Oz Working Dogs - Assistance & Working Dog Equipment

For assistance/service dog equipment, as well as guide, therapy, detection, search & rescue, police and dogs in training equipment check out my website http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au - I make and sell vests, capes, belly bands, harnesses, handles and more... and will post to the world!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Long (really long!) awaited update

Knightley: 1 year 10 months 1 week 6 days old
Apollo: 9 months 4 days old

Apollo and Knightley together recently.

Well, it has been many months since my last update. That is because on December 26th last year I started feeling dizzy, tired, finding it hard to speak and would also pass out occasionally. I was in hospital for over three weeks, but even after then was unable to walk or do much for another couple of months. I couldn't concentrate, or even get out of bed without feeling like I would vomit or pass out.

I am somewhat better now, months later. I still feel dizzy but not as much, and I still pass out. It is quite likely I have developed narcolepsy (uncontrollable sleeping episodes), but there is still some question. I am waiting for testing up at one of the big hospitals in Sydney. I still spend quite a lot of time in bed as I can fall down suddenly, anywhere, unconscious. I am not able to sew or see to my business (although thinking about opening shop again soonish maybe??), and for a long time just stayed in bed. I've been doing physio since I got back from the hospital and can now walk reasonably well - but I still pass out and bruise myself... sometimes daily, twice a day, or only several times in a week. I wear a helmet for protection after I concussed myself when my head hit the floor. So things have been pretty terrible in that sense. In all the testing it was found out I have 'mixed' sleep apnoea, and now use a CPAP machine which has helped my terrible fatigue and has somewhat lessened my sleep episodes. However, all this passing out business is on top of my immune issues and migraines. SIGH!

Apollo learning to do an assistance retrieve for me. He's holding
a comb in this photo. He's taken to retrieving well.
So, due to all this, Apollo had to go through nearly a month with me away in hospital, and didn't deal with it well - he became pretty destructive and bored. Two months or so ago I got a mobility scooter which finally gave me the ability to get out of the house safely and take the boys for walks again. Since then I have been able to up Apollo's socialisation dramatically and he is doing well. We spend a little time inside our local shopping plaza, but spend most of the time outside it - still learning the basics of ignoring people, ignoring dogs, loud noises and strange objects. We do some basic obedience too, but mostly I'm concentrating on the basic socialisation at the moment as he missed out on a lot of it for months. I did swap him to a new vest today from a small one I've been using since he was quite young. He looks quite official in his new gear - which I had made many months ago before I got this passing out problem.

Apollo at the shops in his new gear. He is still smaller than
Knightley by quite a bit, but I hope he will be a large dog
My happy Knightley with Apollo in the background. I spend
quite a bit of time with them on my bed looking after me.
Knightley is unfortunately going downhill quite quickly due to his hips. The vet hoped we'd have a couple of years of good function left, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I recently got some 'Neo Paws' boots for him to help his hips, and they do seem to help quite a bit. We love Knightley so much, and he and Apollo are the very best of friends. I think Apollo helps keep Knightley feeling young. I take Knightley out to 'work' occasionally just on a trip to the shops because he LOVES it and just gently wags at everyone. It breaks my heart that his hip dysplasia was so bad that he can't do what I trained him for. Even just a trip to the shops leaves him close to limping.

Apollo has turned out to be a natural alerter - he lets me know when I'm about to pass out. I have from between 20 seconds and two minutes warning. Enough time to find somewhere safe to sit or lie, or pull the scooter over to somewhere safe where I can pass out in peace! It is a massive blessing that he can do this, although we definitely need to work on his response to me being passed out. I want him to try to lick my face to help wake me up, and he'll do that if I'm on the floor.... but if we're in public or I'm in my wheelchair at home, he doesn't get that he has to stand on his hind legs and lick my face. But nevermind, he's only 9 months old so there is plenty more training to go.

So, things are going better than they were. Poor hubby is my carer these days, as well as the boys, and it stresses him out. But the boys are pretty great most of the time. They make me laugh (especially my clown, Apollo) and snuggle up to me when I need it. I want to get Apollo to professional standard as fast as I can since he's proven to be quite a reliable alerter. Having him with me is massive reassurance, as well as when you drop things from wheelchairs and mobility scooters it's handy to have someone/something else to pick up those things for you. We've done a bit of door closing training, and I really want to train Apollo to push those big metal buttons for me so I can cross the road. So there is a lot of work to be done. Thankfully he is super food motivated!

Truly though, all three of my boys are absolutely wonderful to me, and whilst so far this year hasn't been anything to boast about, they help me through everything day by day and never fail to make me smile. :)

Will try to write an entry now and again, but I find text hard to read (and type) due to dizziness and double vision. I hope everyone in the blogosphere has been well and is looking after themselves. *hugs to all*