Saturday, August 3, 2013

Two Months post arrival Home and the end of a very short partnership. :(.- warning, super LONG post. ;)

Note:   It has taken me a good while to finish this post.   The pain and heartbreak of a partnership not working out has kept this post at bay and will follow up with a second post after this with some thoughts and other things too.
It's was a pretty insane couple of months since our arrival home.

We got home on Friday, April 12th and spent the weekend working on putting a new carpet remnent down in the playroom.   Tuesday the 16th, Mike was in an accident at work. :(   He tripped and fell going up the stairs and literally did a face plant over the landing of stairs and with doing so, fractured his nose and left eye socket.

Favor did an amazing job guiding me through the emergency room and to his room and was so very good laying down and out of the way in the small room.   She wanted to jump up and make sure Mike was ok at first, but telling her down, she quickly laid quietly by the side of his bed as she could. 

Mike wound up having to have surgery in which the nasal bones were put back into place and an insert was placed along the bottom of the eye socket to repair the damage that was causing him double vision.   Thankfully after a month off work he is mostly back to his normal self and doing things again. :)   He does still have a bit of a black eye still but that will take a while to go away.

In the midst of all this we had home training too.   Greg came and worked with us for almost a week and yeah we ran all over the place! :)   

Tuesday- Home Training:
We walked around the neighborhood, dropped some stuff at the school and said hello to the office staff.   We then went to the library and walked through the childen's area, went to Menards which was a first for Greg, and then went to El Toros for lunch.  We then came by home and checked on Mike to make sure he was doing OK.

For the afternoon we went up to the church, then back down to Chuck E Cheese and walked through all the crazy lights and noises to make sure Favor was OK with these.  She was a little antsy at first, but once she saw what they were, she was fine.  We then went across the street to Hobby Lobby and while she was doing pretty good, she was still pretty focused on trying to find Greg.  We wandered through here for a good while and then called it a day as it began to pour down rain.

Wednesday- home training: 
The agenda was to go Downtown Indy with the worlds largest FDIC convention in town, but Favor was still not eating well and having the runs along with refusing to take the meds that we'd been given for her.  She'd  had an accident in the house in which there was bright red blood with the stool and so we had her seen and was given meds for GI upset.   Since she was refusing to take the meds, which I was warned was very bitter tasting and still had very loose stools, I made an appt with made with the vet to get her seen for a second time.   We saw Dr. F and he gave us a pill form that I could get into her.  

In the afternoon since it wasn't raining, we took off for the Zoo. It was pretty funny, as I guess this was Greg's first time going to a zoo with a dog- since it's not something they commonly train for and not all people take their dogs. He said it's a touchy subject whether or not to do this, since some zoo's have had issues and the handler has to be able to maintain control of their dog. But he did say this was a pretty cool experience with seeing the animals.

So we did it and Favor got up close and personal with a lot of the critters that were out: The dog sharks (?) in the shark petting area, the Polar bear came up to the edge of his barrier, the penguins, then she wasn't so sure about the tortoise that came up to the glass to check her out as well as all the Meerkats that all gathered at the glass. It was a GREAT day to go and there was like no one there- seriously I think we saw 2 groups of teenagers with field trips and 4-5 families in the whole place. I've never been there with it so empty before.

The plains got interesting as the Cheetahs saw her from across the zebra/wildebeest exhibit and were pacing before even we got close to them. Then as we approached the Lions, the lioness was laying on the rock and looking our way and as soon as she saw favor, came down and paced back and forth and followed us around to the other viewing areas, the male lion even getting up for a look too.

Then we got to the cheetahs and they followed us to the glass and wanted to see her but she wasn't having much part of getting too close as Rei used to do. We quickly had a fan club following us around from exhibit to exhibit as usual. ;)

Then we headed to the forests and the brown bear saw her and boy was he interested in her. Paced the glass and even was jumping around at the barrier for his enclosure too.

Lastly was the tigers and they both got up and were moving back and forth and following our every move.

Naturally it was the one time I *didn't* take the camera! Greg sent me some of his pics. :) We came back and went to Starbucks. Yes, Greg has got me to drinking some coffee stuff... it was good. :) We chilled there and then headed back to the house for him to drop me off before the evening plans.

Tonight we went to KT's basketball practice as Favor seemed to like kids and she likes to play! So we got there and as the girls did their warm up runs, she was up and down a couple of times but once she saw that it wasn't time for her to play and the basketballs bouncing all over the place weren't for her, she settled down and watched everything intently, even as we walked out and through the girls in line waiting their turn to go next. Several of the girls came running up and asking to pet her, but since she is such a different dog, I've been really proactive in asking people not to pet her.   She's just so incredibly smart, I can tell she's got it- as she has with so many other things- may need a gentle reminder to behave, but I know I won't have to get after her again now that she's seen it before. :)

So we headed back home and dropped me off and we'll meet back up in the morning to hopefully go over to the school for just a little bit before I come home and we head to the hospital with Mike.
I know I'm pooped! It was definitely a workout with Favor at the Zoo- she was ramped up pretty good. LOL!

Mike had his surgery today, so we road to the hospital with our good friend Karen M.   She drove us to the hospital and we got checked in.   They took him back and got him changed and all suited up to go back.  I had brought the laptop, something to drink, and once they took him back they told me it'd be a couple of hours before they'd be calling me to tell me how surgery went.  So I got myself set up and Karen ran home to take care of something and grab some lunch.  Before I knew it, the little pager I had was buzzing at me only 50 minutes later.   I scrambled to gather all my stuff up and go back to see the dr.   Favor did an amazing job of guiding me through the crowded waiting room back to the room where the Dr met me and said that Mike had done very well and was in recovery.  It took a couple more hours for Mike to be well enough to head home, but we got there and got him settled pretty quickly.

Friday- Last day of Home Training:
Greg came by and Mike was doing much better already so we went over to the school and visited MD's and AC's classrooms to see how Favor would do at the school.  She was very intent on the kids as she picked MD and AC out right away.  In AC's room, we talked to the kids a bit and she pretty much just laid her head down and went to sleep pretty quickly.   We then headed back home and went out to the back yard and let her run for a bit and finished up the last of paperwork stuff we needed to do.   It was hard to see Greg say goodbye to her before he took off for the next team he had to work with in Chicago.

May 1st:
  Did lots of running to pick up new scripts and return various things to Walgreen, Pets mart, and the vets office and take care of large shopping trip at Costco and the bread store. Favor did great working all through Costco and completely ignored the yappy poodle that was outside of entrance and bouncing all over the place. She just kept on going about her way on business! :)

May 4th:
Good day but really long. Worked on AC's cub scout cake for the Blue and Gold Banquet tonight last night and in between things today. Went to AC's last basketball game of this league's season and came home and finished his cake and then we went to the Blue and Gold banquet. Kids had lots of fun and AC has advanced from being a Tiger Cub to Wolf! WTG AC!

Favor did great today with both places,though by tonight she was done with all the kids even though I repeatedly ask them to leave her alone and not to pet.    She wasn't keen of the noise so had to move her for a while to a different area and get her down and out of sight from the kids as they kept coming up and trying to get in her face.  I made it clear that she needed to be left alone and that she was showing that she wasn't comfortable with this in her body language, so it was time to intervene for her.  She's a good girl and came home and is zonked on her bed after eating dinner.

May 7-9th- Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services Deaf Blind Workshop- Turkey Run State Park
I presented with good friend Donald A. last year at the workshop and we were invited back.   I presented as the keynote speaker and gave several other presentations too in which Favor and I were well received and it was a great time to make new friends and see some old ones again. 

She did an AMAZING job of being so good throughout the long days of workshops. She was entertaining a few times though- but everyone was willing to work with us knowing we were a new team- (she decided to pull the chair I had her tied to over to the window and play in the curtains a bit as I was presenting.... LOL)

But otherwise she did an amazing job getting me up and down all the different steps (this building was an older building and really NOT DB friendly. She also stepped up to the plate and we did trail #7- with LOTS of mud, water, and logs to climb over and around as we went down into and back up a canyon with rock steps and stairs. We got our workout for sure and she did her best to take me around and alert me to as much as she could and she had a blast with it all too. :)

She also got some playing time in one night and even with a couple of the interpreters to blow of some steam after the long day in harness. :) She seemed to enjoy the loving and playing she got too by the other adults here at the workshop and it was a good time to interact and they got to learn the wide range of what Deaf Blindness entails.

Then she rocked it through the presentations and throughout the building as we packed up and ready to head home. Boy she was glad to be home though- immediately went out back and wanted to play with her Jolly Ball. Thankfully some of the others posted some pics of us through the weekend as I had a camera but had to focus on where I was going too much on the hike and was in the presentations or reading CART to be taking pics. ;)

Favor laying against the bed on the floor out of harness and enjoying some downtime.

Kacie and Favor navigating some wooden stairs upward on the Turkey Run Trail Hike

Close up of Favor's head and shoulders with ears perked up and attentive.

Favor guiding Kacie on the trail as she talks to another hiker and explains what she can and cannot see and hear. 

The end of the school year brought field trips and Track and Field days with the kiddos!  

May 16th

We spent the whole day at BEMS with the 3rd grade  and 1st grade classes taking pictures of the track and field day. Had to come home and cool off and grab something to eat before I got moving and headed back to spend the afternoon with the 1st grade classes.

We made it home and survived a full day at the Track and field day. :) The kids all had a blast. :) 1100 pictures later....  Favor was VERY good and did well with all the kids running around too and have to say the kids were also very good in not petting her too! :)    There were two small girls that came running up up and without asking, they got on both sides of her, she started backing up and showing she wasn't comfortable, so I was able to re-direct them pretty quickly saying it was time to give her a break.   I will say though that I was pretty sun burnt the next morning!

Cochlear Implant Update - Late May:
Looking back on the past 3 1/2 months since my CI Surgery on January 9th and activation on February 6th....

I had 8% speech in the right ear, 10% speech in the left ear. My last appt was March 27th and was doing good then and I've come a long way even since then.

At activation I was just a little disappointed, but not much, I knew it was a possibility, I had hoped to be able to understand some speech then. It was about a week for me to pick up high pitched voices only- as in I could hear the kids, but not Mike. This was so, sooo odd for me because all my life I've always been able to hear the low tones but not high.

So at first I was only able to hear robotic/alvinized voices for the first month and I was hearing 14% speech with the CI only and 72% with the CI and my right hearing aid. I went at the end of March for my 2 mos appt and I was just starting to finally hear higher pitched voices in a normal way and I was hearing 52% speech with the CI and 93% with both CI and hearing aid. . My audie explained to me that my brain has never heard many of these sounds before so it's tuning in to those sounds now- so I'm hearing them first.

I was curious to see what my appt on Wednesday brought as I know I'm hearing voices in songs now on the radio and TV programs, which I've never been able to distinguish separate from the background noise before. Upon turning up the hearing aid- it'd turn up the background noise too. Last night I turned off the Hearing aid Mike and I watched the first episode of Hatfields and McCoys series, which was amazing to understand very well!!! I am also starting to turn on music and listen to songs and actually understand words now. Listening to my first audio book ever!   Heaven is For Real! :)

May 21st:
 A very fun day at Eagle Creek Park with the 3rd graders today! :) Favor did real well with the group of girls we were with.   Since she seemed to be ok with being petted on the shoulder and if not cornered/confined to a tight area, I'd begun some short interactions with very small groups of kids and only petting her shoulder. I did have a kid ask me if I was a police officer since Favor looks like a police dog.   She didn't show signs of being uncomfortable around the kids and seemed good when they pet her shoulder.

We did come back to the school though and as soon as we walked in the door and into the class room, the announcement came over the loud speaker to go into ...a hard lock down. I have to say I was very impressed and proud of MD's class as the kids all got into their instructed location and one kid helped the teacher close the blinds and they were immediately silent. They did very well and stayed quiet, even when the school officer was working at the lock and keyed into the room to check in the room. The teacher had immediately grabbed a book and came and sat by the kids and read to them and kept them calm and talked to them when a couple were a little worried. It turned out to just be a drill that the teachers didn't know about since we'd been gone on the field trip, but it was awesome to see the action go into place exactly as it should without questions asked.
I was pooped and ready to take a nap until the kiddos come home!  

May 24th:
This was our second trip to Eagle Creek Park this week, this time we spent the day with the 1st graders and mostly with a group of boys since we were with AC.  Actually this trip was completely different than what we saw on Tuesday when there with the 3rd graders. :)   Favor did surprise me though as we were on the bus, and a little boy in front of us laid down in the seat in front of us and stuck his head around the seat in Favor's face.   Upon doing so, she began to growl, thus I quickly told the boy to sit up in his seat and pulled her back and under my legs to make sure I knew where her head was.  She quit upon his sitting up and was fine all through the field trip itself, but upon the return to the school, another little boy sitting across from us put his head down to pet her and she growled again.   I was surprised and again positioned her to keep all safe.  She had been completely fine with my kids and our bible study group kids, so was surprised to see this reaction out of her towards other children.

May 27th:
This was an awesome ending to the weekend. We watched the race (the Indy 500) as a family last night.  
Alex and Favor laying together on the floor watching the Indy 500.

Today we were blessed by on of Dad's neighbors and was given a free wooden play set for the kids. Mike was asked to serve on Indy West Awakening Boys team for music, and we went to Bub's Burgers for dinner and got to love on my Rei Rei. She was ecstatic to see us!  :)
Rei laying on the grass and Favor in front of me looking over her back

Favor to Kacie's right, Kacie with arms around Rei who is between Kacie and AC.  Rei with her head up trying to give kisses to both Kacie and AC.

 May 29th:
Awesome evening with the ladies tonight at Boulder Creek! :D Food was good, and was even better that Favor slept at my feet without moving the whole time and I was able to understand 95% of the conversation even with the "entertainment" music behind me and the table full of drinking women next to us too! ♥ my dog and CI! :)

June 2nd:
And tomorrow, on my birthday, starts *MY* favorite part of summer break- getting to sleep in and not fighting kids to get out of bed to go to school! :D

***Ready for Summer Break!***  

 June 5th:
 We are off to a great start to the summer! :) MD and AC have BOTH learned to ride their bikes without training wheels! MD is starting guitar lessons, KT is going to the Fever game this weekend, and AC is thrilled to go to the Connection Pointe Church FX all this week with our groupies! Kind of a crazy week this week but we'll get through it!
Favor lying at my feet quietly in all the music during worship at FX.
Favor watching the kids in the huge sand box.
Various people playing cornhole on the church parking lot

The boys- AC and Mr. N doing gladiator jousting in the inflatable ring.

Favor intently watching the kids on the huge inflatable slide

MD and AC about to come down the slide

Kids and people enjoying the outdoor fun at CPCC Family Xperience!

Favor sitting pretty and looking over her shoulder, in front of some tall grasses and in harness.

June 6th:
Miss Favor now has a new obsession.... a rubber ducky. LOL! Perfect toy for her- big enough she cant swallow, she doesn't shred it, and no squeaker for her to tear out! :D

Oh My Word!!! Favor is cracking me up this morning. She's playing with her rubber ducky and if it goes under the couch or entertainment center. She lets out one loud bark and sits there looking at me until I come get it out for her. LOL!  

June 7th:
FX at church- final day.   We had a too time and I stood in line for a good while for a caricature of Favor and I.   Little did I realize this was about to one of our last outings together and that this would be the last picture I have of the two of us together.  

We were sitting at a picnic table and Favor was laying down at my left side, both of us at the end of the table.   A friend/mom came to talk to me and was back far enough to keep from making Favor feel like she would be stepped on.   Her 5 yr old daughter was playing around and so was her 10 yr old son, who was walking about in almost a circle around us.   I had realized Favor was watching him, but didn't realize that he was intently staring back at her.   As the mom and I talked, the next thing we knew, he let out a high pitched scream of terror and we seriously all jumped and Favor upon his scream, lunged forward with a growl and trying to protect me and my kids sitting beside me at the table.  I had a good hold of her so she wasn't able to go anywhere and the son said he thought she was going to get him.   I immediately corrected her and re-focused her attention back to me and back to a down stay.    I was pretty shake at her reaction, but wasn't sure what to make of it.

June 8th:
Operation play set has officially begun. :) The kids spent the weekend with our friend Mr. and Mrs. J.X. and after some serious garage sales in the morning, Mike and I got the play set completely disassembled. Hoping we will be able to start and get a lot of the sanding of the boards done this week to get it ready to be primed. After being primed, we'll assemble it and going to turn all of our small group kiddos lose with a paint brush and the multitude of exterior paints we have to paint it however they want. :) It can be their creation.  

June 10th:
It has been a good day in our household. Family game of Harry Potter clue, baked some cookies, and the kids got to experience hands on training and go old school with washing dishes! Our dishwasher is on it's last legs and figured what better way to teach them how. LOL!

June 11th:
Operation Play set is underway as we got all but 2 of the 4x4 upright posts of the play set sanded down today. Will continue working on finishing tomorrow and start on the huge pile of cross boards.

Loving my pup more and more as she's so good about hanging out with us even though she's not tied down and staying close by. She's so loving to my kids and family.  We've been working in the garage the last few days and she whines to come out and be with us if someone isn't inside with her. She came out with one of the kids and immediately came running to me wanting to make sure I was OK and laid down at my feet, like I'm staying here. LOL! Let her hang out for a bit while I was taking a break and watching her close and she stayed with us. Her personality is really starting to bloom too with the family and she's so super smart it's jut crazy.

June 14th:  Camp Out to Stamp Out Homelessness- our church hosted an overnight camp out on the church grounds in which all the fees went to the cause of helping the homeless in the Indianapolis area.   We arrived in the later afternoon and worked to set up the two tents we had.   We got there early enough, there weren't too many people milling around, however, after setting up the tents, more and more kids started running around and playing, as kids do outside.   Favor very quickly made it clear that she was not happy with the kids playing with AC and MD.   She started out with barking and running to the end of her tie down we had her staked to and not in a friendly bark, but a menacing bark that after the other instances of protectiveness and aggression that was cropping up, I was really starting to become concerned. Throughout most of this, I'd been in contact with my trainer, who was giving me guidance on how to handle the different situations and other than the FX night, she seemed to be doing really well around kids.  

However as the evening wore on, the more and more agitated she seemed to become and the intensity of this agitation became more and more, to the point that I did not feel safe leaving her on the tie down anymore and kept her very close on leash where I could keep close tabs of what she was doing.   She began to growl at nearly all kids that were by themselves that approached within 5-10 feet of our tent area.   I opted to stay at our tent where there were less people than to go over to the campfires just to be safe, fully intending to contact my trainer upon getting home.   She slept fine with me in the tent and was fine the next morning while in harness.   However as we tried to tear down camp, she began to growl more and more at kids that weren't accompanied by adults that got anywhere near the two of us.   I knew we were really in trouble at this point.   As we left the church, sent messages to the trainer and to GDF of the problems we were having.  

June 16th:   Basketball tournament for KT on the Indy southside.    KT's AAU Gymrats team went and played in a basketball tournament and we all went for the day.   It was a long day in the stands but the girls all played hard and well together.  

However, with this meant a lot of little kids in the stands too, younger siblings of the players.   After Favor's behavior the two days before, I positioned myself at the top of the stands and her underneath my feet/legs so I'd know if she moved or was being reactive to something.  
Favor laying on the bleachers curled up and being good.

Little ones playing in the bleachers during game time, including AC and MD.

KT getting the ball and bringing it down the court in a red uniform.

Thus as the games went on for the day, we started out with whenever a kid would walk past Favor on the bleacher below her, she would lift her head and curl her lip back to growl.   A curt NO! and Leave it alone, she would settle back down and thankfully by the time the day was over, she was mostly ignoring the kids going past.

June 17th:   I got up and as much as I really, really, really did not want to contact GDF, I knew it was the right thing to do.   I left a message with the GDF staff explaining everything that had been going on and that I was not comfortable with having her around young children at this point.   I didn't feel we were a safe team.    Within a few hours, I received a phone call from my trainer and he really felt that it would be best if he came to pick her up and that I not work her around children. :(  

I felt horrible and like I'd absolutely ruined a great dog.   Her guiding work was nearly as good as Rei and I honestly did not feel that could be possible in a successor dog, let alone this quickly after becoming a team.   I was torn, heartbroken, and frustrated that I'd done everything I could to keep myself from being without a dog and here I was facing another retirement of a dog and yet another "failure" as a handler.   Frankly, I was crushed with the idea of giving her up.   To the point of denial and honestly didn't even think about it until the day Greg came to pick her up, in order to keep the tears and emotions at bay.

The kids were even more torn with giving up Favor.   AC and MD struggled and MD cried and threw a fit that she wasn't going to let anyone take Favor, stomping her feet on the floor.  I was in a daze, honestly still am and trying to get by, one day at a time with the frustration of the lost of independence and honestly with a loss of identity- the lady with the guide dog, as I'm known as around here and at all the schools.

So.... a week later- as the girls were both at church camp and AC was at boy scout camp, Greg came and picked Favor up, taking her back to his house to begin the evaluation of what she was doing.

So here are some final pictures of Favor with Alex, the morning she was picked up:
Alex in his cub scout hat and shirt, sitting in a chair talking to favor.   She is sitting in front of him, ears up and attentive, listening to what he's saying to her.

Alex on the left and Favor beside him looking at the camera.

He graciously kept in touch with me and let me know when he took her back up to NY and the decision was made to career change her completely as the chance couldn't be taken that she might actually bite someone. :(  

And with that, she was gone.   I had thought I'd done everything I was supposed to.  I kept people from petting her and tried hard to pay attention to her body language.   Unfortunately, as the trainer said, he thought with the different instance we had right off the bat- with kids getting in her face and her personality as more of a one person/family dog, she had become leary of kids and then when the kid screamed, it just solidified in her mind that kids were not safe or to be trusted.   Thus from that point forward, she was doing what it took to keep me safe in her mind, since it was what she was bred, raised, and trained to do- to keep me out of harm's way. :(  

More to come in the next post- Being without a dog... Again.