days go (apart from Tuesday, which is the day I came home to “can’t cope and have to rehome”… still holding out on more news for that one). However, when I am with him I stay (mostly) with him. Well, last Thursday and Friday I stayed in most of the day with him, just going out to walk Milly, the chocolate lab that I walk. That was pretty uneventful. On Saterday, I can’t actually remember what happened, whoops. But I think we did some stuff out, without him, and I stayed in a lot with him too. We’re still doing training – we’ve got sit, down and stay on point now! Stand we’re still working on, because he doesn’t quit get that one yet. We’re also doing some work on ‘off’ and ‘take it’ for food in my hand. Recall is mostly good, apart from when there’s too many distractions. He is a smart pup and eager to please – or maybe just for the food. Either way, he is learning and we’re enjoying the training together. I do get cross with him, but that’s a given, and I just leave if he’s too mouthy or crazy. Yes, so on Sunday the family left for the ENTIRE DAY and so Toby and I had a rest day, just chilling and cuddles and playing and training. It was good, if a tad boring, but I’m not really the stay in ALL day type. Just as well I have a dog who won’t be either, when he can go out.

This week was a little different, because I had a bad college day on Monday, so Toby comforted me when I got home, and then on Tuesday I came home to the bad news, so had cuddles again. Wednesday, I went to college pretty late and came home pretty early, so was barely away from him. He’s so pleased to see me all the time, it’s the best. Ah yes – Wednesday was puppy class! My previously mentioned friend came with me again, which is very helpful by the way. I probably wouldn’t go on my own. This time, class was AMAZING. Literally. Toby was VEEERY confident – TOO confident. Yep, he went ahead and started mounting all the bitches in the class. Uh. This is not my fault! It’s actually, I’ve discovered, my little brother’s doing; he has been trying to sit on Toby to ‘ride’ him, and, um, apparently the pup has picked this up and mixed it with male hormones to induce himself to start mounting the females. And sometimes the dogs. Aaaaand then some furniture or legs. Seems like we have a bit of a problem there. But it’s easily solvable, even if not for a few months. Yeah so he was extremely confident – which made me feel more confident! It was a good class. There were lots more little dogs, which was good for Toby (and for mounting them…) and everyone was nice, as well as the familiar faces from last week, which calmed me.

On Thursday, my friend came to my house so I was out for most of the day. She’s kind of taken the role of my service dog at the moment, which is very helpful and means I can go out and about and enjoy myself. We came back a while after lunch so I could feed Toby, and then we went out again to walk Milly. My friend left for her home and I headed to mine and Toby. I gave him his dinner and cooked some for everyone else, then we had cuddles until everyone came home. There were too many people then, so I wanted to leave, but I didn’t – I stayed and protected Toby be holding him. Then I had to go to piano lesson, so when I came back Toby was sleepy again and he went to sleep on me and for the night in his bed. Friday, I went out with my friend again so it was kinda the same for Toby – went back to see him for lunch, then after Milly’s walk. But last night he went really kind of crazy. Trying to bite me arms and even jumping for my face. I enforced my dominance by making him sit, down and stay for me while I held the food, and he did that fine, but was still crazy. So I put his lead on and went out and literally just stood there and watched him run around and around and around, burning off the terrier energy. Then when we finally went back in, I gave him my shoe to chew on, and played tug a bit. At long last, he settled down and went to sleep on me, and I put him in his bed.

Well that’s our adventures. His future with me is unclear at the moment, but – despite being a general hopeless person – I can’t help but hope that we can keep him. It would be amazing. Hard, yes, but amazing. In just 3 weeks he’s made such an impact, and now I even have hope for something. A little longer and I may even have the will to fight for it. But, unfortunately, it does seem pretty hopeless. Well… here’s to a bright future for Toby, at least, whether with me or someone else. He deserve that. And here are a lot of photos from the past week…

2014-10-17 09.48.47 2014-10-17 09.49.04 2014-10-17 11.49.17 2014-10-17 11.51.54 2014-10-17 11.54.55 2014-10-17 11.57.41 2014-10-17 09.47.50 hanging out together

2014-10-18 13.08.25 2014-10-18 14.04.21 2014-10-18 14.04.51 trip to grandma’s house

2014-10-22 11.53.56 2014-10-22 11.54.33 playing with my little brother in the garden

2014-10-22 12.43.08 2014-10-22 13.03.25 2014-10-22 13.04.12 car journeys

2014-10-22 18.15.48 2014-10-22 18.24.18 2014-10-22 18.31.37 2014-10-22 18.36.32 2014-10-22 19.01.54 2014-10-22 19.10.38 2014-10-22 19.12.33 puppy class and pet shop walk

2014-10-20 21.58.10 2014-10-20 21.58.18 2014-10-21 22.12.18 being there for me

2014-10-22 18.00.44 look how tall he’s gotten!

2014-10-23 08.32.03 2014-10-23 10.22.52 2014-10-23 10.27.45 2014-10-23 10.30.28 lounge photography

2014-10-22 11.53.42 garden photography

2014-10-23 20.55.28 2014-10-23 20.57.11cuddles

2014-10-23 14.58.36 2014-10-23 14.58.56 2014-10-23 15.01.13 and, finally… this, if he stays with me, will be his first vest. He looked so smart. I can dream still….

References:

Milly’s blog, again, for her adventures with me (told by Milly herself!) – https://www.facebook.com/millychocolatelab

Toby’s state of craziness last night – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=909735752371113&set=a.439738676037492.107081.100000040903714&type=1&theater

My Twitter for some more pictures – https://twitter.com/k_lizzabeth

Thursday’s adventure with my friend – http://strugglingbutstillfighting.tumblr.com/post/100758585761/so-today-was-a-good-day-distant-cheering-from