Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 10

In around 15 hours, I’ll be in the middle of our Public Access Test.  Omri LOVES an audience so this will either be the biggest challenge ever or a cake walk.  Because he loves an audience, he’ll either be on his absolute best behavior, or he’ll be so wound up from all the attention he won’t be able to focus. I am thinking about taking Omri to 4Paws in the morning before our test & letting him get rid of some of his excess energy.


I know some of you are wondering, or maybe you’re not, what did we do today at training?  We worked some more on obedience, avoiding people food, avoiding distractions, and practicing for the Public Access Test.  Jeremy went over the ground rules & told us what to expect & what to do before we get there.  We also got our “times” for when we take our tests.  4 Paws does have a handout that spells out what they test & they offered one to each of us.  I didn’t get one because I’ll stress about it & freak out if we don’t get something perfect.  (Do I have OCD???  Maybe just a little bit.  Ok, ok, ok…a BIG bit!)  This afternoon, Jeremy talked to us about what to expect on the plane, train and automobile on the way home.  He also talked about settling in at home, introducing other animals, going to school, etc.  He talked about the ADA & where the dogs can/can’t go & what they can/can’t do, that kind of stuff.  It was very informational & he said we can call or email any time.


Oh, I almost forgot, Matthew gave Omri a bath today!  It was so funny!  Omri isn’t exactly Mr. Sensitive, but he HATED his bath.  He looked so pathetic, I couldn’t help but laugh.  Unlike some of the others in our class, Matt didn’t get soaked.  (I guess that’s an advantage to having the only Lab in a class full of Golden Retrievers.)  Omri seriously had his feelings hurt!  He pouted for about 3 hours afterwards.  I told Omri, “You’re a LAB, you’re supposed to LIKE water!”  One of the trainers, Jenna, said that he’ll LOVE going swimming, but she has yet to see ANY dog like bath time.  (Open-mouthed smile LOL—ironic, huh?)



After training, we did laundry, then we went to McDonald’s. Omri’s nose was working triple-time in there. When we got back to the hotel, I started packing up everything. I also took the kennel apart so we can take it back to 4Paws in the morning. Omri looked at me so funny. I think he was trying to determine what exactly I was doing to his house. I wish I would’ve had the camera ready for the expression on his face. Talk about priceless!


100_0486100_0489The second picture to the left is Omri after his bath.  (I think you can tell he still wasn’t thrilled about it, huh?)

I have a prayer request.  A dear friend of mine, Kelly, was put in the hospital for a bad staph infection that has gotten worse.  If you want to read about it, go here.  She has 2 daughters, and she is a stay-at home mom.  She hasn’t had a very good experience so far—she just really needs some dedicated prayer warriors to go to our Father.





P.S.  Have you ever seen a happier dog?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day 9

It’s the Final Countdown!  T-minus 40 hours and counting! 
We have our Public Access Test on Friday morning.  In a way, I feel really ready for it, and in a way, I feel like saying YIKES!  Jeremy and Jennifer went over what the test consists of today, and it’s all stuff we’ve been learning the past week, but it is a little intimidating.  What if Omri has an accident in the middle of the mall?  What if he takes off at the first little kid he sees?  I think we’re ready, but I still have my insecurities.
Omri was as tired as I was last night.  As Matt walked past Omri last night, he told the dog,” I’ll be back, Omri, it’s okay.”  Smile    A little later, Matthew told Omri, “I love you, Omri.”  It absolutely brought tears to my eyes!  Matthew will tell Jason or me that he loves us, but it’s never as spontaneous & unsolicited as that was. 
Today during training, we just basically reinforced everything as far as obedience went.  We also worked on some heavy, duty distractions.  We walked around each other’s dogs, talking to them, correcting them, trying to get them to break their “down” or sit or whatever they were supposed to be in.  We did lap, over, high five, gimme five, shake, sit, down, roll over, play dead, touch etc.  Jeremy also gave each of us a handout that has all the commands on it so we can take it home to teach others the commands & hand signals that go with them.  This afternoon, we did more of that and we did some work off leash as well.  It’s fun to watch their ears perk up when they realized they weren’t “on leash”.  For the most part, they did pretty well.  Omri wanted to get to Matt, who had gone outside to play so that was a major distraction.  I didn’t take many pictures today as my back was spasming & I just didn’t feel very well.
Have I mentioned that Omri is a Razorbacks fan?  Here he is in an Arkansas Razorbacks t-shirt.  He didn’t care for the
baseball cap much, but he tolerated the t-shirt.  He’s such a good-natured dog. Smile  I’d better go for now, Omri looks like he’s about to float away so I’d better take him out to potty.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 8

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.