Friday, May 30, 2008
I think the first new daily living skill that Chimi will master, to help me around the house, is picking up his toys and putting them back in the toy box when play time is over. Picking up laundry and putting it in the dirty clothes basket is a similar task. I started with the laundry but I was having trouble getting him to "give" items into the basket "Drop it" is a Safety / Correction command. So I just observed him at play time and praised him and reinforce the commands. It is funny but he will "give" a toy faster than a sock. In another future post I will break down the teaching of a new skills.
Chimi had company during play time yesterday. My friend Sue He loved the extra attention. This afternoon I talked to his Puppy Raiser in Iowa. I am delighte to stay in touch with her.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I am still trying to rearrange and organize the apartment to maximize a small space with a big dog. But tomorrow. U have got to work in my flower bed. The flowers are fading fast.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I gave Chimi his first bath in his new home today I would wash and rinse one section of his body and all was wet and well, until I heard what sounded like a cat fight at the front door. Buddy had sneaked out when I took Chimi out for relief. So I told Chimi to stay and went to the door as fast as my crippled legs would go. As I let Buddy in, out went Sissy. I made the mistake of calling Sissy to come in. 1st all Sissy knows very well that she is a cat. She comes only when she wants to. Second, Chimi heard "Come!" He came barreling out of the bathtub through the bedroom and the kitchen into the living room shaking wet. We will have to wait for bath #2 to try the cream rinse!
Chimi visited a local barbecue place with me at lunch time today. Everyone was a little nervous at first and a little surprised that he did not even seem to notice the food. By the time we were leaving he was getting good behavior complements. We went to see Indiana Jones. Chimi alerted to the loud noises at first but then stretch out under me and settled down. He also maneuvered steps for me today without any problem. Sunday we struggled with steps. I was very proud to have Chimi with me today. He worked hard out on the town so when we came home we played hard too! He is resting beside the chair now.
What can I say about Indiana Jones, If you have seen one temple crumble you have seen them all Artifacts and aliens that is what you get when you combine the creative minds of Seven Spielberg and George Lucas. I also think Harrison Ford ages well!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Another question I have been asked often recently is “Does the dog make you fall or “Do you fall more with the dog? The answer to both questions is “NO!” In the year 2007, I fell a total of 84 times. That is an average of 7 falls per month and 1.6 per week. I have failed to keep good records this year. However, past records indicate that I fall 3 times more often in private than I do in public. Most of my falls including those with Chimi are the result of my own hurried impatience and my own failure to pay attention to where I am going and how best to get there.
It may scare some of you, when you watch me fall sometimes; but falling is a fact of life for me most of the time. In order to truly live I have to live with No Fear of falling. If I was afraid, I would be down all the time.
One of the main reasons I applied for service dog training is because I realized that I could no longer get up by myself and that I needed help. Chimi is a God given gift. Chimi is an every present helper during those times that I fall and there is no one there to help me up. He is strong and steady and anxious to help me up when I fall. I do not have to scoot or crawl to pull up on something like I use to because he is right there on top of me ready and willing to help. This week he prevented 3 falls with in my apartment. Once he even left a toy and came to brace and balance me.
Before I could walk my orthopedic doctor told my grandmother that if she ever wanted me to learn to walk, she had to let me learn how to fall and get up on my own. Watching her granddaughter fall and doing nothing to help her up, was one of the most difficult things my grandmother ever had to do.
Once, when I was about four years old and just learning to walk on my own, my grandmother and I went shopping in the mall. I fell down and my grandmother followed the doctor’s orders and did not help me up. A passer by became indignant and enraged at my grandmother and began blessing her out. When I finally got up I shook my fist at the lady and put my hands on my hips. (I was born with anger issues.) I yelled with a stutter, “Stop yelling my memaw! Her help me, by letting me do it my own!”
So if you see me fall with Chimi, the greatest help you can give me is to watch and wait. If I really need help, I will ask. Chimi and I need to learn to walk and fall together. We are still practicing and polishing our six step dance. We are partners and we will get it together.
One more thing if Chimi gets the leash and starts grumbling, do not be alarmed. He has a habit of talking with his mouth full. He likes to tell you that he has got it on hold. He is communicating that his leader and the keep of the leash has fallen; and that he will help her up.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Several people have comment that committing to a service dog partnership sounds a lot like getting married or having a toddler. Their comment reminds me of some sticky notes an old LC friend of mine use to have that said, "I do not need a man, I have a dog!" My partnership with Chimi is practice for future relationships.
I know that animals do not go to heaven when they die. But when Jesus returns from heaven to rule on earth, I hope animals can talk. I also hope that I have all kinds of animal friends .
I did not take Chimi to the movie because supervising a MCH youth requires my undivided attention. The youth however did an excellent job of ignoring Chimi while we hung out at the apartment before the movie.
Friday, May 23, 2008
In order to have more space I donated my love seat and the table that was built for my first classroom to the local thrift store. Having space for the my adult trike and scooter chair and space for me to work with Chimi is more important.
Chimi and I are working out how to do my routine house chores as a team. This week also starts a much slower paced summer schedule. We will not be coming and going to as many activities; but, I think the one on one time at home will strengthen our partnership. I have got to write out a summer schedule for his routine and complete my first monthly report for KSDS. I also need to give Chimi his first bath in his new home.
Chimi is my mobility assistant.
1. He serves as an extra stable counter balance when I am walking.
2. He braces against me to prevent falls when I am walking.
3. He provides stable support for me to brace on when getting up from the floor after a fall.
4. He picks up my cane, laundry, and other things that I drop
5. He carries things for me.
6. He gives me support and stability to mange steps and curbs
7. He braces my transition in and out of the bathtub
8. Braces for transition from sitting to standing when in a chair
8. He provides extra support when I vacuum.
1. Retrieving my walker
2. Tapping my emergency button
3. Retrieving the phone and the remote
4. Tugging open the refrigerator; closing the front door.
5. Turning on and of lights
6. Finding my keys and things
7. Pushing my Trike
How should I act around Chimi?
1. Do not distract Chimi.
2. Do not interact with Chimi
3. Do not make eye contact with Chimi
4. Do not talk to Chimi – do not greet him, do not call out to him by name, and do not puppy talk..
5. Do not give Chimi commands, correction, or praise.
6. Do not touch him – Do not ask to touch him. The answer is “No”
7. Do not help me with him unless I ask you to.
8. When I fall, remain calm and quite and do not move.
9. Turn to the side away from him when he attempts to sniff and greet you or get your attention.
10. Do not be alarmed when I correct him in public.
11. Do not give him food or treats.
12. Do not tease him with toys, food, or other objects.
- Ignore Chimi
- Watch Chimi work.
- Talk to me about Chimi.
- Hug me.
- Offer to provide Chimi and me transportation
Chimi is a working dog. He is my mobility assistant and I am his person and his leader. He was trained specifically to brace and balance me when I am walking. He is a living, breathing, certified, four legged cane. He also helps me get up when I fall. Interacting with other people causes him to take his focus off me. Distractions are dangerous because I fall and get hurt when Chimi is distracted. If Chimi interacts too much with other people, he looses interest in working for me. If he stops working he is retire or returned to KSDS.
What is Chimi not allowed to do in public?
- Eat people food
- Greet people
- Interact with other dogs in public
Why are Chimi’s, dog like, behaviors so restricted?
Chimi and I have been trained and certified by KSDS Inc. an accredited assistance dog training facility. Chimi has legal access to public facilities such as restaurants where dog like behavior is inappropriate and disruptive. Chimi was breed, born, raised, and trained to be a service dog. He has had these boundaries all his life. For Chimi these guidelines are not restrictive because they provided him with structure and security.
Why must Chimi be corrected? Because Chimi works in public places were inappropriate behavior is disruptive and not tolerated. He can be denied access if his behavior is not controlled. Dogs do not generalize. Chimi needs structured, consistent training, commands, and correction from one new setting to the next, in order to maintain the skills he learned in training. Chimi is an intelligent dog who challenges my leadership. As our bond grows stronger and as we establish routine there will be less need for correction. I must be a firm leader and make work fun so that Chimi stays focused. He is wants to obey when he knows who is in charge and what to expect.
How do I exercise Chimi? He trots beside my scooter chair as I ride.
When does Chimi get to act like a dog?Chimi has a very structured daily schedule with activities designed to relieve work stress.
Grooming – His hair care and health care is out of harness time. He loves to hold the grooming tools in his mouth.
Cuddle time – He lies in my lap and I lavish affection on him.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Several people have ask me if I have problems with children petting the dog. Adults are a bigger problem.
The next day Chimi and I went to another school for another IEP meeting. I do well in schools and so does Chimi. Today He went into his first Ruston bank! His puppy raiser worked in a bank. He did wag the tail well and even got his picture taken!
We have been working on "position" a right sided command opposite "heel. I have just been positioning myself in such away to block his moves to the left so that correction is not needed and I have been praising him for right moves! I am pleased at the progress. He is "positioning" much quicker now with less confusion. My being left handed and right eyed has been hard on him. All of his like he has been asked to go to the left for most everything and now I am "switching" not just sometime but most of the time. But we are hanging in there and moving forward.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I have been asked the following questions since returning from training, "Is it harder than you thought?" "Is it what you expected?" "Do you regret receiving the dog?" My answers are, "Yes, no, and No!" The only analogy that seems close is, a new service dog is to a partner what a newborn is to a parent. The responsibilities and lifestyle changes are challenging and at times exhausting but the partnership is a commitment and the relationship reaps rewards.
I did not expect what would be required of me. Like a lot of people, I thought "No Assembly" or "Programing" would be required. I thought Chimi would just be able to do it all just because I told him to. I am learning that obedience is a trust built on time together. Obedience is also a relationship (a love language) that requires an unshakable bond. I also understand now that training is a circle that never ends. I have to work with Chimi to build on his foundational skills in order for him to be able to perform daily living skills for me. Right now Chimi does the following things for me: braces me when I transition from sitting to standing and braces me stair climbing, Counterbalances me when I walk and provides braced support for getting myself up of the floor when I fall. He also retrieves dropped items such as my cane. These skills in themselves are invaluable. With further time, training, adaptations. and modifications Chimi will retrieve specific household items for me such as the phone and my walker. He will also tug open doors and close doors for me like the refrigerator.
Yes, I still fall; but, Chimi is not the reason I fall; I am. I go fast and I tend to speed up when I am falling. Chimi has been taught to go slow and to stop when I become off balance not walk faster. My having to learn to slow down is a test of my patience. I am also insecure which Chimi can sense and my insecurity adds to his stress. His recent behavior of laying down while I am walking is not oppositional on his part. It is his calming "easy" signal He senses my unsteadiness and uneasiness so he takes a break from it to ease our stress. I purchased a more stable assistance dog harness from http://www.ldsleather.com/supportharnesses.html I think this will help alleviate the balance / falling anxiety problem.
The things I do for Chimi feeding, watering, grooming, exercising, providing stress relief, and health care are to be done with structure and consistency. This provide security for him and communicate love to him. What I do for him is nothing compared to what he does for me. Creating a knew "our " schedule certainly has changed and challenged "my" schedule. My little world has changed a lot but it is changing for the better!
My partnership with Chimi is training me for a better relationship with Christ in areas such as trust, obedience, patience, faithfulness and walking with the Lord at His side.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
We are working on fake, funny falls to get us both over the fear of falling together. It seems to be helping. I fell on him about a week or so ago and scared the snot out of both of us. I was afraid I had failed all our training already. My KSDS trainer a sured me I had not all I had to do was make falling exciting again so it would not be so scary. For those of you who have ever seen, heard, or read "The Fall of Anne" you know how ironic those instructions were!
Another wise friend, exhorted me to give Chimi as much focused attention as I expected from him and to stop worrying about what other people are thinking. Chimi and I do not have to be on stage for those around us. The more we are focused on each other the less we will be distracted by what other people see, say, do and think. And the more I focus on Chimi the more he will focus on me. With that noted I am signing out to spend some bonding time with Chimi. The cats are almost back to normal. Chimi and I have been making ourselves at home together for two weeks now.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
After Church we had another bedroom ball bouncing playtime. After reading the online encyclopedia information about Golden Retrievers and learning more about their personality, I went for a ride in my scooter as he walked along side. Then I came home and rearranged the furniture in the bedroom so that none of my animals have to sleep in a separate room. Chimi and the cats all seem comfortable with the new arrangements. I spent time loving on Chimi as I watched extreme home makeovers. I have discovered that Chimi is very playful. I am even beginning to think that his reluctance to "come" or "give" is playfulness
Saturday, May 3, 2008
When we got home we both needed a playtime. I have tried a play date and the flexi lead. I think our bond needs to be stronger before I involve other dogs, other people, or new environments in Chimi's playtime. So tonight I closed of my bedroom and tossed a rubber ball off the back wall. Chimi and I distressed playing fetch! I liked trowing and Chimi liked retrieving
Friday, May 2, 2008
Chimi and I also helped out at a garage sale. The sale was great distraction practice - sites, sounds, and smells - barking dogs in neighboring yards kids with toys and an impromptu fundamentals of baseball lesson. The baseball activity was the seemed to be the hardest for Chimi to ignore. A few times he tried to get involved but with persistent correction, redirection, and praise for the most part Chimi remained in a controlled down position as a spectator. I was a little surprised by a child that seemed to be teasing him with a toy. I could not see it but Chimi did and so did the child's mother. The little girl asked me why Chimi would not sit still and about that time the mother noticed the toy the child had and told her to leave the dog alone. I feel like some people either expect too much out of Chimi or treat him like a plain dog. They do not understand that it takes time for Chimi to trust and to transfer his training from his trainer to his partner.
After the garage sale we went to New Orleans themed restaurant for fish and fries. I picked the restaurant because I felt like we would not draw too much attention in it but then I fell coming in the door! Chimi had a busy day!