Public Service-Dog Announcement

The absolute best public service announcement I have ever seen. Ever.

It’s from Norway, so you will have to read the captions but it is well worth the effort!

As a service dog partner I have experienced:

  • People petting my dog (of course).
  • People barking, meowing, making kissing noises/baby talk at my dog.
  • Crawling on the floor, attempting to romp with my dog.
  • People throwing food AT my dog (I have even had people try to give my dog chocolate which is dog poison).
  • People making an effort to step on my dog.
  • People saying “I know I shouldn’t distract you, but I can’t help it” as they pet and coo at my dog.

Now, here is the shocker… you better sit down…

ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN DONE BY ADULTS!!!

Children are the easy ones. They are used to being educated and corrected on their behavior. They are fascinated to learn and once they are informed, very respectful. It is so cute to watch a young child educated their parents about service dogs and how they are working and shouldn’t be distracted. Further, I must extend a BLESS YOU to all parents who educate and make sure their children do not interfere with a working dog. You are my most favorite strangers ever! We may never exchange a word, just possibly a ‘Thank You’ nod, but when you are at your wits end you can remember how appreciated you are by a disabled person with an assistance dog!

Adults, on the other hand, tend to take offense when asked not to distract my dog. They accuse me of abusing her because I do not allow her to interact with them. They do everything they can to catch her attention, sometimes claiming they are ‘testing her. And frankly, it looks pretty idiotic when a grown man is on the ground crawling around and barking at a dog–especially one who is actively ignoring him!

The facts: Assistance Dogs out with their handlers need to focus on their handler as well as their job at hand. Even when they appear to be resting they still need to remain focused and in work mode. When you intentionally distract an assistance dog from their duties, it can be dangerous for both the handler and the dog. I understand many people love dogs and are curious about what exactly Assistance Dogs do, but it is challenging enough for me, as an individual with a disability, to get out without the pressure of public education and running interference.

Assistance dogs get PLENTY of petting, love, affection, treats, and play time when they are ‘off duty’. They are highly valued members of the family. They enjoy their jobs and their life. Please show respect for what they do by giving them space and not distracting them from their very important service.

Life after ‘Hope’

It’s been nearly a year since the loss of Hope. Looking back the signs came on so suddenly–most of her summer was full of fun and adventure with my brother, sister, and niece visiting. More than anything Hope loved her people and each day brought people and adventure.

I suspect the mass growing in her stomach already caused discomfort, but she was such a stoic dog and there were no signs until she randomly started vomiting her meals in August. At first we thought it was another food intolerance because she did just fine on bland meals until switched back to kibble. My vet thought the same as all standard tests came back normal. In the end the endoscopy reported a cancerous mass blocking the stomach exit, trapping whole kibble whereas the blended diet was passing through.

It all happened so fast. Less than two weeks from diagnosis she was gone–a little over a month since the symptoms started. She kept her HOPE attitude until the end, and I was allowed time to say goodbye. She even de-stuffed an indestructible toy in her last days. My friend Kara came out to support me as I helped my best friend cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Loosing a pet is extremely painful for anyone. They love you when you feel unlovable, they listen when you feel ignored, they forgive your faults without grudge. To them you can do no wrong. With an assistance dog partnership, it is even more. Hope was my best friend, family, and constant companion. She was also my eyes, my ears, my sense of stability and safety.

With her I ‘learned to walk’ and enter the world as an artist, as an adult, as an individual. I relied on her to assist me in making my way in this world. When she was yanked from my side, it really felt like I lost an appendage. I knew she was trained to assist me, but I had absolutely no idea how much I relied on her until she was missing. We worked in tandem–a nonverbal give and take, ebb and flow. Much of our relationship was a subconscious mutual trust. I cared for her and she cared for me.

I know there will never be another Hope. My new partnership will be different. It will take time to develop our own language and get to the point where we can finish each others sentences. I liken it to loosing the leg I learned to walk on; then having to relearn walking with a prosthetic. I am not saying my next partnership will never be as ‘perfect’ as Hope. Anyone who knew Hope also knew she had her flaws challenges. They made her enduring and maddening at the same time. The next dog will have different strengths and different quirks. I don’t want another Hope. She was one of a kind.

This print run has meant so much to me because it is my memorial to Hope. It also allows Hope to push me forward in hopes of a better future. After her death my artistic process came to a standstill. I didn’t paint, I barely drew, and my printing press was covered with dust. It took this project to give me the push I needed to keep going. Its been a very therapeutic process as I remember her with fondness–the good times and difficult times. We went through so much together.

As the anniversary of her death looms, I find myself facing another wave of grief… I still miss my Hope soo much.

Quick Update

I’ve been exhausted and struggling to write here as we approach the one year anniversary of Hope’s passing. Instead of pushing to make that topic my next blog post here, I am just going to do a quick update. There is lots going on:

I believe I have reached my 10% mark for my fundraising goal! I am unsure at this moment what the exact total is, but I believe I have now passed $750. Thank you everyone for your continued support.

Maple Leaf Life featured Hope and me on their blog about the goings-on in Maple Leaf Neighborhood. Thank you Mike and Cloud City for continuing to get the word out.

Prints were sent out last Tuesday and the next batch will be sent out either this Tuesday or the following. Plus I think I figured out how to use the email updates. I hope so. If you ordered a print by Monday, Aug 8 but have not received one, please contact me. I want to make sure you get your print!

I am continuing to stretch into this era of social networking. I have a list of things to figure out to make this go further (facebook, twitter, some widgets I need to figure out how to install). These things do not come naturally to me so I am slow and it gives me massive headaches. If you are a networking natural, feel free to network for me to your hearts content. I will always appreciate that as I slowly catch up!

Finally, I did get up to Brigadoon last week to meet with Denise and meet a puppy prospect! That is another story in itself. Boy am I behind. I will include a photo here as a teaser…

I am exhausted and emotionally drained. I think I will be taking a break today and possibly tomorrow. Apologies to those who are awaiting an email. I fully intend to respond as soon as my brain begins to cooperate. Until then I will sew more cat blankets for the kitty rescue. The kitties don’t even care if they are cut crooked and have jagged seams!

Hope at Cloud City

Cloud City Coffee has kindly volunteered to exhibit my prints and help with my fundraising efforts. They are located in the in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood, just south of Northgate, at the corner of 88th and Roosevelt.

Hope was a ‘regular’ at Cloud City for many years. All my medical appointments are in the area, and she knew the route to and from my multiple weekly appointments without a slip. When Hope died, Cloud City lost that ray of sunshine. I know Hope would be pleased to have her face on their art wall, leaving her mark even after passing on.

The process of choosing your own print at Cloud City is simple. All the prints available are hanging on clothes pins (with a few in a basket). Just remove your chosen print from the wall and fill out a ‘commitment card’ located in the basket and place the card in the envelope pinned to the basket. At your convenience you can pay online– go to my website and make a donation for your chosen print. If you would rather pay by check, you can leave the check made out to ADAP with the commitment card in the envelope, or you can mail the check directly to Karl’s Kids.

Of course while you are at Cloud City I suggest treating yourself to a drink. I get a single grande mocha with whip. I am addicted to their whip cream. They say it has a secret ingredient. Their baked good, soups, and sandwiches are all amazing and definitely worth a taste.

For my knitting friends, NorthEnd Knitters meet every Saturday at Cloud City. One of my goals once I have my new dog is to be able to spend Saturdays at my favorite shop participating in one of my favorite hobbies with a group of fiber enthusiasts.

If you know of any other venues willing to help in my fundraising efforts by allowing exhibition space, please contact me. I am appreciative of all networking during this process, so send me a note if you have any ideas on how I can reach a larger audience.

Many thanks to everyone helping in this journey to find me a new canine partner.

Cloud City Coffee in Maple Leaf
8801 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115

Hatch with Hope

Two summers ago I had the opportunity to visit the traveling Hatch Exhibit at the Experience Music Project. Hatch is the world’s oldest working letterpress shop. They designed and printed for major music icons, political campaigns, and advertisement posters since 1879 –well before the creation of digital images. They are still in business today. Check out this amazing video to learn more!

As a printmaker, this was a dream come true! It was the working, breathing history of my art. The woodblocks, the inks, the posters, the ‘happy accidents’. Nothing was ever thrown away and the same machines and blocks are still used today. My favorite were the ‘happy accidents’–the paper used to test and register the run before starting. To conserve paper the same sheets were used over and over and over again. Over time they turned themselves into their own piece of work, unique in every way.

Without Hope, there is no way I could ever have managed to see this exhibit. First of all, it was ‘First Thursday’–the only day the EMP is free to the public. It was noisy, overwhelming, and crowded. I am not such a rock music fan, but there was no escape from the loud, pounding music. The crowds were so thick it felt like a mosh pit. The Hatch Exhibit itself was quiet and basically empty, but getting there was a nightmare.

There was one simple, yet useful, task of Hope’s that saved me. The simple words ‘Follow [name].’ On that day it was my brother in law, ‘Follow Adam’. As we weaved through the crowds Hope’s nose was stuck like glue to the back of Adam’s leg. When someone rammed between us and Adam, Hope was right back locating his leg even if it took navigating around people to do so. Both my sister and brother got lost multiple times, but I did not. I had Hope. I had safety. I did not have to worry about searching the crowds, finding my group, attending to my surroundings. I shut my mind down and trusted my dog…otherwise it really would have been too much. I wouldn’t have been able to make it.

That day, because of Hope, I found inspiration, history and success.

I look forward to the time when I can take these adventures once again. I am confident the new dog in the future will lend me the assistance to do this and so much more!