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Friday, March 27, 2009

All Better Now!

What a week! Although for a while he seemed to be feeling better, Dakota's tummy issues continued through the weekend. And guide dog work does not mix well with tummy problems. At all costs we try to avoid what we call "dirty walks." (I'll just let you figure out what that is!) So, Tuesday found me driving across town to the vet's with, shall we say, a "sample."

Tests were run, and as it turned out, an antibiotic was in order to clear up Duckie's problems. By this time it was late in the afternoon, and Dr. Boggs was good enough to offer me an alternative to another cross-town trip through insane afternoon traffic by calling in the prescription to a local pharmacy. "You mean...what kind of pharmacy?" I wondered. "Oh, any pharmacy, a people pharmacy...they'll have it." Okay...

So, here I am at the pharmacy facing a tired clerk. "Prescription for Lord," I offer, hoping I don't have to give more detail than that. "Date of birth?" he wants to know. Oh bother...I wonder does he want the dog's birthday or mine? "5/28/08." Nothing comes up, so I tell him to try he probably thinks I'm crazy since I can't even remember within forty years when I was born! Throwing discretion to the winds, I admit: "'s for the dog." "Oh, the guide dog? Why didn't you say so?" When I don't have Duckie with me, I kind of think people won't remember me, but nope. I am doomed to be "the dog lady" for life I think!

Now he's really trying hard to find it, but somehow the prescription just won't come up on the computer. We look for it under Dakota's name...the vet's name...we try "Guide Dogs of Texas"..."dog"..."k-9" results. He gets another clerk to help him search the shelves. They really did try! But it's no good...maybe the vet called it in to the wrong pharmacy? At last I turn to go, and just then the pharmacist herself emerges. "Hey, is this it? We never filled it because we didn't have the patient's date of birth!" Sure enough, that was it. We went and did some shopping while waiting for it to be processed. Before long the loudspeakers ring out: "Would 'Dakota Lord' please return to the pharmacy. Your prescription is ready." Poor Dakota Lord is at home in his crate...suppressing a laugh, we pick it up for him.

On the way home, Charissa starts reading me the label. Not a good idea for someone as prone to worry as me. To start off, they gave him an arbitrary birthdate just so something would be in the computers. So now, according to Wal-mart, he's officially 8 years old. Amazing how an illness can age you overnight! Charissa reads, "'CAUTION: DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL with this medicine,' ...well, that shouldn't be a problem....'POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: stomach upset' " Wait, isn't that what we're taking this to cure? "'...headache...'" I wonder how Duckie would tell us if he had a headache? "'...or a metallic taste...check with your doctor as soon as possible if you experience numbness, tingling, or burning of your hands or feet' ...or paws?...'may cause drowsiness. Use care when operating heavy machinery'"...or guiding a blind person, I should think!

But you'll be happy to hear that Dakota has been taking his medicine like a trooper, has apparently tolerated it well, and seems to be fully recovered.

If he has a headache, he hasn't complained.

"Oh, my tingling paws!"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ups and Downs

Dakota likes his walks (apart from his puppy jacket -- which literally rubs him the wrong way!) He loves to be working, remembers commands well, and usually has a lot of fun.

But I'll be the first to admit, he's got a ways to go when it comes to that all-important guide dog skill of waiting patiently. That's why he has such a hard time at church. I mean, here he is, surrounded by people whom he already knows and loves (since many of them have been to our home)...and I tell him he can't go over and say hi to them? What's all that about? He's really frustrated by this. I spend half my time surreptitiously reminding him to be quiet...the other half, reminding him to lie down! No wonder we're in the back pew. Tonight's service is just a business meeting...maybe he's bored.

I come in loaded down with a ton of treats, and dole them out at an alarming rate. The first half hour goes pretty well...

...then he gets increasingly restless and whiny...

He'd better watch out. I know I have connections at this church, but if he doesn't shape up he'll get himself banned! By me if no one else...out of sheer embarrassment. But at last, he stretches out and starts to fall asleep, just in time to...

...wake up, it's time to go!

I'm sure he'll grow up and this will all get easier eventually!

On a different note -- we had some cause for mild concern this week when Duckie developed symptoms of tummy upset. At Michelle's advice, we gave him a couple pepto bismol to help him get over it. At first I was worried he wouldn't take them, but after sniffing them cautiously he ate them right up and by next day seemed to be feeling better. The funny thing is how Duckie reacted the next time one of the kids needed the pepto bismol.

Yes, he's sitting politely, tail wagging, waiting for his turn! This really cracked me up. He's probably wondering why she's getting into his dog treats!

Just another one of life's little ups and downs.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dakota's Doings

Well, things have been a little crazy around here as we got new flooring installed last week. Dakota and Trixie (another labradoodle guide-dog-in-training, back at the center now) were very good during all the noise and chaos. Still, everyone's glad to have things back to normal. Dakota's really loving the new hard floors...plenty of cool places to stretch out and sleep.

Speaking of keeping cool, we gave Dakota another trim this week to help him stay comfortable in our warming temperatures. Texas seems to be skipping spring this year and going straight from winter into summer weather! You can see how much we took off here -- the paw on the right is "before," the left is "after."

Hmmm, maybe we should do this outdoors next time! What a pile of fur!

Training walks are coming along pretty well. Dakota's always a little silly at first when we get out of the "bus," wiggling all around and trying to adjust his jacket. Here he demonstrates what we call the three-legged walk. "Yes, I can walk and scratch my jacket at the same time!"

...But once he gets the goofiness out of his system he's a good little worker. Here I picked up a piece of cardboard lying on the ground and asked him to find me a trashcan to throw it away.

To help the puppies with their "finds," we're supposed to use the item each time they find it. So when Dakota finds the trash, I throw something away. He finds a seat, and I sit down. He finds a door, and I go through it. He finds the girls' restroom...never mind! I do plead guilty to having faked throwing something away when I'm out of trash. I've even thrown out a doggie kibble before, but I don't think Dakota approves!

He really dislikes squeaky shopping carts, like the one going by here, but at least now he seems to know they're just an annoyance, not a threat.

"Hey, what's wrong with these flowers? They don't smell at all!"

"Mom likes to shop but for me it's all about people-watching!"

Most of the time on our walks, he's pretty relaxed. Like here, I got down on his level to look at a picture and Dakota instantly assumed it was cuddle time! You can't help but like this guy.

Have a great day everybody!