Delta And United Could Be Rolling Out Kind Of Bad Service Animal Policies

I have been meaning to write about this for a while, but I was hoping to disentangle everything and be able to have a very coherent response with a clear way forward. But that isn’t happening, and it still needs to be written about.

Back in mid January, Delta Airlines decided it had had enough of the disservice animal problem, or the problem of people bringing animals onto planes, saying they were for service and support, and then the animals freaking out because they were not trained, having accidents on the plane, injuring flight crews and passengers or being a general nuisance and hazard. They decided to tighten up their policies in the hopes that they would be able to filter out the ones abusing the system. United Airlines has decided to tighten things up as well, but they went about it slightly differently. Both policies are to go into effect March 1. Here’s an article about both airlines. Also, here’s Delta’s policy (.pdf format) and United’s policy.

First of all, I totally understand why they need to try and make sure animals that aren’t trained to be good public citizens don’t make it onto planes. They could hurt people and other service dogs because they are not well-socialized, and a plane is a rather confined space. Once you’re flying, it’s kind of hard to open the door and kick out the bad one. So, I applaud them for wanting to deal with the problem. Unfortunately, at least Delta went about it all wrong. I’m still holding out hope for United, although upon a quick read, I’m afraid there’s a lot of wiggle room.

From what I understand, Delta’s new policy requires that every time someone flies with a service animal, 48 hours before their flight, they have to submit a special form with paperwork from their vet certifying that their animal is up to date on its vaccinations and is healthy. They also can only go to a specific counter so their animal can be visually inspected by an employee. United’s policy is better, but still has some problems. It seems that anyone whose service animal is doing a task to mitigate a physical disability doesn’t need to do more than what we already have to do to travel. For example, if I’m traveling to Hawaii, I have to satisfy the requirements of Hawaii. But I don’t have to give all this extra notice and go to special counters. But, they have lumped psychiatric service animals in with emotional support animals, which is not cool. Psychiatric service animals are still service animals. They have been trained to do tasks like giving a person with PTSD space between them and a crowd, or looking around corners etc. Emotional support animals give their owner that warm fuzzy snuggly feeling when they give them a pet petty pet pet. Who knows if they have been trained to deal with anything unusual, which…flying several thousand feet above the earth is pretty unusual. Who knows if they’re used to sharing small spaces with other people and service animals. To be completely clear, I’m not being a discriminating arsehole and saying that certain disabilities are less worthy of having a service animal. All I care about is the rigor of the training that the animal goes through. Nine times out of 10, the people bringing emotional support animals either don’t need them and are just trying to get Foofoo on the plane instead of putting her in cargo, or they have no idea what puppy raisers and trainers go through to ready their dogs for public access, and that is the problem.

To get back to Delta’s policy, the reason theirs is problematic, above and beyond what I just said, is that they are putting unnecessary restrictions on people who have legitimate service animals as well, some of whom already can’t drive so are down one transportation option. The 48-hour notice requirement basically makes it impossible to make an emergency trip, use Delta as an unplanned connecting flight if another one gets canceled, or use Delta if traveling very frequently. In addition, I fail to see how these requirements actually help Delta do more than cover their butts. How are they going to validate that the animal will be good? The only way they’ll find out is when we board. So, they are making it harder for people who already have barriers, and for no benefit. For example, I now would have to make my vet fill out a form, or complete a potentially inaccessible form and navigate a website whose accessibility may change without notice just before I travel. I probably will have to pay to have my vet fill out their special form. People who want to bring Fluff-Muffin won’t find these steps to be overly problematic. They don’t have to worry about inaccessible websites or limited transportation options.

And don’t even get me started on the whole requirements of going to a special counter for a visual inspection. I have had my dog referred to as an emotional support dog. My black lab whose mouth isn’t moving has been blamed for the barking of a yappy chihuahua-sized dog several feet away. These people have no idea what they are inspecting. It also excludes people from using kiosks or curb-side check-in. They might find these to be better options, and again, it is of no benefit. At the end of it all, the person is standing in front of someone who has had very little training to make them qualified to make a determination that this dog is healthy and socialized. It penalizes people who are already limited in their options, and the owners of emotional support animals will only be mildly inconvenienced.

I have 0 problem bringing my dog’s health records, but I should be able to bring a certificate that the vet already drafts up, which we can receive at the point of last vaccination. I should not have to make a special trip to the vet to fill out some proprietary form, and every airline will have its own form. I also don’t even mind signing something quickly upon checkin that says something to the effect of “My dog will not crap on the plane floor, run rampant through the plane or gnaw on my fellow passengers or flight crew.” It’s annoying, more annoying than having health records on hand, but if I can do it quickly, I don’t mind. I have no doubt that my dog will be fine. When I was in Vegas, I had to sign such a form at the hotel. They didn’t charge me pet fees, but they wanted me to assure that I would not leave her loose in the room and she wouldn’t leave any undesirable presents for housekeeping. Fine. Whatever the process, it needs to be as streamlined as possible and can’t leave room for misinformed people to make decisions that could prevent a person with a legitimate service animal from traveling.

From what I have read, the whole problem could be taken care of by tweaking the Air Carrier Access Act a wee smidge to tighten up on what is a service animal so we don’t get any more support peacocks et al, as well as making clear procedures on how to deal with an animal, service, support or whatever, that has become a danger, and we wouldn’t have to deal with all these different airlines and their different policies.

The fact is Delta started the ball rolling and now we have to get the ball rolling the right way, or flying is really going to suck for anyone with a service animal. Here is a post that states it well and has links on where to make complaints and make our voices heard. The links are in the comments of the post.

Now that I have written all of this down, maybe I can put together something resembling a useful and reasonable complaint.

Downward-Facing…Down boy! Down!

So I have talked about going to yoga, and of course Shmans is there. Thankfully, she lays very still beside me. Occasionally, when I have had to reach an arm out close to her, she has given me a quick lick, but that’s about it. Sometimes she lets out a deep sigh along with us, which is amusing. Now, imagine going to puppy yoga,where the puppies are basically playing with you as you try to do yoga. Imagine a dog running off with your socks. Imagine getting a giant snuggle while trying to do a pose. It would be pretty funny, and a rather huge test of your ability to concentrate. I would totally be the worst yoga student ever.

Don’t tell Shmans that these puppies get to play around during yoga. She might get some ideas!

Music Does Soothe The Anxious Canine!

Tansy has taught us that music can be exciting and soothing, although lately, she has been less excited by her old favourites. Is that a thing of the past? But, if she has to be left alone, Easy 101 still keeps her very calm.

Now, a guy has developed music for stressed dogs, and you know what? It kind of sounds like something that might play on an easy-listening station.

I let the sample song in the story play, and I didn’t notice any effect, but Tansy was already seeming pretty chill, so maybe I should try it when I’m doing laundry.

You can read the full story of this awesome project and learn more about why Shmans loves Easy 101.

An Update On The Other Nephews

So, I posted a pretty big description of the one mephew in the holiday wrap-up. I went to see the two other ones about a month ago, and have been wanting to write things down ever since. Soon I’m going to have to come up with nicknames for these little grabbers so everyone can tell them apart.

I talked about the other nephew chucking stuff and then, thanks to me, going “oops!” Well, my sister’s little guy does things in reverse. Before he throws something, he says something that sounds like “Sukie jukie!” The sukie part sounds like sushi, and the jukie part sounds like Jupitor. Yes, he made up his own code word for “I’m going to chuck this!” We have no idea where he got it from. He doesn’t go to daycare yet, so it’s not from there. But it definitely means “get ready, this is so going airborn.” Sometimes, when he knows he shouldn’t throw something, he gets this mischievous grin on his face while he’s saying it. There’s a whole logic to it, because when Tans was eating and some food flew over the edge of the dish, he said “Sukie Doggie!” Which I think meant “That dog is throwing her food around!”

He has been a little slower to walk, mostly because he’s a very caughtious little guy. But when I saw him last, he was grabbing our fingers and going “Walk!” and walking around with us. At one point, he even grabbed my finger when I was with Tansy and got me to walk with him. Maybe, just maybe, Tansy is getting less scary to him.

He is really trying to speak, and it’s adorable. He points at anything he wants to have more of, and says “Open!” Either that, or he makes the sign for “more.” His favourite number is 2, and I don’t think he quite knows what it means, but most times, 2 is the right answer. “How many eyes do I have?” “2!” And how many ears do I have?” “2!” “And how many noses do I have?” “2!'” Um, uh-oh.

Most of us have funny names. I am “Carrot” to him. That makes sense. My mom is “Nanna.” That makes sense. My brother gets referred to as “Holy Moly” which makes sense if you know that the last time he saw him, he said “Holy moly!” to him a lot. But for reasons we don’t know, He calls my dad “Ducky!” He knows that the rest of us, when talking to him about my dad, call him Grandpa,” but he is “Ducky!” We will even say “Where is Grandpa?” and he will point at him and say “Ducky!” The things kids will come up with.

He is really listening, and to more than just the words we say directly to him. When we went to see him, my parents and I stayed in a hotel room so we wouldn’t be crashing at either my brother’s or sister’s place. After we left, my sister said that she heard him saying “Nana, Ducky, Carrot, hotel.” again and again. Yup, the boy is a sponge.

I knew that he loved to sing and dance, but we got to watch him do it, while I learned that I know precious little about the songs that play on “Thomas the Tank Engine.” He had this little book that had the words to the songs, with buttons that would play the various tunes. I don’t know how some of the songs worked at all. The words didn’t seem to fit into the melodies! But my mom started getting into one of the songs, and he responded. Next thing we knew, he was sort of singing along and wiggling back and forth in time to the music. I think we sang those songs for a good 45 minutes. My sister called it the song circle.

The older nephew, the one that’s almost 3, believe it or not, is full of crazy energy. It was hard to get him to sit down and eat his friggin dinner! If you let him, he would eat on the move!

Steve found out about this series of books by Chris Ferrie that are all about scientific concepts for babies. We both agreed that that was meant for my brother to read to this little guy. So, I went a little nuts and bought him 3 books from the series: one about quantum physics, one about Newtonian physics, and one about rocket science. Apparently, so far, the quantum physics one has been a hit! My brother says he gets asked to read it again and again and again. He even sent me a recording of him reading it, and the little guy getting all into it. He really loves “the green guys!” Those would be the electrons, apparently.

It’s funny to watch him play with the toys intended for my sister’s kid who is about a year and a half. Even though he’s much older, he can still find them fun to play with.

And now, for the biggest news. On Tuesday, I got another nephew. The little guy who is all into Quantum Physics has a little brother. I really have to come up with nicknames for the nephews or this is going to get super confusing and hard to follow. I don’t think the older one knows what the heck all of this means, even though we’ve been trying to prepare him by reading books about little brothers and little sisters and all that stuff. I thought it was funny that when they got out the smaller baby seat, the little guy tried to climb into it. No, you’re too big for that now. He must have been wondering if he got to choose which seat he should ride in.

You can tell he sort of gets what’s going on, because when he was at daycare, he started running around going “I’m a big brother!” along with his best buddy who also recently became a big brother. Man, he’s adorable.

I think that’s about it. The next time I will have updates, there will be a new little baby to write about.

Talk About Your Hyped Up Gift

Wow. This guy has a heck of a lot of willpower. 47 years ago, Adrian Pearce was dumped by his girlfriend, but right before she dumped him, she gave him a Christmas present, and he has never opened it. He used to put it under the Christmas tree until his wife finally insisted it be banned from there. Every now and then, he has a moment of weakness and goes to open it, but he has always stopped. Now, it has grown into a great big mystery.

He tried to get in contact with the ex-girlfriend years later, but the number he once had was no longer hers.

This would be where most people stopped and said “Aww, how sweet!” But I have to go and spoil it by putting in this lovely ditty.

“Open me first at Christmas,” said the tag for her to see.
Upon my gift wrapped shoe box, beneath her plastic tree
And even through the air holes, I can smell her cheap perfume.
It set my puppy tail a waggin’, though it didn’t have much room.

Open me first at Christmas. Can’t you hear me whine?
Open me first at Christmas, I’m running out of time,
I’m running out of time.

Her boyfriend stuffed me in this shoe box, while I was fast asleep.
Being the runt of the litter, that used pet store sold me cheap.
And I smelled chicken grease on his fingers, and it made my poocher hunger grow.
then I heard curses through yellow chain smoke teeth as he fumbled with the bow.
Chorus

Oh and now she’s shaking my shoe box, and it gave my poocher heart a lift.
Soon she’ll be unwrapping me, her warm and snuggly gift.
Oh but what is all this shouting? His other girlfriend is on her phone
I hear suitcases being packed and the door is slammed, it’s Christmas Eve and I’m all alone!

Well, what are we gonna do now, folks?
Before you all return for your next forced entertainment period, you get to vote. What we’re going to do with the little puppy at the end of the song. Will the puppy live or die? It’s up to you.
Yes, this is an open democracy. Just pretend you’re an emperor at a Roman arena
who wants the puppydog to live?
(some applause)
Who wants the puppydog to die?
(bigger cheer)
Well, right to lifers, I guess you lose again.

She’s gone, she’s never coming back, but I’ll be a big surprise anyway.
When the apartment manager’s niece opens me first, come next Christmas day.

Open me first at Christmas. Can’t you hear me whine?
Open me first at Christmas, cuzz I’ve just run out of *coughcough* time!

Gee mommy, is that a polaroid? Aaaaaa!

I’m sure Adrian’s present was much less…traumatizing. It might even be disappointing if he does open the gift as part of some charity event since it has been so mysterious for so long. But I figure I shouldn’t be the only one with that horrible image in my head. Mwa ha ha ha.

Have A Giant Holiday Wrap-Up

Holy crap, it’s 2018. I feel like these holidays snuck up on us, then jumped on us, and now I’m still in disbelief that they’re over. In a small sense, they’re not quite over because I haven’t seen the nephews on my side of the family and we might see them this weekend, but everything else is over.

I think the Christmas season would have been a bit merrier if there wasn’t a roving cold going through the family making people sick one after another. This cold/flu/whatever the heck wasn’t messing around. It sent some pretty tough people to the doctor, and hung around plaguing some other pretty tough people for a week or two. It seems to hit you, then just when you think you’ve fought it off, it comes back for a second round of punches. I haven’t got it yet, and I really hope I don’t.

We got tons of time with Steve’s sister’s little guy. That boy can move, climb, do stairs, and his new favourite thing is throwing things. Food, toys, things that aren’t toys…you name it, if it’s within range, it’s probably going for a trip if you don’t catch him in time. I accidentally taught him a new word, but I think he misunderstands its meaning. Whenever anything would clatter to earth, I would say “oops” or “oopsy” or “woops.” Now, he says them after hurling something to the ground. Um, oops.

He’s adorable and a lot of fun. One hilarious thing he does is if you sing a song like “the wheels on the bus,” he doesn’t sing, but he does all the hand actions, and if you’re not singing, he stares at you. He also loves it if you laugh and cover your mouth when you do it. Like most kids his age, he loves having the same book read over and over. I think I could read the “Grandma and me” book from memory. I was almost hoping he would bring it to me and ask me to read it.

Watching him move around puts a whole new perspective on the world and how many things could be scary in it when you don’t know what they do. You can suddenly lose your balance and fall over. You can fail to realize you are under a table, stand up and bash your head. Doors can pinch your wee fingers. People way bigger than you can accidentally bonk you. There are hot things, sharp things, things that look like smarties that aren’t, things that look like they could be fun that aren’t, things that were fun that now no longer are, and they’re all waiting for you to set them off. How in the world do we survive this stage without crumpling into sad heaps of fear?

But instead of being scared, he is full of curiosity and wonder! Many times, you can hear him say “Ooo!” or “Wow!” as he looks at something. He is full of wonder, wondering what that is that he has just found, and we are forced to wonder what he just found and what that might mean.

He also makes it very clear that modesty is a learned thing. He got this adorable, fuzzy bathrobe for Christmas. He came down to show it off to us, and he looked like this little bundle of fuzz with hands and feet sticking out. Then, in a flash, the robe fell off and there he was in his birthday suit, and he didn’t care! He ran through the basement and we had to convince him to put it back on. We had to watch out that he didn’t just stop and pee on a random book. Oh no, “Grandma and Me” might be “Grandma and Wee!”

He got several adorable toys, and their songs and sound effects will follow me for quite some time. One was this little barn with animals and songs.

That video doesn’t have all the songs in it, and it even cuts off the end of one of them, but it has 3 of them that are chasing me around. I’m a terrible person. In the one that says “you give them all the things they need, and you get love in return,” I wasn’t thinking, and for a moment I was mortified. “What? Did it say you’ll get lunch in return?” I thought. Thankfully, I kept my mouth shut and heard what it really said.

Another big hit was this firetruck.

To the dad in this video, go ahead and let Dannie chuck it. It will survive just fine. I don’t think we’ve heard half the things it will say, but it likes to sing the song about “heading out to help, everyone in town, in our red firetruck, hear the siren sound.” We also heard a lot about seeing the flashing lights, and putting the ladder up and down.

There were some other big hits he got, but I can’t remember what they’re called so I can’t find the videos. One was a digger with a little backup beeper on it. Now, when I hear a real backup beeper, I keep hearing “Cat power!” in my head.

He also tested Shmans’s tolerance for little kidlets, and she was amazing. He would fall over her, hug her, try to feed her his bottle of milk, and she took it like a champ. How many times did I pet her and find her with sticky spots where he had probably been? Poor Shmans.

And if he wasn’t testing her patience, there were other doggies who would join in. This was so funny. I brought her into another gathering and kept her in harness. There were two little tiny dogs and several children there, so I was hoping to keep her calm. But this one dog thought there was something wrong with her and just kept poking at her. Sniff her eyes, sniff her harness, sniff her butt. It made me think of how we test responses of people who are in comas by shining lights in their eyes or pinching some skin to see if they flinch. Shmans was not responding, and this made the little dog more insistent. I realized that she would not leave her alone, so after getting approval from the people who owned the house, I let her loose. I don’t think I have ever seen two happier dogs. I think the little dog was sure she had just resuscitated Shmans, and Shmans was so happy to let loose. For the rest of the afternoon, the two dogs could be found playing under the table and being goofballs.

Tans was also amazing because about 3:30 in the morning when all this craziness was set to start, Tans barfed on our carpet. It seems I haven’t documented this fully, but at least once a year, Tans will barf. It’s always in a different month of the year, and we’ve started calling it playing barf bingo. The first two episodes have been talked about, but it happened again in August of 2015, then November of 2016, and just when I was a little too confident that we would make it through 2017 without incident, there it was. She had gotten sick once earlier in the week, but I only saw the evidence after I had fed her her breakfast, so I couldn’t make her skip a meal. Everything seemed to be going along ok, and then on the morning of Christmas Eve, we awoke to what sounded like someone slowly pouring a bottle of water on the floor. Yuck! So that breakfast got skipped, and despite everything being nuts, she didn’t have another upset through the whole holiday insanity.

Tans and Trix didn’t play much, but they got a couple of sessions in. Trix still likes to bark. But Trix is definitely getting older. I can actually hear her legs shuffling along. Don’t get me wrong, she can move, and she did a lot of moving to try and chase people around the kitchen all holiday, but the shuffle is audible. I think she might be moving a little better now, since the poor beasty had to have a toe amputated because it was full of some nasty cancer. They say the cancer didn’t make it to the bone, so she might be ok, but yikes! I don’t know if I’ve lost my mind, but Trix’s head looks noticeably smaller than Tans’s. Is this just something I’ve never noticed before or could it have shrunk? That’s probably not possible, so I’m going to go with the idea that I’m nuts and Trix’s head has always been smaller. Finally, she has this obsession with water, so much so that we have to restrict it, and we have to keep lids down on toilets and bathroom doors closed so she doesn’t try to suck water out of the shower drain or slurp it out of the john. We had to keep the little nephew out of the bathroom anyway, and couldn’t leave water down because if we did, he would probably make his own lake with it, but it’s so strange to see Trix need the restrictions. She hasn’t drank out of a toilet since she was new with me. I told her no and that was that. Now, it’s like she’s driven by a compulsion to drink more than she could ever need. In fact, Brad says if you let her, sometimes she would drink until it just comes back up. She has been tested for all the physical things that could make her thirsty and they come up normal, so we’re left with the conclusion she is doing it because old dog is old. I definitely am trying to get my Trix snuggles in when I can, again, because old dog is old. She seems to think I’m a decent person still, thank goodness.

Steve’s dad moved at the end of November. Now, we should never run into last year’s problem of not being able to get him to Christmas stuff. His place is much smaller than he had, but I think it’s perfect for him, and we all fit in it, even with two dogs and a baby walking around. It was neat to finally see it, since we hadn’t been there yet.

I have learned that I can be such a baby. Steve’s stepdad bought this game called Pie Face. Basically, there’s this apparatus with a chin rest and another part that’s slathered with whipped cream. Every time you turn the handle, there’s the potential to get a splat of whipped cream to the face. So, you have to spin the dial, and whatever number it comes up with, you have to turn the handles that many times while your chin is resting on this chin rest. If you manage to spin it the prescribed number of times without getting splorched, you get the points. In our game, you got double the points. In any case, once you make it to 25 points, you’re safe.

Here’s a video of some people playing it.

Let’s just say that’s not the way I looked. Apparently they have hilarious video of me. I look like I’m playing Russian Roulette. I know my face was all screwed up, and I did not like turning that handle. I kept hearing people saying “She looks like she’s going to have a heart attack!” It was a fun game…there was just something really freaky about never quite knowing when you were going to get covered in goo. That sounds gross.

While I’m all weirded out by getting splattered with whipped cream, some people really don’t like those gift exchanges where you can trade gifts with other people. At one gathering, the way it works is everybody brings something kind of generic that anybody might be able to enjoy. If you’re a woman, you bring something more feminine, if you’re a guy, you bring something more masculine, so there are enough things and everybody gets something. So, all the women draw cards and pick from the girls’ pile and show everybody what they got. Then they draw again and choose to either keep what they have or trade with someone else. The people who drew higher cards have a greater chance of leaving with what they want. Then the guys do the same thing.

There’s this one guy who just hates this game. He always gets annoyed when someone takes his gift, or in the old days when anyone could take anything, when he would end up with a more girly gift. Apparently, he has always been not the biggest fan of this game, so it’s not because he’s getting older or anything. It’s almost become a sport to make him trade, just to watch him get all sad. Yes, we’re evil. I don’t know if he just wants to get something and keep it, or if he can’t remember all the things and it’s too hard, but every year, he gets annoyed. If he would just be cool about it, we’d probably leave him alone.

So that’s the run-down of our Christmas craziness. Like I said before, we decided not to go out last night to hopefully head off this stupid cold. So it’s back to work with me. We just have the nephews on my side to see and then we’ll be all done.

What can I say about 2017? For us personally, it was a pretty decent year. We all were healthy, the nephews got a little older, we went to some shows, everything stayed relatively ordinary, which is the way we like years to go. As for the world, that was another story. It’s never good when every time you look at news, you just keep saying “That can’t be real! That’s not possible,” but it is. It is frightening to see so much open racism and hatred, but I’m happy to see a lot of resistance to that hatred so it’s not all bad. I really hope 2018 can bring better things for everyone.

Tansy Stuff

It’s almost Christmas, holy moly, so I thought I should write another Tans post. Amazingly, this one *shouldn’t* be a monster.

I was feeling pretty good about our progress with Tans in the hatch. Well, all of that fell apart when once again, she rode with something that bumped her as we rode. Now, her upset in the hatch has increased. She doesn’t care about a bone at all, and if you’re not careful, when we arrive at our destination, she will jump out of the hatch and run for the nearest safe person. That was embarrassing. We were driving to the Mandarin, and she was shaking and being completely wigged out. When we arrived, Brad was nearby. We opened the hatch, and didn’t have a prayer of catching her. She was in the air and out of there before you could say “Wait!” Sheesh, how embarrassing. I don’t know quite what to do now except ask if there’s any way to fasten things down that are riding with her, and start anew at rebuilding her trust in the hatch.

It’s weird how she reacts differently to different kids. My brother’s son can come see her and she’s as calm as anything, but apparently, my sister’s son makes her super excited, and has since he was a wee baby. The sad part is he’s the nervous one…so Tans’s thumping tail and excitement is not helping make the kid feel more at ease near her. As for Steve’s sister’s little guy, I think she’s mostly indifferent to him. I know she has licked his face a couple of times and he hasn’t been thrilled, but that’s about all I remember.

I know I have commented earlier about Tansy’s ability to snore, but it feels like lately, she has been snoring even more. I was so worried that when she was going to the vet for something else, I asked about it. Everything seems to be in order, so they’re thinking she’s just getting older.

So, you might be wondering why she was headed for the vet. Well, apparently leptospirosis, like Santa Claus, is coming to town, and the vet was recommending vaccination. That’s just freaky. I’ve never had to vaccinate her against it because I don’t play on trails or hang out in the woods. Trix started getting vaccinated when she went to Brad because they do romp on trails and could come in contact with wildlife. But I wonder what brought Lepto into town. Is it the weird weather? Very strange developments.

It’s a good thing that happened, because we discovered that Tans peeled off a kilogram in record time. We’re confused, but I raised the food a quarter cup, and we’ll see if that improves things. She has to go back on Saturday for her lepto booster, and we’ll get her weighed again. Hopefully we won’t have a medical mystery to unravel.

I am starting to think that the news will be good, though, because after increasing her food, it’s like she got younger again. She has been much more alert, much more playful and very much more peppy. Also, her fur got a lot smoother. This has happened before, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but the thing is we had to adjust down to this amount because she seemed to be gaining. We’re not walking a ton more, so I can’t figure out why the need changed. At any rate, sorry about that, Shmans. The decrease in energy happened so gradually that I just thought she was getting a bit older. Also, she wasn’t diving for stuff, so it never entered my mind. I wonder why her metabolism seems to vary so wildly.

As I combed through the blog posts about Shmans, I noticed that I never wrote a couple of things down that need a place. First, I did note that she reacted to her rabies vaccine in 2014. But, I never documented that when we did it in 2016, they gave her a shot of Benadryl and that seemed to have prevented a reaction. She never has reactions to other ones, so I wonder what makes her body flip out about the Rabies one. Or, was it just a one-off? At any rate, any time she gets a vaccination, I ask them where they gave it to her so I can watch the spot.

A quirk I never wrote down is when Tans gets excited and is flying around the room, sometimes she will try to climb up people’s legs or parts of furniture. She doesn’t try really hard, just sometimes Steve or I will suddenly find ourselves being pawed on the legs or sometimes we will see a couple of front legs up on the couch. One time, I heard Brad say “Get off the couch.” I was floored because I’d never seen her jump on furniture. Now I think I know what’s going on. My question is what is she trying to accomplish? Or, did she momentarily forget she was a grown dog and thought she had a wee tiny body that could climb things? She will also ping pong off the sides of things, sometimes hard things, and she doesn’t seem to care. Tans, you’re wacky.

I think that’s about it for now. I’m sure I will have lots more Tansy stories after the holidays.

Boom Cookies

I wish I could have tried this with Trix. I’ll remember this next time I have a dog who freaks at thunder and fireworks, or if Shmans ever develops the fear. I don’t know who wrote this originally, I stole it off another friend’s Facebook.

“Boom Cookies” or “how to teach a dog to not hate fireworks and thunderstorms”.
The topic of helping dogs avoid or overcome fireworks phobia came up on a greyhound list again today. I thought I’d post something I have done that greatly helped my own dog. My hope is that this will help others whose dogs are afraid of the loud noises caused by fireworks or storms.
This is a simplistic explanation of the technique but it really works and doesn’t require drugs or expensive special coats.
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I desensitized my boy Jack to fireworks and thunder with very simple training. This technique uses basic physiology; animals that are afraid physically cannot eat–but animals that are eating cannot be afraid at the same time. So the idea is to get them to eat something every time they hear something potentially frightening–it counter-conditions them to the noise. Like Pavlov’s dog and the bell, it makes them think of food when they hear the scary sound. Eventually you can wean them off the food when the noise occurs, and they learn to ignore the scary sound.
We had a bad fireworks problem a few years back and Jack was becoming fearful. It was starting to carry over to thunder as well, so I did some reading and discovered the technique of counter-conditioning against fear by using food.
One evening soon after my research, we were eating outside when the neighbors started blowing stuff up again. I cut up a piece of meat into tiny bits, and kept Jack close to me. Every time something exploded, I said “Boom cookie!” in a bright, cheerful voice, and shoved a piece of food in his mouth. At first he spit the food out, but once he started eating the bits of meat I could see him relax. I knew it was working when a bottle rocket blew up right above our house and Jack looked at me for his cookie rather than diving under the table.
I did this every evening for about a week. Now he sleeps through storms, fireworks, backfiring cars, etc. Every so often I pull out “boom cookies” to reinforce the conditioning, just to make sure the problem never comes back.
If your dog is already totally freaked out by the fireworks, this may not seem to work at first. But get something **really** good and strongly flavored–steak, chicken, roast beef– and cut it into *really* tiny pieces, about the size of a pea. Shove a piece into the side of their mouth to give them a taste. Or use baby food meat, or peanut butter, or anchovy paste in a tube, and wipe a tiny bit on the tip of their nose or under their upper lip. If you can get them to swallow some of it, that’s the start. Just keep shoving food into them until they’re willingly eating. Once they are eating, they will calm down. No drugs necessary, just good high-value treats.
Please feel free to copy and paste to share this anywhere that the information might be useful.

Wow. Could it have been that easy? I tried to give her a treat but she wouldn’t take it…but maybe this would have had a chance.

I Remember The Time My Service Dog Chased A Cat, Let The Memory Never Live Again!

When I think of all the concerts, plays and things I have gone to with Trix and Tans over the years, I am very thankful that neither of them has ever taken it into their heads to chase down one of the characters, like happened in this story.

A dog ran amok at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” this week.
Spies at the Neil Simon Theatre tell us an audience member’s service dog “got away from its owner and ran after [the character] Bombalurina, performed by actress Mackenzie Warren, during the opening number.”
Luckily, a fast-moving usher “intervened and returned the wayward canine to its mortified owner.”

Mortified would be an apt description. I think I would want the floor to open up and swallow me!

I think the closest we came to causing mayhem was when I took Tansy to her first show. I don’t think she was used to such a huge crowd, and tried to leap on a passer-by. That was embarrassing enough, and thankfully has never happened again.

I could be in for trouble. This Saturday night, we’re going to see Handel’s Messiah because a couple of our friends are singing in it. I hope Tans doesn’t get it in her head that she should go visit them!