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).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Training, Training, and more Training!

So we are back in our routine and back in to the transfer training with Karen again. You just don't realize how much goes into it until you actually do it. Things as simple as getting out of the van or into the van to say the least, is a huge process. And now we've added Alex into the mix too. And the trips Karen and I pick to do our training you would think would be so simple. But somehow a curve ball gets thrown in our way. Someone wants to pet CAMDEN over the counter, or a restaurant has no seats left, or it's pouring down rain outside the mall we want to venture into. But one thing is for sure, we are getting to practice all of this public access training in the toughest conditions and CAMDEN handles it like a champ. Alex of course laughs through all of it, knowing that his best buddy gets to go everywhere he goes. I have to remind myself to relax when CAMDEN decides he is not going to lie down under the table we eat at. Or I have to remember not to repeat my commands. And then the next thing you know, CAMDEN listens!

On the home front, CAMDEN has made himself at home here. He is finally warming up to our cat and only chases him 75 percent of the time. I finally caught them sleeping on the same bed together today. I think if he could play ball outside all day long, he would. You even have to remind him to take a water break. Our nice plush grass is developing CAMDEN tracks from running back and forth to get the ball. We have definitely mastered the retrieve command set! The kids in the neighborhood line up to give CAMDEN treats each afternoon. So cute!!! And Alex just smiles with delight since now he has the coolest buddy on the block. We've also been working on trying to get him to carry things more into the house. I of course had to draw the line when he insisted on bringing a 6 pack of beer into the house. We'll work on that more during an ASU game or Panthers game.

As I feel a nose nudging my arm as I type, I need to run! That is CAMDEN's official sign to "Let's go take a walk with Alex". I'm more tired now, I have less time, and I'm way behind in everything I need to do. But this is great! CAMDEN is wonderful and our entire family is excited to have him. He makes us smile! On Monday we hit all of Alex's therapies with CAMDEN and Karen. Honestly the therapy is the most challenging piece of the puzzle, but also the most needed place for CAMDEN. So wish us luck....we'll check in again soon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Day for CAMDEN and Alex!

I am officially on the p4p blog! Terry asked me to give some updates on our sweet ball of fur that just moved in a few weeks ago. I'm actually kind of excited, because I have spent 6 years blogging Alex's medical journey and now I've got something a little lighter to talk about. We are just settling back in from CAMDEN and all the other dog's graduation ceremonies. What an amazing weekend we had! We actually had an opportunity to go to both prisons in Alderson and Hazelton to meet all the special people in CAMDEN's life. Alderson was our first stop and we got to finally meet Inmate Trainer Andrea K. There were many tears and a lot of emotions at this ceremony. The women had put everything into this graduation and you could tell how proud they were of all their dogs. I on the other hand was so proud of CAMDEN for just listening to me 50 percent of the time! Between the excitement, some of CAMDEN's best buddies and just being in the car for 6 hours, CAMDEN did awesome. And of course Alex just spent his time flirting with each inmate, who smiled at him as they walked down the aisle.

Then it was off to Morgantown for the next day's festivities at Hazelton. CAMDEN was a jewel in the hotel and was so excited to see everyone at the graduation the next day, especially Heidi. What a beautiful day for such a special graduation! Matt and I walked away from this weekend with a lot of heavy thoughts. As we set in Hazelton and Alderson, all these bad things that these men and women had done in their past had disappeared. Each one seemed to have a very special place in their hearts for these dogs and the children and vets that they were training them for. They had learned to love and believe in themselves. And they had learned to give back this love to others. It is all so surreal and I am so thankful we could be a part of it.

Now, on to CAMDEN, the new baby in our home. He makes us laugh and makes us just learn to relax a little and play more. He is therapeutic to all of our family. But the biggest job of all is he has become Alex's best buddy. He calms Alex during hard times and helps him fall asleep at night. He slows all of Alex's movements down better than any medication ever has. And he teaches Alex patience. This relationship is so amazing to watch develop. They are perfect for each other. I can't wait to share him with all of you as this bond continues to grow.