Thursday, September 03, 2009

It Begins

Well, I've bitten the bullet and made contact. Joe and I have talked about getting an assistance dog for a very long time, almost since I began using the wheelchair. We've hesitated because I was worried about my motiviations. But increasingly over the last couple of years I've wished that I had a furry helper beside me instead of having to always call on Joe. When something hits the floor, call Joe. When I need something from a low shelf, call Joe. When I'm shopping and I need to put something in the bag at the back of the chair, go find Joe.

Joe doesn't mind these extra duties. But I mind having to ask him. When we rented the apartment we asked about having an assitance dog because the apartment has a, completely ineffective as it turns out, no pet policy. We were reassured that assistance dogs would be welcome. So, it's been in our minds.

Then my friend Belinda told us a very funny story about her daughter's dog Molson. He is a beautiful animal, fully trained as a therapy dog. Well, there was some kind of agreement whereby Molson was 'on call' to provide 'lovin' when the time was right to father another batch of assistance puppies. Belinda ended up having to drive him in the night, when the time was right, for a booty call. I'm grinning as I write this. (Belinda I'm writing this in the dark, early morning, could you up the url in the comment section for people to go read about you and Molson and your midnight rendez-vous?)

When the puppies arrived I went to the website with their pictures and it stated that they had assistance dogs and were receiving applications. And that's it. I did it. I wrote them. They wrote back.

So now the process begins. I don't know if I'll pass muster. I don't know if my need is serious enough. But if it is, I'll soon be up writing in the early morning with my feet being kept warm, professionally.

Rah. And Who Rah.

21 comments:

Manuela said...

Well put me on this list of volunteers that will watch over the pup when you are overseas!! Good luck!

Kristin said...

What a wonderful story about Molson...too funny. Good luck with your application.

wendy said...

That's great news! I hope the process goes smoothly.

Belinda said...

http://whateverhesays.blogspot.com/2009/07/molsons-big-adventure.html

The link above should do it! Booty from a beauty! Ha ha! :)

I'll be second on the list, after Manuela, for dog sitting! :)

Jen said...

Great news!

Tamara said...

Sounds like a great idea. I hope it works out for you.

A family in our area is having trouble getting their school district to allow their son, who has autism, to bring his service dog to school with him.

A couple of links ...

http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/the-grade/public-schools/2009/08/columbia-school-wont-let-boy-bring-service-dog-to-school/all-comments/

http://www.bnd.com/news/weird_news/story/898348.html

Stephanie said...

Good for you! We have been on a waiting list for about 2 years for a helper dog for my son. It is likely that it will be about 4 more. That is ok, though, because he is non-verbal right now and just not ready IMHO. Sooooo happy for you though! Can you take him with you when you travel?

Steph and Christopher

Ellen said...

That is very exciting!

ivanova said...

Maybe the dog will come with you when you travel! A friend of mine has an assistance dog and she said the dog is the most help in the airport. Different person, different needs, but you never know. Maybe you'll get a really scary-looking German Shepard, and hotel staff like the one you wrote about the other day will be intimidated into a better attitude.

Amy said...

I've been lurking here for a while, and I have to comment now - That is so very cool! One of the self advocates who belongs to the organization I work for just got a service dog to alert her before she has a seizure. The dog was the star of our last conference, I have to say!

Anyway, good luck getting your dog! Service dogs are amazing, and I wish we could all have one, disability or no. :p

luvmypeanut said...

We've had my son's service dog for about a month now. What a god send. However, the school is not allowing the dog to come to school! We are trying to fight the good fight.

Best wishes on receiving your dog! They're wonderful!

FridaWrites said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I want one too. They prioritize the lists, so it's not your worry whether you qualify enough (I definitely think you would). I think the first link on my blogroll is to an assistance dog organization--there's a huge list of all the organizations on it that you can wade through. You may want to apply for a few organizations to reduce wait or to up your chances.

gwiz said...

Congrats on your decision, Dave (and Joe)!! I've raised 8 pups for two different Service Dog organizations and have met many handlers along this incredible journey who all speak about how much of a difference their canine partner has made in their life. Good Luck!!!

miss mouse said...

Great story about Molson..glad he is being "of service" in all ways! Seems like a service dog would be a great assistant for you, if it all works out. I'm a 'dog person' so not at all neutral. I was thinking perhaps a service dog who traveled with you might help motivate the unmotivated folks like that hotel clerk you recently wrote about.

Heike said...

We've just send in our application for our daughter! Fingers crossed for us all eh?

Jane said...

Kia ora again. Congratulations on making the first move- I'm sure it will be truly fantastic to have a dog.We're currently doing Shared Care for Fitzy, a huntaway/ lab cross who is a Mobility Assistance dog in training. His regular carer is away in Sydney for a couple of weeks. He is coming to work and going out to do assessments in the community with me and we are all loving him and hopefully vice versa. There are probably only about 6 working MA dogs in NZ so far with about 20 more currently in training. We look forward to following your story. Good luck, J, G and Fitzy

Anonymous said...

Dave

Very exciting indeed!
Can't wait to meet the new arrival...keep us posted Dave!
Love Lin ( LinMac)

theknapper said...

Can't wait to see photos of your new dog. How could they not accept you??!!

Cindy L said...

Dogs are wonderful. Mine have added immensely to my life. I have a whole group of friends from the dog park and I'm more involved in my community because of Jackie and Mike. Dogs make good friends.

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brilliantmindbrokenbody said...

My service dog, Hudson, has made SUCH an impact on my life.

Being able to ask someone other than the boyfriend and my friends to help is...well, as I'm sure you can imagine, it's huge.

I got him in mid-June, and he's already used to the routine of picking up things I drop, helping me get up, waiting while I'm working, pushing buttons for doors and elevators, flipping light switches, and so on.

I won't pretend it's all rainbows and butterflies - he doesn't handle buses and subways very well, and grates in the sidewalk are a bit of a fight. He also wants to investigate everyone and everything, a situation that has caused me moments of embarassment sometimes.

Having Hudson with me does make people stare, even more than they used to. I'm not a chair user, but before I had Hudson, I walked with forearm crutches (which he has replaced). I'm still getting used to being treated like some kind of public attraction, and there are moments when I bitterly resent it, but at least now they're mostly staring at him. I still get asked about my disability, though now people assume I'm blind rather than just asking what is wrong with me. Even people who'd known me casually before I got the dog - they've made comments like 'I never knew you were blind!' Er, that's 'cause I'm not.

...having said that, on the whole...having Hudson in my life really has been a huge improvement. Particularly when I had a severe case of the flu a few weeks ago. I was so weak, it was a massive struggle to get from bed to bathroom, and without my dog to lean on, I'm not sure I'd've made it. He also helped get me to the ER that evening, when it became clear that I was dehydrated enough that I needed help.

If part of the priorities you're worried about are things like...wanting company, liking dogs, so on...the service dog organizations I've talked to actually like seeing that. After all, they promise this dog to you for the rest of his/her life, and in exchange you're supposed to be a companion and partner - something that's hard to do if you aren't interested in connecting with them!