So the perils of a busy life with a chronic illness is that I:
Do absolutely nothing extraordinary and blog worthy besides work-dog-horses-volunteering
Am totally using my creativity to do those things and have nothing left to blog with.
So that’s good and bad. Doing too much is better than doing too little, although my body sometimes objects to this assertion!
BUT! I actually took a day off this weekend and did something fun for myself! Yay!
Amazing hildren’s book author Laura Numeroff (of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie fame) wrote a simply adorable book called Raising A Hero, about a young boy raising a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.
She is doing a series of book signings throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and of course I had to go to one and fangirl a bit! I think Cassius enjoyed her as well. I’ve been connected with her on social media for a bit and she not only remembered me and was excited to meet Cassius in real life but was incredibly gracious with everyone!
On Saturday we had our yearly Northwest Graduate Seminar, lots of useful info and workshops (including a wonderful presentation by a PTSD graduate) – and Cassius and I passed our recertification and got a snazzy new vest and leash!
It’s actually quite surprising how often I hear “does your service dog ever get to have fun?”… common sense would dictate that of course he does, but apparently his serious working demeanor (wiggly tail aside) leads people to believe that he doesn’t get to be a dog.
I assure you, this dog has more toys than any one dog needs, 3 beds in a one-bedroom apartment (not including the couch and person-bed!) and a ridiculous amount of attention and spoiling. Of course he deserves it all (and more!)
Dog parks are a no go for my particular situation, so getting to go to the humongous Gittinger Park after a chapter planning meeting in Santa Rosa yesterday was a treat. He only ran around for about 5 to 10 minutes, but it was a very happy run with some of his assistance dog and breeder friends.
Yesterday the East Bay and South Bay Canine Companions (note to self: not!CCI) held their annual Chapter Workshop together. This is the first one I’ve attended for some reason, and I’m so glad I did!
You know the day is going to be great when one of the first people you (and the dog) see after getting out of the car is James – Cassius’s trainer and now the Puppy Program Manager for the Northwest Region. Cassius momentarily turned into a goofy wiggly happy puppy, but mostly contained himself and did a somewhat respectable greeting. I love how much he loves all his people, even after many months of not seeing them.
Now to sessions: these included the over-managed and under-managed dog (which reminded me of a few handling errors/shortcuts I tend to make and how I need to be better about them – imagine that, Cassius is a lot less likely to forge when hurrying when I ask him to sit beforehand!), things about loading and unloading from the car (James made me feel better about how we do that/car-riding in general).
We had a little time to visit and say hi to people and dogs alike, including the cutest black fluffy puppy I’ve ever seen. They need to breed more black fluffies! Then we had a session outside on appropriate play and encouraging dogs to play appropriately using rewards without expectations – that was a new concept and it made a lot of sense.
An update on some of the programs going on – PTSD study (including the best video ever of one of the dogs showing off the Search skill!) and the fMRI study – was followed by one on the breeding program, loved hearing about that as I don’t follow it too closely. Apparently there is a huge long waitlist for a dog in the NWR, which is a good problem to have although not good if you’re waiting for a puppy!
We ended the day with more visiting of humans and dogs, and I left as always – inspired by the people and dogs I am privileged to work with.
Had our annual Canine Companions for Independence – East Bay Chapter dog holiday party! Met Santa, played games (and won toys!), said “Hi” to new and old friends, and survived being dressed up in a Santa hat!
So Grumpy Cat helped open the season for the Macy’s San Francisco SPCA windows yesterday – one of my favorite holiday traditions ever, I remember when they used to be in the old Gump’s – and of course got all kind of attention because, well, he’s Grumpy Cat.
And I admit, he amuses me. His nonchalance is endearing. But then I wonder… is being amused by this slightly morose-looking feline the same thing as laughing at someone for the way they look? Especially for me, the idea of being laughed at because of his dour expression rubs me the wrong way. Granted the cat has no perceptions of being teased, but what kind of precedent are we setting.
But then I look at the persona his “people” have crafted… and it’s really not that different from what any of us who look different have done, using what we have to the best of our abilities and compensating for our weaknesses. He is catty (no pun intended), hilarious, and scathing… but all in the spirit of fun. He demands to be looked at and respected, which I think is a good lesson for anyone in taking charge.
I guess I end up rather equivocal about Grumpy Cat, but admit to finding his marketing strategy hilarious and – in a bizarre way – inspirational.
I see those things pop up on my Newsfeed like clockwork every morning in November, people listing daily what they are thankful for. I’ve never really done that, mainly because I don’t know if 3/4 of the people reading my newsfeed really even care what 30-something things I am thankful for, and maybe because it just feels a bit too invasive and self-serving for me.
But today as I watched Canine Companions Graduations on breaks at work and when I got home, I felt I should state the (very) obvious: I am so thankful for my dog. Cassius doesn’t make the hard stuff go away or all the painful ness of having a disability go away, but he sure is a help.
I dropped my earbuds on the floor today when I was trying to put them in my drawer after a break and missed. When you are like me and have the combination of eye issues and balance/mobility problems, honestly finding what you dropped is a challenge in itself! But not for CassiusThe Retriever. Picking up things and carrying them places is FUN!
So with Cassius’s help, I got myself out of that annoying situation and got back to work with minimal pain and frustration. For that I am ever-so thankful.
This weekend was the Annual Canine Companions for Independence (I said it right! Trying not to say CCI, at their request, is tough!)
We had a great day and a half saying hi to new and old friends (and when you’re a well-trained Labrador/Golden, everyone is a friend), getting training tips, learning about new programs, and just socializing.
Of course, the highlight of the day was the costume contest! I decided that Cassius had to be something (someone?) literary, and wanted to re-use his costume… so he was Curious George! He was a good sport about it, and won Best Dog Costume! I will enjoy the water bottle and Cassius will undoubtedly appreciate the toys and treat!
That bit of Canine Companions goodness will hold us over for the workweek ahead, which for us starts tomorrow afternoon – No rest for the weary, I guess!
I could write a long-winded post… but this picture speaks for itself.
Spent a wonderful day at Canine Companions for Independence Northwest Region Graduation/Matriculation yesterday, watching ten new teams graduate and catching up with people including Cassius’ puppyraiser. I love how much Cassius loves “his” people, no matter how long it’s been since he’s seen them. If you love him, Cassius loves you. The ceremony always fills me with renewed hope, and a passion to volunteer and spread awareness of the amazing things this community does.
But really, Cassius has made this past year and my life so much better. He’s an awesome sidekick, a wonderful help, and will always bring a bit of levity to my life. You can’t help but smile when confronted with 70 pounds of wagging goofiness. Here’s to many more.
A few rather un-related dog things of interest: ThreadStart, an apparel crowdfunding site, has paired with Canine Companions for Independence and produced this wonderful design. I love it, especially since I do think these dogs (and all service dogs) are indeed heros in their own right. What they do is so diverse, depending on the needs of their partners, but their loyalty and joy are truly heroic. I picked up a shirt, because a. you can’t have too many dog t-shirts, apparently and b. I love the design so much! I will wear it proudly.
And in other news:
If you’ve been watching the Olympics on NBC, you have probably seen the promos for a new television show called “Growing Up Fisher” – featuring a father who is blind and has a (really cute) guide dog. I myself am particularly fond of the one where it cuts to the dog acting as an ice hockey goalie.
I probably don’t have to tell you how abysmal the overall depiction of characters with disabilities is on television. It’s just… bad. I have measured hopes for this one, from the previews it looks really, really funny. I hope it lives up to its potential for a comedic take on life with a disability.