Monday, June 21, 2010

CAYLIE and the hospitals

I just wanted to add a word about how incredible CAYLIE was during Jack's stays at Duke Hospital and Levine Children's Hospital. Especially at Duke, where the tiny room meant everyone was packed in to such a tight space and CAYLIE spent most of her time at the foot of Jack's bed. She just laid there quietly even when there was a commotion in the room. She was
as "good as gold".

I'd also like to mention how thankful we are for caring people such as Kyria and Terry who took time out of their busy schedules to come all the way to Durham and wait patiently with us while Jack was in surgery. Thanks guys. We love you!

Here's hoping we get to go home soon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wilmington and the 1st annual p4p 5K

Note: This is a duplicate of the most recent entry on our Jack of Our Hearts blog. If you've already read that then there's no need to read further, otherwise, enjoy.
The pictures can be viewed by going to


We had a quick but fun trip to Wilmington this weekend. Jack was "master of ceremonies" for the start of the race and did a great job saying "ready...set...go!". There was a great turnout and hopefully a lot of money raised for the paws4people organization.

One humorous note...awareness of the existence and purpose of service dogs continues to be a challenge for all of us. We stopped at a McDonalds (where else?) in Wadesboro in Anson County on the way Saturday. Lisa said when she walked in with CAYLIE, someone asked her "Is that thar one of them seein' eye dawgs?". We just have to keep plugging away folks. Right?

We were very blessed to get to spend some time with Susan and Dan Ivancevich. We were so excited to finally meet Amanda and ELLIE. ELLIE was one of the first service dogs provided by the paws4people organization. Susan wanted to see the type of harness that CAYLIE uses with Jack. Amanda practiced walking around with CAYLIE which was pretty awesome. Amanda is doing amazingly well.

It was so helpful for us to spend time talking with Susan about their experiences as Amanda had the same surgery Jack is about to have. Although they have completely different diagnoses, it is helpful to talk to someone who had to go through what you are about to have to go through.

Susan invited us to visit their horses before heading home and Jack got to do some riding and see some of the animals.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Special Day

Happy Birthday to CAYLIE who turns 2 today! And it's also the 5th anniversary of the day Jack came home to live with us.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Umbilical cord training with CAYLIE

I have been writing this blog in my head for a couple of weeks, but things with Jack have been very hectic. My umbilical cord training with CAYLIE was interesting and I learned some things I would like to pass along.

This is a two week period in which the dog is attached to the primary handler by the dog's leash. It is very hard to move, especially quickly with a dog attached. I never realized how much I do move and go until CAYLIE was with me.

The first few days were rough. She resisted moving with me and taking care of Jack was hard. We have to carry him up and down the stairs, to and from his chair and in and out of the bath. Eventually CAYLIE will help with the stairs, but using her brace is a work in progress.

One of the greatest challenges was the week I shopped for and bought new drapes. She was very patient and cooperative with me in the store. People constantly asked me if she was in training. Without Jack, (he was in school) they didn't see an obvious disability and repeatedly asked to pet her. By the second day of shopping I had had it. I went about my business and avoided eye contact by those who were watching us. It is fairly comfortable for me to tell people in public "no, I'm sorry she's working", but it was harder by myself.

So, anyway on to the drapes. After I bought them they had to be ironed, (7 large panels) and new rods hung. Poor CAYLIE, she just looked at me like she could not believe she had to endure all of that. She kept trying to plop down and fall asleep. I did feel bad for her, so I put one of our other dog's leashes around my waist and attached her leash. I also put her bed by the ironing board so she could rest while I ironed. She was so glad when the drapes were finally hung!

I gave her lots of extra love during this period and eventually things got better. I did have to break training one day and as I did I knew Terry and Kyria would understand. The kids and their health always come first. The school called, as they often do, and I went to check on Jack. He was supposed to be at lunch with a few hundred kids and teachers. His assistant had said he was just pitiful with a headache and he was exhausted. When I got to the school, I told the secretary I had to stay attached to CAYLIE but I knew she would cause an uproar in the cafeteria. I asked for the principal, but she was off campus. The secretary, (who is very kind by the way) offered to hold CAYLIE's leash for me. I decided I had to do what was best for Jack and yelling kids wanting to pet his dog would not help.

By the time I got back to the office, she had charmed everyone. I took Jack home and we resumed umbilical training.

She and I were both glad when it was over, but I have to say she is closer to me. CAYLIE had really bonded to Eliot, but after this two week training, she often comes to me first for love. That to me made it all worth it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

CAYLIE and a visit to Cox Mill

This is CAYLIE on a recent visit to Candace's classroom at Cox Mill Elementary. Candace has LANIE and is waiting on LILLY. Candace has a multi-handicapped classroom with wonderful children.

When CAYLIE and I arrived, the kids were having speech. Later they read a book and had assisted technology to help them interact as she read. The kids are really funny at times and are so lovable. CAYLIE laid on the floor for about half an hour with Josh who pulled on her and tried to chew her ID badge. She loved it and laid all over him. He was very comfortable with her and eventually fell asleep. CAYLIE is very patient and tolerant.

Later some 5th grade girls came to the classroom and read to CAYLIE. It took her about five minutes to settle and get comfortable with them, but then she was great. We stayed for two hours and plan to return often.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Update on Ramada Hotel experience

I received a call today from the manager of the Ramada hotel in Kentucky. She apologized for the "misunderstanding". She said that the people from the online reservation system had told her that we would be providing "papers" showing that our dog was a service dog. I told her that I think just an id or the vest was all that's required. That was about the extent of our conversation and she said that she hoped we enjoyed our stay and then we said our good-byes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Note to self: No Ramada Hotels

Over the holidays, we traveled up to West Virginia and Ohio and for one night stayed in a hotel in Kentucky, just a few miles from the West Virginia state line near Huntington. It was a Ramada. A well known name in the hotel business. CAYLIE was traveling with us and everyone was at Lisa's aunt's house while I checked into the hotel.

When I was checking in the desk clerk, who I think was the assistant manager, said something to the effect that "they" said I would be bringing papers to show that the dog was a service dog. I told her I didn't know what she was referring to and who were "they"? "They" turned out to be the online people through which I had made the reservation. I had requested a wheelchair accessible room and added a comment that we had a service dog with us. I wasn't concerned because the hotel accepts pets. Matter of fact, there was a dog sleeping behind the counter and two cats wandering around outside.

I told her that I had no papers with me and that I didn't have the dog with me at the time. She wears a service vest which should be proof enough. She seemed to shrug it off. Well, then, the manager, who was standing behind her, got involved. She began making comments without addressing me directly about charging for a "pet fee". I said that the dog is not a pet it is a service dog. She said "Oh, so is it a seeing-eye dog or something?". I said, "No." (starting to get a bit irritated now). My son is handicapped and he needs the dog for mobility. She didn't seem to hear this and said, "So, who is handicapped? and what is their problem?" At one point she actually said "Is the dog handicapped?". Wow. I was floored. Not only was this illegal but rude. I restated what Jack's condition is, now, clearly pissed and she still didn't notice nor did the assistant manager still working on checking me in. At anytime during our stay or when I checked out was there an apology or even a thanks for staying with us.

So, I sent an email to the corporate Ramada folks and this is their response:

The Ramada Corporate Office is in receipt of your concerns regarding your stay at the Ashland - Rt. 23 property located in CATLETTSBURG , KY on or about 12/29/2009.

Ramada corporate appreciates your bringing your concerns to our attention. We take these matters very seriously, Ramada corporate, however, is solely the licensor of Ramada tradename, trademarks, and service marks to independently owned and operated Ramada guest lodging facilities. Although Ramada does not own or operate the facility, we require all of our licensees to comply with applicable law. We have advised the owner/operator of the facility of your complaint. We suggest that you contact the owner of the facility directly as the owner is in the best position to respond to your complaint.

I sent this email back to them and haven't heard back nor expect to:

Since you have notified her of the complaint, I see no reason for me to contact her. If she wants to respond to the complaint then she can do that. You may provide my contact information to her. Otherwise, we don't plan on staying at any Ramada hotels anytime soon. Passing the buck back to me doesn't impress me. I don't care if you don't operate the hotel. Your name is on the sign and my credit card receipt.

In conclusion, I thought this might be interesting for those that have or will be getting service dogs. Hard to believe that there are still businesses out there like this but there are.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Working on mobility

Yesterday, Jack and CAYLIE worked on mobility with the harness. Jack is still tentative, of course, and will be for some time, but they made progress. With Karen and Lisa's help they walked all the way around the downstairs which is quite an effort for Jack. Much of it he did by himself without holding on to Mom. It will take him some time to trust the stability that CAYLIE will provide for him. With all of CAYLIE's boundless energy, when she puts that hareness on she is all business. They also practiced retrieving the leash and Jack's shoes.

Pictures follow: