A friend on Facebook asked me about my service dog, and their user interface wouldn't let me put my answer there, so I'm going to put it here and link to it. ;)
A lot depends on what you need the dog for. A mobility support dog, like seeing eye dogs, has a pretty defined path. If you need them for other things, it really depends on what your needs are, and what amount of effort you are able to put in.
There are a lot of factors to consider. This is a complicated thing, and it's great that you're doing your research before you jump in. This is going to get long.
Let me introduce us. My dog is a now eight year old boxer named Cleo. She's a rescue I've had for almost four years. Without her, I would have a hard time safely living, would have a much harder time managing the disease, and would have to be insulin dependent because I couldn't safely take the medications.
I want to start by saying that I absolutely love my dog and everything about her (except maybe the way she hogs the bed at night and farts like a trucker if she gets too much in the way of people food - those things I love a little less). She makes my life better is so many ways. But a lot of this is going to read like a cautionary tale, because this is a large undertaking.
You need to think about them as a dog. You have to care for them while they're caring for you. All the advice given to people generally considering getting a dog is a good place to start. Having a dog itself is a giant responsibility, and it's not cheap. And it's not just money -- it's time and effort too. Think about feeding, walking and exercising, grooming and toilet needs, vet bills. And think about their whole lifetime. Large dogs live 10-15 years on average, and little dogs tend to live longer than that.
You need to figure out what the dog can help you with. That list someone else posted is a good start, but not inclusive. Do some googling with "service animal tasks (name of your issue)" and see what others have done.
Then think about the tasks you need done and the dog together. What kind of dog will fit into your living space and your life? Can a dog that fits your life do the tasks? A 90 pound lab in a studio apartment is hard on you and the dog. But some tasks like opening doors would be difficult or impossible for a little dog.
Let's take these two concepts together. For example, Cleo is a diabetic support dog. She's trained to detect the changes in my body that herald a low blood sugar and alert me by licking and nuzzling the inside of my right arm that she never touches any other time. If I don't follow the alert after 3 tries, she is trained to interrupt what I'm doing until she either sees me eat or sees me take my blood sugar with the machine (specifically, use the lancet). Preferably, eat. She can detect the changes before the machine can. When I say interrupt I mean that if I'm reading, she'll take my book. If I'm playing a game, she'll shut off the Xbox with her nose. If I'm on the computer, she'll keep nudging my hand off the mouse. When we're out, she carries the machine and information about my issues.
Training is a huge topic. There are no hard and fast rules on how to get a dog trained or certified. In my case, I got Cleo just as a regular dog and took her in for re-training due to some issues with her previous owners. Her trainer was the one who realized she could do the tasks and set me up with the resources I needed and helped me train her. You'll need to google around in your area for resources. Assistance Dogs International has a service that can help you find what's in your area.
Time is a big thing. Not just in "how long to train". Are you starting with a puppy? If so, they have to grow up. On top of training, their body (particularly their joints) needs to be fully mature and stable. And even if you're starting with an adult, it takes time to train them. And once they're done with classes, you'll still be working on this with them all the time their whole lives.
Even if you get a dog that's fully trained, you'll need training too, to interact with them while they're helping you and to maintain their training as you live together. You are partners in this and you have to do your part, too. Even if you are an experienced pet dog owner of working breeds, a service dog is a different kettle of fish. I grew up in rural Alaska, and we had sled dogs so I grew up around them my whole life and I still had a lot to learn.
It's not just the task training. They also have to behave like a service dog in public, which is more stringent than the usual obedience training, and can be more difficult than the actual tasks that help you. There are lots of guidelines, but this is a pretty good page of information, or just google "service dog public access standard".
And sometimes it doesn't pan out for a dog. The combination of brains, temperament, and physical ability is far from common. In the case of Cleo, a dog that can be obedient until suddenly they have to not be is extremely difficult. If I'm out of it, I'll tell her to quit it or maybe scold her, but she has to keep at it. So she has to have that right kind of keen nose, be trainable to very complex and abstract tasks, and have the ummmm... assertiveness to carry them out even in the face of my possible opposition.
They aren't perfect. They can misbehave. We tell the story of "The Accidental Chicken" at my house from when she was back in training and she nosed a wrapped chicken in the meat department (I bought it just because I didn't want anyone to feel upset). And there have been a couple times where other dogs have challenged her and she responded and she's not a little dog.
And it's not all perfect freedom. You can try to do things they can't handle. For example, I help out with PAX. Cleo is timid around young men due to things that happened before I got her, particularly if they have a beard or wear a hat. PAX is thousands of them in one place. She's learned to cope with the regular show halls. But the Expo Hall floor with it's noise and everything else is simply beyond her ability to handle. Even "official" mobility dogs with years of training their whole lives have problems with it. So we don't go to the Expo Hall.
And be prepared for a LOT more interaction with people when you go out. I was at the grocery store with my younger daughter once, and after the fourth or fifth person who came up to me to tell me their story about their dog and asking me what she does she said, "God, Mom! It's like you've got a unicorn on a string!" So we call it The Unicorn Effect.
It has great points. The difference in how people treat you is amazing. You get smiles instead of frowns or being ignored. People actively engage you. But it can be a challenge. I'm not exactly a social butterfly on even a good day. I know it's been good for me, but sometimes I just want to get the shopping done and crawl back under my desk, not answer 15 questions about how I got her and how she helps me and fend off several tribes of house-apes.
And be prepared for a few people who raise their nose and sniff as if your unicorn has been leaving little rainbow piles of glittery, suspiciously candy smelling unicorn shit all over. I've been told she can't be a service dog because of her breed, or yelled at. I had a gate attendant try to block me from getting on a connecting flight halfway through a trip because someone else's dog had previously acted up badly and she was soured on the entire thing.
You'll have to learn to answer challenges and educate people on the rules. It's not every day, but it's quite often. I've talked about that airline problem. That was only the worst of the issues we've had. I've had to switch airlines three times now because of their stupid rules and the way we fall through the cracks. We had such a bad experience at a frozen yogurt store once with an uneducated manager I had to get a hold of corporate and give the education materials so they could teach them.
And some people are scared of dogs or are allergic to them. I had a neighbor for a while that has just come here from North Africa, and she'd been attacked by a pack of feral dogs. I feel so badly when I run into that and try to be sensitive.
Claire mentioned traveling, and this is a whole 'nother ballgame. If you get a dog that's a brachycephalic breed, you can have trouble traveling due to airline regulations (boxers, bulldog, shi tzu, pug, etc). They don't do low air pressure well (in worst cases they will die). So the rules about how they fly are kind of dumb. Make sure they're small enough to fit under a seat. Cleo just barely fits. The airlines do the best they can, but twice now we've had to fit her under a center seat between my feet. And Cleo digs the car completely, so even a trip to the grocery store is a great adventure.
At any rate, there's a whole lot more to it than this. And everyone's experience is going to be as different as their own needs and the specific dog. But this is a start.
For Joost's 40th birthday, I wanted to do something special. He's a giant Terry Pratchett nerd, and so something from the Discworld novels was an easy place to start. After planning an over-grandiose idea that there wasn't nearly enough time for (but will hopefully show up Christmas-ish) I settled on making him his very own Ankh-Morpork City Watch badge. It's not the final version. When I get my metalworking area setup I'll replace it with a proper lost wax casting of copper. But overall I'm very happy with how it turned out.
The design was the first complication. The badges are not described consistently through the books. There was a "official" one made, but I can't just copy that. Plus I wasn't over-fond of the way they interpreted the descriptions. But then I had a stroke of luck.
There's a set of postage stamps from the book and one of them featured the head of the City Watch, Sam Vimes. And as a decoration it included a view of his badge. That's just as official as the other, and it was quite a bit more like what I had in mind. So that's what I based my sketches on. It's not a precise copy of the design, mostly because that was for print and not physical media. There's a few nearly Esherian twists in the ornamentation that just wouldn't fly in 3d.
Next was choosing a material. It's supposed to be made of copper, but I've done a lot of finish work for props, and so I know good and well it doesn't have to actually be made of that to look it. My daughter had just done a project using cold porcelain and had some left over. I'd never worked with it before, but I figured what the heck and I sat down to make a prototype.
Getting those curls up around the top edge to look right wasn't easy. This stuff isn't as precise as modelling wax. It takes pretty good details, though.
I let it dry for two days and then it was time to start cleaning up the rough spots. The process was backwards in a way. I didn't want it to end up perfectly smooth. So in the reverse of the usual order, I used a fairly fine grit sandpaper to just take the tooth off any burs, but left the main flaws. Then I got some really coarse steel wool and used that to add some serious character.
There was one challenge with the material. I had some adventures with the various layers sticking together as I handled it. It didn't take me long to get tired of things randomly popping off as I was sanding. So I got out a pick and pried at every piece to see if they came off and glued down anything that shifted using a water-based superglue.
It was almost a shame to paint it. The cold porcelain dried to a beautifully translucent ivory color, like fine bone china. But I got up my courage and started messing it up.
First, I put on a layer of black to make sure the bottoms of all the nooks and crannies were dark. One of my favorite things to use for that is black scuff remover for shoes. It's a leather dye in a water-based carrier. It dries to a matte finish that takes other layers of various paints and things well, and when it's dried it helps the upper layers adhere. It comes in a convenient applicator, and is easy to manage and clean up.
After that, I did three very fine layers of copper spray enamel from three different directions to make sure I got all the nooks and crannies. When it comes to spray paint, the finer the layer, the better the final product is going to look.
Once that was good and dried, I rubbed in some more of the dye to grunge up that shiny finish. Then I topped it off with a layer of clear sealant just to make everything stay put and behave.
Then I added a pin-back and started work on the case.
I had an old clock-case that I'd had sitting around that just needed the right kind of TLC. I mended the leather stitching in some places, put some artistic wear and tear on it in others. There was already a panel inside but the hinges were broken and not in the right place so I replaced them. Then I attached the clay nameplate I'd made the same way I made the badge to the top. That's the fourth picture.
The flap inside the case had a round hole for the old clock, which I rimmed with leather and then filled with a felted panel to stick the badge to.
Here's the whole thing all together.
A couple of years ago, pedantic grammar nerds got their knickers entirely knotted when the Oxford English Dictionary bowed to the times and adjusted it's definition of the word literally to mean both the literal and figurative at the same time.
I'm not saying I wasn't one of that crowd, but I will say I untangled my knickers, put on my big girl panties and have moved on, at least where other people's usage are concerned. (I'm still punctilious about my own). But I have other hills where I will continue rolling my Sisyphean rock up all the way to the top.
Sure, I'll accept the word "oleophobic" to describe the screen of my iPad. As long as you interpret that word as meaning that it's afraid of missing anyone or anything that might put a fingerprint on it within a 15 meter radius. It doesn't just collect them; it seems to manufacture them to it's own fiendish specifications. Though I do have to say I enjoy looking at other people's screens when I'm out and about and trying to deduce what application they were last using by the pattern of smudges and streaks.
However, that's not the actual meaning of the word. It's defined as a substance that repels oil. It's supposed to stop the screen from collecting skin oils from your fingers.
I know it's a bit of technical bafflegab put into service by a marketing department, and it's more than half wishful thinking by the engineers who put the coating on. People's fingerprints are made of more than skin-oils and those other things will happily stick. It also wears out over time and becomes less effective. It doesn't stop me from grumbling a little to myself when I have to clean the thing every 12 seconds.
That's just one instance where today's language splats up against the old-school. Linguistic morphology and usage is a fascinating thing. Even without the help of market forces, the way people use words shifts over time in every language. And different people use the same words differently which adds even more chaff to the air. To quote Huey Lewis, "Sometimes bad is bad."
The question becomes what do you do about it? Do you shift the language to match like the OED did? Or do you build some sort of formal standard and try to rein it in? Both approaches are out in the wild today, and both have mixed results.
English, the amorphous amoeba that sucks in anything in reach of it's vacuoles, is one one side. This is great for responsiveness, especially as fast as the world is changing these days. But the overhead in misunderstandings and inaccuracies is considerable. And the older set is always having to relearn, with much grumbling.
Strongly regulated languages like French on the other. The tension between what is considered "real" French and the slang usages people come up with trying to shoe-horn new concepts into old linguistic boots is considerable, and is felt all through their society when the Academie Francaise steps in to stop the what they see as the creep of Anglicanization.
Luckily, since I'm working for the most part in informal prose in one of the most loosey-goosey languages, I have some room to work. Playing with the rules a bit is part and parcel of the trade. But I still go a few rounds with my editor every time I submit an article draft, mostly about the fiddlier bits of punctuation. The current APA styleguide be damned, I still have a hard time putting punctuation inside quotations. I feel like Ms. Martin is going to pop up behind me and bap me upside the head every time I do it. But I have my editor after me if I don't do it. And since it's their ball and bat at that venue, I play the game their way.
I got Cyril the Accidental Canary a nest basket. I'd done some reading and it turns out that the males are responsible for a lot of the nest-building behavior for canaries. It's sort of proof they can provide well for a mate.
Well, he hasn't got a mate, and isn't going to, but from what they said it wasn't good for them to keep them from having that sort of outlet, so I got him one and hung it on the side of the cage.
He certainly likes it. He's been hopping in and out of it, industriously lining it with his own feathers and bits of cotton string and toilet paper I provided along with it, happy as a clam.
Well, the election results have me sitting, shaking my head. I have been struggling with this all evening, and I guess the thought I'm going to take to bed is this.
Some people are comforting themselves by thinking of the parts of this that are still undone, and the various ways to fight the results, hoping to somehow wake up from this bad dream. Even if it works and by some miracle the results are changed, that's not the point here. The fact that it was even close is the actual issue.
I wish I was surprised. I wish I hadn't spent my career and my life seeing and fighting against the kinds of personal actions and attitudes that add up to numbers like this. I wish I could see this as anything more than a crushing blow.
I hope this is a wake-up call. That those who minimized and marginalized these actions and attitudes will finally see that this is the reality out there. These things really happen, all the time, to a lot of people. And I hope they finally come to the the conclusion that, damn it, we all need to do something about it.
This country fought it's way back from McCarthy. We fought our way through the Civil Rights years. It's not irreparable. Not if we get off our duffs and get to work.
And for now, I'm going to go to bed, cuddle my dog, and try to get ready to face tomorrow morning.
Wrote a thing for Gamerswithjobs about the Burning Legion expansion for World of Warcraft means for us players.
It's hard to explain in just the few words that fit in an article like that. On the other hand, I know it benefited from the sure hand of Wordsmythe, our editor, who winnowed out a bunch of detail that, while true and supported the main premise, got in the way of expressing it to anyone who isn't already giving up sleep over
Each day, as they slowly trickle the story and changes into every part of the realms, I'm finding more evidence to support my fears. But there is still a glimmer of hope.
I got involved with this harem-scaram scavenger hunt gone wild this year for the first time. While I didn't get half the stuff done I wanted, I did manage two that I'm sort of proud of.
First, we have my pet's debut heavy-metal album cover. You have no idea how hard it is to make my pretty girl and a canary named Cyril T. Flufferbottom look metal. I'm kind of proud of how well it turned out. I guess all that time I spent helping classmates mark up their jackets with white-out in the back of the bus in high school was useful after all. I went whole-hog and had it printed up so I could make it into a proper sleeve that would, in fact, fit a vinyl record. After I submitted it, I framed that original and hung it up on the wall.
This next one's even harder to explain. You had to watch a Bob Ross episode and paint along, doing a time-lapse video showing that you did it and showing a comparison between your work and his. My daughter joined me, and we set it up. Things were a little interesting, in that I had a hard time finding some of his specialized stuff. What he calls "liquid white" is actually proprietary and not easy to get a hold of. Also, I've never painted oils before, so I didn't have any palette knives or the right brushes for oils.
That didn't deter us. We punted with a mix of extender and white oil paint, and model kunai knives from an old Naruto cosplay we have around the house. I also don't have a real "video camera" so we took the footage by taping my iPad to a floor lamp stem.
It was fun, though, and as I say at the end of the video, they didn't turn out hideous.
It was fun. I want to do it again next year, knowing what I know now.
This showed up on the GWJ forum, and it is going to be my mantra for the next two weeks:
I must not Steam Sale.
Steam Sale is the wallet-killer.
Steam Sale is the little-spending that brings total budget obliteration.
I will face the Steam Sale.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn my browser to see its path.
Where the Steam Sale has gone there will be a hundred Steam games from past sales I’ve yet to play.
Only this time my finances will remain.
I am adulting with no training wheels these days. I have bought a house. It's been an amazing journey. I'm so happy in so many ways. But I've got my work cut out for me.
I was ranting a bit on GWJ about some of the issues, and one of the guys suggested that I should write it all up and post it; he'd like to read it. And I thought what the heck. I'm trying to get myself on an even keel on all my various venues, so here goes. I've got A LOT of stuff to talk about. Let's start off with a bit of description of the place.
I went in on it with a friend because it has two houses on it. My building is a shop with the top floor converted into an apartment. Basically, I have a large 2bdrm living area upstairs, and a 1400+ square foot mad scientist lair down below. The other house is a regular house, with 4 bedrooms, and a semi-detached daylight basement. It would be hard for the setup to be more perfect for us. It's on 3/4 of an acre.
The place was built in 1962. Needless to say, the standards for building were more than a little different. To put snow on that mountain, the subsequent owners thought they were handy and did a bunch of work themselves. With the predictable outcomes.
Nothing is square, or level, and much of it is done using the wrong/cheap materials. Or just plain badly - for example, the corner caps on the siding are all just a two boards lapped together and nailed up the edge. The individual boards aren't even the same length or squared up with each other, and gaps are left at the top and bottom. The big one I've got in the corner here I can't fix until fall because there's a family of European starlings being raised in it. They have two broods a year so I have to wait. But once they're grown and gone I'll clean it out and patch it in so we don't get any more in there between now and when we start the upcoming Replace The Siding project.
We knew it was going to be interesting when we bought the place. Inspections show that, while plenty of things aren't right, they're not fundamentally damaged. We hired the inspectors (and we know them as people, too) so we know they're on point. Also, I am actually trained in these fields. I grew up in a family of builders on both sides. And the best skill I learned from them was when to do it myself and when to bring in an expert. And luckily, my gang are also trained in various fields.
Thanks be my eldest son is an electrician. There's only so many ways to wire an outlet. It's not complicated. But as we've tested them before plugging in all the computers and whatnot around here we've found at least one outlet with every possible variation on wrong. My younger son the roofer/mason checked the roofing and the visible foundations and came up with the same thumbs up results the inspector did. My younger daughter is the paint queen, and my elder daughter is my demolitions partner.
So we know what needs to be done and can go at it systematically. We've been focusing on living space fixtures like faucets and all those outlets and getting ourselves settled while we come up with an ordered list of work.
These quirks I'm ranting on about are welcome features. They're why it didn't cost a literal million dollars. Housing prices around here are INSANE, and properties are in short supply. A 3 bedroom, zero-lot line like the ones that just got finished behind us are going for well over $400,000, and the entire development of something like 20 houses were sold before they were even completed. The 3 acres at the end of the block has also been purchased by a developer, and they're cutting it into 17 houses. I can't even figure that one. And I could write another 1000 words on the B.S. bidding war we had to win to get this place.
While the computers are chugging away at various work-tasks this morning, I've been trying to do a Sisyphean task -- get my Linkdin profile up to date.
I'm not out looking for work or anything. My company has just launched a major product, and shifted all the gears. And one of the tasks involved in that launch was for all of us to update our online stuff. But for me it's a little more complicated.
I'm weird in this business in that I've been in the same position for over 12 years. No big company changes, just steady work. So updating my resume/CV and keeping all that up was way, way down on the totem pole in terms of what was getting done. We've been hip-deep in a "transformative product change" for the last three years and I haven't been able to touch bottom, even with a long pole. So having one line-item in there representing that long a time looks really weird.
I didn't join LinkdIn for business reasons. My monster-in-law joined because someone else told her she should she didn't really understand what it was and she'd decided to use me as her guinea pig. She figured out very quickly this wasn't for a retired master florist, but I ended up keeping the account and at least built the profile out. The headshot I used was taken under duress by my former boss like 7 years ago when she insisted on putting pictures in the org chart to help our remote colleagues have faces to go with the emails.
I have connected with some people, but it's not a work-only thing. If I go through my suggested connections list, I have to play a little game with myself and figure out where I know these people from. I can pretty much filter out Rando Calrissian the PR/HR wonk and their ilk, but I still have a lot of options left. Is that a GWJ person, a church person, an Enforcer, a game industry person, or like an actual like professional contact?
Reading through those lists it turns out I have run around potting aliens and zombies online with some really high-powered people. And I guess I better get the homework done on making myself look good up there, too.
So I need to talk to my bosses again and make sure they understand that my network isn't going to look like the rest of them.