Saturday, February 8, 2014

Captain's Log...Day...Holy crap I went to The "A Christmas Story" House!

Yesterday I was a bundle of nerves as I prepared to take the public access test with Oreo. Our test was scheduled for 11:30. We arrived at the mall about fifteen minutes early just to make sure Oreo was calm and I felt confident handling her. I needn't have worried. We passed without any problems and graduated yesterday afternoon.

Team Tess and Oreo is official!


But the REAL news, the mega, awesome, incredible news is that I made a pilgrimage to my Holy Land. My Mecca. One of the top things on my bucket list (hey, don't judge me).

I went to see, in person, the place where THE BEST, HANDS DOWN, Christmas movie was made. I went to the....dun dun dunnnn...

A Christmas Story House!!

Squeeeeee! *jumps up and down while screaming like a lunatic*

You guys, it was everything I had hoped it would be. Complete with, wait for it, a GIFT SHOP!

Double squeee!!

After I spent an undisclosed amount of money at the gift shop, and had paid homage at the A Christmas Story museum, I bought my ticket, gripped it tightly in my shaking with excitement hands, and stepped up on to hallow ground as I made my way up the front steps to wait in line for the next tour. My heart was racing. I felt feverish with Christmas glee.

I was about to enter Ralphie's house. It was then that I heard it. Almost as if God himself wanted me to have the full A Christmas Story experience. The sounds of dogs barking.

BUMPESSES!! I shook my fist in the air and cried out.

I. was. in. Heaven.

Then, the door swung open and we were welcomed inside. There are no words that can possibly do justice to my emotions so I am going to let my photos tell the rest of the story. Suffice it to say, I have been on a natural high all afternoon, The high that only those of us special enough to understand the full glory of that wondrous movie, A Christmas Story, will ever get to experience. And it was awesome.

And no, I didn't shoot my eye out.

Add caption


Ralphie and Randy's bedroom

Look magazine like the one Ralphie plants the Red Ryder Ad in.

He learned it from YOUR SON!

It's an Official  Red Ryder BB gun with carbine action and a compass in the stock!

love it!

It's a blue ball!

The Old Mans' chair

Oh yes I did re-enact the famous, "show mommy how the piggies eat" scene! 

The turkey!


It's GLORIOUS! It reminds me of the fourth of July!

Tree complete with bent over star topper

living roo 

Frageelay, must be italian!

The alleyway where Ralphie dreams of shooting the bad guys with his trusty Red Ryder

The back yard where he almost shot his eye out

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Captain's couldn't tell you

Everything has been going pretty well here in Xenia although I must admit it feels like we are in doggy/owner bootcamp. Up at the crack of dawn to get Tess ready, as well as ourselves, get in the car, drive to 4Paws and train, train, train for 6 hours. We get back to the hotel sometime around 4:30ish and are completely exhausted yet there is more training to do. So we take a little break and then start randomly giving out commands to Oreo.

Here's the thing with Oreo. "She's a sensitive girl". We have heard that over and over again while at 4Paws. That is the biggest reason she was matched with Tess. They needed a sweet, mild tempered dog so that Tess wouldn't get hurt and that Oreo really wouldn't care that Tess couldn't play rough games with her because she wouldn't like them anyway. Of course, being so sensitive means she also has a few, well, we'll just call them quirks. She gets scared easily but then gets over it as soon as we make sure to show her that there is nothing to be afraid of. Her biggest fear is the BIG SUBURBAN. She absolutely hates getting in. Once inside the car she is fine, but getting her to actually jump in is the issue. She gets herself upset enough over it that she will sometimes vomit. We can't be mad with her because she just can't help it, and she looks so ashamed of herself that we just end up feeling even more sorry for her.

At first, we thought it was motion sickness. I mean, wouldn't that just be the height of irony? The people who drove the farthest and regularly have to take a ferry, would get the dog who gets motion sick? But after discussing several times with Jeremy, and having him come out to watch her reaction to getting in the car, he really feels like it is all anxiety and that she is getting so anxious she makes herself sick. We are figuring out tricks to help her and are hopeful that once we get our own minivan back, she'll feel better about getting into a car. Time will tell.

We have been learning some fun commands as well as the obedience/work ones. Like today we learned to have them "play dead" by pretending to aim a gun at their head and saying, "Bang". It was really funny. And they have other expressions they use for the same trick for those people that are uncomfortable with the whole pretending to shoot a gun thing. We did the gun but also tried the others just for fun.

practicing DOWN with distractions

giving praise and reward for staying down even with people coming up to her

The hubs giving a reward for a good SIT

Oreo is also learning to retrieve things that Tess has dropped and bring them back and place them on her lap. It's a little tricky, but the more we do it with Oreo, the better and more accurate she is getting. Eventually we can teach her to retrieve the phone or the bag that has Tess's emergency seizure meds it
if we want to so that we don't have to leave Tess's side to get them while she is seizing. 

And while all of this is really incredible, the thing that the hubs and I keep remarking on, and are most grateful for, is to watch Tess with Oreo. She just lights up when she sees her. And this is the most we have seen her smile and heard her giggle in such a long, long time that we both agreed that even if Oreo couldn't do half the things she can, she was well worth getting for Tess.

This morning was the first morning that we woke up to find Oreo on Tess's bed without us prompting her to get up there and stay with Tessie. It was beyond heartwarming to see.

We made a wish for Tess in the hopes that it would be something she really loved, and it is coming true.

How blessed are we?!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Captain's idea what day

Well, things are a little stressful today. Tess has caught an upper respiratory infection and we are praying it doesn't lead to an emergency trip to one of the local hospitals. Dr. Stephenson sent us with antibiotics for just such an emergency, but as we all know, often times they are not strong enough to fight whatever virus Tess may have. At least we've got a chance though. We are well equipped with oxygen, suction and meds so we are in a wait and see pattern right now. It's up to Tess at this point to get better. I kept her with me at the hotel today to get some good rest while Charlie went to train with Oreo. I hate missing a day of training because you miss SO MUCH but Charlie can catch me up on it.

This morning, before leaving, both Charlie and I noticed that Oreo was acting kind of odd around Tess. Not "scenting" a seizure because we already know what that looks like, but more of a worried pace. She would wander from side to side of Tess's bed and then just lay her head down on it and look at Tess and sigh. Honestly, we think she knew that Tess was sick and she didn't like it. It was pretty sweet to watch. She is such a little "mother hen".

Yesterday was our first real outing with Oreo and we went to the mall. This mall is HUGE. Oreo did really well but we do need to work on her heel just a little and her excitement when she sees kids. Of course most of the kids would yell out, "oohhh doggy!" and want to pet her so I would tell them they could pet her just as soon as I put her in the DOWN command. Oreo did really well once in the DOWN and wouldn't try to get up or move when the kids were petting her. She did perform some tricks for them and two little girls told me, "You are very lucky to have such a good doggy! She's the best dog I've ever met!" Too funny.

Oreo is a bit of a wimp though. She gets freaked out by the elevator dings and hesitates to step inside them but we are working on that. She was awesome when I put her in the SIT command when I went to pay for something I bought, and she was equally great at rocking the UNDER command while Charlie and I ate lunch in the food court and staying under the table. I even tried to trick her with a distraction by throwing a piece of my chicken right down on the floor about 6 inches from her nose and she never once tried to get it. I know, mean mommy! But in my defense, we are told to do things like that!

We also got to see first hand, her open a handicapped door for us. We simply showed her the button and said, "HIT IT", and bam, she either made it work with her nose, or, if that wasn't enough pressure to open it, she would jump up on her hind legs and hit it with her front paw over and over until it opened. She would then stay there until she saw that the door was opening and then she would return to HEEL. Really cool stuff.

Anyway, as I said, I'm bummed I missed today's training, but what can you do? I am trying to not be super worried about Tess but the reality is, Tess doesn't usually recover from these things without hospitalization and IV antibiotics so I'm really quite stressed. Ugh.

Both Charlie and I were feeling somewhat sorry for ourselves this morning after a rough night with Tess and needing to get out the oxygen and realizing that she really was getting sick, and remarked that "Nothing can ever just be easy."  And I have to confess, sometimes it really does feel that way, but then I found this quote and decided to just focus on how grateful we are to even have this opportunity. I'm still scared and worried (and overwhelmed at the thought of trying to figure out how to manage the training and the dog if Tess has to go into the hospital), but not feeling quite as down as I was this morning. So here's a good quote to keep in your back pocket for tough days:

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”  Theodore Roosevelt 

You said it, Teddy.