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What If You Don't Raise the Money?

Hi. *shy waves*

I hope you've checked out the Wish & Gift List post to see the updated graph of funds raised, and all the additions to betas available and authors writing for the compilation. Tkegl is now only available until the end of the month, so if you want one of her stellar banners, get your donation in by September 30th! Special shout out to @sexilexicullen for spreading the word far and wide, especially on Facebook, and for making a Twibbon you can add to your twitter avi by clicking here. As the word spreads, donations poured in, so if you visit a forum, a blog or some other place, please consider sharing this campaign with others. Thank you!

Now, onto a couple of related things.

I was asked recently by two different friends the dreaded questions: "What if you don't raise the money? What happens to Leo?"

The simple answer is:
I lose him. He will either go to another person needing a mobility support dog if their needs are similar enough to mine, or he will be placed as an Asperger's assistance dog. That may sound harsh, however, by contract that's what I've agreed to as it's not fair to Leo or Leslie (our trainer) for him to languish at her kennel once his training is complete.

You see, the way she trains, he's eager to go to work every day when him training is complete. That's actually part of how she knows he's ready to be placed. So, for him the be ready and eager to work every day and not have that happen is disappointing, discouraging, and frustrating for Leo, so I need to be ready with funds in place actually BEFORE he's ready so I can make all the needed travel arrangements.

Which leads to another set of questions I've been asked: "Why three weeks? What are you going there to do? Don't you just pick him up and bring him home?"
And the answer is:
I need to be trained, too! The three weeks is for what is called Team Training. When he's ready and I finally go to meet him (unless by some miracle I get to go meet him BEFORE our team training), he will know much more about how he does what he does than I will. He has to learn about me and my idiosyncrasies as much as I have to learn how to handle and direct him.

Yes, I have had a service dog before, however, he was trained with a completely different paradigm, and while some basic commands overlap, many of Leslie and Leo's commands are completely different. Like Peter before him, Leo becomes a walking cane for me, but Leslie's dogs have a very unique style of using their bodies to support their person in moving turns and many other things. I have to learn all of that, and Leo will have to be very patient with me as I stumbling and fumble along.

As noted elsewhere, Leslie never uses the word no with her dogs. So, I have some serious unlearning to do because I don't know about you, but I think that was thhe number one word I heard growing up and beyond! :-)

As to why three weeks and not two has more to do with me than with Leslie or Leo. I tend to tire easily, and some days my body can go further but my brain just gives out. So, the extra time is needed for a more realistic, doable schedule for my limitations. In addition, this training is undoubtably going to fall during the school year (I will likely have to miss an entire class weekend) meaning I will also have to be doing school assignments (reading and writing) while I'm doing team training as well. Might not be much for you, but that's a lot for me!

Now, it's not all drudge and drudgery, no worries there. Most of our training is held in public because that where most of the work is. This means going to every kind of store, movie theaters, restaurants, museums, college classrooms, doctors offices, anywhere and everywhere we might go together. Buses and trains. (He was a star on his first ever airplane ride, so I was told.) Because I live near the water, we'll also be doing some work on the beach, beside a PT pool, stairs, elevators, getting in and out of the car. Seriously, I mean everything. We all do our best to make it interesting, fun, and rewarding so it's something to look forward to and not dread.

So that's it in a very long-winded nutshell.

Keep the questions coming! I'm working on a new section for Leslie (it's been a little overwhelming lately, please bear with me) as there have been several questions for her about dog training and she's more than delighted to answer them. So, ask away and we'll do our best to answer them.

Until next week,
Much love and many, many hugs,

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