Our Pre-Match was 6 months ago!

Our Pre-Match was 6 months ago!

I’ll save the long post for next week… but today marks 6 months since pre-match day! Hard to believe. I really didn’t know what direction they were going to go with me dog-wise: on Tuesday of Team Training I walked both Cassius and a sweet little black lab female named Nancy (who was placed in May as a facility dog), as well as another dog once (Fame, who actually ended up being COC’ed during/after Team Training for cataracts). I figured both Cassius and Nancy were likely contenders… but I couldn’t get over Nancy’s name. Natalie and Nancy… a recipe for confusion! And while I know you can call your dog anything, it just seemed a little rotten to change their name!) But Nancy walked a little fast and Cassius was all about the cuddling and hanging out in release, so I had a good idea and was not totally surprised.

If you had told me before Team Training started that I would end up with a big male dog I would have probably laughed. Didn’t seem very practical – I totally pictured myself with some tiny dainty little thing. And as much as I love Cassius… tiny and dainty are two things the guy will never be. But CCI tells you to abandon your preconceptions… and I believe them. Who knew the best dog for me is big (weighs more than half what I do! that used to be my barometer point for “too big!”), slobbery goofball of a lap dog?

I wish everyone involved in the Team Training this time around – from puppy raisers waiting to see if their dogs have been placed to students waiting for their assignments (I had the weirdest dreams the night before placement – including one that involved receiving two dogs!) to instructors trying to figure this all out – all the best. It’s challenging and exhausting and stressful… but so, so rewarding.

Getting cultured

Went to San Francisco last night to see Gloria Steinem and Letty Cottin Pogrebin at City Arts & Lectures. Really interesting and inspiring… and made me want to do something. Not sure what, but just made me remember how important and crucial so many issues still are.  It’s so easy to get enveloped in your own personal (melo)drama that you lose sight of the bigger picture.

City Arts moved to this gorgeous theater near Hayes Valley (though unfortunately not close enough to squeeze in a little shopping/browsing!). It was recently restored and is absolutely beautiful.

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Yesterday was also the first time I ventured onto BART with Cassius.  I’ve taken BART around the Bay Area all my life and am super-comfortable with it… but adding a dog adds a completely different level of stress!  Some of the CCI trainers said that some dogs may be a little unnerved by the sound, and even recommended going beforehand to let them get used to it.  Somehow, that didn’t happen (oops!).  So we arrived about 10 minutes before our train was supposed to arrive, found our elevator (no small feat, one of my disability studies professors in grad school said that all the elevators at BART stations are in weird places because they originally forgot to add them in the plans!), and headed up to the elevated platform.

Cassius did superbly waiting for the train, even though the freeway noise is loud and this was a totally different environment.  Luckily our train arrived and we found a seat, going against commute traffic is good sometimes!

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Cassius did great on the loud, bumpy BART train, especially going through the Trans Bay Tube–which somehow felt even louder than usual!  I could tell he wasn’t completely happy with this arrangement but was totally obliging and calm.  The train home was a bit better for him as it was carpeted, poor guy kept sliding around as he lay there in the first train without carpeting!

We finally got to San Francisco (it only takes 25 minutes to get there, but it definitely seemed like longer last night!) and eventually figured out how to get out of the platform area without taking the elevator (too stinky!)-thankfully there are stairs.

Found the theater and found our seats.  We had two aisle seats, and luckily we were the last ones to arrive so it was easy to get situated:

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Cassius was great during the show (about an hour and a half, with no intermission). A few times he woke up, looked up at me, I gave him a scratch behind the ears, and he went off to sleep, contented.  He did let out one vocal yawn, but I’m not sure anyone else heard it. I hope.

Headed back to BART, dodging sketchy-looking street dogs along the way, and caught a train as soon as we made it onto the platform. I was relieved as there was another dog who I didn’t quite trust down by the tracks, and I was worried for Cassius’s sake about waiting near it.

The ride home was sleepy and uneventful, and I think Cassius was so relieved to arrive back home!

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Not that I had any doubt that Cassius would be rock solid in the culture and public transportation realms, but I’m happy we’ve crossed this milestone together! I love the arts and San Francisco, so I foresee lots of trips like this in our future together.

Wordless Wednesday (Roadtrip edition)

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We spent most of the drive to and from Oregon in various versions of this. Cassius, I think, relished the opportunity to cuddle for hours.

He did splendidly on our first long car trip and vacation, and adapted to everything. He loved meeting all my family, although he was so tired by the end of the day both days! Looking cute takes energy, you know.

We even experienced the Black Bear Diner in Redding, with everything bear motif you can imagine. Cassius was not fazed and I think from the look on his face, he’s wondering what the fuss is about!

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Wordless Wednesday (3 months!)

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Today marks 3 months since graduation! Has it only been 12 weeks? It’s hard for me to remember what in the world I did BC (Before Cassius). We’ve done lots of things, met all kinds of interesting people, and have so much more to look forward to.

These photos kind of sum up our relationship and doings thus far. Cassius loves to cuddle, enjoys going out and doing things (especially when he can attract an adoring fan club to tell him how sweet, smart and beautiful he is), and believes that toys are for both playing and sleeping with.

And, finally, that a crate is the best place ever besides a human’s lap!

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Inside / Outside

“Penny Loker’s birth defects disfigured her face, but neither affected the person she is on the inside.”

CNN’s profile of a woman born with Goldenhar Syndrome leads with this statement.  And once again, while I applaud their effort and heck, even the fact that they’re spotligting facial differences in the first place, this insistence annoys me to no end.  Why is it that we as a society cannot conceptualize being a successful, functioning person while at the same time being profoundly influenced by something? It’s an all or nothing scenario, which sells everyone short.  It’s just interesting to think about when reading things written about and by people with disabilities and medical conditions.

More often than not, unfortunately, society seems to still fall into the tropes of the heroic disabled person who rises above everything and succeeds.  While some people find power or validation in that narrative, I always find it rather mortifying when someone attempts to apply it to me.  There is nothing heroic or special about the way I live my life with my medical condition.  I know that sounds kind of blunt, but it’s just how I feel.  It just inherently rubs me the wrong way due to my history.

So basically, I applaud Penny Loker for contacting CNN in the first place (seriously, check out the article to get the back story), but I wish the article itself hadn’t gotten too wrapped up in the usual language about disabilities.

In other Inside / Outside – related news, Cassius and I were successfully re-certified inside Coddingtown Mall (yet again…). The Assistance Dogs International certification is good to do because it sets a benchmark for all assistance dogs, not just CCI, and it was nice for me to see that we were still good skill-wise.  We did goof and Cassius ate a piece of food in the 3rd food drop (seriously! 3 of them!) I slacked off and he went for it, but as long as you do something about it and correct them for it, luckily that doesn’t make you fail! Cassius loved playing outside in  Gittinger Park on the CCI Campus, a massive dog park only open to graduates, puppies in training, change of career dogs and employees dogs.  We weren’t able to go there after graduation in February, so it was fun to see Cassius romp around with the other dogs for a bit. Who knew he could run this fast?

And lastly, a few adorable inside/outside dog stories for the weekend.  Yesterday, I did my first Whole Foods run with Cassius. He was perfect, although a little overwhelmed by the soap smells in the Whole Body section.  His nose was going all over the place.  On our way out, I heard a mother telling her toddler that he was a “smart dog” – I just thought that was adorable.  And today at the Farmer’s Market, I encountered a very curious toddler and his mother.  Since Cassius and I were sitting in line, I told the boy he could pet him. He gave Cassius a few pats on the nose, and Cassius ate it all up with a wagging tail and a few licks. Both boy, dog and me were very happy with that encounter.