Monday, January 31, 2011

Massage Monday Number Two: The Benefits of Massage

It's Monday again and we all know what that means. It means Jess rambling on about massage therapy and trying to bring unsuspecting victims over to the dark side. Mwahahahaha...erm, ahem, I mean...
Let us discuss the numerous benefits of massage and then you can decide on your own if massage is a treatment you would be interested in.

Depending on the types of massage-see last Monday's post-massage therapy can have varying effects on a person's body. The more obvious results would be seen/felt in muscles and joints, while unseen and usually unnoticed changes occur in the nervous system. I want to start with the most general benefit and work my way into the very specific impact. Hopefully that keeps me on track and makes things a bit easier to understand.
Let's talk muscles: we all have them and we all get sore and fatigued muscles from time to time. This soreness and fatigue all depends on the individual. Such factors include, but are not limited to lifestyle, eating habits, working environment and illnesses or disabilities a person may be dealing with. The most obvious and publicly recognised benefit of massage is the decrease in muscle tension. Therapists use varying techniques to soothe and relax aching, tired muscles. Stretches may be applied to problem areas to try to convince the hyper tonic-AKA tight-area to relax. Heat can also be used to encourage muscle tissue to become more pliable; thus releasing tension and providing therapists with a more cooperative muscle to work with. The application of heat has many benefits of its own, but I will use that as a primary focus of another post. Muscles are often sore after a person has used a muscle group that they may have not used in a while. This delayed soreness is often due to the micro tears your muscles endure when you have worked out or called into the line of duty when they have been retired for a while. Don't worry-micro tears are not bad. As long as you eat properly when exercising, drink water and stretch, the muscles repair themselves. This is kind of part of muscle expansion, but it does not feel good. Massage therapy does not repair these tears, but it encourages nourishment into the area and that will help with the healing process.
Massage can also be beneficial for joint health. Joints are lubricated by a substance your body produces naturally, called synovial fluid.A lot of joint supplements humans, and pets, are designed to help the body to produce the lubricant when it can no longer make enough of it on its own. Joint mobilisations and passive range of motion are two of the many techniques that could benefit joints. Passive range of motion is the gentle movement of a joint through its natural movements. The client does not help the therapist; essentially, the client must trust the therapist to gently move the joint without dropping it. The movements are often repeated seven to ten times and are slow and methodical. There is not any bouncing or sharp, quick movements. By moving the joint passively through its natural motions, the therapist is encouraging the lubrication to push through the joint. This both lubricates and nourishes the joint. The passive range of motion technique also helps to flush stagnant or unhealthy joint fluid out. Nutrients is brought to the joint via blood vessels and this is encourage by passive range of motion as well. Moving joints on your own also does that, but passive range of motion relieves the joint of the stress from body weight or muscles pulling on it. The best exercise that mimics passive range of motion that a person could do on their own, would be swimming. The water acts to support the body and lets the joints move through their range of motion with minimal amounts of stress placed on the joints. There is also no pounding or aggressive actions on the joints as there are in other exercises such as running. This technique is particularly beneficial to clients with Arthritis in the chronic stage, or when the joint is not inflamed. It is also useful for people who are unable to move joints on their own due to disability.
Remember I mentioned the influx of nutrients to joints via blood vessels? Joints are not the only part of the body that enjoys increased circulation due to massage therapy. Now we all know that we have millions and millions of blood vessels running throughout our bodies. Without these networks of arteries, capillaries and veins, our body's tissues would not receive the nutrients it needs or dispose of waste products. Now let me give you a small anatomy lesson and that will hopefully make my point clearer. Most arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart out to the body's tissues, while most veins carry de-oxygenated blood back to the heart. Arteries are special in that they have a small muscular layer that helps to push the blood to its destination, but veins do not possess this layer. Veins' interesting characteristic is the little valves that stop the back flow of blood. In other words, de-oxygenated blood cannot move backwards because there are valves preventing this from occurring. Okay, so how does the blood get back to the heart if there is no muscular layer forcing it in the correct direction,? You might ask. (Well, at least that is what I asked). The answer is simple my attentive readers. (You are being attentive right)? Anyway, back to our simple answer...
The de-oxygenated blood is forced back to our hearts via muscle contractions. Basically, if you walk to the fridge to retrieve a glass of lemonade, or if you are involved in any kind of exercise, you are forcing your de-oxygenated blood back to your heart. Your diaphragm, which is your primary muscle of breathing, also helps to squish the veins and bring the de-oxygenated blood to its ultimate destination; your heart.So, by just breathing your blood is moving. What does all of this have to do with massage therapy?

Massage is a series of squeezing, squishing, compressing and other such techniques, which are applied to the muscles. Through these squeezings, squishings and compressings, the therapist is assisting the de-oxygenated blood through your system.. So don't be surprised if you have to go pee after your treatment. If massage helps move that waste product rich de-oxygenated blood through your body, it is forcing your other systems to clean up. A way to expel these waste products is going to the bathroom. A therapist may ask you to drink extra water after your massage to ensure your system has the fluids it needs to clean itself out. Simply put, massage increases metabolic rate. No, massage does not help you lose weight. That is not a benefit massage can claim. If your therapist says that it does, ask for the literature that supports this.. Back to improved circulation: this also means, that in most cases, the therapist must be using strokes that move toward the heart. For example, if your therapist is working on your arm, they will start closest to your shoulder with their fingertips pointing toward your shoulder. When they put pressure on the stroke, it will be directed up. The pressure of the stroke should not go down to the elbow/wrist direction because this is the opposite of the flow of blood. We are trying to improve circulation. Now, notice that I did not say "never" and that is because there are always exceptions to the rule. So, ask your therapist "why" if the strokes are not going with your blood flow. I believe what I am trying to convey in a very, long and convoluted explanation is that another benefit of massage therapy is improved circulation.

Muscle relief, joint health and improved circulation are not the only benefits massage has on the human body. The effects are evident even at the nervous system level. The use of fast quick techniques can stimulate the nervous system, or slow gentle ones can activate the parasympathetic nervous system; otherwise known as your "rest and digest" nervous system. The Parasympathetic system is responsible for organ functions such as decreased heart rate and increased activity by the intestine. Your body uses chemicals called neurotransmitters to either stimulate or depress this part of your nervous system. Soothing or relaxation massages can decrease your nerves firing rapidly and decrease your heart rate. All of these things impact your stress levels and we all know the negative effects stress has on the body. You may feel hungry after a massage and that is a good thing. I always gauged the success of my treatment on the volume of my client's tummy rumblings. Because the parasympathetic system increases the activity of the digestive system, it would make sense that you would get hungry after a good massage. If it is your first time having a massage, your therapist should take your blood pressure. For interest sake, after the treatment you could ask them to take it again. Your blood pressure should have decreased. This means that your parasympathetic nervous system is secreting the neurotransmitters to tell you to relax. If you fall asleep during the massage or feel sleepy during or after, that also means that your "rest and digest" system has kicked in. All of this is beneficial as we all could use a little less stress in our lives. Stress can cause heart issues, digestion problems, illnesses and even just your regular old flu. Taking time to relax and have your parasympathetic nervous system stimulated is good for you. So, you see? Another reason why massage therapy is beneficial.
It would seem as though our Monday session of massage Mumbo-jumbo has come to a close. As mentioned above, massage is beneficial in several different ways, some of which I didn't even touch on. I hope this has been enlightening, even just a little bit, and that you will come back next Monday for some more Massage shop talk. As always please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for future posts.
Happy Monday.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hands and Doors

There are certain social practices out there that everyone is expected to abide by, like washing your hands after using the bathroom, walking on the right hand side and holding the door for the person coming in behind you; just to name a few. But what if you can't do these things? Do you let it bother you that you are getting strange looks, or do you carry on your merry way? What if you can't see the looks, or what if you don't know you broke one of these unspoken social rules?
I got to thinking about this stuff this morning when I had to use the bathroom this morning at church. Besides the fact that I broke the "don't make strangers uncomfortable by getting them to point you to the bathroom" rule, I realised, as I left the bathroom, that the woman standing at the sink washing her hands may have been appalled that I walked out without washing my hands. Whoa. Now hold on, before you go saying "yuck" because that is what I would have thought, I had hand sanitizer that I used in the stall before emerging. It's something I started carrying with me in my purse just in case the sink area is busy. It was a solution to the "don't touch strangers when they are standing at the sink washing their hands in the bathroom" rule. Sure, the guide dogs know the "find the counter" command, but if the sink is already occupied, you may accidentally brush up against them or touch an unsuspecting victim. Sometimes I don't have my sanitizer, or I just really feel I need a sink-maybe I am sticky from eating something-I just waltz up and fumble my way to an empty basin, but usually my handy-dandy "Apples and Mint" works for me. If the sinks are completely free, or if the counter is very long and I can hear a person at one end and know that I can make it to the other without doing the "bump" dance with someone, then of course I'll wash my hands the traditional way. Then there's the joy of finding the soap dispenser and paper towels, but that is a post all unto itself.
I didn't think until today though, that people may be using paper towel to open the door after I've exited the bathroom. I'm not saying this actually occurs, but it got me to thinking about the split second judgments I make about people every day.
I like to think that I am self aware, disability aware and difference aware, but I am still human and create notions in my head about someone from a small interaction. I have always wondered what people think when Glacier and I come trotting down a hall or sidewalk on the left hand side; interrupting the flow of foot traffic. It's not something I can help. In fact, both of my dogs had left tendencies and Leader Dogs for the Blind told me it was safer not to fight them on it and I have learned that LDB was right.
I have also felt horrible when I enter a building and let a door swing shut only to realise too late that someone was standing behind me. I know most people probably recognise the dog and know that I didn't do it on purpose, but still.
From my little revelation while telling Glacier to "find the door" with my hand sanitizer safely stowed in my purse where no one could see it and thus could not have known that I used it, I decided to try to be a little less judgmental. There could be things going on that I don't even know about. I have also come to the conclusion, for the millionth time, that I cannot be concerned with what complete strangers think of my lack of hand washing, rude door slamming and purposeful left hand side walking. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

To Train Or Not To Train...

Remember that "hitch" I was hoping wouldn't happen? Well, a small one has popped up. Now to some it wouldn't be a big deal, but it sort of changes my already revised plan a bit more. :)
The Great Dane Guy is sick with Pneumonia! First of all, I wish him a speedy recovery because having Pneumonia is not cool. But now I am stuck trying to figure out if I want to train with a new trainer or not. Remember me mentioning how open and helpful The Great Dane Guy is? Well, now I'm worried this trainer that is filling in for him won't be as open and we'll have "blind" issues. Wasn't I trying to avoid that by doing things this way?
There is an intermediate class that starts on Wednesday and there is room to put Aria in. I could wait for The Great Dane Guy to come back, but as of right now there isn't another intermediate class scheduled until March 19th. So, do I wait for March 19th and pray that The Great Dane Guy is better and is teaching the class, or do I just suck it up and start on Wednesday? I mean, who's to say this new guy will have a bad attitude? He might be fine, but part of me doesn't want to deal with it if he does.
Then again, maybe I should just get over myself and do it. Since when do I let people's insecurities and discomforts around disability stop me? ...When it costs me money and jeopardizes mine and Aria's chances of success. Grrrrr.
I am aware that there are much worse fates and people dealing with much tougher life decisions out there and I think I'm just going to do it. If things aren't working, I'll just ask for my money back and wait for The Great Dane Guy. I guess I am having a hard time as well because I really enjoy The Great Dane Guy's teaching methods and I know that he would do everything possible to help us succeed. And I'm comfortable with him.
Oh well. Time to step out of my comfort zone...again. lol
Mr. K's having a nap so I'll pass this new development by him and see what he says. I know he'll be disappointed too. The good news is that there are only three other dogs in the class-so it won't be too big or busy. I've heard a time or two that everything happens for a reason, and maybe this is one of those times. All right, that is enough griping from me-it's really not a big deal. I just might have to give someone an attitude adjustment-politely of course. Then again, maybe I won't have to. I may go in and talk to him face to face and see what he's like and gauge his reaction to us joining the class and then make a decision.
Thoughts anyone?

Pet Blogs United: Foster Friday ~ Meet Middy Sue

Pet Blogs United: Foster Friday ~ Meet Middy Sue: " Middy Sue & foster brother Pauley James Middy Sue is a foster dog who was pulled from a local kill shelter. She was dropped off af..."

I'm not sure I get a different reading crowd than PBu, but I hope this helps. :)

"I think I can, I think I Can, I Think I Can..."

Earlier this week I posted about how Mr. K and I are researching the breeding/training/showing process for Miniature Dachshunds. Well, let me tell you, this is not going very smoothly. I had sort of suspected this and that is part of the reason why I have started now while Balloo is still a puppy and definitely not ready to be a daddy. I've emailed over half a dozen breeders with minimal results. Some haven't replied at all, one referred me to a breeder I had already contacted and one stopped corresponding with me after they found out I was blind. Coincidence? Maybe. I did also tell them that my geographical location was pretty far from them, but it's just strange that they were helpful until I disclosed my disability.
At first, I was discouraged. I was angry and didn't know where to go, but after talking to Mr. K about completely unrelated things, a new plan started to form. This plan was cemented when a friend from Ruled By Paws commented on one of my earlier posts.
Why not work with what we have?
Aria did fantastically in her basic obedience class and she seemed to enjoy it. Her trainer, we will call him The Great Dane Guy, also wanted to see her advance to the next training class. The Great Dane Guy also breeds Great Danes and has a Bull Mastiff rescue. Neither of these dogs are my breed of choice, but it would be interesting to volunteer at the rescue and learn as much from him as I can. He is an incredibly knowledgeable trainer and probably could tell me if Aria has the aptitude to continue. I figured I'd talk to him about Aria getting enrolled in class and then volunteering at his rescue and with his breeding program. I already have a rapport with him and I'm thinking the "blind" thing wouldn't be an issue for him. In fact, I think he would embrace it as a challenge and adventure and would be a forward enough thinker to help with creative ways to problem solve issues that may arise.
Mr. K and I have already talked and he thinks it's a good idea. We were originally going to put Balloo into the basic obedience class for training and socilisation, but I can teach him those things no problem. The Great Dane Guy may let us bring Balloo to Aria's training class for socilisation and that would take care of that. I can start training Balloo on my own and that will also give Aria and I an opportunity to review the basics and polish them. Who knows. Maybe I'll discover that training and showing are more interesting to me than having my own breeding stock. We may go talk to The Great Dane Guy today or Monday, so I will keep you posted as to what he says. I've thought about phoning him, but I think it's something I want to discuss with him in person.
Anyway, this is my revised plan. What do you think? Suggestions? Constructive criticisms? Confirmations?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Still Broken

Error BX-Y67GRO is still ever so kindly popping up every time I try to "edit" anything. I can post and that is about it. This is starting to get irritating as I am trying to add pictures and new pages to this blog to add some more dimension. How am I supposed to make things more readable if Blogger won't let me "edit" anything?
Don't even get me started on Blogger's "help" section. Why isn't there a "contact us" or "tech support" link? Maybe there is, but I can't just find it.Anyway, up until now I haven't had to use the forums, but because of this error I have attempted to circumscribe the inaccessible "help" forums. Not all of the fields are able to be manipulated with Voice Over and thus I can't convey my exact problem, or leave all of the information Blogger requires to fix my problem.
So, perhaps it's not Blogger's fault. Maybe It's a problem with the Mac software. Voice Over works horribly with Facebook, but Facebook also uses obscure and strange programming. Listen to me all techy talking over here. Don't get to excited. This is about as technologically inclined as I get. Give me a living, breathing, heart beating creature any day. Even if it's the worst behaved creature-I can work with that. Objects that aren't supposed to think for themselves, but seem to anyway, freak me out. All of my electronic equipment has behaved strangely at some point or another and I can't seem to fix it on my own. Usually I have to have Mr. K, King of Technology himself, come over and try his hand. He usually does the same thing I have been doing for a half an hour and the damn thing will spring into action, all ready to serve.
This brings about another thought-perhaps it's not Blogger or Voice Over and it's me; more like user error. Really, it could be, but there were people on the forums that said they were getting the same error message. Their errors rectified themselves in a few days though and mine has been like this for about a week. Maybe it's a combination of all three. The forum is slightly inaccessible and, particularly for Voice Over, and since I'm not a Technology Queen I can't think creatively enough to get the information out there that needs to be present in order to get this damn thing fixed...
Did you get all that?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Maybe I'm Crazy, But...

All right, so everybody knows that Mr. K and I have two miniature Dachshunds and that we love them very much; maybe a bit fanatically, but that is what happens when you have fur babies instead of human ones. There have been fragments of thoughts floating around in my brain probably going back to when I adopted Kyo in March of 2010. I had thought of training Kyo and showing him. Sure, he was a mixed breed and was fixed, but the AKC has a category for such dogs now and I thought it could be something he would have been good at. I never got that far with him because life happened and he is now in a much better and productive place, but the thought of showing/training/breeding dogs has never really left my head. Up until now though, the thought pieces had not come together into that concise package of, I should do this.
Now, wait a minute. I haven't decided 100 percent that I am going to show/breed or train, but it is something I have begun to research. My research started on the wonderful thing we call the Internet and has progressed further to me emailing three different breeders to get information. I know that if this is something I want to do, I need to do it properly and since I am completely clueless, a mentor would be helpful. Dachshunds would be my breed of choice. Strange, since if you had asked me five months ago, I would have said labradors, but Aria and Balloo have changed that for me.
I love the challenge the miniature Dachshunds present in training. They are stubborn but incredibly smart and they aren't like a lot of other little dogs- they are tough. They are kind of like a big dog trapped in a tiny bundle of crazy energy and you never know what they are going to do next. For example, Aria has decided she is a monkey. She figured out how to climb onto the kitchen chair and then on to our island and help herself to Daddy's home made bread. Really? Who would have thought seven pounds could be so much trouble. :)
They're a really great breed and obviously aren't for everyone, but after seeing the way Aria was bred/raised until we got her, makes me want to make a difference. On the other hand, maybe I would rather train and show her, or I could start a rescue. So many options.
I'm not really sure. All I know is that this is something I have to be sure about before Mr. K and I jump in with both feet. It would be expensive and very time consuming. That is why I have contacted a few breeders.
One breeder has been in the business for seventeen years and the other 37 years. The third I can't remember how long, but it is Balloo's breeder and I asked her if I could apprentice with her. How will I know if this is for me if I don't have hands on experience? The breeder with 37 years is the only who has responded so far and although he is a bit impersonal, he does have a lot of experience. Until I hear from others, I'll continue my researching and perhaps contact a few more people. It never hurts to ask questions right?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Massage Monday: An Introduction

I've been throwing around ideas for a blog topic that could be a permanent fixture on At A Glacial Pace. Dogs seem to be my main concern here, but there are other dimensions to me and so I thought the series could be a demonstration of my other knowledge. It also gives me a chance to stay current on massage therapy and maybe educate a few folks out there. So, as I am assuming you have guessed, Mondays are going to be taken over by massage therapy posts and if I have anything else of consequence to say on those days, I'll just make a separate entry.

It has only been recently that massage therapy has been regarded as a viable form of alternative medicine. The practice is ancient and has seen many changes over the centuries. I may talk about he history of massage therapy one day, but today I want to focus on what it is; hopefully dispelling some of the misconceptions that are rampant.

There a few different definitions of massage therapy depending on where the therapist was educated. In Ontario canada, the focus of massage therapy is on the manipulation of soft tissue and joints for the betterment of these entities and the body as a whole. In the United States the definition goes even further and includes the administering of essential oils and other such things, but in Ontario, it is illegal for a Registered Massage Therapist to use essential oils unless he/she has been trained specifically in the Aroma Therapy modality. What does all this mean? English Please?
Basically, assage therapists are responsible for treating conditions of, such as carpel tunnel/whiplash/tendonitis Etc, by employing varying techniques to your muscles. It should never be out of your pain tolerance and a good therapist should establish a pain scale that does not allow your pain to go above seven out of ten; one being your least amount of pain and ten being your worst. Communication is essential as massage therapists cannot feel what you are feeling and do not know if what they are doing is painful for you. Pain is very subjective and is imperative to your health and the success of the treatment that you speak up. And don't be afraid to ask questions, or tell your therapist that things are uncomfortable. Maybe the sheets are too tight or maybe you feel they aren't covering you enough. Ultimately it is your treatment and you need to feel safe and comfortable. But I am digressing again. We were talking about the manipulation of soft tissues, AKA muscles/tendons/ligaments, and joints. Whoa, wait. Joints? Let me elaborate.
There are five stages of joint manipulation. The first phase you probably wouldn't even know your joint is being manipulated it is so subtle. Therapists-not just massage therapists, but physiotherapists and chiropractors as well-may use this stage to test joint health and mobility. From the movements become increasingly more obvious with the fifth stage being the most aggressive and pronounced. NO massage therapist should ever perform a stage five joint mobilisation! NEVER! These manipulations are what chiropractors use. They are quick, precise and much more aggressive than what a massage therapist has been trained to use. Again, communication is of the utmost importance when a therapist is using a joint mobilisation. These maneuvers should not be painful beyond the seven on the pain scale and a therapist should never force a joint into a position. The joints can be encouraged with gentle rockings, pressures and light stretching, but the joint should never be forced. Ther may be a bit more of a "push" or "pull" by the therapist in a stage four manipulation to encourage the joint to move, but massage therapists are not chiropractors and we are not trained to act as one. If you are not comfortable with joint mobilisations, tell your therapist. It is their job to respect your request and find another way to treat you.

Now that we've briefly addressed the biological aspect of a massage, let us discuss "types" of massage. Now there are plenty of what we would call types of massage out there, but I am going to focus on the two that are the standard types I was taught in my massage program. In other programs in the United States and in Western Canada for instance, Asian modalities are examined, and a therapist is expected to take Continuing Education Credits in modalities of interest, but in the program I took we learned Relaxation and Therapeutic massage. In other countries they have other names. For example, In the United States Therapeutic massage is referred to as "Deep Tissue" and Relation is "Swedish" massage. I could go off on an educational tangent about Swedish massage, but there are plenty of Mondays to come so I will continue in the direction of Relaxation and Therapeutic.

Relaxation massage is the type of massage you will more likely see at a spa. The techniques are performed in a slow, soothing manner and the goal of the treatment is for you, the client, to relax. Techniques are never painful and the therapist probably would not perform any joint mobilisations or more aggressive techniques that would be intrusive. At least, that is how I was taught and is how I go about my Relaxation massage.
As for the Therapeutic massage, the beginning of the massage is used to warm up the tissue, so the techniques are general and soothing; similar to the Relaxation massage. Here is where the therapist gets a little fancier. The goal of the treatment is to aid with recovery and hopefully eventually treat the client until they are symptom free. In other words, help you get better. The techniques for this massage are definitely deeper and may cause pain. The therapist may have to try a few different techniques before he/she knows what your body responds to best. For example, maybe you have a sore shoulder and you can't move it very well. There are many approaches the therapist could take depending on the time of injury and if there is any inflammation. . Ice, heat, stretching or all three may be used to assist you in regaining movement. You will probably be given, what I like to call, "homework," which is intended to speed/improve the healing process. Homework may include, drinking water, stretches, strengthening exercises, going for a walk Etc. Homework is not assigned in a Relaxation massage.

As you can see, massage is a complicated and interesting therapy: well, at least to me it is. There are so many possibilities for discussion topics and I am very excited. I hope you tune in on Mondays and feel free to leave me questions that you would like answered in the "comments" section. I will try my best to get them answered. If I don't use your question for the next post, or maybe even the post after that, it's because I am researching to ensure I give you the most accurate answer possible.
Happy reading and come back next Monday for more massage mumbo-jumbo. If dogs are what you like, then come back any other day of the week because the likelihood of me rambling on about "Man's best friend" is very high. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The House From Hell

When we were told the house was a three bedroom with an office and laundry room, we thought that sounded good. When we found out it had a fenced in backyard, that made it sound even better. I was even more convinced when we were told it had a working wood burning fireplace and a dish washer. What really sold us, was how much the rent was. We should have known better.
When Mr. K and I moved to our current location, we were not able to travel to view houses/apartments before hand. Mr. K had friends in this area, which was one of the reasons for moving here, and we had them scoping out places for us. We told them what we wanted/needed and were told that there was a three bedroom house that was in an accessible area that would be great for us. It was right next door to two of Mr. K's friends and they were excited for us to move in. I was a little nervous, but I couldn't say why. Something felt wrong, but since I didn't know these people at the time, I didn't really have a valid argument. I let Mr. K know that something was bothering me, but since I couldn't figure out why, I just let it go.
Upon arriving I knew that my gut feeling had been right, but it was our first house. I didn't want to ruin it. I was also holding out hope that I was wrong and that I had tainted the place with my own pre-judgments. But the longer we lived here, the more I realised that we could not stay. We moved in August and by the middle of September I was begging him to move.
Not only was the house secluded with no bus stops to be found, the people next door sort of stopped visiting/phoning once the novelty of us being next door wore off. I think they also didn't realise that having two blind friends was more work than they bargained for. Not that we're a lot of work, but we do have two huge dogs that go everywhere with us and I don't think people are prepared for that. The pointing, staring and exclaiming when out in public can be too much for some to handle. Plus, we have to find space for our big furry acting Eyeballs and again, that can be too much for some.
There is so much wrong with this house and it was a relief to me when Mr. K finally decided that I was right and that we needed to move. To give you an idea of why we have to move, I have compiled a list of what is/was wrong.
1. When we first moved in the air conditioning unit did not work. When it is 100 F outside, the air must work. So we had to wait for a new one to be installed.
2. It is not energy efficient at all and we are either heating or air conditioning the outside. There is a giant rusty air conditioning unit in the wall of the kitchen that has not been sealed up. There is a swamp cooler (don't ask, I don't even know what that is). All I know is that it lets air in and out. There is an uninsulated attic that again lets air in and out. The bath tub in the main bathroom has a hole in it that,yes you guessed it, lets air in and out: not to mention, it's rusty. The weather stripping on both doors is basically non-existent. This not only lets in air, but creepy crawly creatures that I would rather stay outside. The windows are only storm windows...not real windows and they are ancient. I'm sure there is more that falls into this category, but I have more to write I won't waste anymore time here.

3. The windows in the living room have pellet holes in them. Yes, some moron was firing a gun of some sort from the inside of the house. Oh goody. The main window in our bedroom is falling apart. The glass is falling out! I wonder how this was missed in the house inspection. Oh maybe because this was the only window in the place that had window coverings. By law, landlords are required to provide window coverings and the only ones we have conveniently cover up a broken window. Mr. K taped it together with packing tape. Go hubby!

4. Remember that fireplace I was excited about? We can't use it. Surprised? No, I didn't think so. It leaks when it rains, which suggests to us that a fire in it would not be good.

5. And how about that fence? It's broken/bent/falling over/rusty. Glacier and Roscoe haven't managed to escape, but Kyo sure figured out he could just walk over the section that is basically laying down.

Now, here comes the fun stuff.

6. Let's talk about water. We've been without hot water once for three days and then without water for another three days on two separate occasions. You can't shower, cook, clean and how were we supposed to water the dogs or flush the damn toilet? Gross! And when Mr. K called to report the problem the last time, the landlord acted like it was his fault. Rude!

7. Electricity, another important thing in our day and age. We had a storm back in September which blew the electrical box off of the side of the house. We phoned the electric company and they fixed it back on temporarily. He told us we would have to get an electrician to do the job properly. Has it been fixed yet? Nope! We've been just praying it doesn't come off and either our house doesn't catch fire or the dogs don't go out and get mixed up in it without us knowing. Really safe.

8. We also asked them for a new fridge back in September and then again in November with no results. When we got back from our Holidays, the fridge had died and all of the stuff in the freezer and whatever little we had in the fridge was rotten. We had no fridge and no water at that point. Happy days!

9. The newest development has been that the washing machine connection was leaking. I don't mean a little dripping, I mean soaked the wall, drenched our stuff made everything stink like mold. The landlord tried to tell Mr. K that we were responsible for that. That didn't fly, let me tell you.

Like I said, there are a lot of other things wrong-like the mummified dog poop we can't get off the floor; the sink gushing from its elbow joint in the bedroom's bathroom; the new/used fridge we just got running constantly because it's a piece of crap; the disgusting cockroaches and mouse crap we had to get out of the house upon moving in-the list could go on and on. Thankfully, we have put an application in at a townhouse complex and will hopefully hear soon if we get the place or not. If we do, we'll be moving out at the end of February. We would move out sooner, but we are paid up until then and we'd rather not lose the money that we've paid. We would fight them for it back, but are pretty sure they will find some way to weasel it out of us. So, we'll count our losses and move on, hopefully sooner than later.
What have I learned from this mess? Trust my gut for starters. Most able-boded people don't have a clue what "accessible" means even if you explain it to them. Wait, let me rephrase that-most don't have a clue when they are people who work for a non-profit organisation and therefore think they are qualified to know what is better for you than you do. Whew. Did that make sense?
Mr. K and I have been to see this new place and the area and feel a lot better about it. The management seem like responsible people and are quie helpful. I also think that since they are a company rather than private landlords, they may be more inclined to get things fixed in a timely manner. They were doing some small projects, like putting in new outdoor lighting, when we were there. That demonstrates to us that they care about their property. A lot of the management staff live right on site and the woman who had just recently moved there, seemed satisfied. All I can say is, ppppllllleeeeaaaaasssseeeee let me be packing in the next couple of weeks. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Am I Being Anal?

Now that all of the dogs (Glacier, Roscoe, Aria, Balloo and visiting PAALS dog Grace), have been fed, watered, out a few times, had training sessions and the coffee is ready, I have found time to sit down and write today's post.
As I have mentioned in a previous post, I wrote my licensing exam for massage therapy and I am happy to say passed it; despite my difficulties accessing materials. That means looking for a job. I have found positions on various search engines and have sent emails to inquire about more information. There were a few that never responded and a few more that did, but there is one place in particular that I want to address. It seems as though many of the places I communicated with had a bad case of unprofessionalism, but this specific facility, which I will not name, was the worst by far.
The massage program I took was a total of 1800 hours and spanned 18 months of intensive book and practical learning. The year was broken up into four semesters and for three out of the four we took a class called "Professional Development," or PD for short. This course was designed to teach us the laws with regards to clients, a place of business and us as therapists. It also stressed the importance of professionalism. We were given several scenarios almost every day and were asked to decide what course of action the therapists should pursue that would benefit the client and the profession as a whole. I've always been a stickler for professional behavior and I think taking this course made me a bit more hyper vigilant about it. That said, I don't think being professional in a occupation where we ask our clients to take most of their clothes off and lie under a sheet and trust us to have their best interest at heart in the name of therapy , is such a bad thing. I realise I can't hold a lay person to the same standard of ethics and professionalism as a business owner or a professional of some sort. I don't think my expectations are too lofty, but I will let you be the judge of that.
I will call the facility of my concern H for privacy and also just to make things less confusing. I had been in contact with this facility way back in October when I thought I would be writing my exam. Due to some unforeseen circumstances-like my application and supporting documents being lost by the licensing board-I was not able to write the exam and therefore was not able to attend my interview. I phoned H as soon as I knew what was happening and H was kind enough to say that I could contact them again when the exam logistics had been worked out. During that first interaction, something bothered me. I couldn't quite tell what it was, but I decided to withhold judgment since it had only been a few emails and one phone call. The call had been awkward though and the emails were short and impersonal.
Three months later, I was able to write the exam and emailed H again at the email address I had used before. H's owner wrote me back informing me that this was his/her personal email address, but since he/she had promised me an interview he/she would be happy to do it on/or as soon as Monday?I wrote back and expressed my interest, but asked if we could do it on Wednesday as I had a prior commitment-Mr. K and I are looking for a new place to live, but that is for another post. I never heard back from H and so thought that maybe he/she had changed his/her mind. Late Tuesday evening I received an email saying, and i quote,
"Are you still coming tomorrow? What time? What location is best?
Insert Name Here"
There were hardly sentences formed and H's owner did not address me at all. Previous emails had been presented this way; almost as if H's owner was using a text message to communicate with me. Now in this day and age, that is highly possible, but if I am emailing a potential employer, even if it is from my phone, there are full sentences and punctuation. I also ensure I address the person I am speaking to. And why had H's owner replied so close to the actual day? I had replied on Sunday and the facility is open on Sunday and Monday: I checked their hours of operation.
I understand that in a day and age of social media, text messages and such things, grammar and sentence structure have gone out the window, but if you are an owner of a business, you are not excused from these basic building blocks of communication. I am not going to claim I am the queen of grammar, punctuation or perfect typing. You have seen my blog, there are errors, but when I contact anyone in a professional capacity, I am incredibly careful to ensure that I use the written English language properly. I'm also making an effort to clean up my blog posts because I realise how much more enjoyable things are to read when it is error free.
Proper grammar, spelling and punctuation was something our PD instructor stressed. She always said, "You have to stand out. If you send an employer a resume or cover letter with errors, they probably won't even look at it twice. I wouldn't."
She also made it clear that written communication between you and a potential employer or business partner was crucial. So, when sending out emails to potential employers I am looking for that in their responses. Do I really want to work with someone who can't communicate properly? How will that impact our working relationship?
The thing that confirmed it for me was his response to the email I sent politely declining the interview. Besides the poor communication skills, I still had a nagging feeling that this was not the place for me. I remembered the one phone conversation that we had back in October. Parts of it started floating back into my mind. H's owner had been odd. I had said "How are you?" once "hellos" were exchanged and the owner had said "good" and then there had been this long awkward pause. He/she didn't speak again until I said, "I'm Jessica so and so," and he/she said very abruptly "yeah, I know." I remember thinking, "ok, good. So, why aren't you talking?" He/she had gone on to ask me to come in for an interview within the hour. Everything was so awkward and strained about the call.
I had also heard through the grapevine, after I had turned the second offer to interview down, that there were clients walking out because he had yelled at an employee in the waiting room of the clinic. If that is true, that is extremely unprofessional. I'm pretty sure I don't want to be working in an environment like that.
Anyway, the confirming email went something like this. I had written him/her saying that I was not coming to the interview because I felt that I was not suited for that particular facility. I said that in order for a business to be successful all employees and employers must be completely committed to the business and I did not feel I could give H that kind of commitment. I thanked him/her for the opportunity to be interviewed and wished him/herluck. H's owner response went something like this,
"Sooooooooooo confused. H has 30 employees with 1 or 1/2 types of massage they do.
Good luck.
Insert name here."
First of all, "sooooooo" is not a word. We are not friends on Facebook. Secondly, it would be nice if he/she had said, "Hi Jessica," or "Hello Jessica." Not addressing me makes me feel unimportant and I'm just another body to add to your fleet. Thirdly, instead of writing "soooo confused" he/she could have said something like "I am sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can clear up for you? Do you have questions that need to be answered?" I mean, maybe not exactly worded that way, but something that lets me know that my concerns are his/hers.
I'm not sure I was able to convey my concern with the potential employer's lack of communication clearly. Professionalism is important to me and if I am going to be working for a company, not only am I representing them, but they are representing me as well. It's kind of the way you are usually judged by the people you associate with. It's the same concept. Unfortunately in society, people determine who we are very quickly and usually by who or what we are associated with. If I were to be employed by a company that lacks communication skills and therefore professionalism, I could be viewed the same way. As I mentioned above, massage therapy is based very strongly on trust and one way to build trust is to be professional and caring/genuine of course. If you were an employer would you consider a resume that was poorly formatted? I can understand with familiarity the tone of writing within emails would change, but would you want to hire someone whose emails sounded like they were on Facebook or twitter? Do the same rules apply to employers communicating to potential employees?

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's Me Again: Non-Techy Girl

It looks like it is a day of blogging.
I have been getting an error every time I try to "edit" anything. I can do things with posts, but "design" and "settings" are not working. I get the error code: BX-Y67GRO and I have no idea what that means. I looked on the forums and it appears other people have been having this problem, but I can't get any answers as to how to fix it.
Any of you know what is going on?

Pet Blogs United: Ziggy ~ Foster Friday

Pet Blogs United: Ziggy ~ Foster Friday: "Hi, I'm Ziggy. I am a one year old American Pit Bull Terrier with green eyes and a curly tail. Ziggy I am deaf, which just means I don't..."

Can Anyone help?

"You Want Me To What?"

I'm pretty sure that is what Glacier was thinking last night when I asked him to put his nose to my open, outstretched, flat palm.
Last night I held my first training session with Glacier and Roscoe for the "touch " cue. Both boys were a bit confused as they've never been asked to do anything quite like it before, but they were both eager to learn: that might have been because I had tasty kibble stored in a treat pouch attached to my waist. The first training session went, for a lack of a better word, interestingly. I can already tell this is going to be a huge learning experience for me as well and that is kind of exciting.
Last night I spent a few minutes getting the boys used to my hand being near their faces. I rubbed the bridge of their noses and put my palm close to the end of their snouts. After they didn't seemed to be too bothered by it, which didn't take long, I began presenting my open palm to them. I began by running my fingers down their snouts to the end of their noses and then leaving the open palm there for them. If they made any movement to sniff, or moved in the slightest towards the hand that was basically pushed up against their nose, I treated and praised like crazy. Leader Dog for the Blind do not train their dogs on a clicker or treating basis. They have several reasons for not using treats, such as, not wanting the dogs to get too over weight, blind people need their hands to see and so if we are using our hands to treat instead of putting it out to see what the dog found, it could be dangerous and other such things. I'm not saying either method is wrong: I think it's more of a handler's preference. LDB doesn't forbid us from switching to the clicker nor do they refuse to allow us to reward our dogs with treats. In fact, sometimes it's encouraged when you are patterning a dog to a specific location such as a chair or a particular classroom on campus. Anyway, I digress. I didn't use the clicker with the boys. I didn't want them to get used to it as Mr. K and I do not use them, but I certainly did bust out the kibble. Back to my nose rubbing.
The reason I moved from the bridge of their noses to the end was for as much their benefit as mine. First, I thought it would help Glacier and Roscoe get a better idea of what I wanted. If I was touching their nose, would that possibly make them more inclined to use it? The second reason was to help me locate the end of each wet nose to ensure I wasn't confusing them. Everything I have read says to only move the palm sideways, up or down if the dog has learned to touch your hand with it right out in front. I didn't want to skip steps unintentionally. The nose stroking seemed to work. It gave me an accurate focal point every time, and I noticed as the training session continued, that it helped the boys focus on me better. As Mr. K and I are both totally blind, Glacier and Roscoe are used to being touched for a lot of things and me touching them during this experiment didn't seem to change the outcome negatively.
Another thing I want to go back to is something I said earlier about the boys having to do something they ad never done before. That statement isn't entirely true. If you think about it, Glacier and Roscoe know a more advanced form of targeting without the "touch" cue being a building block. This makes me wonder why it wasn't taught in the first place. When Glacier finds a curb when I ask him to, or when Mr. K says to Roscoe "find a chair," and Roscoe finds it, this, in my humble opinion, is targeting-just advanced targeting. So these guys know it. I just have to figure out how to get them to do it in the capacity I want them to. So, how do I get them there?
Last night I spent about ten to fifteen minutes working with Mr. G and Shaggy Dog. I know that is longer than is recommended, but I was working with both dogs at once. I wanted them to learn from each other. Watch one another perform what I asked them to. Guide dogs are very visual creatures, at least you hope they are. Well, I'm hoping they are and that there is method to my madness. They both did quite well and surprised me a bit. They were good if the hand was close to their noses. Neither of them wanted to come out of the "sit stay" to "touch" (which I am not saying yet by the way) and then be rewarded. This could be because when the boys get a treat just because they are good boys, or they are getting fed, they must be in a "sit stay" and they are not rewarded or get their food unless this position is maintained. To get past this, I may have to do some creative thinking. I could get them to "touch" if my palm was right in front and very close to the side. We worked on this for a while and when I thought they were ready to move on, I moved my hand out further. This was a no go. They both just sat their drooling and cocking their heads trying to figure what the hell I wanted them to do. So, back to up close and personal I went. I didn't push it anymore than that. I wanted that to get ingrained into their brains and wanted the session to end positively while we were all having fun and learning. In the morning we would try again and that is just what we did.
I feed the dogs twice a day. After eating, everyone gets water and then is put out to "potty" for the little ones and to "park" for our big guys. I decided that after meals would be a good time to train. This way, the little dogs are out and I can focus on the labradors. This also keeps Aria and Balloo from hopping on Glacier and Roscoe's faces or my legs because they want treats too. This morning went really well too. The interesting thing is, I think Roscoe is catching on faster. Either that or he is desperate to do anything for a kibble. Glacier still won't lift his bum off the floor. Roscoe, however, has no qualms about springing up and coming to me to nudge my palm. I think with Glacier I may have to start with him in a "stand" and hopefully that will break his habit. I also don't wonder if I might have to make Glacier's reward more enticing. I am thinking of using kibble for small actions, but the instant he gets his rear off the floor and moves towards me, I'll jack pot him with a gigantic cookie. I just know with the training that I have to let each dog do his thing. This is the challenging part and the learning curve for me. I have to remember where each dog is at and make sure I put the target (AKA my hand) right where that dog needs it. If Roscoe jumps out way ahead of Glacier, I may have to train them separately. I'm sure at some point, separate training sessions wouldn't be a bad thing anyway. That would give each dog a chance to have some more one on one time with a human. I know this would help mine and Glacier's bond.
The most interesting aspect of this whole thing so far though, is the change in their attitudes. Usually when the boys come back in from their morning "park" after breakfast, they head straight for their favourite sleeping spots and pass out for the morning. This morning, they came in and played for a bit; with me and each other. Roscoe was even playing with Aria. They seem happy and kind of proud of themselves. I may be just projecting, but I'm pretty sure there is a difference.
Wow. This has been much longer than I originally intended. I think it just became a way of me getting some thoughts out and formulating them a bit better. I should get going though because Grace from PAALS is coming to stay with us this weekend and I want to make sure the kennel is clean for her stay.
Thanks for sticking with me if you managed to read this whole thing. lol

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let's Do It Again!

I've read them all! Every last one of them.
The second Assistance Dog Blog Carnival has been a great event in my opinion. L over at A Dog's Eye View, has done a fantastic job organising this round. She put all of the entries into categories for easier reading and was a cordial and helpful host. Thanks L. :)
I loved each entry and tried to comment on everyone's post, but you know me and technology. It didn't always function properly. For some reason I couldn't get Live Journal to work: I'm pretty sure it was due to user error.
Some posts were entertaining, educational and others made me tear up. I learned a lot and was inspired. Thanks to all of the participants for enlightening me.

P.S. Remember my technology issues? My "labels are all messed up and for some reason won't let me put the ones in I want...I'll be working on fixing that. :P

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On The Mends

Aria is now at home with us after her little visit to the vet yesterday. We dropped her off around 8:30 AM and brought her home around 4:00 PM. The poor little thing was so doped up that she was acting like a bobble head. She tried to jump up on the couch twice and just fell back on the floor with a little "thunk." She didn't really try after that and would wait for me or Mr. K to lift her up.
This morning she drank water and ate her breakfast, which is good. She didn't want any water last night. She also took herself out to "potty" twice this morning as well. I just made sure to put her coat on as miniature dachshaunds are temperature sensitive at the best of times and having surgery would make her even more so. She's a little trooper.
Balloo is so confused as to why his sister won't play with him and growls at him when he jumps on her. We have tried to minimise this behavior, but he still gets near her sometimes and is a bit too enthusiastic. I just keep telling him to wait until he has to go in.
This morning I sat on the couch and read my book with Aria and Balloo both tucked in with me. When I went off to make myself some breakfast, I fluffed the blankets around Aria, covered her up and tucked a teddybear in next to her. I'm such a mom! I was slightly horrified at my actions, but then reminded myself that these guys are my kids. lol Mr. K and I probably aren't having any and so Aria and Balloo are as close as we're going to get-so I will tuck her in with a teddybear if I want to. :)
Anyway, hopefully our spunky little "Fluffers" is feeling better soon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's Up Doc?

Today our little girl is off to the vet for the Big Surgery. Aria is seven and a half months old and Mr. K and I have decided that we don't want any surprises. So, it's off to the vet for her. Balloo will go for his Big surgery at the beginning of March when he will be almost seven months old.
Mr. K and I had originally thought about studding him out since his colouring is so rare, but I think we're back to fixing him. He's a really great little guy with a fantastic temperament, but I'm not sure how I feel about having an unfixed dog in the house-regardless of how small he is.
Two of our friends have three unfixed dogs in their house and their bitch just went into heat and the other dogs are mad with hormones. The two males have to wear muzzles because they are constantly fighting. Now, Balloo would be the only unaltered dog in our household, but I am worried his little hound dog nose might catch a "girlie" scent and he may take himself for a walk. Our yard is fenced in, but these little Weiner dogs are quite innovative.So he too will be making a visit to the vet sooner than later.
Speaking of Mr. Balloo, he is teething. It's funny how you learn things as you go along. Aria was a trial and error for us, since we didn't know much about the breed, except for what we read on the internet. Now that we've gone through the process once, we know the signs. His breath stinks so bad! It's a kind of rotting puppy breath smell. So nasty and Balloo loves to give kisses-sometimes to the point where you can't breathe. I mean, dog breath stinks, but teething breath is worst. He's also putting more things in his mouth than usual. Neither him or Aria are big destroyers. They chew on their toys, but rarely do they chew vigorously enough to wreck something. Balloo is bound and determined to use his little needle chompers to go through his toys.
Thankfully, all of our toys are Glacier proof, as I have mentioned before Glacier is a crazy chewer, and we need to make sure the toys will withstand Glacier's jaws of steel. I've put a Nyla Dura-chew bone in the freezer in the hopes of the coolness giving Balloo some relief. (I think that is what the toy is called. I may have the name slightly wrong).
In other news, Glacier figured out how to use the Kong Wobbler. I put everyone else outside and gave Glacier his breakfast in the Wobbler and he loved it. At first, he had no idea what to do, but as he discovered that the toy would dispense food for him, he was all about it. If it got stuck in corners he would pick it up by its top and move it to another area-my dog is too smart for his own good, or maybe for my good. :)
As for Aria, keep your fingers and paws-or whatever appendages you may have-crossed that everything goes well. I'm sure she'll be fine, but surgery always made me a bit nervous.

Big Paws, Big Decisions

The theme "decisions" that is for this Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, is a nice broad theme that gave writers the opportunity to address almost anything in relation to service dogs.
I had a hard time figuring out what I was going to write about. I am currently working with my second guide dog and between my first guide and my second, each relationship gave me plenty of decisions I could write about. After much deliberation, and a few scrapped entries, I finally settled on the decisions that lead me to rescuing a dog that I had to give up and the decision to donate him to a service dog organisation. Let me start at the beginning.
I didn't go to the Humane Society with the intentions of having to give my dog up seven months later. I went because I wanted to add another furry family member to my life. I wanted a companion dog-one that I didn't have to be as strict with; I wanted a friend for Glacier (working dog number two); and I wanted a big dog that would make me feel even safer when I was out for walks.
When I arrived at the Guelph Humane Society, I had a particular dog already picked out. I had seen him online and he seemed to fill all of my requirements. He was a ninety pound or so, husky cross that was being rehomed. All bets were off when I met him though. Although he was a beautiful dog, I could tell by just meeting him for a brief minute and then later watching him play with another dog out in a fenced in area, that he needed a lot of things I couldn't give him. He was way too mouthy and didn't show any signs of wanting to learn how to behave. So I scratched him off my list. Ironically, the dog he was playing with was a gigantic black lab cross of some sort and I fell in love with him. I took him for a walk, and although he had no leash manners, I could see that he really wanted to learn.
"That is him," I told my classmate who had served as my driver. "I love him."
"He's big." He kept telling me. "Can you handle him? Maybe you should look for someone smaller."
"Nope," I replied, "that is my new puppy."
After filling out an application and a phone interview, I was told that "Tank" was now my dog. The shelter told me he was a year or so old and was a Bernese Mountain dog/lab cross. The only thing I think they got right about him was that his name was "Tank," which was the first decision I made upon picking him up-He would be forever more called "Kyo."
Kyo, meaning "big" in Japanese, came home with me on March 12th 2010 and remained with me until mid October of 2010. He was definitely a handful when I got him. He had no house manners whatsoever. The only thing he was good at was not relieving in the house-that was a start right? He was terrified of traffic, tried to push me out of his way so he could get outside and did not know how to ride in a car. Instead of sitting in the back seat and just looking out the window, he would race back and forth across the seat to see out each window, running Glacier over in the process. There was even one time when he tried to jump out a car window to go visit someone standing on the corner waiting to cross. You couldn't open the car door without him escaping, or rather, pushing you out of his way so he could get out. I had my work cut out for me. I spent time with him grooming, training and exercising him. He was twenty pounds over weight and definitely wasn't even a year old yet. He was nearly all black with two white patches on his chest and his face was a dark brown. He also had dew claws on his back paws. And I loved him.
As a quick version of our story, since this is about assistance dogs, Kyo learned how to "sit," "stay," "down," and many other manners that pet dogs should learn. He shed the twenty pounds in three weeks with a strict diet and a lot of exercise. I felt safe walking the streets at five in the morning sandwiched between my big black Kyo on my right side and my gigantic yellow Glacier on the other. But when school ended, and I had to move, things started going very wrong.
Kyo has always been a dog who required a lot of attention and stimulation. He was crate trained, which helped me have some down time, but he would push Glacier out of the way for attention and Glacier stopped coming to me. This was problem number one. With the move, the twice a day walks, which were 45 minutes each at the minimum, stopped and I wasn't even able to take him out to watch the kids walking home from school anymore. This had been one of his favourite pass times and it was enough stimulation for him. I was in a new area and didn't know where I could take him. I was also having to give Glacier more attention to ensure our working relationship was strong so that he would be able to do his job. Kyo started acting out.
It began with small things that I noticed. He got pushier with Glacier and would never let Glacier come near me. This is very problematic when Glacier is my eyes. Then it turned into him taking things-socks, shoes, spoons. Pretty much anything he could get his teeth on; problem number two. I felt bad. I knew why he was doing "bad" things. He was frustrated and so was I.
I kept the obedience up with him, but it didn't seem to be enough. He would go through his routine and learn new things I taught him, but the excitement to learn was gone. He was just going through the motions because he thought that was what he was supposed to do.
Our new house had a fenced in backyard and I would take all of the dogs out for play sessions. I would run around with them and spent some time grooming them out in the sunshine in the hopes that it would help Kyo. But it didn't. He grew increasingly more frantic every time we left him at home. He went from a dog who liked his crate and would go in willingly to a dog who would not come when called when it was crate time. He would bark and howl with this loud haunting sound that cannot be described. We're pretty sure now that he is part Great Dane/lab and he came with the Dane bark. He never used to cry when we put him in his crate; he never used to tear things up in his crate when we left him. I knew something was wrong and that something needed to be done. His habit of counter surfing had returned and no kind of corrective methods phased him. I tried everything from "time out" to obedience sessions after the unwanted behavior, but there were no improvements.
Finally, my partner and I sat down and had a serious talk. Here was this beautiful, loving, enthusiastic dog that we loved and cared for acting completely out of control. I would go to bed at night with pains in my chest because I felt like I had failed him. We knew we had to find him a new home, but it was so hard to give him up; problem number three. I was supposed to be his forever home: I was the one who was supposed to take care of him and love him. I had done so much research before adopting him and every site I read talked about how adopted dogs usually ended up back in shelters because of handler faults. I had always thought I was a good handler. I had a lot of experience with dogs and I wasn't going to just throw in the towel for a few stolen socks. But things just got worse. He started stealing food off the counters and again, no form of corrective behavior on my part changed his mind.
We sat down again and it was decided that Kyo really did have to find a new home. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I felt like I was abandoning him-what if I gave him a bit longer? What if I entered him in obedience lessons or something for him to do? But his impact on Glacier was getting even more noticeable. Glacier hardly got excited anymore and would rarely sit with me. It really was time for a change, but where would he go?
I spent the next two months telling everyone I knew about Kyo. We would go to vets' offices and I would tell them about him. I looked into getting him back to the city where I went to college because there was someone there who would have been a great person for him. I emailed friends and family; put an advertisement in pet stores' newsletters; I even told cashiers at Pet Smart about him and how he was looking for a home. It was at Pet Smart where an idea began to form.
One of the many cashiers I bombarded with the news of Kyo's home transfer told me about a local service dog organisation. She couldn't remember the name, but knew that they trained dogs for children with Autism. I was pretty sure the area didn't have such an organisation, but when I got home, I hopped right on Google. It was here that I found Palmedo Animal Assisted Life Serves (PAALS). I emailed them and said a million prayers, but didn't hear anything. Being the annoying, persistent person that I am, I emailed again; this time with some progress. The woman who responded said that they were in "team training" that week and they would get back to me the following week. (Team training occurs when a person is being matched with their service dog).By this point I was starting to feel the pressure-Mr. K, my partner, was at his wit's end and really wanted Kyo to find a new home. Mr. K is a guide dog user as well and Kyo's poor behavior was starting to impact Mr. K's dog as well. The week passed slowly and another half a week and I heard nothing. Again, being the annoying persistent person that I am, I emailed PAALS again, only with a little more panic in my email. The woman forwarded me on to J (name changed for privacy), and J got back to me very quickly.
She explained the process and advised me to think on it. I was just so overwhelmed that we had finally had an answer that I didn't care what it cost or what we had to do, but my logical brain told me I should discuss it with Mr. K first. I sat him down nervously, worried that he may say no. The process was going to cost us money and being on a fixed income, it might not be the wisest decision. This is basically what had to be done.
First step was to bring Kyo down to meet them and have him pass a temperament test. The test was to determine whether or not he would be cut out for service work. They took into consideration that he had not been raised as a service dog in training and would grade him on that. If he passed the temperament test, then he would have to get his hips and elbows checked for any diseases that would prevent him from working. The temperament test wasn't a big deal, but the test would cost 250 dollars and it wasn't a guarantee he would pass. We could go ahead, spend the money and he could fail due to hip dysplasia or something like that and we would be back at square one-big decision.The upside was that if he passed, PAALS would take him and put him on a trial run for six weeks or so. If all was good, then they would keep him and start his more advanced training.
At first Mr. K did not go for the whole 250 dollar thing, but after thinking about it a bit, he came around. He realised that it would be a small price to pay if this dog could go on to make a difference in someone else's life the way Jetta (my first guide), Glacier (current guide) and Roscoe (Mr. K's guide) had.
I called J back and told her we would do it. Kyo's temperament test was scheduled and I am proud to say he passed. The next step was the longest three weeks of my life. We took him in to have his joints X-Rayed and then all we could do was wait. I kept wondering if I was making the right decision-did I really want to give him up? Couldn't we find a way to make it work? All the while, I kept up his obedience and threw in some new cues and tried getting him used to picking up objects and bringing them to me instead of running off with them. I thought the more I could teach him and prepare him for, the better chance he would have. Just as long as those tests came back negative.
The weeks might have went slowly, but now that I look back on them, they went too fast: those were the last three weeks he spent with us as our dog. The tests were negative and Kyo was asked to join the fleet of dogs in training at PAALS. When Kyo entered the program, he was dog number nine and a few weeks into his training, it was announced that there was a litter of puppies on the way as well. I knew J had her hands full with all of these dogs plus Kyo, plus puppies, but I knew if anyone could turn Kyo into a working dog it was going to be her.
I had watched her a few times at training sessions and public events. I really appreciated her way of training and her manner with the dogs. Kyo seemed to take to her right away and had no problem bringing me J's shoe on the first day when I was demonstrating the things he knew.
PAALS does things a bit differently than other service dog organisations, but I think it really benefits each dog. The dogs stay at the training facility all week and then go and spend the weekend with foster families. Kyo spent his first few months moving around from PAALS' main training place to a few different foster/volunteer trainers to see how he would do. I volunteer with PAALS as regularly as I can and was able to see him from time to time. Every time I saw him, it seemed like he was improving. The horrific whining/howling stopped. There was one day when his separation anxiety was so bad, he ran to J when she was trying to leave and wrapped his front legs around her legs so that she could not leave the house. When she told me, all I could do was laugh because that sounded like my big Moose (a nickname we still fondly refer to him with). A month or so after hKyo moved to PAALS he was able to perform his training regiment with Glacier and I in the room. Thankfully, J let me squish him after his session and he was the cuddly guy I remember-Kyo was always the best cuddler despite weighing eighty pounds. He was so excited to be learning new things and seemed to be back to his happy self. J had taught him to walk on a loose leash, something I had never been able to do-heeling is a tricky thing to teach when you are blind. :)
The last update that I got was at the beginning of this week and J said that he is living with a volunteer foster mom who used to foster for Guiding Eyes, which is one of PAALS' partners. When he was at another foster mom's house, he did well with people of all ages and all sorts of events, but got a little too excited when she used a salad spinner and was not happy when people were hammering in front of him. If I know Moose, it's probably because he thinks those objects are hurting the person and he must save them-you should have seen him try to rescue me when I went swimming this summer. He hates swimming and doesn't know how, but insisted on trying to get to me any way possible; drinking the water, leaping over it, barking frantically at it. He was bound and determined he was going to play lifeguard.
If I were to return to the theme of "decisions," I would say that giving Kyo up was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but one of the most rewarding. There was so many things we had to gamble on-whether or not he would pass the temperament test, would his joints check out, would he make it through the first six weeks? I had to recognise that I could not give him what he needed and my pack of dogs was not suited to him. He needs someone who needs him as the centre of their universe. It took me a while, but I had to come to the conclusion that I was just a stepping stone to help him to get to where he's going. He traveled seventeen hours from his original city just to end up in a service dog organisation that I know will give him every chance they can. Kyo is a great dog that I hope can make someone very happy one day because that in itself is what would make Kyo the happiest dog in the world.


PAALS is an organisation that was started in 2006 and started with dogs from Guiding Eyes.
PAALS has one bitch named Akira and she had her second litter on December 12th 2010.
PAALS train dogs for five different jobs all of which fall into the "service dog" category. (For more specific details on these jobs please visit their website which is listed in my "links" section).
J would eventually like to expand beyond using just dogs and include horses and other animals.
PAALS is a non-profit organisation that is run with two paid staff members and the steam of a lot of volunteers.

I hope this has been interesting and, when you have time, you will visit the PAALS website for more information.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Coffee: Its Own Food Group?

Who's awake?! Me! Pick me! I don't really want to be, but I am so I've decided to enrich your lives by blogging.
I know exactly why I'm awake-it's exam day and my brain is going a million miles a minute trying to recall random Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, draping and anything else I can possibly remember about massage therapy. I could sit here and tell you exactly what is happening with my body, right down to the chemical reactions of cortosol and adrenalin, but I won't bore you with the details. I thought, instead of bombarding you with anatomical structures and blood composition, I would go over a few other things. So bare with me, this post probably won't be the only one I write today.

For our first post of January 14 2011, let us discuss coffee. There is so much to be said for a good cup of coffee, but I wouldn't have always said that. I used to think the stuff was gross: it was bitter and, well, just plain disgusting. My great grandma, on my dad's side, was Finn. I'm not talking a few generations removed, can trace it back to somewhere Finnish. No, I'm talking straight off the boat, came to Canada when my grandpa was thirteen. So, that automatically means the woman could cook, bake and make coffee strong enough to peel paint.
When I was a little girl-she passed away when I was twelve at the age of 83 due to a heart attack-we would go and visit her. I always liked going there. Her house had a certain smell and she had this huge, fluffy cat named Leroy who didn't like anyone but me and my great grandma, of course. Sometimes we had lunch, sometimes we just had snacks or just finnish coffee bread. Whatever the food choice was, you could always be certain that there was coffee brewing. That is how I learned to love the smell of coffee. Those afternoons perched on a chair at her kitchen table, with finnish coffee bread crumbs on my lap and the smell of coffee permeating my nostrils.
She always insisted that I have coffee too. Being from the "old country" it was her belief that you were never too young to drink coffee. So, quite often my mom would pour me a cup, fill it half full with creamer and sugar and let me have some. I liked coffee then, but I am not sure it was the taste or the fact that it was a special treat that I got to have with my mom and great grandma.
Fast forward a few years. I went through high school completely despising coffee.. I liked hot chocolate and apple cider and such things, but offer me coffee and I would laugh at you. I was competing pretty hard back then and I think the part of the reason I refused to drink coffee was because I was hyper vigilant about what I put in my body. I also think another reason was because I hated being shuffled along with everyone else. I liked dancing to my own music and I think, deep down, I thought drinking coffee was a bit too corporate for me. I would never have been able to articulate that way back then, but I am pretty sure that is what was going on.
My first couple of years of university I still did not drink coffee. I would have dates where we went for "coffee" and I was always ordering steamers, tea and fruit smoothies.
In September of 2005, Tenie and I moved in with one of her classmates Carmen. That was the year we adopted Sisu and Loki as well who are now living with my parents; a story for another time. Carmen was an avid coffee drinker. She would get up in the morning, stumble down her spiral staircase and bee line for the coffee maker. You always knew not to talk to her until the pot was half brewed and she never truly woke up until after her first mug was half finished. I still loved the smell and started letting her coax me into trying some every once in a while. Surprisingly, I started really enjoying it. It was a treat that I did not have on a daily basis and I usually limited myself to one mug of a specific size. I was still swimming and didn't want to become dehydrated from the coffee. It also became my drug of choice in the last few years of university when I was trying to stay awake at night to complete one essay or another. I even bought myself my first mug; a tall Tinker Bell mug with a large handle that I still have and love.
After I moved on from university and into massage therapy college, coffee became a comfort. Most of my friends had moved away for Grad school and I was trying to establish a new routine for myself. It sounds strange put that way, but brewing coffee in the morning and bringing it to class in my travel mug became an integral part of my mornings. Some days I knew I wouldn't even drink the stuff, but made it and brought it anyway. It was the smell I think.
It was here that I developed a taste for Starbucks fancier coffees and really enjoyed a good, fresh cup of coffee from Tim Horton's. I quickly realised that buying coffee every day was incredibly pricey and was not an expense I could afford. So, that travel mug and I became best friends.
After massage therapy college, I have hung on to my coffee drinking habit. Since I've been unemployed-awaiting the "ok" to write my licensing exam-coffee has been a constant in my life. I get up and feed the dogs-all four-put them out, have breakfast and set the coffee pot into motion. . I've even found ways to "spice" my coffee up. Anything from putting cinnamon in the grounds to be brewed into the pot, to buying flavoured creamers. I've also developed the nasty experience of having headaches if I miss a cup in the mornings-a sign you are a true addict. Even now as I write this, there is a fresh cup sitting at my side in my Mini Mouse mug, fancied up with some chocolate mint creamer. It's not something I drink all day. In fact, if I drink coffee past 2 or 3 PM I won't be able to get to sleep.
With all of this in mind, I propose that we petition the FDA to make coffee its own food group. I mean, really, how can it not be? :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Inaccessibility of Academia

This post follows closely on the heels of my announcement that I am going back to school. As I write it, part of me wonders what crazy person would subject themselves to this for the next two years, but at the same time, I am very excited to start a new program. But let me start at the beginning so that this might be a bit less confusing.
Tomorrow I am finally writing my licensing exam for massage therapy. It's nearly seven months after I graduated and is a long time coming. That said, I have had to be studying in order to ensure I am prepared for tomorrow. The fun part about the exam, is not its 300 questions, but the fact that it is multiple choice. I hate multiple choice-always have, always will. I tend to over think the answers and end up getting the answer wrong. But it's not the exam itself that is frustrating me; at least not yet. My studying process isn't going so well. It is another example of how learning is so inaccessible.
In order to write the exam, there is a specific handbook and textbook that the supervising organisation suggests we use. That is all fine and dandy, but the book is not offered in an accessible format. I had a few choices-I could order the book and scan it myself and read it on my computer, or I could have contacted the publisher to see if they had an electronic form that I could purchase instead of the hard copy. In anticipation of both avenues being time consuming, I searched online for an electronic learning tool and found one. I perused the home page and found that I could operate everything with my screen reading software. I just assumed the entire site would be as easy to nevagate-mistake number one. The cost of the membership was as much as the hard copy book, so I opted for the website. I figured it was the same price and allowed me to independently study. Boy was I wrong.
Upon being granted entry to the main page that contained the lectures and practice tests, I quickly realised that the page was not accessible at all. I couldn't negotiate any of the menus myself to get the lectures started or stopped. It also turned out that I couldn't even take the practice exams on my own. I wasn't sure what to do next. I thought about canceling the whole thing and asking for my money back and just ordering the book. I could scan it myself-not an entirely appealing option, but doable. But after consulting Mr. K, He said not to worry. He has crafted his own screen reading software and it is mostly mouse driven. He can work a lot of things that most blind people using the marketed screen reading softwares can't. He said he would set me up to listen to each lecture and move me to the next. He also offered to read me the exams and put my answers in for me. I thought it was a good idea and accepted-mistake number two.
I should know, from years of being in school, that if it is a process that cannot be powered by your own personal abilities, you don't do it. I guess I just thought that since Mr. K is blind as well, and only went blind four years ago, he would get it. I was wrong. Don't get me wrong, I love the man, but his insensitivity and lack of support of this whole situation has me spitting mad.
I can't say he's been completely useless, because he hasn't. He does set me up to listen to lectures, but it's his attitude. He gets snarky when I ask for help and then says I'm being cranky. When he reads the exams to me, he gets condescending when I don't know the answer. It's just not an environment conducive to learning. It frustrates me to no end that I can't do it on my own, which I know doesn't help the situation.I just want to study, take the exam and pass. How hard is it?
Besides all of my personal drama, my point is that, knowledge shouldn't be so hard to get a hold of. When did we start deciding who could have access to information and who couldn't? How is that our right?
The ancient Greek philosophers all lectured in open air markets where anyone could attend. Once education was institutionalised, knowledge became pricey and inaccessible. Even on the internet, where you are supposed to be able to get everything your heart desires, as a blind person, I can't. I can't use electronic flash cards; sites that are completely formatted in Flash are impossible to read; and learning materials are nearly impossible to get a hold of. There is a new law that is supposed to change all of this, but we'll see how accountible web owners will acutally be forced to be.
I guess I could have contacted the company as soon as I knew I couldn't access the material on my own, but my point is that I shouldn't have to. We're in 2011 here people! Accessibility issues shouldn't even be a concern anymore. Every building should be built with talking elevators and braille signage and wheelchair ramps that are at a usable/safe angle; ATM's should have braille screens (They have them in Japan! There is no excuse); and textbooks and study materials should be available in all formats so that everyone has access to knowledge. Books are in a digital format before they even hit the shelves in hard copy form-what is the big deal?!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Doggie Inspiration

There are a few dog related thoughts floating around in my brain today. These thoughts were mostly sparked by talking to a friend via email about training her golden retriever Canyon for obedience trials and her issue with getting him to "heel." From volunteering with PAALS I have learned a few things and was introduced to the "target stick." The target stick is used to maneuver a dog around its handler without having to physically touch the dog. It can also be used for more advanced activities like herding, but my interest in it lies in its potential to teach a dog to "heel."
I did a bit of research into the target stick and realised that it could not only be used for the cue "touch," but it definitely could be used as a "heel" tool for on and off leash work. I think it's a method that would take a lot of time and patience, but I think it would probably be one of the most beneficial ways of training a dog. They learn to perform a behavior when it is asked of them, as opposed to doing it because they are forced by an "Easy Walk" harness, Newtricks or Gentle Leader.
Now don't get me wrong-these body and head harnesses definitely have their places. Glacier wears a Newtrix because he weighs 75 LBS and is very strong and can be a little stubborn. He is also sensitive to collar corrections, so the head harness gives me greater control over him.
Now with all of this in mind, I have begun to realise that dog training is something I am interested in and could actually be good at. A lot of the things that Kyo learned were because I experimented until I found what worked for him. consistency also was important obviously, but it all came kind of intuitively. Now that I've been more exposed to the training process of service dogs and have been doing some more research of my own, it is interesting to see that I was performing actual training techniques without even knowing it. Aria's puppy class also enlightened me to more professional terminology and hand signals that I didn't know because as a blind individual hand signals aren't always instinctive. I've thrown around the idea of training Aria further and putting her in obedience trials. The only problem with that is that she is so small it is difficult to know if she is doing what is asked of her. With Kyo, I put a loud bear bell on him and learned what the different jingling meant through trial and error. It gave me a better idea of when to treat and reward or when to correct.
If I said "sit" and the bell just tinkled instead of giving a louder "clang" I knew he was just standing there staring at me. If I said "watch me" and the bell didn't really make noise, I knew he was looking where he should. If it started making all sorts of noises, I knew he was distracted and needed to try the cue again. With Aria, she is so tiny that that huge bell would weigh her down.
My other thought is that, Mr. K and I got our little weaner dogs as family pets and I'm not sure I want to turn our little princess into a working dog. She's incredibly smart though and very pretty-she could make a good obedience champion if you ask me. I am a bit biased though. lol
Back to the target stick. I really think that the "touch" cue is a valuable cue that should be taught to guide dogs. It would enable the handler to move /his/her dog into a position without having to physically wrestle with them. In my case, if Glacier is sticking out into an aisle or something, I have to stand up to move him where I want because he is so big. If I could just do "touch" with him, he would move more easily into a better spot. No more yanking, dragging and tucking. It would probably more sightly as well and make the public a bit more comfortable. I've heard people make comments in food courts when I've had to stand up to shimmy Glacier out of an aisle. He's big, so I have to use a bit of muscle, so it probably looks like I'm dragging him aggressively. I've thought about starting to train Glacier "touch" on my own just to make his and my life easier. He's a pretty smart guy, so I think he'll get it. I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe I'll even teach Roscoe "touch" for Mr. K too. By the end I'll be the "touch" queen and all of you will have to send me your service dogs...wait, "touch" queen? That sounds horrible...moving on.

I have to plug a product and then I think I'm done ranting and raving about dogs for today.
The Kong Wobbler-if you don't have one, you should go get one. They are a bit pricey, but if you look, you can find deals. (I found one on Amazon for 8 dollars) and it was one of the best investments. Not all dogs get it and Balloo was terrified of it at first, but they catch on and Balloo loves it now that he knows it has food in it and it won't kill him. The Wobbler we have is meant for big dogs, but Balloo has claimed it as his own. I can put his breakfast in it and he will go crazy knocking the toy all over the kitchen to get it out. When I first saw them, I thought I'd have to be resetting the toy on its base so that the dog could keep playing with it, but you don't have to. It just springs back up into position. I guess "wobbler" is quite an appropriate name for it. I like it because Balloo eats so fast that his little belly blows up like a balloon. Weaner dogs are known for bloat, so sometimes giving him his meal in the Wobbler slows him down, gives him exercise and challenges his mind. Aria is much more active than he is and so I don't worry about her as much, but Balloo needs some motivation to be an active guy sometimes. I know he gets a good work out because the toy is bigger than him and he has to throw his entire body at it to knock it around in hopes that the treasured kibbles will fall out. I can't tell you how it works for big dogs because, as I mentioned above, Balloo has claimed it and won't let anyone else play with it. One of these days I am going to send him out to play and let everyone have a go.
Anyway, it's a great toy and I really think most dogs would enjoy it. We bought it for our guys for Christmas and it was definitely a great investment.

Professional Student

I have always been a firm believer in education. I don't think going into debt for the sake of education is a waste at all because knowledge is something you will never lose. Not to mention, the life experiences you gain from entering post-secondary learning institutions. Now, that was the long introduction for me to announce I am going back to school.
Surprised? Probably not-it seems I have spent more time in school than outside of it. I went to university for five and a half years and gained a BA Honours degree in Sociology and then attended an 18 month 2200 hour massage therapy program. I loved each one, but both left me wanting more. Each time I went to school, I learned a lot of things and my opinions were altered and shaped. I have found that with massage therapy, my opinions are not recognised as being very valuable and giving relaxation massages is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. There are people out there who are made for working in spas and I have all of the respect in the world for them-I am just not one of them.
There is a more therapeutic side to massage therapy as well, but it just starting to catch on. I also learned a lot from sociology that I cannot apply in massage therapy. I want to apply a new way of looking at rehabilitation and try to change the attitudes that make being permanently disabled a pain in the ass. I don't want to "fix" "broken" bodies, I want to help/strengthen/supplement any kind of body with respect to its individual expression; regardless if that person is a wheelchair user, blind or completely able-bodied. Assisting people with permanent and temporary disabilities needs to be addressed differently and I have decided to do it by going back to school for physiotherapy. This is a part of the big changes I alluded to in my previous post.
I obviously won't be changing the world at first: I need to learn the trade, but after the two year program, all bets are off. I want to research and really make a difference in people's lives. I want to be challenged and find new, innovative ways of assisting people and their goals. I also want to be more involved in working with athletes and although I can do this as a massage therapist, I feel I have a better shot as a physiotherapist.
With all of this in mind, the massage therapy training I have is quite extensive and I will definitely draw on that knowledge and experience. I really believe that alternative health care professionals need to respect each others' differences and strengths of their professions. They need to band together for the betterment of their clients/patients. That is why I think the massage therapy training will greatly benefit my clients when I become a physiotherapist in the future.
Anyway, what sparked this post was that I got my application into my university of choice and received confirmation from one of my professors from Wilfrid Laurier University that she would be very willing to be a reference for me. It's exciting to see things moving forward and to know that in September I could be joining the throngs of students everywhere and making my appearance on campus.
I am going to keep my university choice to myself for now. Call it supersticious, but I would rather hold on to that until I know if I got in or not. So, wish me luck. :)

On another note, I wonder how Glacier will take to being a student again in a much larger learning facility. Only time will tell, but I have full confidence in him-he's so laid back that I could probably ask him to attend a Gren Day concert with me every day for the rest of his life and he would just go along happily. :)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Happy 2011!

In typical Jess Style, I am late in wishing everyone a happy new year. But, I have a good excuse this time! :)
I was visiting family from December 21 until January 04 and did not have access to the internet. When I got home I had some kind of crazy plague and so was not able to post until now. Okay, perhaps it wasn't the plague, but damn it was bad.
Anyway, the point is, I'm here now wishing you a happy 2011. I can already tell this year is as full of crazy adventures as the last; maybe even bigger than 2010. I can't say what yet, but there are some big changes in the future.