Family

Being a feather pillow and all those things

I have a confession: Several months ago I accidentally came across a reference to this blog (yes, this very blog) and somebody said “I used to read it, but all her good stuff is old.”

I was completely stricken by that, because dang it is true. I used to spend three or four days a week writing big dog rants that I spent days or weeks preparing, and they were good, man.

So I determined that I was not going to blog again until I was ready to knock the ball out of the park.

Three weeks later, I’m still weighing the ball in my hand trying to get up the motivation.

Some of this is just that I am tired. But I’ve blogged happily through tiredness before, and busyness, and all the other garbage. So I think most of it is this: There are times in your life that you can be really hard and really sharp, and there are times when you can’t. This is a season in my life where I think my most important job is being tender and yielding and loving to my dogs and kids and everyone around me, and every time I try to get all mad at people I feel like it’s just poisoning that. I’m in the mood to say “Dude, do whatever you want, just bring casserole.” I am working (slowly) on a post about color breeding, but it’s going very slow.

So I am going to continue to fail at posting good stuff, but if it’s OK I WILL post the pillowy stuff. And I am serious; this is STOMACH-SLEEPER pillow stuff, where the feathers are barely a quarter-inch thick and you can breathe right though ’em.

So I have to start with the most pillowy of all: Clue! I need to give an update on everybody, and Clue gets to go first.

She turns six this year and, after spending about five months acting like her brain and soul were removed along with her uterus, she’s finally pulled it together and is my old friend and the pack leader again. She’s a touch faded in the face and a little more prone to lie down instead of run around (you may be able to tell that this picture was taken as she was gracefully buckling forward on her way down to a lovely nap), but she still spends most of her time at a gleeful gallop.

Then there is Sammy. She turns NINE this year, and is still going full-time with Honour. When Honour isn’t eating her face off, that is. Sammy is fully immersed in her main role in life, which is being adored.

See? Put a blanket on the ground in the sun and three seconds after you step away she’s on her back baking herself and making horrible groaning noises as she scratches her shoulders. She’s more than earned those long slippers on her toes; I always think of them as the long fingernails worn by ladies to prove that they do absolutely no manual labor.

Clue’s new guard is coming up fast – Harper (who was here for a couple of weeks so I could take pictures) and Juno are two and a half now.

Harper inherited her mom’s constant smile and her absolute confidence in her own awesomeness. She is my herding hero; she hasn’t lived here for two years, but every time she visits I plunk her on the ground and ask her to put the chickens to bed. Even if it’s been months, she goes right to work, with a beautiful gentle lift where each bird is pushed just inches before she swings around in a steady trot to the other side of the flock. All I do is stand there, and ten minutes later there are thirty chickens in the barn, usually including ten or so who don’t actually live in the barn and are quite startled to find themselves there.

The third generation got to visit as well – you may recognize Moth, Juno’s daughter, who has turned into a gorgeous young girl with an amazing sense of humor. She’s gentler and funnier than her mom and aunt, which makes her a great favorite of the kids.

That is until Clue gets jealous and chews Honour’s arm off.

(not serious, don’t worry – just a funny pose!)

Bramble is still his terrible self; he nearly got himself thrown out of a moving train this week because he killed four half-grown chicks that had managed to get under the chicken gate. He went down the row, picking up each one and crunching it, then laying it down and killing the next. We lost them all without a sound and in the two minutes it took for me to get outside after a kid said “I think Bramble’s looking odd over by the fence.”

The truth, of course, is that I didn’t even discipline him. I may have WANTED to see him sent in a rocket to the moon, but it was my fault for not noticing that the rain had washed out a channel and not burying wire under the gate. And killing things is his job. So I just kicked a rock for a few minutes and then he slept on the bed that night like usual. Otherwise, he’s doing fantastic and we really do love him, horribleness and all.

And then there’s Godric. We are SO proud of Godric.

He’s still a baby, just over a year old. But he’s the loveliest baby ever. We’ve been asking more and more of him in terms of doing service work, and he’s really getting it.

He’s also being more intensively task-trained than we’ve ever done before, since we know he’s the service dog who will go with Honour to college and likely to her first job. One of his biggest tasks right now is indication (telling Honour which objects he thinks she should pick up – the goal of this is to have her be able to go grocery shopping or to a restaurant on her own, where she can get distressed thinking about all the other people who have touched an object). This is actually a really tough thing for a dog to do, because it isn’t really a command; it’s a request that they make a decision – and the entire group of things is new and nothing about them indicates which he should choose. So it’s been months of “Godric, pick one with your mouth. OK, now pick one with your hand,” but he really gets it! It’s one of his favorite games now and he’ll go slap or bite one of whatever you show him. Our next step is to move it further away from him and at different heights; I would guess in a year we’ll have a fake grocery shelf set up somewhere and he’s ordering people to bring him bottles of soda.

Meanwhile he will bait very prettily for grass.

On Memorial Day, I got to matchmake what I hope is a connection between a dog needing a home and a home needing a dog (I really really hope! Still waiting on the final word). The fabulous thing for me is that I should be able to keep taking photos of Bella.

I love this dog. She is so fun, so athletic, so BULLY.

There’s something about these dogs that is just like music – rock music, but you can dance to it.

I love how physical they are, how much they use their bodies, how instinctively they understand their own weight and balance. It’s very, very lovely to photograph a well put together bully breed.

I also love THIS. The fact that their entire body is built to pull. They get low and all those muscle groups suddenly get in a straight line and everything works. Look at how soft her face is when she’s pulling.

And OK, yes, kids too. Can’t do nothing but dogs! Over the last 18 months we got three nephews and a niece, and I get to see several of them all the time.

Look at that squishy boy! Just starting to walk and he’s so beautiful.

And we got a baby girl too (hooray!) – she’s a Leap Day baby and Doug keeps carrying her around and cooing to her and then hinting to me that I’d really like another baby. She’s a good advertisement, I gotta say that.

My own other kids are doing well – I don’t have super-recent pictures because they’re all in the throes of photographer’s kid syndrome and when I take the camera out either screech and run away or immediately dive into mud. Honour gets featured a lot not because I spend more time with her but because she can still be bribed, unlike the others! I am going to try to remedy that soon. But meanwhile, kisses to you all and I promise more blogging more of the time – as long as you can stand that it’s pretty soft and fuzzy.

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53 Comments

  • Reply Misti Prochnow June 4, 2012 at 1:38 am

    I have to admit that I’ve been going through some withdrawals πŸ™‚ And that bully…man, is she ever a bodybuilder! I picture her wearing a teeny pink bikini, all oiled up and flexing for the cameras, lol.

  • Reply Joanna Kimball June 4, 2012 at 1:44 am

    She is amazing. And that’s on cheap food and very little exercise, honestly. The home we’re hoping about for her is going to run her miles every day, and I can hardly wait to see her in a month or two!

  • Reply Micaela P. June 4, 2012 at 2:13 am

    I’m all about soft and fuzzy right now… I hit a big wall some time ago and feel emotionally exhausted right away when something comes up that gets me all stirred up. And then I find myself hoping that there are new pictures of beautiful dogs on your FB page or your blog to distract and soothe.me πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Adrienne Harkavy June 4, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Thank you for all the updates. I told Porter (AKA Zen) that his mom, Clue, has a great pic online. He has her smile. If you have a pic of Porter, you may want to put that with Clue’s progeny, too. He is sweet, lovable, and can be crazy, energetic, goofy, agile, and nothin’ but fun. Boys, after all, just wanna have fu-uhn.

  • Reply Julie Ellingson June 4, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I enjoy these posts as much as the heavy stuff. I like watching little girls become young ladies and young puppies grow to beautiful adult dogs. Life isn’t all lectures and deep thoughts. Sometimes you just have to bask in the sun and play with dog toes and enjoy your family.

  • Reply Susan Whelan Temple June 4, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I totally understand the want to be sweet and soft time of life. Whatever… I love reading your blog sweet or sassy. And your photos! Your baby niece makes me want to scrunch my face up and squeal.

  • Reply Alison June 4, 2012 at 7:56 am

    I love the soft and fuzzy too (though I really enjoy your serious dog stuff posts as well). It is so nice seeing your dogs again! I have missed reading your blog πŸ™‚ Godric’s ears maybe me squeal btw <3

  • Reply Addy Thank you June 4, 2012 at 8:17 am

    for the updates! Great to see the kids, furry and human. Clue looks wonderful, and to really update her, maybe you’ll want to post a pic of Porter (AKA Zen) who has her smile.

  • Reply Debra June 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I love your soft and fuzzy! We have a very beloved pet Cardigan and I love seeing your pet and family photos and reading their stories.

  • Reply Ron June 4, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I like all of your stuff, but prefer the humourous. Clue’s announcement of her impending litter was my favourite bit of writing in 2011.

    Daisy Poppy?

  • Reply Mike June 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I always enjoy reading your work, no matter the content. The amazing photos are frosting on the cake

  • Reply Suzanne June 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I love all your posts but mostly those with pics. My young housemate and I oooh and aaah over pics of the girls and the dogs.

  • Reply Diane Root June 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Joanna, I enjoy all your posts since I discovered your blog. The pictures are just wonderful and very special for me because we are between dogs at this time and it’s such a pleasure to read about and see all your adventures…dogs, chickens, kids, opinions…you have a way with words and images!

    Now, I have to go look up the post on how Clue announced her impending litter, lol!

    Diana, the newbie to your blog

  • Reply Ann June 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I can always count on your blog for beautiful dog pictures – but what a treat for this bully-momma to see beautiful Bella. What a lovely girl (and look at this muscles!).

  • Reply Beth June 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I love new posts (fluff or not)! Serious posts are great, but I really enjoy seeing what’s new with your family, your four legged kids, and your photography (stunning pictures, as always).
    Besides, nobody wants to be serious all the time. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Ron June 4, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I recognised Moth’s picture immediately. (Actually, she reminds me of A Tail of Two Cardis Jimmy).

    I have placed a deposit on a sweet, calm boy, pending puppy evaluations in three weeks. If he turns out to be a show pick, then my second choice is the firecracker of the litter – the Moth of his family.

    Give me hope. Moth has given up on crack?

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 5, 2012 at 1:29 am

      Moth is still as exciting as ever, but has a sweetness to her that’s really lovely. Thank God. Because Juno and Harper together are the canine equivalent of thrash metal.

  • Reply Beth June 4, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I actually really like your dogs-and-kids posts (and chickens!) and your dog rants frequently make me go “Grrr!” and shake my Tiny Impotent Fist of Rage, and so I am happy enough for the activity. I too loved the Clue litter announcement. I laughed out loud and made my husband read it. Poor guy does it just to humor me.

  • Reply Amanda June 5, 2012 at 1:23 am

    We all need a little soft and fluffy once in a while. It’s hard work to be angry and have passion about issues all the time. I’ve given up trying to make my blog readers happy. I think less about what they want to hear and more about what my heart wants me to write. My blog is about me- and your blog is about you and your perfectly awesome dogs and perfectly adorable family. Anything else is a bonus.

    So keep the soft and fluffy coming. Or whatever. Although I do wish for more Daisy Poppy photos because I love her. πŸ˜‰

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 5, 2012 at 1:35 am

      Daisy Poppy wasn’t in the yard that afternoon because she thinks her tiny white paws will get dirty. She’s responded to me telling her she’s retired (for obvious reasons, she won’t be bred again, and we’re just waiting for the puppies to be a little older before we spay her) by flopping herself over every object in the house and refusing to lift a finger. She’s dropped all her coat, gotten embarrassingly fat, and snores audibly. I keep threatening to institute a boot camp, but we love her so much that it’ll never happen. I WILL get some pictures, though, because she has NO HAIR and it’s hilarious. Maybe I can threaten to reveal them and get her on a treadmill or something.

      The other one we missed was Milo, who was away for the week. He’s back now and is so amazingly gorgeous. I don’t mean necessarily in a show-ring way, but he has the most beautiful face and fat paws and coat and oh my heck. So pics of him are forthcoming as well.

  • Reply bliss June 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I like soft and fuzzy and hard and edgy and everything in between. I think in our fast food nation of texting and social media people expect way to much instant gratification. I was raised on reading a mixture of the classics and Nancy Drew. So I enjoy a balance. And if the soft and fuzzy it is on the menu then I am going to slowly savor it. Please do not change and not write due to one persons comment.

  • Reply Jen Renton June 6, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Do you still have Friday? Has she gone to live elsewhere? She is the same age as our Sasha, and I often think of her.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 6, 2012 at 4:53 am

      Oh my, yes, Friday is right here. She didn’t make it in to that particular set of photos because she was too muddy or something, but she went to Nationals and a couple of shows this spring and now is retired from the show ring to have babies. I will get some of the latest pictures up. Friday is going nowhere, I promise! I am so happy with the group I have right now that I have no plans to place anybody if I can possibly help it.

  • Reply Beth June 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but something has been slowly bubbling in my head, and it relates to the part of your post about Godric’s work. Am I understanding correctly that he will be going into grocery stores and touching objects there with his mouth or paws when all is said and done?

    In my mind that raises all sorts of sanitation issues. As someone who is somewhat immuno-compromised by medication, I am a hand-sanitizer freak and generally avoid pot lucks and that sort of thing. I love my own dogs but would certainly not want them to mouth or paw anything that is contacting food. If a dog paws the top of a cereal box, and then you open that box and pour out the top, the cereal is at risk of being contaminated. Is this somethign stores would allow? Where do your own daughter’s needs get balanced by the needs of others? I know, for instance, that people who go through chemo are at huge risk of infection, and dogs’ feet and mouth both tend to harbor bacteria. (By the way, if I knew another person had put their feet or mouth on a box I would not want that box either, so this is not just because it’s dogs).

    I know guide dogs are allowed in stores, but then they are trained not to touch objects.

    Or would Godric eventually be trained to point to things without touching them?

    • Reply KellyK June 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      That’s a good point and I’m curious to hear Joanna’s answer. If Godric is only touching objects that Honor is actually going to take, though, it should make it mostly moot.

      I also wonder if a dog touching something in a public area is a much higher contamination risk than the fact that people are touching it, or just a more noticeable one. If someone has a service dog in the store, then pets that dog or the dog licks their hand, they can spread germs that way without the dog having to touch anything. Likewise, if someone doesn’t wash their hands between touching an animal–or money, or a bathroom door handle, or anything else germy–and going in the grocery store, they can germify everything they touch, even though you wouldn’t know that from watching them in the store.

      • Reply KellyK June 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm

        Ooops. Honour, not Honor.

      • Reply Beth June 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

        Oh, I understand people spread germs! It’s just that we assume that at least a good chunk of people make a valid attempt to wash their hands on a somewhat regular basis. And dogs, er, don’t. To put it another way, if you saw someone in the grocery store on her hands and knees so that her hands were actively touching the ground where everyone walked, and then you saw her get up and not wash her hands and pick up some groceries and put them back, would you pull those objects off the shelf? I know I would not. If I have touched my dogs, their bowls, towels, brushes, food, etc I always wash before handling any food packages, and that is in my own home.

        I think it’s a great idea for Honour but I’m wondering how many stores would allow it and how many shoppers would be comfortable with it.

        • Reply rufflyspeaking June 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm

          Fetching and holding objects with the mouth is an absolutely standard part of the service dog repertoire and it is allowed by law in every grocery store.

          When a box of cereal falls on the floor, any shopper or stockist picks it up and puts it back. It doesn’t get thrown away. There’s no sterility in a grocery store (or in fact, once the cooking or canning is done, in any part of the assembly line that manufactured the food, the factory that packed it, the company that shipped it, the guy who offloaded it, the kid who priced it and shelved it, or the ten shoppers who looked at the ingredient list and then put it back) and no expectation thereof. If there was, Honour wouldn’t have a problem in the store :).

          Godric is cleaner than most humans; this is a dog who is bathed daily (and that’s not an exaggeration). One of the reasons we chose his breed is that their coats and skin can handle the incredibly frequent bathing and grooming that she requires in her dogs. But even if he wasn’t, a service dog is explicitly allowed to do mouth tasks in public and that is protected by federal law.

        • Reply Leanne June 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm

          I’m being kind of presumptuous by responding to this since I’m not a service dog trainer, but as a regular old dog trainer, I would guess that the current mouth/paw touch is just a transition phase to teach him about decision making. As Joanna says up in her post: “Our next step is to move it further away from him and at different heights; I would guess in a year we’ll have a fake grocery shelf set up somewhere and he’s ordering people to bring him bottles of soda.”

          Godric sounds pretty awesome and all, but he’s a tiny little Papillion, I don’t think he’s going to be fetching those soda bottles himself. The only shelves which are going to be accessable for him to physically touch is the very bottom one, unless Honour carries him (but even then I foresee problems on a logistical level, having to walk very close to the shelves etc). I think it’s more likely he’ll be trained to indicate an item from a distance, which only adds to the complexity of the task and my admiration for him.

          • Leanne June 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

            Oh hey, Joanna responded at the same time as me. She knows more about this than I do! πŸ™‚

        • Reply KellyK June 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm

          Unless they had dropped it into something or stuck their hand in something visibly gross, I actually wouldn’t think anything of it. But then, I’m not immune-compromised, so it’s not something I pay that kind of attention to.

          • Beth June 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm

            Well yes, perspective changes when you have special needs…. I personally don’t fancy the idea of a dog who just ate raw chicken mouthing my groceries. We get our meat last, keep it separate from other food items, and I wash or use hand sanitizer after handling the packaging. I guess it’s a complicated topic. One person’s (legitimate) help feeds into another person’s (legitimate) fears. I know for instance that my meds make me more prone to listeria an TB. I don’t know about salmonella. My only hope is that each of us always weigh how our own choices impact other people’s choices, which can be said of every situation. I don’t expect a grocery store to be sanitized, but honestly nor did I ever imagine anyone possibly mouthing my stuff before I bought it. I would feel the same if someone’s toddler mouthed something and it went back on the shelf…. So I don’t hold the expectation of totally sanitary conditions, but nor do I expect mouth contact on something I might be buying.

            My understanding is that things have gotten more complicated as we have moved away from just mostly seeing eye dogs lying quietly under the table towards other dogs who perform other, more tactile, tasks. I know there has been lots of discussion and even some changes in legislation as business owners try to accommodate the requirements of people with service animals while also dealing with other customers who truly don’t like animals– especially when it comes to restaurants and food stores where animals are otherwise excluded specifically due to sanitation concerns.

          • rufflyspeaking June 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm

            The changes in service animal legislation have NEVER contemplated access or whether the definition of allowed tasking should change. They’ve only clarified what a gatekeeper is allowed to ask (“Is this a service animal?” and “What does this animal do for you?”) and said that the ADA definition applies only to dogs (other animals are regulated by individual states or sometimes cities).

            Service dogs are allowed to perform their work and tasking – including mouth tasking – anywhere that the public is allowed, including hospital rooms, restaurants, grocery stores, and so on. Someone else’s fear or dislike of dogs is very specifically NOT allowed to restrict access; that’s addressed in the legislation.

            In the three states where we spend our lives (NH, MA, and ME), service dogs in training are given all the rights and access permissions that full-fledged service dogs are. So technically all we’d have to ever say is “This is a service dog in training” and we’d never be disallowed after that. We’ve made a personal decision to keep Godric out of food-associated public places for a little while longer until he can be as rigidly righteous as Sammy can (if Sam knows that she isn’t supposed to sniff recreationally, she will avoid it so religiously that she’ll turn herself into a pretzel to keep her face away from something).

            But that is a PERSONAL decision. I feel very strongly that no service dog handler or family should feel any pressure to go “above and beyond” the ADA requirements. Nobody should ever say “All SDs should wear vests/have IDs/have doctor’s notes/have a prescription/have ADI public access test results/whatever else, because we should be going above and beyond the ADA requirements for the sake of [principle x, y, or z].” All that does is lead gatekeepers to think they can challenge undressed/unIDed/unpapered service dog teams and therefore leads to increased discrimination to those teams.

            In the same way that if I had a child in a wheelchair I’d expect a store owner to pay the money to make the store accessible even if it might not be personally pleasant for that person or might tick off other patrons, I expect owners and other patrons to follow the law when it comes to my child with a service dog.

            And, honestly, there’s not the slightest real increase in danger in terms of health. Grocery stores are not clean places. Nobody else waits until the end to get their ground beef. People are not turned away from restaurants based on visible cleanliness or whether they had just come from the bathroom. And that’s why there cannot be a legal challenge to service dogs based on germs in those places; it would fall to pieces unless you also put every child’s hands under a black light before you let them touch the soup cans.

          • Beth June 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm

            Joanna, I would only ask that you have as much respect for my very real, very legitimate health concerns as I do for your daughter’s very real mental health issues.

            The laws DID change to state that dogs had to perform specific tasks and that comfort dogs were not considered service dogs under the law. I know you say there is zero increased risk but you cannot make that claim. There are quite a few studies showing which diseases are likely to be carried by dogs, just as there are about which are likely to spread by poor hand-washing.

            I’m not asking for stores to bar your dog. I would only hope that if someone immuno-compromised is uncomfortable about a dog mouthing groceries, you would give that legitimate concern the same respect you expect people to give your daughter’s fears. Your daughter has fears about contamination that I can’t imagine, having never dealt with that. I have fears based on the real truth that my immune system just no longer works like everyone else’s and what was a nuisance infection for you could easily kill me (at worst) or make me come off my meds and have increased pain and decreased mobility every day.

            I’m not talking about a legal challenge, just a general consideration that “gee, my dog mouthing objects in grocery stores might have an impact on other people.” Again, I never expect a grocery store to be sterile. That is MY issue to deal with. But I would hope that a parent whose child can’t stop putting things in his mouth would keep it away from the cereal boxes and like I said it never occurred to me that someone’s dog might be touching my stuff before I brought it home. “And, honestly, there’s not the slightest real increase in danger in terms of health.” is just not something you can say.

            I was never that aware of germs til all the black box labels on my meds. They are now something I think about. You have given me another angle I’d not considered. I can sympathize with your family’s concerns. Surely you can sympathize with mine? I’ve seen the studies on swabs of dogs’ and cats’ saliva, etc, and the studies of raw fed vs other feeding types. I understand what the risks are. “No risk” is not the term I’d use. I know a fair amount about ADA because I fall under it. I would hope people would not handle raw meat and then touch the produce or the nuts. While I know not everyone is that considerate, I also know there is a huge public health push around hand cleanliness, for very obvious reasons: touching something contaminated and then touching something else spreads germs and causes disease outbreaks. And I know the things dogs touch with their muzzles, being close to the ground and scent-oriented. I would be appalled if someone in front of me at the grocery store touched the ground where other dogs pooped, touched a dead worm, touched another dog’s backside, didn’t wash and then picked stuff up at put it back. I may understand your daughter’s needs, but the idea of a dog touching my food stuff makes me go “ick” just as much as a person who touched those same things would.

          • rufflyspeaking June 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm

            I am thankful to say that we are fully legally protected and look forward to a long and happy service relationship with Godric and other dogs. And the wording is “do work or perform tasks.” It’s very important to make that distinction. Emotional support animals are pets who do what all pets do – comfort and love us. Service dogs DO WORK or perform tasks. And there is absolutely no room under the ADA for people to require service dogs to do only the work THEY think is work or is acceptable in their world. Thankfully.

            Honour may have an emotional disability, but she has the ability to separate her fears of contamination from reality. She is absolutely aware that she has a FEELING about something, and that’s not the FACT about something. In the same way, I would hope that people can separate their feeling about service dogs in public places from the facts.

          • KellyK June 7, 2012 at 7:51 am

            This is meant as a reply to Beth, but the replies are nested too deep for me to put it in the right spot.

            I agree that it would be courteous to keep service-dog mouthing of items that you (generic you) aren’t taking home to a minimum. I also understand the concern about holding a service dog to an extra-legal expectation giving businesses grounds to discriminate, so I think it has to be a personal choice that can’t really be expected.

            Because there are so many other sources of contamination besides service dogs, the onus probably falls on the person who’s immune-compromised (or the person getting groceries for them) to swipe every boxtop and jar lid with sanitizer wipes when they get home if that’s necessary.

          • priscilla June 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

            Joanna correct me if im wrong, but my guess is that service dog isnt allowed to eat raw meat .(as indicated in the previous comment) The only reason i assume that is because according to the Delta dog rules (now called pet partners) no raw diet for our dogs.

            Great blog by the way …love your not so serious stuff.. Daisy Poppy is my kind of girl..
            Your list of family dogs seems to be growing LOL

          • rufflyspeaking June 7, 2012 at 11:23 am

            No, service dogs are not restricted in diet. When Delta banned raw diets it was a great tragedy for a huge number of THERAPY dog teams (who had been feeding raw all along, with zero incidence of illness, and then had to drop out of the organization), but a therapy dog is not the same thing as a service dog and their jobs are quite different. And of course Delta is only one of many therapy dog organizations, and the other organizations do not have diet restrictions even for dogs going into hospitals. (I might also add that in both the hospitals we’ve used lately, both prestigious places, household pet dogs are encouraged to come visit long-term patients and children – and no diet restrictions.)

  • Reply lisa June 7, 2012 at 12:12 am

    But your hope that people are cleanly minded in public is simply inaccurate. Most people are filthy—-they don’t wash after the bathroom, they touch anything and everything and sneeze or cough in their hands and then touch more stuff. I’m afraid, for simple practical reasons, that the onus is on you to protect yourself from germs. There is no other way to ensure your safety. Banning Godric from doing necessary tasks for Honour would do nothing to stop the kid with his fingers in his diaper from touching your box of cereal.

    And anecdotally—I eat from the same spoon as my dog, we share a pillow and often an ice cream. I’ve never gotten sick from any of these. I’ve gotten plenty of food poisoning from the shared table at work, but never has my dog made me ill. As someone who can’t contemplate sleeping without my girlie, because I don’t sleep without my girlie, I can’t even begin to contemplate what someone who REALLY needs their dog would feel like without him. It would be unthinkable.

  • Reply Priscilla Petty Babbitt June 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

    love your stuff!! huge fan…

  • Reply Beth June 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I agree that the legal onus has to protect the dog handler. But we don’t all live our lives according to the minimum the law requires.

    I read something interesting while researching this: a school must allow a service dog even if workers or other students are severely allergic to dogs, and the dog must have access to all public places. It is up to the person with the allergy to be sequestered. But does not the person with the severe allergy also have a disability, and are they not entitled to some protection? Apparently, the answer is no. And so if a child in school has a peanut alllergy, the school can and frequently does ban peanuts from the whole school. But someone with a dog allergy has no recourse and must sequester themselves.

    I know full well that I need to watch for infections myself, having lived with it for years. I have hand sanitizer in my car, in my purse, at my desk. I sanitize after handling money, touching doors, handrails, etc. I do know that people’s unwashed hands can and do spread germs. Therefore, it is also a germ fact that dogs who mouth things also spread germs. And I know that there are always lots of discussions about how best to shape laws to protect everyone.

    June, I can point you to plenty of documented instances of people getting sick from their own dogs and cats. Anecdote is not evidence, and “I have never gotten sick” is anecdote. My own cat sleeps on my bed, though I’d never allow my dogs. I wash my hands after handling dogs or their stuff, and certainly if my own dogs mouthed a cereal bag I dropped on the floor I would throw it out. Again, we all have rights and we all have responsibilities to consider how exercising our own rights impacts others. I can’t disagree with Delta’s decision and they have their studies to back it up. It is Joanna’s personal decision to feed a dog raw meat and have it wander in a yard with live chickens (another big source of germs) and then encourage that dog to go into a grocery store and touch things that others might buy. No one can stop her from making those decisions. No one can stop someone from not washing after using the bathroom, either. Doesn’t make me have to be happy with either decision.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking June 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      I have the sudden urge to go lick Godric deeply and then see if I die or something, but I think he’d be too offended.

      My poultry is tested by the state for diseases, and we only add new stock from tested farms. The service dogs are bathed daily. The coccidia that affects chickens doesn’t affect humans. Many more transmissions of disease from dogs to humans comes from kibble-fed dogs than from raw-fed dogs. I have demonstrably lower rates of salmonella here from the chickens than you would get from picking up a family pack of factory-farmed drumsticks at the supermarket. I and my kids and my dogs are likely to be among the cleanest individuals in a grocery store in any one day.

      There’s an illusion of cleanliness that you have about grocery stores or restaurants that just simply doesn’t exist in real life, and an illusion of dirtiness about dogs that also just doesn’t exist. The fact that it IS an illusion is why service dogs are allowed anywhere the public is – they are no dirtier or germier or riskier than any member of the public.

      • Reply Beth June 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm

        Joanna, this will be (I’m sure you are relieved) my last response. I will say again I am not saying dogs are dirtier than people, though their mouths are more like our mouths plus our hands if we didn’t wash. I will say again that I would not want a person to touch the ground where dogs were loose (or any animals, or even where people walked) and then touch stuff without washing. I would not want people licking my cereal box before I buy it (and most people don’t mouth things in stores). I would certainly not applaud anyone who claimed that they routinely handled raw chicken and live chickens and dirt and all sorts of things, did not wash their hands, and then went out in public and touched stuff. There is a huge public health push to remind people to wash their hands for a good reason.

        I am all in favor of the laws that allow service dogs access to all sorts of places, including restaurants and stores, and am sorry if I did not make that clear.

        I just no more want a dog mouthing stuff I might buy than I would want a toddler or anyone else mouthing it. And yes it can spread germs. Of course it can. I have much less expectation of cleanliness than you seem to think (or I would not use hand sanitizer). Certainly there must be other ways Godric can help Honour without having to mouth things in public, but again that choice is yours. The law supports your choice. I just hoped to share that it can have impacts on others, but I’m pretty sure you won’t see it that way, so there’s not much else to say.

    • Reply KellyK June 7, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      That’s interesting (and pretty unfortunate) that there’s no protection for students or employees with severe allergies. If you have a link handy, I’d be curious to read more.

      From what I can tell by 20 seconds of Googling, life-threatening allergies do count as a disability under the ADA, so I would think that providing a way for an employee not to be around a severe allergy trigger would be a reasonable accommodation. Depending on the job, though, I can see it being tricky to actually manage. (For students, I would hope class schedules could be adjusted so that the allergic student and the student with a service dog aren’t in the same classes.)

    • Reply Valerie June 29, 2012 at 11:45 am

      the saliva of dogs is highly antibacterial. that is why they heal their wounds by licking them, and part of the reason they are not susceptible to salmonella poisoning. i would venture to guess that a dog’s mouth is much more sanitary than a human’s hand at any given time.

  • Reply Toni June 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I emailed you concerned about the long absence after your van accident & was delighted when you responded that you were just crazy busy but would be back. Since then, I’ve lost my husband in an accident & want you to know that the pillowy stuff is a blessing to me & I’m thrilled that you include it! Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  • Reply Lisa June 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Oh for pity’s sake. There is no expectation of cleanliness in a grocery. Or a restaurant, at least not among the patients. The germiest place in the world is a hospital. The last person to touch your food may have been a homeless person with contagious hepatitis. I work in a hospital and seriously, we see the dirtiest people and guess what—they don’t make me sick either.

    In situations where one person’s solution to their disability impacts another’s disability, they must discuss and come to an accommodation. I’m not sure that someone’s potential to become ill, when no other individuals are able to be screened for potential germiness except a much needed service dog, ranks as a disability. You can’t require everyone to wash their hands, and actual studies back up the fact that it doesn’t often happen.

  • Reply Laura June 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I just wrote and deleted a whole 3 paragraphs.

    In summary: Joanna is being very brave to share her family’s story about the NEED for a service animal for her daughter. This is not fluff. This is close to the bone, keep you up at night parenting pain, and decision making stuff. She and her husband are doing the best for their family as they can.

    If you want clean food buy it from a farmer’s market or some other source as close to “raw” or unprocessed as you can and process it yourself. Food from a “grocery store” comes from manufactoring plans that “protect” their products from rodents, aging and so on with a whole host of yucky stuff. If you buy things — any thing — from there — wash it off or put it in a different package before you store it or open it.

    I know this because I worked in a manufacturing plant with a storage facilty attached and was given the safety tour on my first day. I was only in the dispatch office — but I didn’t last long . . .

    I also know about the need for a S.A. because I have struggled with my own needs and how best to meet them. The reason I don’t, right now, have a Service Dog (amongst many) is the public opinion that the only Service Dog that is worth anything is a guide dog for the blind or a service dog for someone in a wheel chair.

    I give Joanna, Honour and the whole Kimball family kudos for their public education service in this “fluff” piece.

    • Reply KellyK June 14, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Laura, I’m sorry people don’t get it as far as service animals. (Especially when what medical condition necessitates one and what the dog does for you isn’t anyone else’s business–my understanding is that businesses are only allowed to confirm that it’s a service dog that does tasks for you related to an ADA-covered issue.)

      And I hope that you’re either able to get one or able to get what you need taken care of some other way.

  • Reply KellyK June 14, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Any news on Bella? Was the matchmaking successful? She is gorgeous and reminds me of my tan and white foster girl Reba.

  • Reply Ron June 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Still waiting on pictures of the retired princess and your extremely hairy dog.

    And still shaking my head at the fact that you caught flak after relating that you can’t be arguing.

    Ron

  • Reply Valerie June 29, 2012 at 11:39 am

    i love all your photographs, but the photo of moth is extraordinary. it looks like it captures the very essence of her soul. i can see love and intelligence pouring out of her eyes and expressive face.

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