Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Goodbye Dee

I was so tired when I left my house; I’d only slept 3 hours. Before we left for the airport, I took a 3 minute last walk with Dee, and my driver filmed it so I can add it as part of my video for the guide dog schools. Dee was giving me her old fast pace, and her tail was wagging.
We had no problems getting to the gates, and my flights were on time. Dee was stressed out, and she had an accident in the airport in Denver.
On my flight from Denver, I cried for awhile. The person sitting next to me tried to have a conversation, but I just turned away to face the window. We got to Portland 5 pacific time, and we met Shelley outside of the gates. She asked me how I was, and said sad and started sobbing. I calmed down a couple minutes later, and I was able to talk. We went to some restaurant where we had burgers and tator totts.
Afterwards, it was time to say goodbye. Shelley went to find someone to show me where the gate was, while I hung out on the floor with Dee. Dee licked my face, panted, and was whining a little. She rolled over, and I rubbed her belly. She was all excited when I took the baggies of food and a new kong wubba toy from my back. When I got the elk antler, she took it from Shelley, and tried to run in circles on her leash. I disassembled the harness, took of the leash, and put her tags in my bag. Shelley hugged me, said she was sorry, and I cried some more.
After that, I went back through security again. I was too upset to talk, and all I could was nod or shake my head. The airport person wanted to know if I was ok. I kept walking into everything with my cane and wasn’t judging my distances and turns well. I was so thankful that the flight from Oregon to San Francisco was relatively empty, so I had a row to myself. I faced the window again, put a handkerchief over my face, and tried to cry silently for the first hour of the trip.
I know Dee is happy with Shelley. She remembered her, and we saw her at the airport, Dee jumped in the air and licked her in the face. I miss her. I’ve been ok since the flight from San Francisco; I was able to talk about her and even saw another dog. But now I’m crying again, so I’m going to post this and read a book or do something to try to distract myself from the sadness.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

obstacles in retirement

This is my post for The Sixth Assistance Dog Blog Carnival Because of back and shoulder problems, my four-year-old guide dog, a black lab Dee, is retired. We've had other obstacles in the past, but this is the one in my heart right now.
First, there are situational obstacles that do not allow me to keep her as a pet. I live in an apartment complex where no pets are allowed. the other major problem is lack of money. I am a grad student living on SSI and disability income. By the time I pay rent, electricity, and maybe the phone bill, I have enough money to pay for cabs or drivers and dog food for the new dog I will hopefully get some time this year. Even if I moved to somewhere pet friendly, it is not possible to pay for food, vet bills, toys, and grooming for two animals.
My next one was where did I want to place Dee. The guide dog school can placed retired dogs, but I would have no idea where she ended up, and I want updates for whoever has her. I had a few possibilities. One person who liked Dee would have given her a good home and attention, except there was no fenced in yard and Dee's off leash recall isn't as good as it should be. Another person was interested, but since she had a baby, she couldn't handle that and a new dog at the same time. Finally, I've been in contact with Dee's puppy raiser ever since I got her in 2009, and she gladly agreed to take her back.
Once she decided she wanted Dee, I had to figure out how to get her from Louisiana where I live to Oregon where she lives. GDB wanted to ship her as cargo, but I didn't like that. I was worried about her being under the plane in winter or that she would be lost in the airport transfers. I also want to say goodbye, and it feels like a better send off than putting her in a strange situation that might be scarey for her.
As I wrote before, I am on a fixed income, and plane travel is expensive. I talked to the guide dog school who will reimburse the price that it would have cost to fly Dee in cargo. I didn't have the money up front for the plane ticket. Fortunately,Dee's raiser paid for the ticket, GDB is sending her the check they would have sent to me, and I will give her the rest when I am able in a couple months.
Finally, there are emotional obstacles. I miss her guiding me; she was with me through everything: global issues conferences, interviews for journalism and research projects, my job working with blind children and  adults, blindness training in Minneapolis, graduation from college, and my move from Pennsylvania to grad school. She was always so confident with her head held high and her tail enthusiastically wagging, except when it rained. She was the reason why I gained confidence crossing busy city streets with my cane, so I could teach her that traffic wasn't scarey. She helped me balance when my hips were hurting and after I sprained my ankles. She kept me crossing in a straight line when I was dizzy from problems with anemia and hypoglysemia, so I wouldn't veer into oncoming traffic. I will miss her companionship, just lying on the floor and petting her or watching her excitedly play with the other dog and person who live with us.
Sometimes situations cannot be avoided or overcome. Even though it breaks my heart to put her in a new home, the dog who guided me through everything needs me to get past these final obstacles, so she can be free to enjoy her well-earned retirement  after her two years of service.

Monday, January 16, 2012

good news

Things have gotten much better since my last post. My old boss talked to the lions club where he is a member, and they have graciously agreed to cover my $3,000 tuition bill from last quarter. That means I will now be able to register for classes in February, and the classes will start in March.
Shelley, Dee's puppy raiser and new owner, paid for my flight. GDB is going to reimburse her $500 and I will give her the rest. It's going to be a very long day. I leave Monroe, La at 9 am, get to Houston at 11, Denver at 2, Portland at 5 where I will transfer Dee, Sanfrancisco at 9, Chicago at 5:30 the next morning, and finally Baltimore at 12:00. After that, I am going to take a train to D.C. to spend a few days with my best friend Beckie who is in seminary there. Later that week, I will be attending a teacher leader seminar for teachers of blind students. I've also been able to get a few of the vitamin and other supplements that I need to keep me functioning ok. My medicare prescription card came, and I am so relieved!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

unwell state of being

Things tend to go like this for me. I can usually handle a problem but when it causes multiple problems or little ones add up to issues, that’s when it’s bad.
I’ve said it before, but I’m exhausted and have no energy. I am also very broke. I get $720 per month. $570 of that is rent plus $30-$40 for electric. My guide dog Dee’s food is $50. That leaves me $70 to have readers for grocery shopping and going out to dinner a couple times with friends. Because of this, my phone has been off for the past 2 months, and even though it is off, I’m still charged the $120 service, even though I’m not using it. I owe $400 to them plus $30 for late fees and $30 to reactivate my number. I owe $200 to a doctor in Minneapolis after I sprayned my ankles and needed treatment, $260 to a former roommate when I borrowed it last year to buy groceries, $120 or something to my current roommate, $100 to my uncle who shipped me the rest of my packages from Pennsylvania to Louisiana, and $300 for something, maybe a former internet service provider? Thank God for food stamps.
I was supposed to have classes this quarter, but I don’t. I should have qualified to at least get stafford loans, but I did not. I cannot get a private student loan because I do not qualify, my mom doesn’t have enough money and thanks to me, not a good credit history, to cosign. Other family members plus other people I have asked can’t or don’t want to cosign for me. Rehab will cover me for the rest of my tuition for this degree, but because of ridiculousness on my end and others, I didn’t get unconditional admission last quarter. Since there was no unconditional admission, they weren’t able to pay. I owe $4,000 to the university, and until I can find some way to pay it, I can’t register for classes and rehab can’t pay until this balance is gone. Since I am not taking classes, rehab can’t pay for my rent.
Also, Dee is retired, which just makes me feel sad and all that horrible stuff. Her puppy raisers want her, but they live in Oregon. GDB wants me to take Dee to Dallas and ship her as cargo. First of all, I have no money; Dallas is a few hours from here, so I would either have to fly, take the bus, or hire a driver. Second, I don’t feel safe having Dee travel under the plane during the winter. If I did that, I would have to buy a crate which is like $100. The best way for her to get to Oregon is if I fly her as a service dog in the cabin. GDB says it’s too expensive and too long of a flight for them to cover the cost. I’m going to ask them if they can give me whatever amount they would have paid for shipping towards the cost of my plane ticket. I wanted to have Dee go this month, but that is definitely not happening now.
For some reason, I am having issues with both of my insurance providers. I am not getting medicare anymore, even though I changed my permanent address with the post office and social security. I should also have Medicaid, but I still have no card. I’ve called them five times requesting new cards; they have said each time that they mailed one. I verified my address is correct with them, and still no card. No card means no prescriptions which are necessary to my health. I am supposed to have a vitamin b12 shot as well as iron and other things for my severe anemia.
I usually take supplements in addition to my prescriptions. Omega 3 oils, multi vitamin/mineral, vitamin c, antioxidants, b-complex, glutamine, tryptophin, and probiotics/digestive enzymes. These help me to manage my hypoglysemic tendancies and depression. Since I am out of all of these and that adds up to about $250 per month, my ability to concentrate, have motivation, digest well, and overall handle stress is making me feel awful. Since I will not have money any time soon, I will be off for the next few months, more than I usually am.
Pray or send good vibes or whatever; something needs to give soon.