Cut My Foot, Found Perspective.

I haven’t been posting as much as I would like lately but for good reason!  I’ve actually been getting out and seeing the world this week!  Marshall had the week off from work so I have had company and transportation.  It’s been pretty nice :).  Nothing too thrilling really just spent the week enjoying not being a hermit, clearing the snow outside, hanging out with friends, playing with my pooches, not doing such a great job with my blood sugar, and cutting my foot open.

Yeah… I did that.  Now for those of you who don’t know diabetes well, healing is a bit of a problem.  Particularly when the wound is on the lower extremities.  Here is a great explanation from MEDPEDIA and Dr. Kelly Sennholz MD:

“There are two reasons I know of why wounds don’t heal. The first reason is, it is well documented that phagocytes (the white blood cells that eat up bacteria to get rid of them) are “stunned” for over 5 hours after a single spike in one’s blood sugar. This inhibits the body’s ability to get rid of bacteria which cause inflammation in the wound, leading to slower healing. The second reason is that each time you spike your blood sugar, you cause a process called glycation. Glycation is the abnormal binding of proteins with sugars, causing dysfunction in vessels, nerves and truly, all over the body. The glycation products can be removed from your body with stabilization of sugars, but this takes longer in tissues like nerves. The glycation is probably one of the reasons for MANY of the serious medical issues that arise with diabetes and probably contributes to poor wound healing, also. I’m sure there are many other, less well defined biochemical reasons for the slow wound healing but these two are well studied.”

When I was originally hospitalized I had a very large wound on my knee cap (I had been knocked down by a horse at my job and had skinned my knee severely) that hadn’t heeled in a three week period.  I was put on IV antibiotics and it was almost totally healed after my three day stay in the hospital.  After seeing how that injury struggled to heal I’ve been aware of the potential of these injuries.  Over the summer while working at the Resort I cut my toe while pulling a sunken canoe out of the lake and onto the dock.  The next day my friend and co-worker “MB” took me to the ER and I explained that I was diabetic and while the injury wasn’t terrible I was concerned because my job had me in the lake nearly everyday.  The doctor agreed that I should be on antibiotics and viola, healed healthy and I got to keep my foot!

So, yesterday Marshall and I were hanging out in our room and I was navigating my way through a pile of dogs on the floor when CRACK!  I believe I sounded something like, “Fuck, fuck, fuck, oh god” and then I moved to a Family Guy style injury reaction for a while.  After I finally came around Marshall was able to actually get a response to his question, “What just happened?”

“I just smashed my heel on the bed frame.”

“Let me see.”

“It’s not too bad, it just hurts because I whacked it so hard.”

“Just let me see.”

As I took my hands off my heel and swung my leg around for Marshall to see he drew in a quick breath and said, “That’s really bad.  You cut yourself open!”

“I did?!”  I looked down the back of my leg to see for myself.  Shit… he was right, I have a big gash on the back of my foot.  I had just gotten new slippers from my parents for Christmas and until this moment thought they were the perfect slippers (warm, thick soles, grippy texture on the bottom).  This however has taught me about slippers, I need a full foot- perhaps knee high mukluks?

The more conversations I have with people the more I realize that Marshall is very involved and aware of my disease.  I find myself often disappointed with him (which isn’t fair) because he doesn’t always remember that food is my main “enemy”.  It is frustrating when his first thought when it comes to dinner is carbs (pizza, Chinese, hot pockets, pasta) omitting vegetables and often protein all together.  Or when I test really low  and he seems to have no sense of urgency and he has to finish his video game or whatever before he can help me deal with it.  When I begin to feel this way it’s important to remind myself about everything else he has done and learned.  He knows what my numbers should be, what to do when I am high or low, what my insulin/carb ratio is, how to respond when I am distant (when I get really low I get very spacey and a little combative), the emotional swings and extremes, and he has taken on the financial responsibility of a girlfriend with a chronic disease.  He’s a good man, he just needs more training 😉 hehe.

Well Marshall took me downstairs, had me clean, treat and dress my “wound”.  This morning it is sore but doesn’t look as bad as I expected.  It isn’t very red and isn’t producing any discharge (sorry for those of you who are squeamish) so I am going to continue to keep an eye on it and if it isn’t significantly improved in the next couple days then I will have Doc. Smile call in a prescription for me.  I am a little concerned because I suspect that I do have some nerve damage therefor causing a reduction in feeling in my feet and hands.  Nothing too drastic but it could prevent me from realizing the extent of injuries to those areas.  It’s a good thing that I have someone else to remind me about taking care of these things.  Now if I could remember to not be so hard on him…  I often forget that this happened to Marshall too.  He has been here with me, the whole time, struggling, hurting, scared, and overwhelmed.  Sometimes it’s important to remember that just because I have diabetes doesn’t mean that Marshall doesn’t struggle with the disease everyday.  It’s easy to become selfish and self pitying.  It’s hard to see what this struggle would look and feel like from the other side.  I always tell Marshall how hard and frightening it would be to have a child with diabetes.  To know that they could be taken away at any moment and to know that all I can do is push back sickness and death everyday but I will never be able to cure them.  Now as I am writing this post I am realizing that Marshall does know what that’s like, he lives that everyday already.  Whew… how’s that for some perspective?!


Missed the Boat to Middle Earth, Flew With Wild Winged Buffalos Instead

So Friday night Marshall and I met up with a group of friends with the intention of going to see “The Hobbit”.  I hope you noticed my use of the word “intention” because that’s the basis for the whole adventure.  Two of our friends wanted to ride in our car (Marshall’s car,it’s a rabbit, 4 seater) so already I’ll admit I wasn’t thrilled.  Truth be told, the space Judah had in the back “hatch” area was not by any means too small for him, we set it up so it was comfortable and he even had toys to amuse himself.  I was concerned mostly because it had rained all day.  Not a little drizzle or even a drizzley day with passing showers.  It was showers, all day long.  Don’t see the connection?  Let me explain some things to you;

Judah is a husky, yes he is a mix but he doesn’t know that, he’s all husky all the time.  He wants to move, move, move.  Run.  Run- anywhere or no where it doesn’t much matter to him as long as it’s happening fast.  He is fantastic at his job and always does his best to present his best and most appropriate self, he is successful because I respect what he is.  I make sure he has a chance to run, wrestle, bush whack, pee, roll, swim, and all those other wild husky beast things!  BUT, when it is shitty out (sorry but that’s the perfect word for the weather here on Friday- I try to wisely place my swears) and I know we have some where to go, I have to also remember that he needs to be groomed and tidy.  Tidy is NOT a word I would use to describe a wet dog with a double coat.  So- he stayed in for most of the day.  This generally leads to a restless and stressed Judah.

So I was concerned about confining him to a small travel space, that he wasn’t used to, for a drive that was over an hour.  Somehow I was the only one who seemed the slightest bit concerned for Judah’s comfort and security, Rrrrrr (that’s not totally true, 🙂 Marshall did say that if Judah seemed bothered they would have to sit with him on the back seat).  Well all my excuses went away when the weather decided to stay warm (therefor leaving the roads free of ice), it stopped raining (wet dog no longer an “issue”, really it isn’t impossible to deal with).  I packed a dog jacket and some towels in case the weather changed again a dinner serving of food for Judah and filled a treat pouch with some stale cheerios.*  We picked up our friends and headed south to the cinema.  We arrived piled out of our cars and headed inside.  As the six of us (and my four legged pancreas) stood in line we found out that the 3D showings were all sold out, bummer (yay!) but there were still ‘regular’ showings.  We continued to wind through the line chatting amongst ourselves and just as each couple stepped up to their respective ticket window the words rang over the land, “The Hobbit is sold out.”

You have got to be kidding me.  We drove so far out of our way to see this movie in 3D and now we weren’t going to get to see it at all!  Ugh…  well to top it off no one had any idea what they wanted to do.  Eventually after a great deal of loitering about (and being in the way) we agreed to head over the the mall and go to the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant/bar.  We all met over at the restaurant and it was slamming inside.  We waited in the lobby area while Mrs. Coyote (of Mr and Mrs. Coyote- one of the couples we were with) handled the waiting list and seating arrangements.  She did come and check with me to see if we needed special seating arrangements because of Judah (kind but unnecessary).  I told her he would be fine where ever and hoped that the fantastic behavior he had in the cinema was going to continue so I wasn’t lying.  When we went to our table it took Judah a couple minutes to settle into the table because the footing was and X shape and he had to lay on it somehow.  Beyond that he was great throughout dinner.

He alerted while we were waiting for our food to a high and was correct (of course).  I gave a correction and estimated what my dinner would require.  He settled back down under the table and went to sleep.  3 of the six people sitting at our table (Marshall and I included) kicked or stepped on Judah at some point during dinner and at least two people forgot he was there.  Good boy :).  After a LONG dinner (which was very yummy, I don’t like spicy food so I had a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and coffee*) of spicy wings and beer* we decided it would be fun to wander the mall for a while.  It was very fun for me to be out with people in a public place considering how I never get out!  Judah was fantastic and after shopping locally today I’ve realized that people in the ‘city’ areas are much more aware of how to behave around a service dog.  While we were in the mall not a single person reached out to Judah or went totally over the top when they saw him.  A little Ooo, Aah but nothing like we get around here, no squealing or shrieking or grabbing.

It was really nice to not be drilled about the service dog and gawked at all evening.  I did speak with some people at Spencer’s after they watched Judah learn that the laser lights moving around all over the floor were not put there to tease him 😛 and they had politely observed.  I asked if they would like to pet him and he nicely visited each person, I think their were 5, and then he sat in the middle of the circle to be loved.  A little later, while we were all lingering in the middle of the mall, a woman asked me about him.  She was about my age, fit and seemingly kind.  She said, “Excuse me?”  I answered and she asked, “Do you ever play fetch with him or anything, does he get to run around and play?”  Alright another chance for education!

I explained to her that after we left the mall we would be going back to Mr. K’s house and he would have his vest off and would be chasing the cat around.  I explained that he is just like any other dog when he isn’t ‘working’ and yes, he still does his job when he isn’t wearing his vest.  We have 2 other dogs at home that aren’t service dogs and they all sleep together on our bedroom floor at night (truth: Goose, our puppy, usually sleeps in a crate in our room).  Yes, he enjoys his job and he doesn’t live a life of servitude.  In fact, today we went Christmas shopping for a better part of the day.  At the last minute we went to one last store after Judah was already “undressed” and I thought he’d appreciate the break and I tested right before we went in.  He wouldn’t be alone, the other two dogs were in the car too.  Judah decided to protest this time by shredding Marshall’s Subway wrapper and a box of alcohol wipes on my seat.  Message received.  Judah would rather be working.

All and all I missed the movie I REALLY wanted to see but we really had a great time.  Judah and I got to see the world beyond our little bubble (finally), I got to find out I have a new favorite restaurant and Marshall bought me a new T-shirt (Sublime (: love it) and let me get a new tongue ring.  A pretty good night out- holy shit!  I had a night out.  A real night out, with grown ups, food, drinks, and spontaneous plan changes!  Hooray me!

Being a Diabetic Perfectionist Will Make You Crazy!

I find myself incredibly frustrated with trying to be a pancreas lately.  I know that I could do more to document my diabetes and that this would help me to operate as a pancreas.  The truth is, I hate keeping the kinds of records that I should.  Being a total control freak you would think I would love to keep everything organized and recorded- honestly, I do.  The problem comes in when I have to deal with my compulsive need for perfection.  I used to keep a journal of food, carbs, insulin, environmental factors, exercise, the whole deal.  What I found was that my need for these records to be perfect, neat and organized led to a ridiculous amount of re-writing the information so many times I would practically have it memorized.  Was this totally necessary, absolutely not.  In fact at the beginning my doctor used to marvel at my record keeping, she loved how neat and detailed everything was.  I would get myself so caught up in keeping the records like this that I got completely burnt out on keeping the journal all together (not really a good excuse, I know).

Another reason that I stopped keeping the journal was purely convenience.  Now I am home all the time and I don’t have this excuse anymore but when I was working it was extremely difficult to constantly be writing in this little journal every time I ate or tested.  The truth is that’s really not a good excuse either, but at least I am being honest.  It’s bad enough that I already attract extra attention by having a service dog in tow the last thing I want is people hovering around to see my numbers or ask about why I am writing everything down.  Yeah, people really are that nosy.  It wouldn’t be terribly inconvenient at this point to keep a better journal and I’ve been thinking a lot about why I am still so resistant to the idea.  I’ve decided that the one excuse I haven’t actually admitted to myself is that I feel guilty.

Now reading that first off might seem weird.  Guilty about actually keeping the records?  Yup, that’s what I meant.  When I keep records of everything then I am forced to look at the mistakes I’ve made or the “cheats” I did.  I don’t think that I should feel guilty, I mean, such is life right?  We all make mistakes and cheat every now and then, we are human.  I however will beat myself up about the mistakes and cheats over and over again.  Am I aware that this is unnecessary and totally detrimental?  Yes.  Would I tell anyone else in my position that they need not feel guilty and they just have to do the things to necessary to make up for these short comings?  Yes.  Of course that’s easier said than done when it comes to myself.  I have always been hard on myself and it has shown more and more after being diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic.  Doc. Smile is always reminding me that there is no point to beating myself up and that all I need to do is deal with the problem now.  Again, easier said than done.

So I promise to try to be a better records keeper.  I will try to print out a record sheet that works for me and I will try to resist the urge to rewrite it countless times in an attempt to create diabetes record perfection.  I know that in the long run it will make my life easier, my control better and my life longer- sometimes seeing the long term benefits of something we have to do now is difficult.  My compulsiveness has reached a totally new level since being diagnosed and even Marshall has noticed it.  Largely I am sure that it is a stress response to the diagnosis and the challenges that go with it.  The rational part of me wants to recognize the behavior and deal with it, the compulsive part of me has a completely different opinion of how things should go.  Ah well, I suppose it’s just another battle that comes with the territory…

Out and About

Well Judah and I don’t get out as much as I would like us to.  We live out in the middle of no where, I’m unemployed and I don’t own a vehicle- this obviously limits our public exposure time.  We don’t live anywhere near anything, I can’t walk to any active location from where we live.  So Judah and I spend a lot of time at home or in the woods, this is great bonding for us but it doesn’t do much in the way of keeping Judah up on his public access.  What I also run into is that often when we do happen to go out to the store with Marshall or someone else, we’ve usually just finished an adventure and Judah is in no condition to be entering any business.  It’s not that Judah isn’t in the right state of mind or anything, he is just filthy.  It is important to me that we are a shining example of what a service dog is supposed be, both in behavior and grooming.  Judah is a husky mix, that’s a lot of  fur, in a lot of layers, attached to a very high energy dog, who loves to be dirty.

Judah loves to run.  On the road, in the woods or simply in circles in the yard, he just wants to run as fast as he can for as long as he can.  Well, we also have a five month old puppy.  This lends itself to lots of wrestling in the dirt, mud, poop (yes, the puppy is regularly pummeled through poo piles), and whatever else happens to be in their path.  Though Judah may not look dirty, he probably is.  I am so totally committed to making sure that Judah is totally compliant with the ADA and I take it very seriously.  Often when Marshall and I stop by the store I will stay in the car because Judah isn’t clean enough to go in and I know that every time I go someplace without him the likely hood of being hassled when I do have him goes way up.  The truth is that I live in a small enough area people know me, recognize me and will remember me- so the more they see me without him the more likely I’ll get hassled when I have him.  Would it kill me to run into the store quickly without my service dog?  No, certainly not.  Truth be told it would be easier to do some things without him, but that’s not the deal- that’s not how we work.

Judah and I are a unit and by making this commitment to each other I made a promise.  He earned the right to do his job and I honestly believe that I owe it to him to respect that.  It has come up several times during my job search that perhaps I should find a job without Judah and then continue looking for a better job that would accommodate him.  The truth is the thought of this brings me to tears, every time.  He took it upon himself to look out for me in a way that no one else in my life could do, I chose to recognize that and respect it.  To me, getting a job without him is not even an option.  An employer couldn’t tell me to leave my insulin at home or my meter, so why should it matter that the tool I have that does the best work is a little different than what people are used to.  (I have gotten a little off topic here…)

The real purpose of this post was to talk about how it is hard for us to go out as a team these days and keep our skills sharp.  This always concerns me because often we don’t go out a lot and then when we do it’s an event of some kind where behavior needs to be above everyone’s expectations.  I know that my state of mind is key to Judah’s behavior and the one interview that I have had was nerve racking for me and Judah was feeling it.  In all fairness the interview was conducted in the stairwell that was full of boxes, not exactly conducive to perfect behavior in a dog with a very nervous handler.  If I had a car it would be much easier for us to get out and about as a team regularly but, I have to work with what I’ve got!  Yesterday Marshall and I decided to go to the store to get some “football food” (wings, chips, salsa, etc.) and after brushing Judah, I suited him up and we headed to the car.  Marshall looked up from what he was doing, “Are you coming in?!”  I couldn’t help but be a little startled by his surprise.

After thinking about it for a second I realized that it has been literally months since I had been in the grocery store.  Wow, weird.  So I replied, “Yeah, I was going to.  Is that alright?”  I was suddenly feeling a little self conscious.

“Yeah, you should come in.  You just don’t usually, that’s all.”

Now, the weather was less than ideal so of course I brought a towel with me to wipe the snow/rain and mud off of his glorious husky fur.  As we climbed out of the car and made our way to the store I began to hear the familiar “Ooo look at that dog!”, “Look, that dog is going into the store.”, and of course some great parents explaining to their kids about service dogs and what they do- as always they tell their kids that he must be in training for someone with disabilities.  I am very used to hearing, “Oh he’s cute, is he in training?”- I have to be honest part of me often wants to reply, “His vest doesn’t say ‘in training’ does it?”  But I am perfectly aware that the frustration I feel shouldn’t be taken out on people who are just making an observation, the same one I probably would have made years ago.  I always have had a policy of not asking about service dogs when I see them.  Usually I would try to catch the handlers eye and smile, occasionally whisper “Beautiful dog” and I would leave it at that.  Now, I’m realizing even that can be a little invasive for someone who is constantly being watched and questioned already.

Well our little excursion yesterday was pretty successful.  Judah did great and with the exception of a few times of looking when people would coo or call out and his nose seemed to be working a little too much.  Of course people point him out, talk to him, talk about him (and me), and all the normal stuff.  I have learned that if I don’t feel like explaining what he does, or talking about my diabetes to strangers I can keep my eyes down and not make eye contact with anyone and this usually keeps people from stopping me (this is not fool proof, but it certainly helps).  I did however talk to one couple while we were in the store.  I went up to the dairy case (needed cream cheese for my awesome dip) and there was a woman standing right where I needed to go.  So Judah and I stepped around her and waited.  It was super busy in the store so I put Judah in front of me and had him lay down up against the case.  Eventually she moved off almost out of my way so I said, “Excuse me” and she graciously moved over.  I could see her and her husband (I’m assuming that it was her husband) watching and finally she asked, “Is he in training?”

“No he’s mine.”  I could see the familiar look of confusion so I continued (seeing as how it was obvious they had no intention of prying), “I”m diabetic and he tracks my blood sugar, he alerts when it’s too high or too low.”

The husband replied, “Yeah, we know what you mean.  We know not to distract him that’s why we are talking to you.”  I thanked them for doing that, addressing me instead of my dog.  Then we said good bye and parted ways.  All and all it really was a fine trip and Judah didn’t need any correcting really, just the occasional “with me” and he was right back on track.

Judah is definitely a special guy, he’s hasn’t been out working in public in literally a month, easily.  So for him to walk out and do everything like he’s been doing it everyday is something to be recognized.  That being said, I can’t wait until I have a car because if he is working all the time I can’t even imagine how incredible he will be!  Love my boy!

Freedom on Four Legs

Well I have just returned from another roller blade excursion with Judah and as we were buzzing down the road I realized something.  In that moment, on rural route 153, I felt good.  I know that seems like it shouldn’t be noteworthy but these days I think it is.  I felt great in fact.  Judah and I were enjoying each other, just moving together.  We used to do things like this all the time.  I was always being complimented by people we would meet out on the hiking trails we used to frequent about how good he was and how we were clearly on the same wave length.  From the beginning Judah and I built a very trusting relationship.  I trust him and he trusts me, no questions asked.

This picture is from our first time pulling on roller blades :)

This picture is from our first time pulling on roller blades 🙂

I have come upon some pretty awesome obstacles in our adventures through the woods and no matter what I ask of him Judah is always ready to stick with me and continue our adventure.  I’ve thrown him over my shoulder to climb up and down ledges and ladders, put him between my legs to cross a river on a log, we’ve swam across rivers, climbed cliffs, timed and crossed an incoming tide at the ocean and a slew of other things that have proven to me over and over that we are a perfect pair.  Judah is not the first dog I’ve ever had, we always had at least 1 dog in our house growing up along with a slew of other animals.  Judah is the first dog however that I have ever been this intimately in tune with.  Today, out on the road I finally remembered that.

Of course through all of this diabetes garbage Judah has proven himself to me over and over, he is definitely devoted and loyal.  I have lost a lot of myself over the past year and have been struggling to pin point what it even was.  Today out on the road I think I found some.  I really can’t explain it, there wasn’t anything different about our trip out today then any of the others (except we went farther then ever!) it just felt right.  I wasn’t thinking about whether I should be sucking on a juice, how much my back hurts, how I wish I was working, or how I wish things weren’t so hard right now, I was just there- with my dog.  It is the first time in a long time where I felt like a girl with my dog and it was a great feeling.  I think somewhere along the way I forgot what our relationship used to be, I forgot what it was like to be strong, confident and stable.  Forgot about how important it was to give him a strong pack leader so he felt secure.  As I sit here thinking about it I can’t help but feel guilty, how has it felt for him?  What was it like for Judah to watch me wither into an emotional mess?

I know that I was (and have been) projecting a deep seated weakness, something that wasn’t ever a part of the real me.  Even in my worst times I knew where I would be when it was over.  After being hospitalized and diagnosed I didn’t know where I would be or if I would be.  Today was the first day in a long time that I have really felt anything beyond frustration and disappointment.  Judah knew it too, we were in sync today.  I knew it was different when he let me skate a little to take the pressure off his vest while going up hill.  Normally when I do this he speeds up to continue to work, today he let me take the pressure off the pulling lead and we worked as a team.  Now thinking about it I think I am beginning to understand.  Through this whole process Judah has been taking care of me, I knew that but I don’t think I understood how deep it went.  He has been taking care of me in every way he could, beyond what anyone could see- even me.  I am completely beside myself realizing what I’ve put this dog through this past year.  I always knew that he was connected to me, that he was totally in tune to what I was doing and feeling but I forgot to think about how it was impacting him.  I feel selfish… again.

This dog has saved my life in so many ways.  He brought me back from heartbreak, helped me fall in love again, stayed by my side through unknown sickness, diagnosis, and the emotional roller coaster that followed.  To someone who has never had that kind of relationship with an animal I probably seem like a total nut but Judah has brought me back to earth so many times.  Now he saves my life a little every day as a Service Dog who keeps me healthy and safe- who would have thought that something as simple as a good nose would keep me free.  In fact, that’s what he has done, he’s given me freedom so many times.  Today he did it again, Good Boy.


Tough “Community”

I have joined (and left) several service dog “support” groups on facebook recently.  I have noticed things on these pages that made me feel that I was better off “on my own” so to speak.  Each group, as with most (or all in my opinion) social media attracted drama, poorly spoken opinions and a “my way is the only way” attitudes.  Each group had a slightly different feel and different levels of drama were accepted on each page but it all seemed counter productive to me.  I found that with each question or issue presented there were a multitude of people ready to give advice and/or their opinion, which could be a good thing but somehow almost never seemed to be.  Often I found myself thinking, “Wow these people have way too much time on their hands” which is strange because I am unemployed and home all day…

I was often taken aback by the attacks that would start out with a simple training question being posed on the page.  People respond with how they deal with those problems with their own dogs (good feedback it seems) but then often they would continue on with what the wrong way to do it was or how the specific question asker was doing it wrong.  These were not suggestions or constructive criticism, these were serious and sometimes brutal attacks and declarations.  I consider myself a relatively well spoken person.  I try to give myself a little cool off period if something evokes a strong emotional response before I respond or give an opinion, because I know how emotions can make us more extreme (me especially).  Perhaps many of the people on these pages have forgotten too give themselves a cooling off period?

Things as simple as the way a person feeds their Service Dog, or how they choose to identify their SD.  Who cares?!  Sure, I spend a fortune on dog food and our three dogs don’t eat the same food because Jordan is allergic to red meat and peas (who would have thought, peas?!) and Judah needs a higher protein higher fat food (as does the puppy, obviously) to keep him at a good weight.  Jordan is a lab, the last thing he needs is more fat!  The boys (that’s how we refer to the dogs as a pack, perhaps a girl next?) eat Taste of the Wild, Jordan it’s their fish formula while Judah and the puppy eat the Fowl (chicken, turkey, duck, quail etc.).  It’s a grain free food and they do great on it.  Often on these pages people ask the food question, well, being a former “dog food professional” I am always willing to share my knowledge.  I would explain the benefits of grain free vs. with grain foods, talked about the importance of the quality of ingredients above all else and explain that if all else fails it is more about what isn’t in the food rather than what is (no corn, wheat or soy- these are not digestible for dogs and cats and are basically long term exposure to an allergen, leading to skin and ear problems, shedding and dander, tear stains etc.).  I was attacked over this conversation!  Seriously?!

Well I shouldn’t suggest that grain free is the only way to go- um… I didn’t.  In fact there are some dogs that don’t do well at all on a grain free diet.  I have a friend that after suggesting his new dog eat a grain free diet he got Blue Buffalo’s grain free fish (great food, if I could afford it- I would try the boys on it) he was having trouble keeping weight on the dog.  He was feeding 6 cups a day to this dog and he was still far too skinny.  So I suggested he try a food with grains in it, his dog is a very high energy guy and I thought he may need more carbs, well didn’t that make a great difference.  He is still feeding Blue Buffalo just a different formula and his dog is doing great.  I was simply answering the question posed by a first time dog owner with her new service dog.  I explained the differences in the foods, what makes them different and how each type can be beneficial depending on the dog, but my attacker didn’t see that, she saw that I hadn’t suggested the food that she feeds her dog so assumed I was speaking out of turn.  When I posed the question as to what her background was within the realm of dog food she immediately stopped participating in the conversation.

It was not my intention to chase the woman out of the conversation but merely to defend my position.  I do not share information unless I know what I am talking about and I am always willing to hear (or read) an opposing view, I may not agree but I will respect the positions of others and I expect them to respect mine.  One of the most heated discussion topics on these pages is of course training.  I know that there are many opinions on how to train all types of dogs, service dogs or not.   I am often confronted in the service dog world with the “positive only” training style.  While I do think that this is extremely valuable method of training I believe that there is a time and place to use it.  Yes, I use this method of training when I am teaching my dogs anything that is a “human behavior”, i.e. something that a dog wouldn’t naturally perform.  When we do scent training exercises, oh boy am I a positive only advocate, teaching tricks and tasks- same thing.  However, when I am teaching my dog how to be a member of my pack I prefer to use what I consider a more natural way using pack dynamics and by “speaking dog”.  I don’t think that this is the only way to train your dog, but it is the way that makes the most sense to me and it is the one I use.  I often use Cesar Milan (“The Dog Whisperer”) as an example, he speaks dog to dogs- seems logical to me.  I often work with dogs that have behavioral problems and find that throwing food at the problem never teaches them to learn coping skills.  When it comes to respect of my space, social behavior, walking, playing and other natural dog behaviors I believe that “training” isn’t the solution to those situations (just my opinion).

I grew up working on a horse farm and saw a lot training methods used and always found that natural horsemanship was the most productive and worked best to build a strong relationship between horse and human.  After spending countless hours watching these horses interact with each other I began to see their methods of communication and these were the principals of the “training” style that I use to this day.  Why would we do it any different with dogs?  People often think that these methods are counter intuitive, but lets be realistic- dogs are predatory animals, there for their methods of communication will reflect that.  I don’t believe in unnecessary dominance or a thug approach to dealing with dogs but there is a certain amount of respect that needs to be learned from enforcing pack dynamics.  People often question how we live in a house with 4 male dogs and no problems.  In my opinion it’s simple and anyone can live that way- our dogs know that none of them are the leader, the humans are.  They certainly communicate with each other and there is a definite pack order but the people are always at the top.  When any dog that I work with shows he is reactive to a given situation I choose to teach the dog to work through it, teach him how to face and deal with those problems.  I think that avoidance is a step in the process but should not be the end solution (that’s what we teach when we distract dogs from their problem areas).  Though I have strong opinions about training I do not think that it is my place to tell people their way is wrong.

I may sit on the other side of my computer and angrily grumble under my breath but I certainly don’t attack people for their opinions and situation.  I think that respect is a key component in any relationship between creatures of any species- including humans.  If I can’t respect those of my own species how could I ever respect a member of another species?  Dogs are just that dogs.  Though we have spent thousands of years breeding them to fit into our lives and serve a multitude of purposes (which we continue to adapt) they are still dogs, only 2/10 of a percentage point away from wolves.  I believe that respecting your dog as a dog and communicating with him as such is the best way to develop a strong and trusting relationship.  Every dog has different needs based on it’s breed, age, energy level, fears, etc. it is our responsibility to recognize, respect and fulfill these needs.  First and foremost they are animals, next they are dogs– these are the largest and most primary parts of your best friend, it’s important to respect that by communicating in a way that he both understands and responds to.

I was so put off by the responses of people on these “support group” pages that I removed myself from each one that I found.  While Ido know that not all people with service dogs are of this same state of mind I have found that many of these pages are flooded with them.  People who think that they are above the rules, above the judgement of others, above the basic respect that all things deserve- it was a little shocking, though I don’t think it should be.  Like I stated at the beginning, too much time on their hands- these people, in any community, will always be ready and willing to stir the pot.  I think I will stick to my blog friends for support for now (while I hope I haven’t offended any of them with this post).  I hope that as I am a part of this “community” for longer I will meet more people who are there simply for support and not to police the masses.  There are plenty of open minded (or at least respectful) people out there that are part of the service dog community, these people are always available to support and befriend a new member.  I think that until people ask for my advice in a professional context I will continue to bite my tongue (sometimes until it bleeds).     🙂

French Toast Eggs (w/ pictures!)

Yes, that’s what I wrote, French Toast Eggs.  I know it seems bizarre and Marshall still thinks I am completely out of my mind (he thinks a lot of the things I eat are strange and blames my French Canadian heritage… he is also French Canadian… just saying).  According to Marshall eggs should be salted, should be nowhere near cream cheese and should never intentionally be covered in syrup.  My response was, “So put salt on them”. 🙂

I can thank my mother for this little gem and it has worked wonders for my pancake/waffle/french toast desires.  It is super easy, super tasty and I’ve been eating every morning for a week now.  It’s been a  good choice as I haven’t been able to test much (been testing 2x a day) because of a test strip shortage (I have some in the mail to me but as they are not here yet and the tracking info has said, “shipment has left  seller facility and is in transit to carrier-” for two days now, I’m not holding my breath.  I have four strips  left, I’m assuming I will run out tomorrow- yay me.  In all fairness I shouldn’t complain about waiting for them to ship, it is only thirteen days before Christmas and I just ordered them Saturday morning- had to wait for Marshall’s paycheck- he’s a keeper, for sure) and it is super low carb and predictably digested.  Now to get back on track, FRENCH TOAST EGGS!  EEEK!

These are the simple ingredients for a glorious D-friendly breakfast!

These are the simple ingredients for a glorious D-friendly breakfast!

So as I wrote before, super easy.  The ingredients are the same things you would use to make french toast except no bread, add cream cheese (if you’ve made stuffed french toast then perhaps you are used to cream cheese?).  So I beat 2 eggs (I’ve used 3 and it was a little too much for  me but if you would like more egg then multiply the recipe) in a mug, though common sense tells me that you could use whatever vessel makes you happy.  I don’t put milk in the eggs, I use water- it makes the eggs much more fluffy (also cuts down on carbs, we are using cream cheese after all), the more fluffy the eggs are the more they seem like french toast.  I beat in cinnamon to taste, though apparently even just 1 tsp. of cinnamon a day will help to lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, help to regulate blood sugars, lower blood pressure, and boost the immune system! (I’ve read all these different things in a multitude of places and have also been told by a nutritionist and 2 CDEs) I also beat in about 1 tsp. of vanilla.  Warm a skillet (I use a fairly small pan for thicker eggs, experiment with it, decide for yourself), oil/butter/grease the pan and pour the eggs in.

Eggs in the pan!  Smells just like French Toast!

Eggs in the pan! Smells just like French Toast!

Allow the eggs to cook at least half way through, a low temperature works well to allow the eggs to cook without browning them up too much.  Once the eggs are well cooked through on the first side you will have to flip them, like a pancake.  I know it sounds intimidating and it’s another reason to use a smaller pan, but you can do it!  As long as you’ve let the eggs cook enough they should pretty much hold their shape long enough for you to do a quick flip.  Hint:  If your eggs seem like they would break apart when you try to pick them up with the spatula then they haven’t cooked enough!

Eggs, post-flip, I over cooked them a little bit trying to make sure I got enough pictures of all the steps...

Eggs, post-flip, I over cooked them a little bit trying to make sure I got enough pictures of all the steps…

Once the eggs are flipped it’s time to prepare your cream cheese!  You could forgo the cream cheese if you don’t like it, you can also add or use other things as filling- just don’t forget to calculate the carbs accordingly for any substitutions!  I use a brick of cream cheese so I can slice pieces off.  Each sliced piece is squished between my fingers to thin it out then I lay the pieces on half of the circle like tiles.  You can use more or less cream cheese to your liking, I personally LOVE cream cheese so… I’m generous :).  Cream cheese with berries would be excellent I’m sure, I know people that put Peanut but on their french toast and in all honesty- pretty much anything you like on FT will work here, no joke.

Cream Cheese tiles :)  (It is obvious to me that I need to get out more, I enjoy putting cream cheese on eggs TOO much...)

Cream Cheese tiles 🙂 (It is obvious to me that I need to get out more, I enjoy putting cream cheese on eggs TOO much…)

Next I fold the eggs over, just as if making an omelet and folding fillings into the eggs.  I wait to fold the eggs until they are cooked so I don’t have to try and flip it again.  Once I fold it I turn the stove off and let it warm the cream cheese from the residual heat of the pan.

Folded and waiting, Grammy would say it's  "getting happy" in the pan.

Folded and waiting, Grammy would say it’s “getting happy” in the pan.

Next comes the exciting part!  I slide my glorious concoction onto a plate a put on some syrup.  I use Cary’s sugar free syrup, and only half a serving.  Obviously you can use as much or as little as you choose, or even use a different topping (i.e. honey, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, etc.)- again, don’t forget to calculate carbs for any changes to the recipe!  You could also add breakfast sausage, bacon, or other breakfast proteins to this meal to fill yourself up a bit more.  It is totally delicious and when you make your eggs fluffy enough you can hardly tell they are eggs!  I have become recently obsessed with this and it’s been my breakfast every morning- perfect for days when I’m running high, and if I need more carbs I add some toast!

On my plate, syrup added and waiting for consumption!  :)

On my plate, syrup added and waiting for consumption! 🙂 (I use a small plate, it seems the trick me into thinking I got a lot of food.)

Two Eggs- 0 carbs

Cinnamon (to taste)- 0 carbs

Vanilla (approx. 1 tsp)-0 carbs

Cream Cheese (I use a little over an ounce for about 3 carbs)- 2 carbs per serving

Sugar Free Syrup 1/8 cup (half serving)- 6 carbs

Great breakfast with no “concentrated” carbs for about 8-10 carbs per serving, excellent.