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

Journey Update

Now I am close(r) to moving and getting my own dog to train, I have been contacting organisations that could help – since I AM planning to owner-train my assistance dog, but would like to have ‘backing’, as I put it, from an organisation for things like advice, training help, constructive criticism, and other things that would ensure quality of training and working. I have had mostly quite positive responses from a few of the organisations and have said that I will contact them again when I am closer to getting my dog.

Something I haven’t been thinking too much about (partly because I’m trying not to get too hopeful about things) is that I will be moving and that includes moving away from Flo, who I’ll be leaving here with my mum because of several reasons, and Charlie and Tina, and Norbi. Of course I’ll be back quite a lot I imagine, so it’s not like I’m leaving forever, but with Charlie and Flo especially, they have helped me so much to even survive to get to here, and I literally owe them my life. But like I said, I will be back, but it will be weird to not see Flo every day, not take Charlie for a run in the fields.

But one thing at a time. Let’s hope this works out, because despite trying not to, I already have way too much hope for this. But like mum AND my recovery co-ordinator put it, maybe I’ve had enough shit in my life and I’m finally getting what I deserve. We’ll see.

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a little good news

A little good news, I’m hoping to move into supported housing within this year (because of my physical and mental conditions), and have my assistance dog with me of course; today in my appointment I met with the Accommodation Officer who asked me several things about living, and also about the dog. She noted about ‘registered dogs’, to which I gently explained about ADUK as well as other charities, and owner-training (in my case, I am OT with the backing/help of an charity organisation, just to ensure the height of working and for constructive feedback, ideally), and she listened attentively as I explained The Disability Act 2010 and the definition of an ‘assistance dog’, and she was very nice and interested, and for reference I suggested the assistancedoglaw website created by (mainly?) owner-trainers, and she was really great about it all.
I am aware that this is ‘the first port of call’ so to speak, and I may have to do this again perhaps more forcefully as things go on, but this was really quite positive, as is my general journey to move out with lots of support and train my assistance dog, while doing a degree at a very helpful Uni also with lots of support – yet to talk about concerning the dog, but all in due time, as they say. 🙂

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It’s been really hot lately so we haven’t been doing too much. I take Charlie and his foster-sister Tina for nice cool runs in the shaded woods in the afternoons sometimes, and we keep Charlie’s training up with the occasional trip to the co-op or town on cooler days, or sometimes a supermarket shop if it’s too hot to hang out outside! Though summer sun is nice, remember that animals often can’t handle the heat so well – remember to NEVER leave a dog in your car, no matter if you’re only going to ‘be a minute’; it could be a minute too long. Put ice cubes in your pet’s water bowls! Cats and puppies often love to play with ice cubes on slippery surfaces, which keeps them cool and entertained – and is amusing to watch!! Stay cool 

#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.

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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!

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Charlie & Norbi