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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Remembered

On assignment.
Rose City Memorial Day Commemoration.

Flags at attention.

Andy and FLD Scout hang with me as I cover the town's ceremony for the Ogemaw County Voice. Under a brilliantly blue sky, the Rose City Middle School Band leads the rest of the students in a march to City Park. I am pleased when Scout holds her sit as they file around us.

The Rose City 5th through 8th grade bands entertain the crowd before the Memorial Day ceremony.
Andy and FLD Scout are respectful during the national anthem.

After the patriotic concert, four local VFW leaders honor veterans who have fallen. They solemnly share the reading of names; almost 60 Ogemaw County vets have passed since last Memorial Day.

Veterans of Foreign Wars blast WWI Springfield '03 rifles in a salute. Residents bow their heads and remember.

I'm in the crowd shooting photographs when the guns spurt flame and smoke between the long line of flags. Andy tells me later, "Scout was lying down and she jumped up when they went off the first time. The second time she raised her head and the last time she just stood in place."

To those who have given the ultimate in sacrifice, FLD Scout salutes you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's here! The 7th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival!

As promised, here is an overview of the 7th ADBC. For those of you not keen on the ADBC, check out Sharon Waschler's post, "About the ADBC" on her blog, "After Gadget."

While there was not a huge response to my chosen topic of EFFECT/AFFECT, or "How has a working dog in your life IMPACTED other people and/or the relationships in your life?" the posts that were submitted are thoughtful and honest.

To those who tackled this sensitive topic, I thank you for sharing.

It was interesting to me that two bloggers, who are handlers of assistance dogs, remarked that people are often more interested in their dogs than in them. Even as a volunteer puppy-raiser I get a taste of this when out and about in my small town with Future Leader Dog "Scout." My husband Andy says, "I don't even exist. First it's 'Hi, Scout' and then it's 'oh, it's that lady with the puppy.' Who am I?!"

At any rate, I pass the hosting baton on to Tori, at her blog "The Average Blog by an Average Blogger" for the 8th ADBC in July. Stay tuned!


Lyssa, at her blog, "Downunder Assistance Dog," wrote "The Knightly Effect." Knightly is a nine-month-old Golden Retriever that she is training to be her assistance dog. Lyssa's post explores the many effects that Knightly has had and continues to have on her life (and her husband's life)...from getting her out of bed in the morning to keeping her out of the hospital.

Khills writes about how training her mobility assistance dog, Shai Ezer, "suicide proofs her." Her blog is "Shai Ezer-Helper Beside Me: Training My Service Dog," and her post for the ADBC is "Not Easily Broken: Dancing With Shai." Khills uses pictures to illustrate the journey she's taken with Shai after a 2009 diagnosis of the "intruder" MS (her term for the disease). Because everyone in her family "had to deal with it (MS)," Shai helps maintain the "family's equilibrium."

Sharon, over at her blog, "After Gadget," is responsible for starting the ADBC way back in the fall of 2010. (Where does the time go?) Her post "Service Dogs & Friends: Familiarity Breeds...Confusion?" is a sincere exploration of how the "raising, training, and handling" of her own service dogs has had a negative effect on the relationships with people in her life. In turn, these relationships have made it more difficult to actually train and work with her "dog partners."

L^2's post, "Impacts on Relationships," at her blog, "Dog's Eye View," examines the positive and negative impacts that working with her guide dog, Jack,  has had with people in her daily life, and "those I encounter once in a blue moon." Although Jack has eased the worries of her parents, L^2 says it has been difficult to get her family members to NOT treat Jack like a "pet." Read how this makes her feel toward spending time with them. Dealing with the general public has been negative for the most part--L^2 says she feels as though she and Jack are a "form of entertainment." Still, she likes the idea of raising awareness and hopes she has smoothed the way for other guide dog teams.

L^2 brings up an interesting take on how having her dog take center stage affects her interactions with "friends" and how she has established "new relationships" within an on-line community of handlers and others who are involved somehow with assistance dogs. That the blogging community sometimes acts as a "second family" is one of the benefits I wasn't expecting when I began blogging a few years ago.

My post, "The affecting effect of dogs..." is a personal note on how my love of dogs makes the relationship with my aging parents a sometimes-uncomfortable situation to manage. Yet, it always amazes me how these creatures demonstrate the true meaning of "unconditional" love.

READERS! Please take a few moments to meet my blogging friends by following the links above to their posts and their blogs.

Looking forward to the 8th ADBC Tori!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm downstate, visiting my mom for Mother's Day.

CC'd Gus wishes his mom, Sienna, a very happy Mother's Day. He wants her to know he's very happy in our north woods.

"Forest" Gus, doing what he does best. Dragging a big stick around.

FLD Scout wishes her mom, Reese, a happy Mother's Day, too!

"Hey, mom! Look how good I'm being with these kids!"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The affecting effect of dogs...

...on people who don't like dogs.

This post is my submission to the 7th ADBC.

Sometimes, those of us who DO like dogs have a hard time understanding those who DON'T. What's not to like about the undivided attention our dogs give us (most of the time) ; their always-ecstatic-to-see-you greetings, whether you've left them for 5 minutes to walk out to get the mail, or you've been gone on another overtime work day; their curious way of sensing the world, knowing when laying a head on your knee is just the right thing to do; their joy in the moment--when you grab the leash and head out the door, they don't care where you are going, they are just happy to go. With you.

With you. Isn't that the best?

Sometimes, I find it hard not to be suspicious of those who DON'T. There's something wrong with that, I want to think.

And yet.

I find I must respect those who DON'T.

Perhaps a traumatic experience created a fear of dogs. Years ago, when my nephew was less than two years old, he was bitten in the face by a neighbor's dog. He developed a fear so severe he would not go outside to play if he even saw just a squirrel on his lawn.

We can understand that, can't we?

Perhaps an unpleasant experience somehow got associated with a "dog" and the very thought of a "dog" brings all kinds of suppressed feelings to the surface. When my father was a young boy, his father's bulldog would wake him up in the morning with a snorting, slobbering face wash. My father detests dogs. I wish I had a nickel for all the times I heard him say, "At least kids grow up and change their own diapers." Sometimes I wonder about my father's young life with a father who drank, a father who died when his son was only 17, My father left school in his senior year to get a job to help support the rest of his family. Later, he worked hard to care for his own family, which turned out to be seven kids! Dogs were an unnecessary expense and he could not/does not understand the attraction. I knew better to even ask for a dog when I was a child. Dad always said, "You can get a dog when you move out."

I guess I can understand that. To each his own.

My parents don't like dogs. 

There. I've said it.

Well. My dad doesn't like dogs. My mom, well, I think she's interested, but she lives with my dad. (Don't let her hear me say this!)

So this is what happened. I moved out. I got a dog. And then another dog, and another one after that. And 35 years later I have two dogs PLUS I raise puppies for Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Needless to say, this situation can sometimes be uncomfortable for me in my relationship with my parents. They don't like to visit, and now that we've moved so far away that a visit means: "overnight," I doubt they'll ever be back. (They came for one night last summer.)

I understand that my parents are getting older, and can't get around very well. My dad's back doctor told him he'd be in a wheelchair by the time he was 80. My dad will be 85 this June and still no wheelchair. My mom had her hip replaced in 2011. My dogs are big and a bump could mean a tumble. I take care to keep them out of harm's way. (My dogs, not my parents.)

I do NOT expect my dogs to be welcome at their house. If I visit for a few hours, I might bring the dogs to wait in the van. (They love coming with me, even if they are stuck in their "mobile" crate.") If I visit overnight, I come alone. My sweet husband, Andy, holds down the dog-fort back home.

And yet.

There's a curious thing.

(You know that "dog" spelled backwards is "god," don't you?)

My nephew grew up with my first dog. I lived around the block and "Aero" was less than six-weeks-old when I brought her home. The little black ball of fur won over his heart. Aero grew up to be a big strong dog (she was part Lab and Irish Setter, we think), and my nephew grew up to be mad about animals.

The dog did that.

Maybe 15 years ago, when my parents lived in Florida and we had a big house in the city, they came to visit. We only had one dog at the time, "Stoker," a small yellow Lab/beagle mix mutt who was an angel in disguise. Stoker's gift was making everyone feel that they were her best friends--even my parents! Andy and I came home after a long day of tending our business to find my mom and dad cuddled up on one of our oversized LazyBoy chairs. They were covered to the chin with an afghan my mom had knit for me as a high school graduation gift. Stoker was curled up on a corner of it at their feet. My mom was quite taken by her affection. My dad said, "She's alright. For a DOG."

The dog did that.

Now when I stop by with the dogs in the back of the van, my mom likes to come out to see them when I leave. Dad always follows. My old mutt, "Gypsy," howls and moans in greeting, like she knows that these people-who-don't-pet-her are "family" and part of her pack. I love to see my mom grin like a second-grader when Gypsy does this.

The dog did that.

My parents don't understand my love for dogs, but they accept me. And sometimes when we go out to eat I bring my Future Leader Dog puppy along. Mom is quick to tell everyone she sees, "That's my daughter. She raises puppies for Leader Dogs."

The puppy did that.

My mother and father snuggle on our love-seat during their visit last summer. FLD Gus was in his crate and you can just see the back end of Gypsy curled up in her bed on the floor.


Today is the deadline for submissions to the 7th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. On May 15 I will publish a summary with links to all posts.

To submit, just leave a comment (with the name of your blog, the name of your post, and a link to it) at the end of this post, or on the original "Call for Submissions," or on the "Call for Submissions TAKE 2."

It's funny how deadlines have become my "muse." I've been brewing about my own submission for weeks now, wanting to write about the effects that raising puppies for Leader Dogs for the Blind has had on my life and those around me. I thought I would write about these things:

The effect on ME
How Leader Dogs for the Blind has become an extended family. How I find friends wherever I go--people who are also raising puppies, or hosting Leader Dog "moms" or "dads," or people who knew someone who did. How the more I learn about training puppies, the more I realize I don't know anything.

The effect on my LIFE WITH MY HUSBAND, Andy
How accepting a career-changed dog (Gus) into our household has caused increased expenses. How having three dogs (even if one is not really ours) changes our life-style, increases the burden on Andy, and causes travel difficulties.

A 7-week-old FLD Gus tries to nip Andy in the nose.

The effect on my FAMILY
How the involvement of my nieces has enriched their lives and given them confidence. How my first Leader Dog puppy was career-changed and now lives with them. How many youngsters do you know that have "raising a Leader Dog puppy" on their "bucket list?" (How many kids do you know at all that even HAVE a bucket list?)

My niece, Sofia, poses with me and my first FLD Rosie at Leader Dogs the day Rosie returned for formal training. Rosie spent nine months at Leader Dog, trying to find a suitable "match." She finally gave up and now lives with Sofia.

But I kept coming back to my PARENTS
How my love of dogs affects my relationship with them; and how my dogs have affected THEM.

This is a time when I'm grateful that my parents probably don't read my blog--once my mother told me, "I'm just not interested." That I've tackled the subject has made me realize that many of YOU probably have had the same reservations. Perhaps this is why I haven't had an outpouring of submissions.

That's okay.

The ADBC is not dead. It will come back in July with a new topic, one that might prove easier to tackle.

So. Tune in later tonight when I post my submission to the 7th ADBC: "The affecting effect of dogs..."

And keep in mind--you still have time to submit a post of your own! (If you'd like to do so anonymously, email me at pattibrehler at gmail dot com, and I will arrange a way for you to post on my blog.)


Thursday, May 3, 2012

ADBC Deadline One Week Away!

Only one week to the deadline for the 7th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival!

As of today, I have three submissions.  


I'm guilty myself of pushing the deadline, so I know there is still time.

To spur some thought on the subject ("How has a working dog in your life IMPACTED other people and/or relationships in  your life?"), here is a comment my friend made after I posted a link to the ADBC on FaceBook:

sorry I wasn't following favorite topic...I would hope that the working dogs do not crush or bruise the people or relationships in one's life...

Looks like I am not the only one who likes wordplay! Subsequently, my friend sent me the following email, expressing her dislike of the word "impact." (FYI, she is not an assistance dog puppy-raiser, trainer, or handler. Her exposure to the working dog world is through me--and she is very supportive!)

Hi patti:

I apologize for joining the discussion late. In fact, I don't know if this is relevant at all, but here is where I landed on "impact." Thank you for the indulgence of my personal spin.

OK, I give....but not without a fight. I'll chalk it up to the general disdain a "child of the 60's" had for business and it's warped use of language. Living in the business world for several decades does not lessen the skin crawl, it neutralizes the affect (or is that...impact) somewhat. New twists on words are created and popularized annually.

Here's what the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] says, after, of course, acknowledging the use of "impact" as a verb (adverb, as well):
The phrasal verb impact on, as in when produce is lost, it always impacts on the bottom line, has been in the language since the 1960s. Many people disapprove of it, saying that make an impact on or other equivalent wordings should be used instead. This may be partly because, in general, new formations of verbs from nouns (as in the case of impact, action, and task) are regarded as somehow inferior; in addition, since the verbal use of impact is associated with business and commercial writing, it has the unenviable status of 'jargon,' which makes it doubly disliked. Compare with enthuse (usage).
I'll continue to "doubly dislike" the overuse of that rather violent word, but will not crusade (OK, it was a gentle protest) against its use any more. I know that my personal use of language has deteriorated through the degree that I probably don't even recognize my own errors.

Oh, what we won't give up! But at least I now know why.

So, here are additional thought provokers, inspired by my friend:

Does your assistance dog "crush or bruise the people or relationships" in your life?

How does the raising, training, or handling of an assistance dog make an impact on your "bottom line?"

How has the presence of a working dog (whether raising or handling) affected your work life?

Let's get those submissions in!