Friday, June 18, 2010

A Day at the Hospital

Yesterday CAMDEN accompanied Alex, Kathy and me to Levine Children’s Hospital where Alex was scheduled to have surgery. Alex has had many surgeries over the years but this was the first one CAMDEN has gone to, and I will have to say that he did fantastic. He was on his best behavior as soon as we put his vest on at 5:15 am. All of the staff in pre-op were very nice and accepting of CAMDEN’s presence. The anesthesiologist’s assistant asked if she could pet CAMDEN and we said “sure”. She was obviously a dog lover and CAMDEN just ate up all of the attention. We were a little worried about CAMDEN losing focus but he didn’t.  He kept obeying commands and kept his attention focused on Alex and Kathy. After they gave Alex a sedative and it was time for him to go back to the O.R., we had CAMDEN put his paws on Alex’s bed and give him a kiss, which he did without hesitation.
CAMDEN then went with us to the waiting room. That is the only blemish on the entire day. As we walked in the receptionist began to cough and said that she was allergic to dogs. Her reaction was so “over the top” that it was almost comical. Anyway, we agreed to wait in a private room. A different staff member came to the private waiting room and apologized for the receptionist’s behavior and told us that she would let their manager know how we were treated.
Waiting in a room while your son is undergoing surgery is never fun. But, having CAMDEN there helped calm our fears and made time pass relatively quickly. Soon we received the call that Alex was out of surgery and a nurse came to escort us back to post-op recovery. That is where the real fun began.
When we first got to recovery, Alex was just waking up. Kathy held him for a little while, but then he started to squirm quite a bit. The nurse said that Alex was probably in a little pain so we put him on the bed and the nurse gave him a small dose of morphine. That seemed to help, but Alex just did not want to be still.  He hates having cords and wires attached to him. Kathy looked at me and asked, “Do you think CAMDEN needs to get in bed with Alex?” I was not sure how the nursing staff would respond, but figured why not.  The worst they could do is ask us to get him down. So, Kathy gave CAMDEN the command and up into bed he jumped. As soon as CAMDEN lay down next to Alex, Alex calmed down and smiled! The nurse then came around the corner and saw CAMDEN in the bed and said, “That is the sweetest thing I have ever seen.” Soon all of the nurses and doctors and other staff members started “dropping by” Alex’s recovery room to see the cute little boy and his sweet service dog snuggling in bed. Several even asked if they could take a picture with their camera phones. Needles to say, Alex was very well taken care of and our stay in recovery was relatively stress-free.

CAMDEN is an amazing and awesome dog. We are so thankful that he is a part of our family. Yesterday could have been a very stressful difficult day, but CAMDEN made everything quite a bit easier. He not only kept Alex, Kathy and me calm and relaxed, but I feel confident saying that he also brightened the day of many on staff at Levine Children’s Hospital.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Take me out to the Ball Game

What a day we had! Tuesday, the whole family took the day off and went to see some baseball at Knights Stadium. CAMDEN and Alex had a ball! They both just kicked back and enjoyed all the smells and noises of a Charlotte Knights baseball game. As you can see from the pictures CAMDEN really enjoyed his time there. Due to Alex's vision impairments, Alex could not see what was going on out there, but he heard everything and he knew his best buddy was right by his feet the whole time. We could not have picked a better day!

On another note, my letter to Dr. Ashe won my battle. The office manager called me that Friday and apologized for the ignorance of her staff. She rescheduled us at a time when there would not be many people there and just felt terrible for what happened. It still doesn't excuse their behavior, but I'm certainly glad I don't have to find another pediatric pulmonologist down here. There not exactly a lot of good ones in the area.  The doctor did not know about the commotion until this past Monday. He insisted on bringing Alex and CAMDEN back in. So, we'll give it another shot and I'll just maturely stick my tongue out at the front desk lady when I see her again. That's it for now...enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No Dogs Allowed!

We have brought CAMDEN with Alex everywhere Alex goes now. All the doctors, therapists, church, school, stores, and even the shopping malls have been totally open to Alex's dog. But Friday was a different story. Alex had his routine 6 month follow up at the pulmonologist on Friday. When we entered the office waiting room, we were immediately stopped by the receptionist. This is of course a tricky situation because children with allergies to dogs come in to this place. So after quite a confrontation with the nurse and the receptionist, I was asked to leave. So, in a nutshell, Alex was denied medical attention, due to his service dog. I talked with Kyria and then the ADA and came to the conclusion that my first step would be to contact the doctor by letter/email. Legally, the dog is allowed, but the office is not making accommodations to it. Kyia and I thought it would be a good idea to share the letter with everyone to hopefully help others deal with these type situations. Yes, I could contact media or even press charges, but I just hate to bring a good doctor down with all of this. Like I said though, it is tricky! Here's the letter... I'll let everyone know if we get a response from it.

Dr. Ashe,

Friday morning 5/14 my son Alex Crisp had a routine appointment with you at the Providence Road location. Alex had his Certified Service Dog with him when we entered your office. He just got this dog in November 2009. We were told by your front desk that we could not bring the dog in. They of course explained that they treat children with severe allergies to dogs. When the front desk lady saw that I was upset, she proceeded to get a nurse. I explained to the nurse and the front desk lady that it is a law that the dog can go anywhere that Alex goes. These same children are everywhere that Alex goes, even the pediatrician’s office. They still did not allow us to be seen and asked us to leave. So, bottom line is medical attention was denied due to having a service dog.

ADA states that Service Dogs must be allowed to go anywhere the handler goes. It is a federal and state law that they be allowed anywhere Alex or I go. I was angry and also let down by the treatment we received at Asthma and Allergy Specialists. I realize that there are children that are highly allergic to dogs and that is what makes this situation tricky. But I expected accommodations to be made. They could have brought us straight back to a room and kept us out of the high traffic area. The thing is, even without the dog, pet dander is all over my clothes and Alex. I then told her to remove us as a patient. This is unfortunate, because I had a lot of respect for you as a doctor and Alex is a medically fragile child with lungs that are at times compromised by his severe scoliosis. I am not one to draw attention to my family in a negative way with lawsuits or media. But I want to make you aware that you need to educate everyone on your staff about this matter, including yourself. I am assuming that the staff told you about our situation.

After the incident at your clinic, I contacted the organization that trained Alex’s dog, CAMDEN. He was trained in a federal prison in West Virginia through a nonprofit organization called paws4people. If you have any questions regarding the training behind these dogs, you may contact the founder directly at
I also contacted the ADA on my legal rights as a certified service dog handler. I just think it is really unfortunate that the situation was handled the way it was. No one even tried to contact me after the situation from your office, including yourself. I hope that this clears up any misunderstanding of service dog laws. I guess we will be finding another specialist who handles our situation more appropriately. For more information on these laws, you can go to

Thanks so much for your time.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Blending in Quite Well to our Family

What a day for Alex and CAMDEN yesterday! Easter was a blast. Alex got to participate in his very first church Easter Egg hunt. Alex is part of a special needs program at the new church we joined. They really bend over backwards for these kids. CAMDEN spent his time eyeballing all the other kids eggs. I actually caught him at one point stealing an egg out of another child's basket. I quickly put the slobber filled egg back into the basket without anyone knowing. Minutes after the egg episode, CAMDEN came in contact with a man size Easter Bunny. He actually did very well. I'm sure the bunny was quite pleased that he was not attacked by a Golden Retriever in the church hallway. That was a true test of CAMDEN's behavior and definitely not part of the public access training. But he passed, to much of the bunny's relief!

During the service, CAMDEN quickly climbed under my chair like he always does. Of course due to his size, half his body sticks out in the aisle. At one point an entire family of 6 had to step over CAMDEN's legs. I must say, I was quite proud of him. He did not move a muscle. He was perfect! Even a lady behind us kept sneaking pets and only caused his tail to wiggle out in the aisle. So cute! But the best part was picking up Alex from his class. As we are walking out of church with the both of them, Alex grabs the leash and helps walk his buddy to the car. Last year, I would have never thought he could do that. The boys are perfect together. We are so blessed to have this amazing dog!

And later we spent the afternnoon at my parent's house. CAMDEN experienced his first day at the lake. We quickly discovered that we actually had a retriever that was a little afraid of swimming. Scout, my parent's lab, gave CAMDEN a few lessons in navigating the rocks and water. And when CAMDEN's ball went out too far, Scout would leap out in to the water to retrieve it. Very cool to see! What a great Easter!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I know....I let a whole month go by here! But there has just been so much going on in the Crisp house! CAMDEN is amazing. He is totally in tune with Alex now. He goes everywhere Alex goes and never misses a beat. The latest has been riding horses with Alex. Alex is involved in this amazing therapeutic riding program called Mitey Riders. We were fortunate to slip through the long waiting list last year and have absolutely loved it, ever since. It has been the best thing for Alex and now for CAMDEN too. The really cool thing about it is that having CAMDEN there not only helps Alex, but he also helps the horses. The horses are learning to be around dogs as they are so careful with their special kids on their backs. They teach each other patience and acceptance. And most of all, CAMDEN brings an extra bit of warmth to the farm. It's true, CAMDEN is a huge icebreaker. He bridges that social gap for Alex, and yes the rest of our family too. Anyway, just wanted to include a few photos from the other day on the farm.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Loving our CAMDEN!

That's what CAMDEN does best! He kisses like there is no tomorrow. And if there is nothing to kiss, he licks the air! It has been a pretty tough few weeks in our house, which of course meant the "fun" blog was lagging. See we keep a medical web page too and it has been nonstop. We started injections for Alex twice a day a few weeks ago for Alex's delayed gastric motility. It pretty much was the worst thing we have had to do to our child. But CAMDEN was amazing! As soon as I would hold Alex's leg or arm down, the tears just ran. Poor guy was a pin cushion with absolutely no fat to cushion it. Within the first few tears CAMDEN would rush to Alex's rescue. He'd put his paws up on Alex's bed and just lick Alex's face and hands till we were all done. I didn't even have to call him over. He just did it! He knows his job is to calm Alex and he did just that without missing a beat. After a week of giving the injections, we had to stop. Alex was not absorbing enough nutrition and became pretty sick looking. But a positive thing that came out of it all, is that the bond between CAMDEN and Alex strengthened by about 10 times as much. I can't get over how special a dog he is to our family.

Following all this craziness was Christmas of course and CAMDEN did amazingly well. He performed at his best at a party we had at our house and also passed the big test at my parents' Christmas Eve brunch. This was a big time of a lot of our friends and fund raising supporters meeting CAMDEN for the first time. CAMDEN was so in tune to my commands and especially Alex. We had a pretty big scare at the party with Alex. Someone dropped a really hot drink(Wassail) on Alex. All I could think was get Alex on the floor and get him out of his hot wet clothes. I guess as a Mom you just react QUICK! So without a blink of an eye, CAMDEN goes right to my child who is burning from the drink, and licks his tears away. He was awesome. So yes, these dogs can be trained to do 100 plus commands, but it's their intuition that is most important. CAMDEN was so concerned and knew that was all he could do and he did it.

Aside from the parties, and trips out to some more public areas, Christmas went really well. Santa visited all of us, even CAMDEN. Although Mr. Elf on the shelf thought about telling Santa about the ball CAMDEN pushed through our screened in porch. He's normal like any other dog. There are mud trails all the way down the fence from CAMDEN chasing his best "German Shepard" buddy Molly. And we no longer have beautiful grass in the fenced in backyard. But like the saying goes, "Life is Good". Tomorrow will be CAMDEN's first visit to church with us. Yes, I'll probably be praying the whole time, for CAMDEN to sit quietly and totally miss Pastor Craig's message. But Alex, Matt, even Milo(the cat), and I are so blessed to have CAMDEN in our lives.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We passed!!!!!!!

I am so excited to say I can officially take CAMDEN anywhere with Alex now! Wednesday I had the Public Access Test with Karen. I had let my nerves build up for weeks over this and it really was pretty painless, thanks to CAMDEN and my very extremely patient trainer, Karen:) Now if it would just stop raining here in Charlotte, I might take CAMDEN somewhere.

CAMDEN has made a friend with the neighbor's dog behind us. They are now officially playmates as they run up and down the fence each day. Alex just thinks it's hilarious when I go running out there to stop the happy dogs in their racing up and down the fence in the mud. Did I mention it has rained nonstop? Really though, it is great. It shows the friendliness of CAMDEN as he makes friends in the neighborhood.

CAMDEN has already been doing Alex's weekly therapy trips to Touchstone. He really seems to enjoy going and Alex enjoys showing his new best friend off. My next step with CAMDEN is to take him to church with us. So hopefully in the next couple of weeks, we will start doing that. Just wanted to check in and share a few more pics. Hope everyone is getting pumped up for the holidays. We're anxiously awaiting a visit from Santa and CAMDEN has even hung his stocking with Alex and Milo(the cat).