When all seems lost…

A print of my golden SD, Hope that I am selling to fundraise for her successor.

Hopeprint 124


Quarterly, bloggers are invited to participate in the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. This time the Carnival is being hosted by Cyndy at Gentle Wit with the chosen topic Achievement.

It is now the last day for submissions and I have been sitting on this topic for a month. To be honest, I am having a pretty rotten time. I’m sick. I’m depressed. I’m fed up. I have no desire to think about Achievement. But I will try.


It’s been a bit over a year since my dear, faithful Hope died of cancer. We were partnered for six years and with her assistance I achieved so much. I transitioned to independent living in my own apartment. I built skills and learned techniques to make my way in this world. We grew as a team. As I learned to metaphorically crawl, walk, and run she was right there with me. I was given the confidence to take risks because I knew I was never alone.

The last summer before her death was the absolute best. Together we ventured further into the world than ever before. My mindset transitioned from being ‘in treatment’ to ‘living life.’ I was excited to see success from my years of treatment as I began to take the bus and make small ventures into the world with only Hope to assist me. I planned outings just to ‘practice.’ People would ask when I reported back if I ‘had fun.’ Umm, NO. Fun would not be the word I would use. These trips made my head feel like it would explode. Accomplished…definitely!

As an artist I was thriving. I was enjoying my classes, the days at the art studio, and had a professional development plan in the works. I  courageously introduced myself to the world by submitting to shows, exhibiting in galleries, and even attending my own openings. My goal became to ‘Be the best ME I can be’… living a fulfilled life in spite of my challenges, and in spite of others judgements. Hope was a great example –she never had any problems just being HOPE!

Then wham… within two weeks my perfectly ordered existence was demolished. Honestly, I didn’t even know the extent at which she helped me until she was gone. It felt like I’d lost a limb and my connection to this world. My family, best friend, constant companion, and my independence all suddenly gone.

The past year has been a game of limbo. Dealing with the grief. Trying to find new ways to make it in this world without her assistance. Then came the applications, waiting, rejections, disappointments, fundraising, and everything else involved in finding a new partner. A year later all bets are on a puppy. Yes, he shows promise, but there are so many things that could go wrong; it’s frightening.

An origional Monoprint I created as a tribute to my golden retriever, Hope.

Hopeprint 125

This is one of the unfortunate realities of choosing a service dog lifestyle. At some point we all face the loss of our Partner. Unlike most medical devices, they can not be cloned perfectly duplicated in mind and spirit, nor would I ever want my girl to be. Sometimes I do wonder if it is worth it to stake so much on a mortal being with a relatively short life expectancy. The pain and setbacks when a partner dies is intense.

At the same time, I know Hope made me a better person and gave me a chance at a a much better life. With her, I knew ‘Achievement‘. Where I go from here is a great unknown, but at least I now know the potential my life holds.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.                 ~Anne Lamott

October: A Time for Giving

Year round, many corporations encourage employees to give back to the community and the world. Many match employee donations, have drives, host events, and do what they can as a team to help those in need.

A number of corporations designated the entire month of October to raising awareness, encouraging volunteerism and charitable giving. These campaigns, headed by the United Way, foster an atmosphere of generosity, providing opportunities to give not just to the United Way, but smaller niche charities of choice.

One of the large participants of the October campaign is Microsoft Corporation. Due to their strong belief in giving back; not only financial donations are matched year round, but also in-kind, stock, and volunteer hours.

Karl’s Kids Program, Inc. recently went through Microsoft Matching Gift Program’s authorization process and is now listed in their nonprofit database, a convenient way for Microsoft employees to report donations for matching. As Karl’s Kids manages my fundraiser, this includes contributions to my fundraiser. I ask anyone interested in donating to look into their own corporation’s matching gift program, so you can watch your donations go even further!

A long term friend of mine, Mary Shevlin, graciously volunteered to assist with my fundraising by becoming my liaison for Microsoft, where she is employed. She currently has several copies of my ‘Hope Print’ in her office for in-person viewing and purchase. Any Microsoft employees with further interest or questions should feel free to contact Mary directly via email at marysh @microsoft.com.

I am very thankful to Mary for her dedication to me and my journey to find a new service dog. Knowing I am not alone in this process means the world to me. If anyone else feels compelled to be of assistance promoting and facilitating my campaign in your team or place of work, please contact me. Any assistance in spreading the word is much appreciated!

On the topic of fundraising I believe about $2000 of my $7500 goal has been raised! It might be more with donor matching! Thank you so much to all who have helped me make it so far!!! Your support and encouragement have been and continue to be huge blessing through this very hard year following the loss of my partner.

Along with the campaign, I am seeking other opportunities to promote my fundraiser. Some future ideas I have include:

  • ‘Meet the Puppy’ house party (needing a host)
  • A yarn-inspired raffle for my Ravelry friends (needing donated raffle items)
  • More hand-crafted items in my shop for the holiday season.
  • More venues to display my work (please, please contact me if you spot an ‘art wall’ at a coffee shop).

Celebrating this month of giving I have added more prints to my Online Store for further selection. Please pass the word!

Also note: I’ve created both a Facebook Page and Twitter Feed dedicated to this journey. If you use these mediums I encourage you to join (like, follow, or whatever they are now calling it…) for convenient updates as I continue this journey.

Many thanks for making my dream a reality.

~Forever with Hope, Jessica

A Week of Domino: Part 1

Sorry I have been neglecting blogging here. I had Domino for a whole week and life caught up! To make this simple I think I will do a day by day recap. I can expand on different aspects later in further posts. He is a cute little rapidly growing big bugger.


MONDAY: Cat meets puppy all over again. Much hissing. Domino just doesn’t understand why this cat doesn’t want to play! The office cat is his best friend! I went for a night walk with him and he did great–shadows, rain, cars, darkness, odd sounds… the world is totally different at night! He is also much improved in the walking department…oh, he is a Stair-Master!!! Such a good boy!

TUESDAY: I’m exhausted because the cat spent the entire night harassing the crated puppy. When she isn’t harassing him she is harassing me for her due attention. Today he learned to ride at my feet in the car, walked in a new neighborhood and met my therapist. He mastered some Mega Scary Stairs. Domino is having a rotten time with teething and found the fringed wool rug fascinating in her office. Later I took him to the field behind my apartment and worked with him on a long line. Played fetch, recalls, downs, sits, stays, heeling, food zen… Much fun ending with one exhausted puppy! So exhausted he slept through all the hissing and objections to his presence.

WEDNESDAY: Big outing today. I had to go to a doctor’s appointment so scheduled a volunteer, Judy, to go with us. She took Domino for a walk during my half hour appointment. After we went to Chocolati in Wallingford, got the requisite hot chocolate and then sat outside watching the world go by for a good hour. This is a very active area–people, cars, buses, bikes, doors opening and closing. It was fascinating to the 4 1/2 month old puppy, and he would settle down with me. I worked on attention, sit, down…mostly just acclimating to the atmosphere. He did bark at the toddler pushing the toy popcorn vacuum down the street. The mother was amazing, took the toy immediately, and asked if they can come say ‘hi’ and give him a treat. The toddler was thrilled with his ‘kiss’ and it was good for him to meet the youngster. He does have to work on sitting while being greeted. At least he isn’t a jumper! Later I did some more work on the long line out back. It’s a blast!

THURSDAY: Today we went back to the field and did some work/play. We also worked on attention. This morning he really wanted to play with the other dogs and has now started barking for attention and play. He’s a Big Bad Collie Boy, you know. He’s used to his regular play times with the other dogs at Brigadoon, and he is restless. He is also teething and just plain having a rotten time. I introduced him to teeth brushing and he finds that quite soothing. On our walk, I brought out the big guns to combat the barking: Natural Balance Treat Roll. I really focused on an attention, treating him every time he made eye contact either offering the behavior himself or when asked (I use the word ‘look’…I should probably make sure it is the same Brigadoon uses). The goal is to catch any barking or distracted behavior before it happens and reward the positive behavior offered immediately. Those NB Bites were YUMMY–far better than barking!

I think I will end this post here and continue the week later. That way it will actually get posted instead of lost in my overwhelming brain! I have more news on the fundraising front and a number of other articles started so I just need to get back to blogging.