Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene

My beautiful maternal grandmother's name was Irene Viola (Wonoski) Seraphin. She lost her battle with Lymphoma and, ultimately, Leukemia thirteen years ago.
I remember hunkering down with my mother and brother for Hurricane Gloria in 1985 in our apartment on Vandale Street. The same apartment we lived in when we got the news of my grandmother's cancer diagnosis.
Twenty-six years later, here is Hurricane Irene. I can not help but think about all the things my grandmother did not get to know about me. She was alive until my daughter was about two years old so she did get to be a great-grandmother in her lifetime. Grandma Seraphin did not get to meet my son, nor would she know that my husband, the father of my two children, and I married in 2001 and recently celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.
Amos was my grandmother's black and tan chihuahua. She loved Amos and she would adore my little Eli, though she would not like the reason I have him.
Due to the hurricane, Eli's Canine Good Citizen test was postponed. I am a little worried about the test since Eli did not get a whole lot of practice for a few of the elements, especially with all that I have been worried about and busy with lately. Of course, Eli has no idea that we are going through a hurricane. He does sense that I have been concerned and stressed about many things. One of them being Eli's test. He always amazes me, though. I just need to have confidence.
My grandmother fought her battle with cancer for many, many years, even though she was given only months at the time of her diagnosis. Like the strong-willed Polish woman my grandmother was, Hurricane Irene makes me think about what my grandmother might say to me if she were alive today.
Weather the storm. Ride it out. Don't worry about the aftermath until it's over because you did what you could to prepare and now it's out of your control. That's the way it is.
·. ¸ .·´ *•*CrystalLynn*•*•*
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Six Months Old

Eli is growing up so fast. It is hard to believe the little guy is already six months old.
The ability that Eli has is incredible. He certainly turned a skeptic into a believer! Yes, Chihuahuas can be fantastic service dogs, as long as the dog has the drive to work. Eli absolutely wants to work for me.
We have bonded so well during these first six months of Eli's life. He is very in-tuned to me and vice-versa. Eli is most comfortable when we are together, though he accepts an ocassional separation. Not that he likes being apart. He accepts it.
We are already nearing the end of Canine Good Citizen class. Training Eli with this element really is a joy. I admit that pets we have had in the past came into our family and did not receive any kind of specialized training. The reason I have focused so much on Eli's training is because he did not enter our family as a pet. I wish I had known how beneficial this form of training is for pets, as well. It really does enhance your bond and affords your pet the opportunity to be well-mannered. Training provides your pet with a higher quality life and intellectual stimulation. It is all part of being a responsible pet owner.
Having a service companion is hard work, but when it makes having a disability a little easier, it is well worth the time and effort. Eli is an amazing companion for me. Though I did not believe it could possibly be true, a Chihuahua really is the perfect match for me. I am hoping Eli will develop a little more confidence as he gets older and I can not wait for his rebellious teen period to be over. However, I would not trade him. I may joke about it, but Eli is here for me and is here to stay.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Eli's doing wonderfully since his surgery last week. He healed up nicely and did not need to wear that Elizabethan collar after the first day.
We have been busy. Our family is preparing for our move at the end of the month, preparing to have our horse at our house, and Eli and I are practicing our skills as much as possible. Eli has been in so many different environments and meeting a lot of friendly strangers.
He accompanied me to the urgent care department over the weekend. He was such a good, well-mannered boy at the hospital. Eli also went to the dentist's office with me. The first time, I left Eli in the waiting room in my husband's care. Eli spent the time during my cleaning worrying about where I went, but he patiently waited for me to come back. The second time, Eli came with me into the room while my son got sealants. Eli seemed unphased by the noises and equipment. I was very proud of him. Then, Eli went to the ophthalmologist's office. Again, he looked at the machines, but didn't seem scared of anything. The only noise Eli made the whole visit was a tiny growl when the doctor let him sniff his hand. I was sitting down.
I handed Eli off at the pharmacy this morning. He went to the lady and was fine, but did not care for the second lady who came over to see him. He growled at her. When I took him back, the first lady reached for Eli again to pet him and he opened his mouth. I explained that we are working on exposure to friendly strangers. However, it's probably my fault for allowing the interaction at that time. I knew that I was starting to feel unwell and I am sure Eli was in an extra-protective mode at that time. When I fail him like that, I really tend to beat myself up over it.
At Tractor Supply, Eli was very friendly with one of the men who works there. That surprised me. Eli was also very friendly with a man stocking shelves at Stop & Shop. I can plainly see that Eli does not want to be friendly when something's going on with me, or when something is going on with him. I carry him when we are out in public, and this helps reinforce that Eli may only relieve himself when I let him know it's okay to do so. His cue to me that he has to do his business is "talking" to me. It is not a growl or a bark, but a "smile" with noise. I do not know how to explain it. I am trying to see if I can get him to say "mama" when he does it because he sounds like he's saying "mama" sometimes already. Anyway, if we are somewhere he can not do his business, he gets pretty grumpy. I can not blame him for that. Everyone gets grumpy when they have to go, but have to hold it. Those are the times, too, that I have to refrain from allowing interaction with friendly strangers because Eli just is not in a social mood.
We have Canine Good Citizen class tonight. I am not feeling too well today, but hopefully Eli can focus on the task at hand and get through the class. After tonight there's only one more class and then the test. I hope Eli and I can focus on our training enough so that he indeed becomes a canine good citizen.
·. ¸ .·´ *•*CrystalLynn*•*•*
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011


On the advice of our trainer, Lisa, at My Dog Training Center, Eli and I are working with my cane as an aid to loose leash walking and heeling.
So far, it is working out decently.
The idea is to entice Eli to touch a target on my cane while we are walking together. I put a hair band on my cane. I stuck a yummy treat inside the hair band and gave Eli the command to "leave it." Eli gets into heel position on my right side, which is different from what we had been doing as I previously had Eli on my left. Lisa feels that Eli being on my right and being able to walk on a loose leash will make it easier for me by not having both hands holding something while walking. It definitely makes sense! To be honest, I did not think it would be possible to have Eli walk to my right. I do not know everything, obviously, and am very grateful to have Lisa.
Anyway, once Eli is at my side and ready to go I move forward and give Eli the command to "come." In intervals, I ask Eli to touch his nose to the treat attached to my cane by telling him, "here." When we have finished our short walk, Eli gets back into heel position and is rewarded with the treat.
Due to his surgery yesterday and the illness I came down with, we have not been able to do a lot of practicing this week. It drives me nuts, in a way, because this Friday is the third week of Canine Good Citizen class and the test is just three weeks away. Eli and I are going to be cramming in the coming weeks, but we are also going to be moving to our new home at the end of the month. This is going to be a real challenge for us. However, where there is a will, there is a way.
Eli's "stay" is beautiful. So is his recall.
Saturday and Tuesday, although they were big moments of separation, were good in the sense that Eli had the opportunity to prove himself while he and I were apart. Saturday was horrible for him because he knew that I had something wrong and his instinct was to want to be with me. He was nervous and looked for me, which is great as far as being a service dog. He did not freak out and bark or pace consistently, which is great as far as the CGC evaluation. While I do not know what Eli's behavior was after I left the veterinarian's office Tuesday, I do know that he transitioned from me to the tech quietly and accepted the idea of staying there with her. He definitely was happy to see me when I arrived to pick him up, though.
Throughout Eli's recovery from his surgery I will be taking it easy on him. I have to for my own sake, as well. We will be practicing a little bit here and there and continuing to reinforce and refine our skills as handler and companion. I can not let Eli fail!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tiny Elizabethan

Eli is now sterile. Going through surgery earned him an Elizabethan collar for seven to ten days. Poor tiny dog.
His weight this morning was 5 pounds, 9 ounces. Handing Eli over to the veterinarian assistant went amazingly well. He let her take him without an issue. He was a very well-behaved little pup.
Eli's incision looks good. There are no stitches, so we do not have to worry about a follow-up appointment to remove stitches. He was very groggy for about two hours after I picked him up. He seems pretty hungry, but I'm feeding him by hand, one kibble at a time, to make sure he does not eat too much and end up vomiting.
It is going to be difficult keeping the E-collar on Eli for a week. Practice is not going to go very well, either. We will do what we can, though. Who knows? He might surprise me.
`*.¸.*´ CrystalLynn ~~~
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