ysobel: Two hearts made out of candy canes (<3)
One year ago today, I had my first day of the training bootcamp thing for getting a service dog.

It was not easy. They warned me that the process was exhausting both physically and emotionally; even taking them at their word, I didn't have any way of comprehending just how hard it would be. I don't think I can explain even now.

The first week was long days of alternating lecture sessions (aka Learn A Bunch Of Stuff About Dogs, Dog Behaviour, And Dog Training) and practice sessions (aka very physical, very vocal, very engaging one-on-one work with the dogs). And said dogs, of course, had no reason to pay attention to us, and all sorts of reasons to pay attention to other people in the room. By the second week I was so exhausted, so utterly out of spoons, that I was spending a good portion of my energy trying not to burst into tears over random stuff.

One year ago today, I had met a bunch of dogs -- Yahtzee, Yarrow, Zane, Chrissy, White, Ollie, Nora, Nim -- but I didn't know which one I would end up getting paired with. Spoiler: it ended up being Yahtzee.

I kind of wish I could remember my pre-assignment interactions with the dogs, but I couldn't even really keep them straight at the time; it was all just DOGDOGDOG.

I do remember that a year ago, it was next to impossible to get whichever dog I was working with to even look at me, let alone follow any commands.

(Our relationship still isn't seamless, and there are times when he tries pulling the "durr what, I don't speak the Englishes" thing on me, but it's so much better than it was.)

It's been a year. It seems like longer -- I can barely remember Life Before Dog -- and shorter at the same time. And --

*intermission music* Entry is put on hold due to SOMEBODY barking his fool head off idek. It's like in the last week he decided he was actually a *dog* or something. Please wait...

-- and I can't quite describe how much he adds to my life. Some of it's the "service" part, like how if I'm out and about and I drop something I can actually retrieve it now. Some of it's the "dog" part, like the overwhelming unconditional love and the constant ridorkulousness and the heart-melting adorableness. And some of it's the "Yahtzee" part.

I don't really feel like I deserve him, but I am so very glad I have him.

ysobel: (Default)
Got home last night. Exhausted. Had minor meltdown.

Wanted to sleep in this morning (with arrangement for Y-dog to be toileted and fed so there wouldn't be any problems). Arrangement got foiled a bit by the fact that I doltishly forgot to take him out one last time before going to bed, so I had to get emergency roommate assistance at 5-something. And then the arranged thing at a bit before 8. And then my bladder decided I wouldn't get to sleep in anyway.

Not as close to the edge of melting down, but still in serious spoon deficit.

#

Have tons that I want to write up about the last two weeks. Don't have the energy for it. Also need to work on the end-of-year exchange fics (yuletide and secret_mutant) that I didn't have a chance to even think about for the last three weeks.

For now, have a picture:

Yahtzee

This is Yahtzee.

\o/

Dec. 17th, 2011 12:52 pm
ysobel: (Default)
T minus two hours to graduation.

Then dinner; then home. With dog. Omg.

N'awww

Dec. 16th, 2011 10:42 am
ysobel: (Default)
What I tried to write yesterday:

One of the tests was of the bond between each client and their dog. We had been in an "umbilical cord" procedure, where we were literally tethered together at all times, to facilitate bonding, and we were supposed to be the only one interacting with the dog.

The test itself was this: the training room was set up with a solid round barrier of tables tipped on their sides in a circle with blankets draped over them to cover the gaps. The students, including all the trainers, and the clients with their dogs, sat in chairs around the edges of the room.

One at a time, each client came into the ring of empty space between the tables and the people; took off the vest and leash, and gave those things to a designated holder; and walked in a slow steady circle around the barrier.

No commands. No verbal cues. No motions. No eye contact. No interaction of any sort. Just walk.

The point became clear: the strength of the bond would show in what the dog did. Unbonded, the dog would just wander. The stronger the bond, the more the dog would follow, or chase if separated.

#

I had several worries. Yahtzee is a slow bonder anyway; seated people are less dominant than standing people; and I didn't have the option of not having people around me.

I tried not to be too nervous.

#

I go up and have the holder person take Yahtzee's vest and leash, and I start moving. I can't see what he does.

Apparently, he was with me the whole way.

Apparently, when we got around to his trainer -- someone that for the first few days had to be out of the room for me to have any chance of attracting the dog's attention at all -- Yahtzee looked at the trainer, looked at me, and came with me.

Apparently, a bunch of the students started tearing up :)

#

Yahtzee is a good boy, he is.
ysobel: (Default)
Still have dog. Still awesome.

Have tests today and tomorrow and Saturday morning. Then graduation, assuming I pass. Then home. Whee.

Will do more thorough report when I have a real keyboard again.

<3 you all.
ysobel: (Default)
So far beyond exhhausted I don't even know.

Being sick doesn't help. Also the shit my wrist is pulling, that makes it impossible to use it for anything.

I don't know how I am going to survive the next week.

As it is, I almost started crying today, in the mall, partly because I couldn't get Yahtzee to sit or jump-on or things, partly because I kept making dumb rookie mistakes that I know better but still kept doing, partly out of exhaustion. And dog training is ten times harder when you're trying not to burst into tears.

(breathe)
ysobel: (Default)
We are at a coffee place at a mall, with dogs. Yahtzee is still awesome. The "service dog in training" vest is a very nice shade of purple.

I had dreams about dog stuff. And about improvising magic spells grounded in the "sicut locutus est" fugue from the Magnificat, idek.

Wish I were home, even though I know the next week of training is important.
ysobel: (Default)
I have so much stuff I want to write about, but I can't think of the words to use. I'm so incredibly exhausted and I just have no brain whatsoever.

We're doing good but I am about ready to fall apart. We still have a week left. Don't know if I can survive. And if I do, it's one thing to deal with Dog here but another to integrate him back into routine life at home and arghflail.

(breathe. One step at a time.)
ysobel: (Default)
I can has a dog! On the couch next to me!

He is about as zonked as I am, so we are not leaping about or anything, but omgdog!

The next few days will not be easy for my aides because they aren't supposed to interact with the dog at all. No matter how cute he gets. Which is pretty damn cute if you ask me.

Pup pup pup!

Yes there will be pics. Later.
ysobel: (Default)
So I already have a tux kitty... and I end up with a black lab... :D
ysobel: (Default)
Dogs are awesome.

The dogs get assigned today. I am excited! There will be update, and hopefully a photo, later. And then starting tomorrow night the dog will be coming 'home' with me.

Woof.
ysobel: (Default)
It's one thing to know, and be told, that dogs respond better to people they know, that it takes time and bonding and stuff.

It's something else to see what seems like everyone else interacting wonderfully with their assigned dogs, and to not even be able to get my dog's attention.

They do say this will change...
ysobel: (self esteem)
Am at hotel and a lot more optimistic about logisticy sorts of things. The bed is a good height, the bathroom is surprisingly awesome -- not something that necessarily follows from calling itself accessible. There is a drugstore and a Safeway across the street, and I have acquired cheese and crackers and bagels and cream cheese. There is no breakfast buffet, hence bagels, but there is a restaurant in the hotel and plenty of others in the area.

Nervous about the training still, of course, and I won't know about the bed until later, but at least the rest of the hotel stuff is not going to be an issue.

\o/

(I'm sure you guys were all waiting with bated breath for this report :D)

breathe

Dec. 4th, 2011 11:41 am
ysobel: (Default)
stuff is 90% packed. have clothes (yes, including underwear); have hairbrush and toothbrush; have meds; have knitting project.

still utterly terrified.

wibble.

/snuggles all of you/
ysobel: (Default)
I don't think the ZOMGDOG thing has sunk in yet. Rationally I know that I leave Sunday night for training, that I'll be gone two weeks, that I'll come home with a service dog, etc.

But emotionally? It doesn't seem real. I've waited for so long, and the turnaround on this has been so short. I'm excited, but half the time it feels like other people are more excited than I am. I'm afraid to think of it as real until it actually is; so many panicky thoughts of what could go wrong (what if I get there and they decide I'm too disabled / too depressed / something to manage a dog? what if I flunk the quizzes and stuff? what if all the dogs hate me? what if I am too timid to lead a dog? what if what if what if) and I don't even know what.

#

I will be pretty much out of contact for the next two weeks. Not entirely -- I will have email access, though I doubt I'll have time to check it during the daytime training sessions; I will probably be posting here at least occasionally -- but I won't be keeping up with my flist at all.

I also need to figure out what to do about the fic exchanges that I'm in, yuletide et al, because this is eating a lot of the writing time I have. Not all of it, but it might be saner to default early, especially since I am going to be a) utterly exhausted and b) kind of dog-obsessed, by the time I get back.

(Flail.)

#

DOG. DOGDOGDOGDOGDOGDOGDOG.

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ysobel: (Default)
masquerading as a man with a reason

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