Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A horse in the house - Oh my

We are settled in our winter home in Arkansas. This house is set up well to
have Cali come in and out
of the house. She has a backyard with a stall in the yard.

So, Cali comes in while I work and write in the morning. She comes in via
the French Doors and right
into the kitchen. Good girl. And, sometimes in the evening she will also
come in. In fact, I sometimes have
to kick her out. She'd rather be in with me.

We have lots of plans for Cali in the next few months. She'll be going to
classes at the Rich Mountain Community
College as well as walking in the little town of Mena. The town of Mena has
a busy highway that runs right through
the middle of town complete with Tractor Trailers and the big duel wheeled
trucks that the southern men seem to love so much.

Mena also has very challenging streets and crossings. I wish Mona was here
to tell me how she would cross. We got a good idea when we visited but this
town while doing in essence what a VI or wheelchair bound person might need
it is clear that they really didn't have any idea of the practicality of
what they were doing.

For example, the main crossing in town has ramps in the sidewalks that go
down on a diagonal. So, as you go down the sidewalk and hit the bumps that
indicate that you are near the street you are not facing towards across the
Cali will have to understand to turn slightly to get to the other side. And,
Mona will have to know when that's OK.

Based on our test walks with Mona, I've now added a whoa off the harness.
The word whoa coupled with a slight backward traction on the harness handle
asks her to stop and stop straight. Cali is terrific with the traffic and
dogs. The other day while walking we walked past a horse in it's pasture.
The big horse was very excited by Cali. And, although Cali raised her head
in dismay, she kept on walking straight.

Another big test has been passed. Cali can now jump into the little Geo
Tracker. At first we used the ramp for her to get in. The Tracker is very
small but it does have a rear deck which is barely the size of Cali. Cali
can stand sideways and we take a not very smooth ride. Since I don't want
her to be nervous in this car, we've delayed going to town in it.
I am pleased though that she can get in and I don't have to carry her ramp.
I'm looking for a small step that can be carried to help her get into other
cars that might be small. Doors have to open enough for her body to get
through in order for her to jump in. But, if she can step up in she is more
than willing to squeeze a little.

In March Cali will also be going to the University of North Texas for a talk
by some famous animal trainers. Since Mona wants to return to school these
will be wonderful venues for practicing. The folks at UNT are excited to
have her. And, they even expressed a desire that it would be great if Mona
could go to UNT. Michigan is a great school too but wouldn't it be cool to
go to a school where animal behavior study is on the cutting edge. Dr
Rosales in the UNT Behavioral Sciences Department is a good friend and his
wife works with Autistic kids.

My plan is to take Cali by car to Texas. This will be a challenge. I've got
on tap a plan to speak with Ann again regarding the challenges of traveling
with Cali. To me it seems simple. It's virtually impossible to stay over
night in a hotel without adequate plans for relieving. On average, Cali
"goes" every 3 hours. That's a better average than Panda.
And, Cali does not seem to urinate as frequently nor does she produce as
much volume as Panda. It's easily caught in our "bag".

So, to expand on my plan of having Cali be able to "go" in handicapped
restrooms, I expect that we can "go" in a room with a handicapped bathroom.
This is a bathroom that is big enough to accommodate a wheelchair. And so,
it can
accommodate Cali overnight. She will have to wear her relieving bag over
night or Mona and I will have to take her out every three hours even over
night. It will be like traveling with a baby.

From the professional campers we have taken a hint. As it turns out a single
Alfalfa cube will not only absorb any liquid in her bag, it will also make
smell non existent. Who knew. Professional campers (like those that climb
mountains) will put a few Alfalfa pellets in their porta potty's to absorb
liquid and smell.

Cali does seem to understand the bag means "go". I also hope that the
presence of the bag will tell her it's ok to go when she might not
otherwise. She has picked her spot in the yard and has reserved this place
as the potty.

Today's plan is another ride in the car. And, more waiting while I write.
Soon, we'll be working on lie down in the living room. As soon as I dig out
my camera from the mired of boxes I've packed, I'll post another photo or

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On the types of intersections you are describing where the ramp points diagonally out into the middle of the intersection, I don't use the ramp. I find that it is much easier to keep oriented and to correctly directionalize traffic if I remain facing the direction where I want to cross. My guess is that it also helps the drivers know what my intentions are and continue driving normally. It's just what I've found works for me.