Bob’s first day.

Bob

Bob

I chronicled Bob’s first week and planned to write a lovely blog with all my thoughts on the matter, but I didn’t quite have the drive to do all that with the fireworks, whistles, and bells that I imaged. Here are my notes from his first day, June 23rd:

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I went to bed at like 8:30 the night before we picked up Bob. We woke up at 7:00 a.m. or so and started getting ready. We ended up being really early even though we stopped for breakfast on the way. Fortunately Daniele could meet us. She dropped off Bob and we put on his new collar and leash. It took him a bit to settle down in the car on the way home, but he eventually laid down.

We went straight to Font Le Roy. My friend Nemmy met us there. I walked Bob around the park assessing his leash skills while Lou drove home to get Rin and water for us and the dogs.

We walked the dogs around the circular path. I had Rin because I expected her to be more difficult. We followed behind Lou and Bob about fifteen feet away. Then both the dogs got water and we sat down at a picnic area and let them sniff each other. Everything went just fine. Both of the dogs were tuckered out and hot. We watered them and walked some more before letting them play a little. We worked on some of their commands and fed them lots of treats. It was hot as hell and I’m as red as a lobster, but it was really fun to be at the park with the dogs.

Rin rode in the front with me as usual and Bob rode in the back. He’s soooo big and it’s right in the middle of shedding season. I probably brushed him five times today and my clothes are still covered in fur.

When we got home we fed them separately. Bob absolutely horks down his food. He scatters it all over the floor with the force at which he goes at it. I’m assuming that’s because he had a hard time finding food before he was picked up as he’s still a bit underweight. I need to figure out how to address this so that meal time is a calmer, happier experience for him.

After they had napped and been walked separately I wanted to see how they acted off leash. Everyone wanted to meet Bob, but I’d convinced them all to just let me keep him in my room and acclimate him to the house my way, without all the excitement and fuss. I didn’t want them all coming out before I could see the two of them together so just me and Lou went out with the dogs. We took the water bowl, a tennis ball, and a wubba. Both dogs loved to chase the ball and Bob really wanted to play with Rin. Rin was mostly focused on me and the ball. As usual, Rin got a little too over excited with her play and things were in danger of escalating so I corrected her behavior and didn’t let her play again until after she was patiently laying on the ground of her own volition.

The dogs played without incident after that so we had the kids and Grandpa come out. I always forget to have the talk with them about how they should approach a dog. It’s really, really important and most people have no idea. They came running out, yelling different commands, trying to pet on the dogs. I’ve talked with them enough on how to keep Rin from pouncing on them by their body language and actions so at least I didn’t have to worry about that. I stayed by Gramps just in case either dog tried to jump up on him.

They played for a while before we brought them back inside to cool off. At this point we had fed Bob one meal and tons of treats. He’d been walked several times and still hadn’t poo’d, but it was obvious he needed to go because he kept getting up and walking to the door. We kept taking him out on the leash and walking around the yard, but he just sniffed the air or walked along obediently never doing what I knew he needed to do.

I had just read a passage in Cesar Millan’s book about how sometimes during transition puppies can’t relax enough to go on the leash, so you should try letting them in the yard. So I just suggested it to Louie and then he texted me like three minutes later, “That did the trick.” Good thing we kept at it! I knew he was telling me he wanted to go out.

After they were inside and quite for a bit (with Rin crated) I decided to give them each a toy. I wanted to watch Bob more, I’ve basically been using every interaction to watch him closely and gauge his personality and temperament. I’m keeping him in my room for the first several days to more closely observe him. Since we did just adopt him I didn’t want to give Gramps control of a dog until I was sure that we could trust that dog. He wasn’t really interested in the rope. He liked the frayed end, but he didn’t really want to pull it from me, which I liked because tug isn’t something I’d encourage Grandpa to do with him. I just wanted to try it and see what his reaction was. He was fine.

Later I gave them both bones. Rin was still in the crate and Bob had laid down right in front of her crate. At some point he snapped and lunged at the crate, barking and growing. Rin was in the crate and fine. I reclaimed the bone and banished Bob to the corner of the room where he instantly calmed down. It took him a few minutes to realize that I was not allowing him back into our space, but when he did he just laid down and was perfectly fine.

I know that if I come at a dog nervous or fidgety the dog will pick up on that and react negatively so I didn’t address Bob again until I was sure I was calm and assertive. The whole time he was over there I was standing over the bone. It was mine. I picked it up, called him over, and offered it to him again. Seeing how he reacted to Rin, I definitely needed to see how he reacted to a human. He stilled completely, just staring at me, and refused to relinquish it at all. It took me five minutes of careful prying to get it away from him and that was all the while moving in a way to not provoke a bite response and keeping one hand on his collar as a control. I made him sit and down and held the bone until he was chill on the floor and then I put it up where he couldn’t get it. Rin was behaving perfectly, ignoring us or quietly watching me as I gave commands, so she got to keep her bone and was safe from interference in the crate.

Bob tried to get around this by putting his nose to her crate and staring fixedly at her bone so I corrected this behavior every time until he ignored her and the bone like I wanted him to.

He was otherwise perfectly fine. I will be working diligently with his food manners. I’m not sure how to address the bone thing yet or if this is possibly something caused by the stress of transition and integrating into a new pack. I talked to his foster and she said he’d never showed any signs of aggression and she’s pulled bones out of his mouth and her dog has walked all over him.

He’s very gentle with cuddling and play. He does try to stand, sit, or lay right on top of you, but if you’re paying attention you can nudge him gently in the direction/position you want him and he’ll just lay partially on your lap or wherever. He cuddles and sits quietly in the room. He walks great for me on the leash.

Around 6:30 the dogs started getting antsy so we headed out for their walk by 7:00. We walked up and down the back street and let them rest in the grass or drink water each lap. Lou sprinted with Bob, we took them for one more lap and then headed home. Everyone was hot and quite tired. After the dogs cooled off a bit we fed them and still had to walk them one more time before bed.

I sent Daniele a text after the bone incident and she got back to me. I’m going to work with Bob for a few days, give him time to relax. I’ve got some pretty tight restrictions on how everyone else is allowed to interact until I can make sure it’s safe for everyone else. I want to give him time to be comfortable and time to figure him out, but Gramps is 78 and in the end the dog has to be trustworthy with him.

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The quick updates since then-

  • We’ve worked diligently with his food horking and now it doesn’t take much time or effort to get him to calm down before I feed him. I’m actively taking the food bowl away from him and putting my hands in it so he’s more comfortable and less worried about disappearing resources. I can trust Louie, or someone authoritative, to feed him.
  • I’ve been working on his manners in the house. He lacks some very basic communication skills because he was a stray. That means I have to do a lot of physical correction, restraint, or positioning. It’s a much more physical task than I anticipated, lol, which has taught me a valuable lesson (about raising puppies) and gotten me more active.
  • I was told he had some separation anxiety and didn’t like to be crated if he was actually restrained, meaning shut door. I’m a big believer in crate training and so I started experimenting with this one whenever Rin wasn’t around. He crates just fine after a few days of practice and I trust him enough to actually sleep in Grandpas room when crated. (Gramps only lets him out in the mornings and straight to the backyard.)
  • As for the bone thing, no one is allowed to give him toys or bones. I have been letting him have one when I put him in the crate for the night in Gramp’s room. I don’t let him have it until he’s calm and I take it away from him at least once before leaving him with it.
  • Bob. Loves. Mud. He is at his happiest when playing in the water, it’s the only time I watched him sprint around the yard in joy. He splashes in the water and then loves to play in the dirt. 🙂
  • I’ll add pictures (or a video) next time.

So I made a bet with my Grandpa (Part 2)

Bob

Bob

Really, this story starts in February with a very hard truth that I had to accept. I had to accept that even though I had been doing really well I was no longer coping with my PTSD effectively on my own and that I desperately needed help. I was honest with my friend, Gabrielle, who stories I love illustrating, but whose schedule has been affected by my disorder. I got some good advice from her and she pointed me in the directions of a fabulous therapist and the idea of a service dog for PTSD.

My therapist got to know me and my unique issues and I did a lot of research until we did both agree that a service dog would benefit me in a big way. I began to read and watch everything I had access to on the net and I spent a lot of time really looking at my life and trying to decide if this was something I could handle. I’ve gotten so much advice at this point that I’m not sure what to do with it all, as some of it is conflicting.

And conflicting information is really hard for me to deal with. There’s no way I can afford to go through an organization, they can cost anywhere from $20,000-$40,000. It was apparent pretty early on that the only chance I’d have is to train a service dog myself.

But that’s a huge task! And while I know how to teach the basics, I have no idea how to train a dog to snap me out of a panic attack or a flash back or to wake me up during a nightmare. On top of that there’s all kinds of questions like should I buy from a breeder so it’s health is more reliable in the long run or should I adopt a shelter dog because they really are just as good? Should I get an adult or a puppy? All of these have different things to think about.

It was really too much for me to feel comfortable making a decision with no direction. As much information as I can find online, there’s still so many things I need to know about the socialization and training process. I started getting really stressed when trying to think about what the hell I was supposed to be doing and planning for. It’s generally much harder for my to feel confident about making decisions for myself. I had talked to my Gransparents, a very few select friends, and my therapist about this decision, but not really anyone else.

But I digress. How does all this have anything to with the bet I made Grandpa and that adorable dog named Bob?

From reading Part 1, you know Gramps has lots of business ideas and lots of trouble with computers and the internet. He needs lots of help running his blogging business, but I really don’t want to run it for him and he essentially needs someone to do that for him, or to sit there and explain a lot of stuff every day or several times a week.

I’ve been feeling like shit because my own mental health often keeps me from doing anything productive for myself, that doesn’t really leave a lot left over for also helping someone to run a business from home. I’ve been feeling really guilty that I just can’t do a lot for him. I have no money to give him. I can’t do all the things he needs help with, I don’t have the skill or energy. I can’t make him physically less ill.

Well, when I was doing research for my own dog, I found lots of lists with tasks service dogs can be trained for to make their handler’s lives better. It clicked into place really quickly, the idea of how much a service dog would help Gramps around the house. He falls a lot. There have been a lot of times where he’ll lose his balance and spin around and crack his head on something ten feet away.  Sometimes, if there’s not something sturdy nearby he can’t get up by himself. I’ve found him on the floor in a few places where he just couldn’t stand on his own. My paternal grandfather died because he fell in his home and couldn’t get up. He laid there for three days before someone did check on him and he died of pneumonia in the hospital. I do not want this to happen to Grandpa Jim.

So I was thinking about all that and I’d also been looking around at adoptable dogs. Bob had been on my radar, but I didn’t think much about it because I wasn’t ready to make my decision. At some point I realized Bob was big enough to help Gramps brace if he falls.

So that’s when the idea began. I started talking to his Foster person, asking all sorts of questions about the dog. We talked for a couple of days before I sat up a time to go see her. And then I sat down and had a talk with Grandpa.

I explained my idea. I don’t know if Bob will make it as a service dog, but at the least, he can give us something to do together and more importantly, he can keep an eye on Grandpa around the house. Bob can give Gramps companionship when he’s lonely, depressed, or unable to communicate his feelings with a person.

He told me that he’d actually been thinking about getting a dog to keep him company. I showed him a picture of Bob and told him I sat up a meeting on Tuesday. I told Granny as well and talked to her about it and we all made plans to go together.

Waiting for Tuesday was damn difficult and I only had to get through Sunday night and Monday, but the time did eventually come and we all drove to Killeen to meet Bob.

Everything went fantastically. Bob was adorable and sweet and very friendly. The kids made lots of racket and played with him. I walked him around on the leash to make sure he had manners as Gramp’s would need to be able to handle him.

Once all that was decided, it made more sense to me that our videos would feature this project heavily because with both I don’t know where the hell we’d find the time or energy to accomplish everything.

We’re going to work out the budget and equipment details tomorrow and start making space for the dog and cleaning up the yard. We’ll have the adoption papers signed before the week is over.

This will help assuage my guilt at not being able to help Grandpa. It’ll also give me some structure and something to be responsible for, as Gramps needs to be able to rely on Bob’s good behavior and willingness to obey the commands we teach him. It’ll give us a good project to work on together, and that’s really cool.

And as far as I go, well, I’m still not sure if I’m supposed to buy a puppy from a breeder or adopt a dog from a shelter. If I get one from a breeder, I may have finally picked out a place that looks trustworthy, but damn, German Shepherds are expensive and White American Shepherds more so. (I was looking at the second because someone told me they were healthier dogs, or lived longer or had fewer dysplasia problems or something.)

If I get one from a shelter, than I have to go through this process all over again, except I have to be even more on my shit because here I am needing to pick out a dog that can be trained to sense my anxiety spikes. Either way, it’ll take me about a year to save up to buy one (and if I adopt that money can be put towards training, or paying someone to locate an adult dog with potential.)

So that’s the story behind the bet. I hope you stay to enjoy the show.

So I made a bet with my Grandpa recently…(Part 1)

I could definitely describe my 76 year old Grandfather as obsessed with the internet. He can’t tell you what a URL is or a web page and he doesn’t understand just exactly what a Web Browser is, but he’s still able to search around and find all sorts of neat things.

The first time I remember him getting really into it was with one of those get rich quick things for selling things on eBay. He bought tons and tons of stuff that stayed in the house. (On top of whatever he paid for the eBay course BS.)

After that he got into real-estate. He even bought some “tax” properties, but I don’t think he has sold anything and after working at that and spinning his wheels for a while he found his newest obsession, which is that Empower Network stuff.

He’s really into the idea of blogging now. This is fascinating to me because he has so much trouble with computers. His memory is unreliable with recent things and he has trouble staying with one thought sometimes and it’s really difficult for him to learn new things involving the computer. On top of that, he still “invests” a lot of money in the businesses without really knowing what it is he’s paying for, how it works, and how to avoid being scammed.  (He’s a repeat offender on the getting scammed list.)

I don’t know if Empower Network is a scam or not. I do know that they’ve told him over and over how anyone can blog and make money, no matter what they’re skill level.

That is a lie. I know that’s a lie. There’s more to writing. There’s more to holding a conversation and catching people’s attention. There’s something said about rich content and providing something to offer. You need all that and some kick ass talent for the mechanics of running a blog (or painfully won skill.) If it were as easy as they market it to be everyone would be doing it.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to crush Grandpa’s dream. I understand why he wants to do this and that drive doesn’t just disappear because the method isn’t working. I understand that he wants money and because of his own physical limitations, the internet seems like a powerful tool. I believe he’s right and what’s more I’ve  seen him be passionate about something he loves.

I’ve seen him sit and learn the same things over and over. I’ve seen him write dozens and dozens of letters to strangers in the name of business. He’s sat on the phone with tech support for hours and hours. My Grandfather was reclusive my entire childhood. But now he looks through one of the three web browsers he uses regularly to see another world and talk to people thousands of miles away. That in itself was a powerful thing. But it wasn’t the only thing.

I showed him how to use Google Docs (although, he’s kinda forgotten and we’ll have to go over that soon) and he started writing blog articles. I told him to write about his life. To share his memories and experiences so our family can read it, but also to share his story with the world because he has a genuinely interesting life.

But I don’t think blogging is perfect for him. He has a hard time writing, although he enjoys it. I think it would be perfect if there was someone who could work with him once a week to edit his recollections. He can read like a pro, I’ve never met anyone who is as voracious a reader as my Grandfather, but his grammar is poor. (Sorry Gramps! Love you!)

Videos would be better with a good mic. We’d still have to do a lot of takes and some editing, but Gramps is pretty charismatic and with a familiar script, I think he’d do fine.

But there’s really only one way to prove it to him and that’s results. I also wanted to help him and to do something with him. I love him a lot and I want to see him accomplish the feat of telling his life story however he can. So I walked into his office and sat down and said, “Gramps, I wanna make you a bet.” I explained that I thought using YouTube for free was better than paying for whatever it was Empower Network was actually accomplishing for him.

The bet is as fair as I can make it. We’ve both spent about two years learning about blogging. Neither of us know shit about recording or editing videos. I also thought that since the purpose of this bet was for Grandpa’s benefit we would be working together in a fashion.

I will be vlogging on YouTube. Gramps will put his videos on his blog. At the end of the year, the person with the most subscribers wins. I told him I would help him some. I plan to shoot and edit videos, but I’m leaving it up to him to do the writing parts because I’ll also have videos to shoot and edit for me.

Now, this story is running a little long and it’s getting late so I’ll have to end it here, but I’ve gone and left out one very important little detail. I haven’t told you what we’re going to be making videos about. Here’s the hint…

It involves a dog named Bob.

Bob

Bob

Go to Part 2.