Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is that a tennis ball in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

It was a beautiful, sunny spring day here in the Big Moldy. The temperatures had finally risen to acceptable levels. By "Acceptable" I mean 70° F. It was a perfect dog park day. On Friday, I had requested an SSP for today in the hopes of a day just like this one.

Before I go any further, I should probably explain what an SSP does. An SSP, or Intervenor as they are called in Canada, is someone who works with a person who is deaf blind. The SSP communicates and describes items in the environment to the deafblind person in which ever method the deafblind person chooses, e.g. ASL, print on palm (POP), spoken English through an amplification system, etc. My SSP does things like, go to the grocery store with me and sign the store sale paper, and prices to me, and inform me of the different items available. Sometimes my SSP goes to vet appointments with me, and help read and fill out forms, describe what the vet is doing during an exam, and let me know if any aggressive or problematic dogs enter the waiting area before we see the vet..

Today was dog park day, and it was all about fun! The person who is my regular SSP is hearing. She is attending a local interpreter training program to become a certified American Sign Language interpreter. She couldn't come today as she was busy so I got a different SSP. The one I had today was Deaf, but sighted, and thankfully a dog lover! :)

I decided to take Bristol and Laveau. I made dog treats, loaded up my bag with towels, water for the dogs and people, and the all important tennis ball! Laveau is queen of the tennis ball and next to working, fetching the ball is her favorite activity and she would do it all day if she could.

We have an "Official Dog Park" but it's kind of far from my house. Instead we go to the levee along the Mississippi river which has been the kind of unofficial dog park for years, now.
We parked in the lot, unloaded the dogs and removed leashes. My SSP was a great describer of things and immediately told me that Laveau took off like a shot to visit with other dogs. Bristol, who is 13 and who takes life a bit more slowly, walked with us over the railroad tracks, across the bike path and up the levee to the top. by the time we reached the path on the top of the levee, we had thrown the tennis ball for Laveau at least! five times and she was in the process of getting her ya ya's out in grand style.
It is hard to use ASL tactually and walk at the same time. :) We would walk, then stop to talk and throw the ball, then walk some more, and rinse, repeat!
We saw some pretty brown, black and white Pitties, a big chocolate brown Mastiff, a rust Doberman, and some kind of skinny houndy-looking dog I couldn't identify and which my SSP didn't see to describe as he was throwing the ball for Laveau yet again. We walked the levee and went down to the other side where the dogs took a dip in the river. Then we walked through the woods, and back to the top of the levee. My SSP was really great at describing the scenery and other dogs.
We met some Labs on the way back, and someone was riding a big brown horse on the bike path which runs parallel to the levee.
We toweled off the dogs, loaded back up in the car, and headed home where the dogs got frozen knuckle bones and I had a nap! All that tennis-ball-throwing wore me out!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hot Dog; Smart Dog!

Last night, Mr. Pawpower made groceries and some how, when we were putting everything away, we lost a package of hotdogs. We looked and looked but just assumed that they'd been put in the freezer with other meat for the dogs' meals. We didn't think much more about it-- having bigger metaphorical fish to fry.

This morning, Mister Pawpower needed Mill'E-Max's help bringing things from the fridge to the table for breakfast. He called her and she came to me first, but my hands were full so I told her to go to him. I thought this was strange. She went over to him, and plopped the missing package of hotdogs into his hand. They were mostly intact, with a little puncture from a canine when she was holding it. Our house is still cold enough (lack of central heat/air comes in handy) that they're fine.
I'll be making dog treats with them this afternoon. I guess I should have asked her to find them when I first noticed they were lost. Boy Mill'E-Max is sure a handy dog to have around! :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

There's a first time for everything!

Today I got my first tattoo. It was something I had planned for a very long time. It took a while to coordinate my schedule with that of my ASL interpreter and SSP. Finally! We found a date we could all live with. Then I went on the hunt for an artist. The first place I tried wouldn't accept relay calls from people who are deaf or hard of hearing, so that disqualified them. Eventually, I ended up choosing NOLA tattoo. I made a great choice!

I arrived around 12:30 and met my interpreter and another friend.
I handed the artist a rough sketch of what I wanted and he "made it pretty" while I sat and chatted with everyone. Then my interpreter read me the fifty-bazillion forms that I needed to sign which basically said that I don't have a blood clotting disorder and I am not on drugs or drunk and that I don't hold the tattoo company responsible should my leg fall off from the tattoo.

My tattoo artist was called Lad and he did a great job. He first traced the design on my leg and got it centered right. My interpreter and friends told me that it looked fabulous. After he got the design centered right, I handed Laveau off to my friends and I climbed up onto this padded table. The interpreter interpreted everything he said. He turned on the tattoo gun thing and started.

I was expecting it to be much more painful than it was. Everyone kept telling me how much it was going to hurt and other people kept expecting me to chicken out. It really didn't hurt bad at all. from 1 to 10, I'd say the pain was around a 2, sometimes a 2.5 or 3 if it was on the bone.
My tattoo took almost two hours. It was a lot of fun to lay there and chat with friends while he inked me up. My interpreter gave me regular progress reports on the status of the tattoo.
The design I chose was five paws walking up the side of my calf. In the center of each paw is a letter in braille. Each of the paws stands for each of my assistance dogs, and the first initial of each dog is inside each paw. I have a piiiiicture!
Sorry I don't know how to post it here but have a link to my
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After the tattoo was finished, he put soap on it and that burned like all hell. Then he stuck a bandage on it and gave me care instructions.
Then my friends and I left for Sushi, and in my case, beer.
It was a super awesome experience and now I am addicted and have begun plotting my next piece!
Laveau was really good during the whole thing. She watched every move of the artist, and when my tattoo was complete and I got off the table, she ran up to me and wrapped her front paws around my neck in a huge hug. Poor dog was worried.