thinking of Emma -from my blog in October 2005 when I first trainned with Emma.
Emma look at the time. I should be in bed dog gone it. I am instead up thinking about you. I can't sleep. I am thinking how amazing it is that you are coming into my life. First of all I can't believe how much love, patience, persistence, and intelligence it took for Judy to train you over the past two plus years. As anxious as I am to get you to come home with me. I know she will miss you. She has a new dog she is training but I can see you are a unique dog and her first service dog so will always be special in her heart. another women, who is also a foster mom and giving up her puppy to another graduate (as they call us) said it is a process and even though they plan for it difficult. It is so fun to tell Judy at the end of each training day how you did Emma. She sure did an excellent job workign with you. I am just getting a glimpse of all the time and expertise it took to bring you this far - so I am thinking of that tonight.
Emma you are going to open new worlds for me. Multiple Sclerosis has changed my life. I have shyed away from going to stores, malls, and some events due to the changes. I particularily have not ventured out in a scooter alone. I have tried those available at the supermarkets but you just can't reach everythign. I drop things easily and then you have to get off the darn scooter to pick it up. Or bend over and get dizzy...you get the picture. I think I will try more things with you along as my helper. Even on good days when I can use a walker for a quick trip - I run into problems. Now as I actually work with you it really is hitting me how practical and wonderful this will be for me.
At one time in training today I blinked back tears. I was thinking of the reality of all this. I have seen people with service dogs at MS camp or once in awhile at educational events. I always hoped that I might qualify for a dog - now here I am really training with a dog. I was listening to a speaker and there you were Emma, sleeping under the table at my feet - and I just thought this is so unbelieveable.
It is hard to loose your physical abilities. I wish I had not taken for granted being able to run, take long walks, stand for a length of time and so many things that are not possible for me now. People sometimes ask me how I cope but i say a day at a time. How else? I have a good attitude and sense of humor I think. I credit that to my supportive children, husband, Dr. Schapiro and his nurses, and support from the MS Society. The people I meet with MS are wonderful peers and we really keep one another going. Yet even with all that, sometimes it is lonely, scarey, frustrating, and tough to deal with an uncertain future.
I am crying as I reflect on this fact. Now I will have Emma to help me deal with some of the challenges. It will help me be more independent. My philosophy with my family is I won't ask for help if I can do it myself. Like if I need physical assistance at home. I recognize some days I need more help than others due to the nature of MS. Now Emma will help me pick up things, open doors, help at stores...they say she will help in more ways then I can imagine. It will be good for me. It will be good for my family. It will be helpful when I am home alone. You have to chuckle that sometimes they come home to a trail of things that I dropped and could not pick up. Emma loves to retrieve so she should like being with me.
My dog boomer was put down in November. I cried and cried and never wanted to give a dog my heart again. He was not a service dog though became an important companion to me. Here I am venturing into another relationship with a dog. Emma will be different than a pet due to the fact she is a service dog. I can already get a glimpse of how strong that bond will be. This relationship is going to take work, committment, priority, and time. Emma are you ready to do this with me? I hope I can offer you what you need to make this work.
Look at the strong feelings I have after only two days of training!! I pray that I can learn what I need to these weeks of training. I am grateful for the follow up that helping paws offers. Emma it is a new chapter in my life. I guess this is like your first love letter from me...
Posted by Dog Lady at 1:19 AM - 1 Comment Add a Comment
Tuesday October 11, 2005
Training Mary to work with Emma
Training was very involved today. There seems to be so much to learn and practice with the dog. My enthusiasm for working with the dog is only growing. Emma is so skilled, lovable and a beautiful dog. We worked hard today on various cues and behavior. The training staff is so patient and helpful. We have a mixture of lectures, demonstrations and lots of time working with the dogs. I am learning the importance of my timing of my cue to Emma and my reinforcement. I am also trying hard to not give her the command/cue twice. she needs to react on my first request and by telling her more than once I am reinforcing her taking her time. They also tell me sometimes I tell her things like it is a question rather than like I am in charge. I have to work on being more firm but of course I don't want to be crabby.
We went outside for a little bit with the dogs and with the distractions of outdoors, she still worked well with me. This was the first time I brought my scooter and it makes a difference. It positions me different with the dog and Emma had a tendancy to go ahead rather than beside me. She also has to get use to the noise it makes. She came out smelling like a rose and was so helpful. I can't wait to take her for a walk in my neighborhood when we get home. I also had my first trip on Metro Mobility a transportation service for the handicaped. That will expand my world to use that service when I can't drive. It is very evident that Emma is going to make it much easier for me to do things outside the home and at home. She is so cute. I think the cutest dog in training of course.
Emma gave me her first show down. She refused to do what I requested on a specific thing. I am not sure if it was because I did not sound like I meant it. Or because I started to repeat the request rather than expect her to do it the first time.. With the help of an instructor I held my ground and was patient. She didn't get her treat till she complied. She has such cute eyes and expression I had to not look at her and give her facial contact till she did as told. I was worried I did it wrong, and then thought of like a toddler testing the limits when you ask them to do something. Like a friend of mine who is a parent said about his daughter "sometimes you have to be calm and firm so they know this is not let's make a deal". I have to work on sticking to what I request so we are a good working team.
It is interesting to get to know the others who are getting a dog and the trainers. They are all such nice people. The dogs are amazing.