Wednesday, May 14, 2008

1 Month Anniversary

One month ago today, Chimi and I began our partnership! Our song at graduation was Kenny Chesney's "You Had Me From Hello!" Chimi did. When he came bounding toward me, waving a happy tail with his mouth open wide as if he were smiling, I laughed and cried tears of joy. The thought that this golden creature was chosen for me made me feel blessed beyond measure. Hearing that song at graduation made me sob because not bonding with him was my greatest fear. I have an ambivalent attachment disorder that works well with cats but not dogs and people. Trusting love is hard for me. I am encouraged that Chimi is bonding with me more and more each day and I am learning and choosing to love him more and more each day too.
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.

2 comments:

Lisa & Runza said...

Oh wow. You really are a blessing to me each time I read a post! It took 6 months for me to really bond with Runza. I was scared to. But, once I let go and let him in - it was such a wonderful experience.

I'm so glad to hear how well you two are doing already. That's fabulous!

Lora said...

What a great post! Your best yet! You are growing in other areas, thanks to Chimi! Thank you for sharing all of this!