Wow! All I can say is I never imagined a week ago that I would be able to drop Omri’s leash & he’d STILL be in a heel! Truthfully, I couldn’t imagine Omri not pulling or running away while on the leash let alone when he’s off leash. For those who’ve wondered, the tan thingy on Omri’s nose when he’s on leash is called a Gentle Leader. It’s not a muzzle or to keep him from barking. As strong as he is, I was really struggling with getting him to heel at all. The Gentle Leader basically gets their attention cause wherever their head is, that’s where their attention is gonna be, also. Once we put it on, I really started feeling more confident & I think Omri picked up on that. When we are in our hotel room, he doesn’t have it one, but when we’re in public, I put it on just to remind him that yes, he still has to listen to me.
These are pictures of the dogs/parents/kids in our class. Starting at the top left, we have Wisdom, Flint, Jeremy, Omri, Xander, Xander, True, Alyssa,Flint, True, True, True, Sabrina & River, Wisp, the puppy in the kennel is a future Service Dog, Twix, next we have Wisdom, Wisdom, Wisdom, Wisdom, Kyto, Mixie and Mixie. These dogs, kids, parents, trainers have become one of my “packs”. I will miss all of them tremendously when we leave.
I am not going to lie…this has been one of the hardest things I’ve EVER done! Getting the respect from an intelligent dog is HARD work…add to that Matthew & I are here just the 2 of us. It is very difficult and stressful to handle the dog and Matthew by myself. I have a whole new respect for my friends who are single moms. Matt has been fairly well-behaved, but I can tell he’s getting very tired of being stuck in a small hotel room at night. There’s not a whole lot of entertainment except for Omri which helps with the bonding, but I get stressed & anxious very easy so it’s been hard. Most people think I’m pretty easy-going, patient and level-headed. NOT! By nature, I am extremely impatient, high-strung, and emotion-driven. I have learned a lot about myself this week. I want to learn everything quickly and am extremely hard on myself when it takes longer than I think it should. These dogs are wonderful, but they are not robots and they do get confused. They are young—some are barely out of puppyhood…some are still really puppies—Omri is just 15 months old. The Golden Retrievers aren’t quite a year, I think. They still have a lot of puppy in them, but this way, they get to grow up with their kids, and we get to have them a long time. (10-12 years, we hope!)
I wondered several times during the fundraising process if God wanted us to even have a Service Dog for Matthew because it was taking SOOOOOOOO long to raise our money. I prayed, prayed, cried, fussed at God, cried some more, prayed some more, almost gave up, prayed some more, vented to my family, and FINALLY, I got a call from Xenia, Ohio. Karen Shirk, the Executive Director of 4 Paws for Ability, called to say that an anonymous donor gave the rest of the money needed for Matthew’s Service Dog. What?! Someone I didn’t even know wanted to help my child? I was in SHOCK! Then I remembered something another parent from 4 Paws said. “When the dog is ready, the money will come together.” She is So right. Omri wasn’t even born when I was getting frustrated! God knew we needed to wait a while so Omri could be born and trained. HE knew we needed THIS dog…not a different dog…THIS one! I fully believe God works all things together in HIS time for HIS purpose. Omri is working for us, but we need to give GOD the glory that Omri’s able to help Matthew as much as he has done. I have faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior, and along with that I have to believe that God will take care of my smallest need. He is the rock I need to lean on when I’m stressed or anxious. Is this whole journey in Matthew’s best interest or is it in mine? Is Omri really going to help Matthew or is it wishful thinking on my part??? These are the questions I struggle with. I also struggle with questions like:
* Why did I get a child with special needs instead of my brother, the teacher?
* Is Scott going to feel obligated to be Matthew’s guardian if something happens to us?
* WHY is Matthew this way?
* Is Matthew going to be able to get married? have a real job? live by himself? manage his money?
* What’s going to happen to him if something happens to us?
* How do I help him and care for him without Scott feeling left out?
These are just a few of the questions I struggle with. I know I need to give it to God & I try, but it’s SO hard.
I try to be peppy & upbeat, but I also write this blog trying to be as open & honest as I can. For the most part, our lives are an open book. I really believe that we are called to be “open books” for anyone to look at our lives and see REAL people and God’s grace should shine through. Raising a special child is one of the hardest things you can do—doesn’t matter if your child is high functioning or completely dependent on you for everything—it is hard and it is real life!
I’m sorry if it seems like I’m preaching in this post, but I felt deep in my heart that needed to address some of these things & let everyone know that I am NOT perfect & I struggle, too.
By the way, I have been unable to see comments you leave, so please email me any comments if you would please. firstname.lastname@example.org