After a few weeks I have finally decided to make it official and public; Toki is officially retired as of today.
Since I have had Toki I have made leaps and bounds in my recovery and I really don’t think I could have come this far without her. I have had many group sessions with learning to cope with anxiety which has helped me immensely as well. Toki proved me with the extra step I needed to bring myself back into society. Since having her I have got a part-time job and am now looking for full-time work. Something I would have never seen myself doing ever again.
Don’t worry, Toki is still my family dog and she has been transitioned slowly into full retirement. She does really well being at home alone now and she seems to enjoy the retired life. I still take her out to the park as much as I can. She is a normal dog now, no more working but that leaves plenty of time for Timbits and walks.
I am going to keep this blog and her Facebook page available for any other service dog owners or people looking into a service dog. I am always wiling to share my experience with my SD and share the knowledge I have about them. It will also be a place that people can still see photos and updates on her.
Toki is still a huge part of my life and I am so thankful for her everyday. Here’s to a new chapter for the both of us.
I hope you will continue to follow our adventures.
Good news has finally come to me as of yesterday. I was finally approved for ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) after waiting 2 years and going through mountains of paperwork. I am so happy that I don’t have to worry about my financial situation now. It’s always nice to get a lump sum of money that is deserved too and be able to take care of the bills I have had piling up.
However, there was an issue that was brought up while I was filling out the paperwork with my caseworker. ODSP offers an amount to help with the care of service dogs. The amount is something like $75/month to help and would be helpful with caring for a Service Dog. I was pretty happy about this until I found out that it is only available to “certified” service dogs. That means only dogs that have come from a school or organization are eligible for the credit. However, to have a service dog in Ontario there is no “certification” required. Service Dogs in Ontario can be owner trained and all that is needed as proof is a doctors note/prescription. So the whole situation is really messed up and I think ODSP needs to look into the actual laws as to what a “Service Dog” is listed as. I would appeal the decision but at this point I am so tired of dealing with lawyers and paperwork. The $75 is not worth me getting upset over but the principle of the matter is. I have heard many other owners having to go through this battle and it is quite sad. I thought I would mention this though so other SD owners can read into the issue.
Going forward, I am quite excited to see what the future has in store for me now that all this is over with and I can breathe a little easier. Toki has made my life so much better and I hope she knows that.
Here is a little photo from the other day. We now have an instagram you can follow us on!
Today was a very hard day and made me realize how much of a routine I am in with Toki. I attended my group therapy session at the local hospital and Toki was left home with a relative. I have gone days without her before due to health precautions for her (the beach is very hot) but I have always had friends with me. Today I was alone and had to try my best to function enough to attend my group.
It all started when Toki found herself into a bag of Mini Wheats on the weekend. I don’t think anyone’s stomach could handle half a bag of fibre, let alone a dog. So yesterday was quite the adventure andif you don’t like poop stories, I suggest you stop reading now.
I was driving on the highway yesterday morning when I smelt something foul and checked the back seat where Toki was laying. Well she was not laying there any more, she was haunched over pooping right on my car seat with the nastiest case of diarrhea I have ever seen. I could not pull over because the stretch of highway had no real shoulder to stop on so I tried my best to just open the windows and get her to stay still. You can probably imagine how hard that was to do on a highway and alone. When I finally got to the gas station about five minutes later, the heat was already at 37 Celsius and the poop smell just stuck to everything. Toki then jumped into my front seat where she dragged a whole lot of poo all over the car. I managed to get it cleaned up enough to get home and made sure she was settled before making the ten minute drive back. When I finally arrived home I immediately went to cleaning everything I could manage to clean, but the smell still lingered and I was so sick to my stomach at this point. Toki stayed at home while I went to pick up my fiancée who took the car in for a professional cleaning. Needless to say, Toki took one expensive poop all over the car and ended up costing $170. After having the car cleaned we went back home to deal with Toki’s belly issues. She seems back to her normal self now and I am so happy I don’t have to clean up after a sick doggy any more. It was an expensive lesson to learn but we know now to keep all cereal away from Toki- especially Mini Wheats (which I will probably never eat again).
Moving on, the story I just mentioned was relevant because it ties into why I was alone today in group therapy. Toki spent the day resting with Nana and she seemed to have a great time unlike myself. I never really noticed how much happier and alert I am when Toki is there with me. All day today I felt like I was in a nasty haze and not paying attention at all. In group I felt like I may even have a panic attack and it was so scary knowing she was not there to help me. I am proud that I was able to get through my day alone but I am so relieved to be back with my service dog. My facilitator mentioned that she never thought about dogs having to take time off because of being sick. I don’t think many people realize that service dogs are living creatures and they will get sick just like we do. As a handler it was up to myself to decide if I wanted to go alone without her today and although I was so nervous, I am so proud I was able to do it alone. I am now back home with Toki and am at ease now with her on my lap; she is thankfully feeling like her normal self so I think a walk is in order now.
Sometimes a handler must go on without their Service Dog.
This past weekend was Niagara Falls Comic Con which Toki and myself attended. We met a few of the guests which were attending and even did a few photoshoots which were super fun!
This was a large comic book convention held in Niagara Falls, Canada and hosted many guests and attendees. As always I attended in costume and Toki accompanied me in a cute costume as well. She was on ‘semi-duty’ because the convention was so large and letting people pet her makes it much easier for me than telling people “no” every few seconds. It also gives me time to speak to people about Toki and her job. She remained in her vest under her costume for the times I was stopped by security. It was very helpful having Toki with me to navigate my way through the crowds and provide a touch when needed. I also sat a few times to pet her when I would get too anxious. For the most part though, I enjoyed myself and my time with friends.
The Dealer’s Room at this convention was a lot better than the last one I had been to. I notice the crowd was much older and less careless when walking around than the younger crowds. I also noticed a lot more medical devices being used and crowds staying clear. I am happy to say no one stepped or walked on Toki; which I always fear because she is so small. It was definitely a much better experience than the last convention I attended.
Some people ask me why I dress Toki up at conventions. I like to dress her up because she is always with me and I am an avid cosplayer. I love making costumes for her and seeing her wear them. It’s also a way for people to interact with Toki so I can explain her job and Service Dogs to people. I feel it is a great way to educate and even relate to people. The costumes are usually something I make to go with my own because I feel it is more fun for the both of us. I do know when Toki has had enough and will take her costume off. She is still able to preform her tasks and do her job but just in a cute costume. I have included some photos of Toki’s costumes for you all to see and appreciate the work I put into making it. She went as the ladybug peon from “Bee and Puppycat” which is a series on Youtube. My best friend Mazie Bones is dressed as Puppycat too.
I think this was one of my favourite conventions this year and it was great for Toki too. She got lots of love and sleep when she got back home. I am so happy to have her to go on adventures with. Here’s to many more good times together!