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We still haven't found a home for Fred. We have a temporary situation for him but we are about to start looking at Happy Tales to see if they can help. I did NOT want to go that route, but I really don't feel that I have another option. The temporary situation is not ideal for us or Fred.
On an exciting note, one of the reporters for the local paper called and asked if she could interview us to do a follow up on the story she wrote from last year right before our fundraiser breakfast. Wednesday night, she came over and we talked for a while. Her name is Ashley Bone and she is SUPER sweet. If I hadn't been such a chicken to ask, I would have taken a picture with her. Anyway, for you locals (and I mean, locals to the Hill), check out the Advertiser News next Wednesday. The article should be published then. And for those of you who are not local, I will post the link here.
I guess that's about it. We plan to stay relatively close to home this weekend. I'd like to do some closet purging before school starts. I have one more week of work and then Jenna and I are beach-bound! We can't wait! We do have a birthday party for a special little girl on Saturday so I'm sure there will be pictures from that...eventually!
Anyway, I digress. Traveling with a service animal (or any pet I suspect) is like traveling with a child...you have to stop periodically to let them potty and get out to stretch their legs. Although I will confess to you, it was ME who really had to stop! :)
I had a good response to my top 5 questions, so I thought I'd add too them. Feel free to ask any questions you have (that I haven't already answered) by way of the comment section and I'll answer them the next time I blog. Most of these questions are from friends/family that have asked in the past....
Q6. We have a pet dog/cat in our home. Can you still come to visit us and will you bring Katie?
A6. YES! We would love to continue to visit your home. And if you want Steve to come, Katie must come too. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY: If you have another dog in your home, we will ask that you pen him/her before we arrive. While Katie is trained, it is hard for any dog to stay still and behave if there is another dog running around her, barking and/or sniffing her...well you know. Cats can stay out in the house. Katie has been trained to behave around cats and it's quite different than having a dog around. If you don't want to kennel, cage or pen your dog, then we absolutely understand and will NOT be offended. Just let us know that you don't feel comfortable with that and we can invite you to our home instead.
Q7. Is there anything special you do before going into a place of business (Target, work, restaurant)?
A7. Yes, before entering anywhere, Steve must find a grassy place for Katie to have the chance to potty before going in. This avoids accidents inside a business. And just in case you were wondering, Steve is required to remove anything left behind by Katie, so he ALWAYS cleans up her messes outside!
Q8. Katie looks so sad. Is she happy?
A8. Yes, Katie is happy. But like a police officer or guard, when they are "on duty", they don't generally smile, laugh and cut up. Katie has a job to do and she understands that. She does have times when she is not "on duty" and Steve will play with her. She may look sad while we are out, but that is her "out in public" face!
Q9. What happens if I call Katie? Will she come to me?
A9. If Katie remembers her training, nothing will happen if you call her. Katie is trained to only obey the commands of her master, which is Steve. Neither Jenna nor I can give her commands. But again, we ask that you don't call her. She is here to keep Steve safe and someone trying to call her (other than Steve) is a distraction.
Q10. What happens if you are trying to go into a business and they won't let you in with Katie?
A10. A place of business MUST, by law, let us in. If they refuse, we are to speak with the manager, who usually knows better than the workers, what the laws are. Ultimately, if push comes to shove, we have the option of calling the Police, although we hope it NEVER comes to that.
Q11. How will Katie know if Steve's blood sugar is getting low?
A11. Katie has been (and continues to be) scent trained. Dogs have a very keen sense of smell which is much better than humans. Dogs can be scent trained to do a variety of things. Sensing low blog sugar is one of them.
Q12. I saw Steve speaking harshly to Katie and yanking on her collar/leash. Why is he so mean to her?
A12. Steve is NOT being mean to Katie. He is correcting a behavior that is unacceptable such as disobedience. It looks like he's being mean. I KNOW. I think the same thing, but Steve has to establish dominance and so he has to use a firm voice when correcting her. Just think if you had a toddler who continued to disobey your commands. You would, most likely, not talk to him in a quiet, sweet voice and expect him to understand the importance of his obedience. Neither can Steve. Katie will continue to train and before long, correction will be minimal.
Q13. Does Katie stay outside or inside and where does she sleep?
A13. Katie stays inside unless Steve takes her outside for a walk. And she sleeps with us. Yes, you heard that right...she sleeps with us. Steve will sleep next to me and for bonding reasons, separate Katie from me. She has to understand that she works for Steve and so her sleeping close to him helps that bonding. In addition, she will be able to more easily detect blood sugar lows during the night.
Q14. Will Steve have any more formal training with Katie or is this it?
A14. We anticipate a week's worth of training in Missouri each year for several years. We have additional training to do while we are home and will report back to them weekly and monthly for quite a while.
Q15. Are you and Jenna allowed to pet/play with Katie when she's "off duty"?
A15. No. For the first 90 days we are home, no one, and especially not Jenna and I can have contact with Katie. It would be very easy for her to bond with one of us. We already love her like crazy because of how safe she is going to keep Steve. And yes, it is EXTREMELY hard for us to not want to just love all over her. But we can't. At least not right now. It's hard and very sad for us, but we know for Katie to help Steve that it's what is best.
I have lots of other things to say, but I would like to rest for a while. It's back to work and camp tomorrow. But only 2 more weeks until our vacation! YAY!
Bring on the questions...if I didn't answer them yet, I'll be happy to...
Many of you have emailed or called asking about Steve and Katie. They are still training and doing well. I thought I'd take just a moment to answer a couple of the most frequently asked questions:
Q1. Has she alerted yet?
A1. Yes, she has several times. However, they have to alert several times so that Steve will recognize her alert as what it is and not mistake it for disobedience. This will take more time than 3 weeks so the training will continue long after he gets home.
Q2. Can we pet Katie?
A2. Unfortunately, no. Even Jenna and I will have limited interaction with Katie for a while. We will never love on her and pet her like you would a pet. She WILL always know she is loved though. She is a working dog and if we want her to do her job she must know the difference between working and pet.
Q3. Will she go EVERYWHERE Steve goes?
A3. Yes. EVERYWHERE. On airplanes, cruise boats, mission trips (although that's more complicated than the others), work, church, restaurants, doctors' offices... you name it. If Steve can go there, so will she.
Q4. Is she ALLOWED to go everywhere Steve goes?
A4. Yes, by law and under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) she must be legally allowed to go everywhere he goes. Out of the country trips are a little sticky, but in the States, she's allowed everywhere...even the hospital (though not an OR).
Q5. Have you found a home for Fred?
A5. No. Not yet. I had one inquiry from the listing on Craigslist, but that guy never called me back. I had one word-of-mouth inquiry, but they are kind of concerned that he hasn't been housebroken for so long. So we are still looking for him a home...keep passing the word. I know God's gonna work this out. He hasn't failed us yet.
Jenna and I will get on a plane Saturday to fly to Missouri. We'll finally meet Steve and Katie and then Saturday afternoon/evening, there will be a graduation ceremony that we will attend. I'm sure I will take TONS of pictures!
After that, depending on the time, we might leave for home Saturday evening but more likely we will wait until Sunday morning and head back in. Not sure what time we'll arrive home, but Monday will be back to normal...well...except there will be a big black dog with us everywhere we go!
One quick prayer request, pray for Steve's dad Bill. He has congestive heart failure and he has some fluid built up around his heart. And then today, he had to have his beloved dog, Gigi, put down (she was 12 and not in good health). Bill is a quiet man, but I know he has got to be lonely without Mary and now his furbaby gone. Just whisper a prayer for him when you think of it.
And now...a couple pictures of Katie...
I talk to Steve regularly and they are doing a lot of repetitive training with the dogs. He has video homework every night that takes quite a bit of time. They had a lot of today off. He went to church, but then it was just him and Katie. He had to tire her down so she will sleep tonight, so he did several long walks and play time.
He sent me a quick little video from his cell phone that I'll try to post here...you'll notice another dog briefly...that's just another dog in training. You might be able to see that Katie does not have her service dog vest on which is how she knows she's "off-duty" and it's OK to play...
Anyway, this week is more of the same for Jenna and I. We went to the Sounds game last night (with family) for the awesome fireworks after, but it got rained out (that is actually an understatement), so we are going to try it again this Friday. Saturday we have the bug spray people coming and then our new couch is being delivered. I seriously need to get the current sofa on Craigslist to see if I can get rid of it before then...yeah, add that to my list.
Otherwise, we have no real plans for the weekend. Depending on our Saturday visitors we might hit the rec center pool again if the weather is nice.
As for now, it's off to read some of my book...