Cura and I have been together since 2009. We want to thank all of you who followed the early days as well as those who popped back on occasion during the long hiatus. Training was done, the days passed, and we were settling into our life together.
Fast forward: Cura is slowing down and a new member of the family is in training. On top of that, we are all busy with our new calling . . . Running the Training Department for Paws and Stripes. Join us on our journey!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Experience . . .

For the past few years, I have been trying to find ways to work around my physical limitations and develop some kind of excercise routine.  Since Cura came home, I had kind of given up actively pursuing anything.  There were a few reasons, not the least of which was that after a few weeks of adopting Cura I was invovled in a car accident that further restricted my activities for several months.  But, finally, about a month ago, I had reached a point where I was ready to try, once again to develop an excersize routine that worked for me.

Since many of the things that I had either considered or actually tried in the past were either unrealistic or ended up putting too much stress on my body, I decided to try swimming.  It is a good aerobic excercise that also provides resistance to help develop and tone muscles.  On top of that, I could also participate in water resistance excercise classes.  Maybe in the future, as I get in better shape, I can try to do some basic, beginners yoga or tai chi -- something that will help me to increase my strength and flexibility a bit and keep things from getting tight and restricted. 

But, in order to include swimming in my life, I needed to introduce Cura to a new experience.  More often than not, she is within a few feet of me -- even when I am home and she is relaxing.  At the very most she is upstairs when I am down or she is in the front of a classroom while I am wandering among students.  If I was going to start swimming, she was going to need to lay calmly by the pool while I swam laps in the pool.  Since the pool was in a gym, she was going to have to resist any urge that she had to go for a swim herself and she was going to need to learn to come to me when I called -- but not by going through the water.  She needed to know that she had to go around the pool rather than take the shortest route to me. 

So, a new mission for Cura, myself, and the trainers.  We have been going swimming fairly regularly now for a few weeks and things are going quite well.  Cura has even gotten so used to the routine that one time she got up and started in the direction of the woman's locker room/sauna/steam room/jacuzzi (they are all in the same direction) after 20 minutes.  Up until that point, I had limited my swim time to 20 minutes -- I guess she figured it was time for us to be done!  She came back promptly when I called her, but it made me realize that as I extend my swimming time, I am going to have to reiterate the stay after about 20 minutes -- at least for a bit. 

I find this development quite interesting.  You see, Cura has been trained to hold her stay indefinitley if I am in the room with her -- but if I am out of sight, she is expected to break her stay after about 10-15 minutes and come find me (a safeguard in the event I need her help but was not able to call for her).  So, I think Cura might have lost track of me in the water and decided that she needed to go find me!  Not an altogether bad thing -- but it means that I need to 'check in' with her every once in awhile so she knows I am still in the pool and that she should stay put!

All in all, the experience has been a good one and my stamina in the water is slowly improving.  We still have the occassional training session at the gym -- making sure that Cura can perform a recovery series in the different environment and that she is on the ball with all she needs to know.  But, for the most part, she has settled in and is taking the gym in stride.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Crawling out from the Cave!

Finally, I feel like it has been forever!  I apologize to all of you who have patiently been waiting for me to pop my head up and re-enter the blogosphere.  To make a long story short, my absence began because I became ill -- for weeks!  Yes, I was one of those fortunate souls that got that lingering cold/flu (no N1H1 though -- yay!).  After finally recovering, I have spent the last month or so dealing with current activities while playing catch up and getting things back under control.  I believe that I am finally to the point where I can resume my blogging on a regular basis.  So, here goes!

First, since so many of you probably have four legged fuzzies in your home, or know someone who does, I thought I would pass on an opportunity to lend a helping hand in the Gulf.  Some of our local businesses are collecting human and animal hair to be sent to the Gulf so that it can be used to soak up the oil. Apparently, hair has been used effectively in the past to clean up oil spills and some eco-conscious businesses are making it easy for us to gather this easily acquired item and get it to where it can really do some good. Check out Matter of Trust for more information on how collecting all that hair that your dog or cat is spreading around your carpet and furniture can be used to combat the oil gushing into the ecosystem. If you are not aware of any businesses collecting in your area, you can sign up on the website and they can provide a location for you to send your clippings. They are also looking for donations of nylons -- and they don't have to be pristine -- they stuff the nylons with the hair and create a hair boom to gather the oil. Even better . . . do you know a local groomer? Get them involved!

Now, on to a bit of an update . . . well, an update on one thing anyway -- more will follow in later posts.  Some of you may remember that Cura and I were scheduled to go to a Conference in April.  Despite not being fully recovered, we did go.  It was my first with this particular organization so really wanted to go.  But on top of that, this going to be a great opportunity to see how Cura handled a Conference situation.  There are some major national conferences that I want to eventually attend, so this smaller gathering was a good test run.  On top of that, this was the location that had informed me that they required certification for any Service Animals (see Traveling with a Service Dog) and I saw it as both an educational opportunity as well as a sitiuation for me to practice dealing with these types of situations.

We traveled by car and Cura was her usual laid back travel complanion.  Though she does get a bit antsy once we have been travelling for about an hour -- looking around, sniffing the air.  It is almost as if we hit a point where she realized that she doesn't recognize the sights or smells and she spends about 15-30 minutes trying to record them in case she needs them.  Then, she settles down for the rest of the trip until we get close to our destination -- then she gets antsy again, but more expectant, like she knows the trip is about to end. 

When we got to the hotel, I just had to show the front desk Cura's Service Dog Tag.  I had her certificate, but I was not going to show it unless I had to.  Once they had made a copy of the tag, I politely let them know that thier procedures were inappropriate and that, it was possible that they could run into some difficulties if they continued to require people with Service Animals to provide certification when they checked into the hotel since it was against both ADA Federal and New Mexico legistation.  I suggested that the clerk inform the manager so that they can avoid problems in the future.  I am not sure if he did -- but I did my bit.  I was tempted to call and pretend to make a reservation again, just to see if they changed their practices -- but have not gotten around to it.  I still may do it . . . just to see if I need to follow up and contact someone higher on the totem pole.

Cura dealt with the crowds well.  In fact, she was quite popular.  I have run into several people that were at the conference and they all recognize me because they remember Cura.  She was a big hit -- everyone commented on how well behaved she was.  She still has a bit of trouble with camera flashes -- too much like lightening.  But each event we attend where people are taking pictures that require a flash, she gets better. 

The conference days were long and full of activity and the trip was followed by over a week of very busy days.  By the end of it, Cura was knackered!  She even got to the point where she didn't really want to go out a couple of times (more on that, later).  But, all in all, it was a successful trip.  I think Cura will manage a larger conference quite well!