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.