Jennifer Blanchard just registered for 140|The Twitter Conference L.A. on RegOnline
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Friday, August 7, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I wanted to share a little bit of my story which is just one of the amazing Canine Support team stories. Since I was born I always bruised and swelled from little falls or small traumas and life went on as usual, I just used crutches a lot. When I reached my late 20's something changed. Every small bump or bruise swelled until it cut off blood supply to my muscles and nerves, killing them and causing me to go through 90 surgeries since then just to keep my arms, hands, feet and legs attached to me, even though I can't feel them anymore. I was in my prime, working for a beverage company, buying my first house, getting my first pet dog that was mine to choose, life was great!. It all changed in a matter of 3 years. I lost my job, my house, my heart and most of all spirit. I was at the lowest point one could ever be. The Dr's told me I could never walk unassisted again and would need a wheelchair ect. Then, I found Canine Support Teams. They have changed my life! Please help us
Friday, July 24, 2009
It's really not easy to go to a brunch if you are handicapped with a service dog. Ike and I attempted to go to brunch at Monterrey Bay Cannery in Oceanside. First off all the parking was gone, not a handicapped space or any space for that matter within a 1 mile radius, so we waited, and we waited, like a buzzard circling it's kill, for a parking spot. I didn't think this place was so popular, guess I just don't know the score, do I?. So, we finally got a spot, but still had to wait for my friend to arrive who had a late night date, one that lasted until the next day, you know what I mean!. Same clothes, same hairdo as the night she went out. She arrived only 10 minutes late which if it had been me, and I had gone out clubbing the night before and a hot date, no way I would show up for brunch with a married couple and their dog of all things!. We got seated and then the fun began, haha. The line was supposed to be two lines but somehow they were merged into one. One line was for the " make your omelet", "carving station" and WAFFLES. I guess you can tell which one I was going for but alas, the line never moved. The people making their omelet were so slow. "maybe I'll have ham..or..no...maybe...cheese....or no....see what I mean. This line just didn't budge, so much for yummy waffles!. Ike and I tried to make our way back to the other now merged line. People were acting like it was the last meal they will ever have. Pushing and shoving like it was Toy's R Us when Cabbage patch dolls were about to be sold out, come on now, it's only bacon!. We go through the line, salad(can have that at home), Pasta( can have that at home), Fruit( I don't do fruit), some kind of fish pate...just yuck, and then the one thing I liked, crab legs.!! Being from New England originally it is sacrilegious to eat seafood with anything other than drawn butter which I then had to ask for. Why wasn't it out on the buffet??? Cocktail sauce is offered but not butter. I guess that's what I get for moving to California. You Californians put lobster in Taco's, are you nuts?. Back to the table we try to go, being blocked from every avenue. Now, with my illness, ANY bump or bruise can send me to the hospital for surgery so people walking into me, pushing me, is really not a good thing. I had surgery on Christmas because on Christmas Eve some woman ran into my leg with her shopping cart. She continued on her Merry Christmas way, I went bahumbugingly to the hospital for two surgeries. ( don't really think it's a word but that is how I felt at the time). Ike and I struggled but finally got back to the table where we put our plate down and sat down with relief. My dining companions looked at me, their mouths wide open..."what" said I. They just shook their head in amazement that I could be gone 1/2 hour and came back with one crab leg and two pieces of bacon. Their plates were full, jammed , and so were their open gaping mouths.ewww. How could I have been gone so long and have nothing, I'll tell you why..because I couldn't stand long enough in line without my leg totally killing me. You see, I am just weeks out from my last surgery which took place March 21st. The car door shut on my leg this time, so I can't really blame anyone but my car. My leg is still swollen and bleeding, but at least the surgeries are over for now. So, standing in the long lines was just not feasible for me, even with Ike helping me. So, my companions enjoyed their brunch, Ike was stuck under the table, and I was starving. I went to get up one more time to check out the dessert, yes, I have a sweet tooth. I got not even half way when the couple who had commented on Ike when we were in line, now stopped me to talk about Ike. I don't mind talking about Ike, as he is the reason I can make it out, but I was standing in the firing zone of people trying to get to the buffet. I could see it happening, someone in the rush of getting the last cream puff will cream me and off to the hospital for another Holiday I go. The nice couple asked me about Ike and how he helps me, and to comment on how well behaved he is. When Ike is working he is all business, don't try to pet him because he will pull back from your reach!. Ike was trained to keep his eye on the prize, me!. When Ike is not working though he is like any other dog, barking and chasing imaginary bunnies and swimming in our pool, year round...crazy dog. While I was explaining my Ike's service criteria, my companions had gone and come back from the dessert table. I look longingly over at their plates and let out a sigh. The couple I was talking to took the sigh as a sigh for all the things Ike does for me, and continued to ask me questions. They did have one great suggestion though, they said I was so nice and knowledgeable about the subject matter that I should write a book, or be a public speaker, any one out there want Ike and I to come and speak at your next meeting?. For now, I will work on this blog!. I went back to my seat with Ike who went back under the table. No need for that though as my companions where now moaning and groaning "We ate too much". I gave them what I hoped would be a razor sharp glare right into their full faces, and said " I suppose you want a nap now"... I mean it's not their fault that I didn't get anything to eat but still, maybe some sympathy for the one with the growling stomach. Even Ike had a special breakfast of Kibble with some cookies on the side. I would like to say I have a moral from this story, or that I gained some insight on how I should handle a buffet again in the future, but really, all I learned is to be afraid of hungry people, don't talk to strangers when you are hurt as they take up all your standing time, and not to go to a buffet on a hot Sunday in July. At least we got a parking spot, right:)))
To recap. My husband, my service dog and I all took a trip last year to Nantucket Island of the coast of Massachusetts. We went for three days and two nights. It's the longest vacation I have ever been on, at least that is what it seemed to be at the time. For those of you who did not read part one, a recap: Get to the Island, husband throws up in the cottage, I go to get him medicine, Ike and I are thrown out of the grocery store that had a "no pets" rule and sign. Yes, they actually escorted my precious service dog Ike and I to the register and then out the door. It was all very embarrassing and rude. If I did not have a very sick husband at the cottage I may have called the police ( somewhat scared of police even though I know I am right), So this is where the rest of the story of my "vacation" to Nantucket Island begins.
The Lobster Pot restaurant has been around on Nantucket since I lived there. I did not go there that often when I lived there as I lived "Out of town" and it was too far to drive. Imagine telling someone you live 10 miles from that you can't come over because it's too far?. You life gets a little warped living on an Island with no traffic lights, few stop signs, and walking everywhere is very popular. I used to Roller Blade everywhere out there. I was also called "The Sconset" walker as I would walk every morning in the same pink and blue Adidas jacket to Sciasconset Village north of the town. I lived in an area called Tom Nevers and if you ever watched "Wings" you know that Tom Nevers Field is actually the airport. The airport code in case you are into those things is ACK. So now when you see a car with ACK you are now "in the know". If you see a car with "My dog digs Nantucket" it's me, although Ike did not get a good first impression of the place. Okay, back to the Lobster Pot. It's close to town so since I was staying in town I thought it would be a good place to go to get MY FAVORITE meal of Lobster and Steamers ( not the same as they have out here). I had already gotten food from them the night before ( fish and chips) and had no problem, of course I did take out then. The fish and chips were good and I didn't have any problems so I figured it would be a great place to bring my husband for good New England food. Now, I know that living on a small Island with 6,000 people in the winter and 60,000 in the summer you might feel like you are in another country but I hate to spill it to you "Islanders" you do live in the United States, Good Ol' US of A, America the beautiful. As such, Nantucket needs to follow laws laid out to protect American citizens with or without disabilities. My husband was feeling well enough to accompany me to the restaurant and I assured him that he would get the best and finest seafood in the US not the lobsters we get from Baja, that Californians put in taco's:)). Although he didn't think anything could top a Baja lobster he was to weak to argue with me...I was happy about that as he always wins in those circumstances. We walk in and the first thing the hostess says is....yup " no dogs allowed". Since what happened yesterday was still eating at me I decided to stick up for myself (you will see why I should have run out right then) The guy who filled my order last night was there with a stupid grin on his face and not even stealing a glace over to me. Just as I was about to say something, a slightly older than 19 woman came over and said, " He can sit on the patio with you". I said to myself is this worth a battle, do I tell her she has to let me sit wherever I dam choose???? I slinked away and under my breath muttered " we can sit inside if we really want" which was not heard by anybody except Ike. Ike wanted to be in the air conditioned room, not on the hot patio, but he followed me like the good boy he is. We sit down and the waitress comes over. She tells me how cute and well behaved my dog is. Ike's job in a restaurant is to lay down under the table if he can, or lay beside me in a small ball. So Ike assumes position and off the waitress goes with our order. I am so excited about my Lobster and Steamers I almost can't contain myself. This is my favorite food in the whole world and nothing was going to stand in my way of enjoying it. I get to New England maybe once every two years so this is a big deal!. "Here it comes, here it comes", I shout excitedly to my husband, who was looking blase about the whole experience. Okay, I am now in heaven, eating my lobsters and steamers with a bib on...YUMMY. I look up from the ecstasy of my food to see a man coming toward us. I don't really think much of it as there are a few other "townies" at the bar and he looked like he fit right in. Much, Much, Much to my horror and surprise this man was coming over to us. So, picture this, you are in the middle of your favorite meal, heaven on earth and now a burly, mean looking man with a scowl on his face is at your side. And out of his mouth, to much my surprise, " I haven't decided if I should let YOU PEOPLE and YOUR DOGS into this restaurant at all. Did I have wax in my ears. Did the flight blow my eardrums....YOU PEOPLE. That was way out of line and I couldn't keep quiet and I could no longer savor the delectable fare in front of me. " My dog is a fully trained service dogs and he is allowed by law to accompany me ANY place I go". I was pissed!. Not only was this our last night on the Island I was now wondering if I would ever come back here. "Would you like to see Ike's certificate" even though I owe him no sort of proof as by law is not required. I was trying to get this man to see the error of his ways, to help someone else that might come in here with a service dog. Meanwhile, all the townies are watching what happens, waiting for the BMOC to kick us out. The man, who I find out is the MANAGER (which makes this even worse as he should know the laws) takes my card, glances at it, and says " This here is only good in California so why don't you go back there and try getting him in a restaurant there", he looks over to his cronies as to say" I put her in her place". He is still standing there and I try to tell him again that it is the "American with Disabilities Act", that my card has the federal law written on it too. I guess he couldn't read and this is the best he could do. By now I have completely lost my appetite and go running outside. Bye lobster, bye Steamers, bye bib....GOOD RIDDANCE AHole. My husband stayed inside and paid the bill. The last thing we wanted is to give this guy an excuse for his behavior. I could already hear him saying " they just wanted free food so that's why they complained". My husband asked to speak to the manager again, to get his name, phone number and the owner of the restaurants phone number. The Guy would not come back out! Not only was he a Ahole, he was a chicken sh*T He sent some young kid out to tell us he was not coming back out and he had nothing further to say. My husband found Ike and I around the corner, I was crying. I know you all are going to tell me that I should have done more, but in the face of evil I was taught to run. We went back to our cottage, hungry and sad that my favorite spot, Nantucket Island, had turned a cruel head, blind eye and no justice for how I was treated!. I just hope that someone else never goes through what I did on the Island, and used to live there full time....such a shame...such a shame....
Jennifer and her service dog Ike Please comment on this story, tell me what I should have done and how I should handle it next time.
I just don't understand how people can act so horribly against another human, let alone a person with disabilities. I can't tell you how many times I have had someone give me a hard time either walking with my service dog (preferred method of transportation) or on my scooter. Now, maybe I was raised differently for you see, when I see someone with a disability I make room for them to pass, hold the door open for them, let them use the handicapped bathroom even if there is a long line and I have had a few drinks!. Even before I was handicapped I understood that life is not easy for anyone, especially someone who is handicapped. Now, I am not saying that someone who is handicapped needs special help, or gets special attention, I just think we should be aware and help if needed. I know handicapped people who don't want help, they need and want to do things on there own, I totally wish that were me.
What I am here to write about is the total stupidity and just plain mean people.
First example: I went on vacation last year to Nantucket Island. I wanted to bring my husband there as he had never been, I was also traveling with Ike, my service dog and co-author of this blog. Now first things first, my husband came down with stomach flu and we had a 45 minute boat ride...less than stellar for all involved. He managed not to get sick until we got to our room. I wanted to stay close to town as we didn't rent a car ( no need to on a 12 mile long Island) so we were only about 5 minutes off the boat into the room. I AM SO LUCKY....I had gotten us a small cottage on the wharf with a pull out sofa, separate bedroom and bath. Once inside the cottage my husband proceeded with his "journey of sickness" and I proceeded to get outta there:). Now you may think me insensitive but I was actually going to the grocery store to buy him every nausea, vomiting and diarrhea medicine that one can fit into a shopping bag. Ike and I had a nice walk and he himself had to use the "toilet" on the way. Once we got inside the store I remembered why I left this Island Paradise. The grocery store is so small and no one that works there, at least in the summer, speaks English. I asked the first person I saw working there where the medications were for stomach upset. I even demonstrated how one would act with an upset stomach to help her along, but no go. She instead told me I was not allowed to have my dog inside the store and proceeded to bring me over to the "no pets" sign I tried explaining that Ike is not a pet, that without this dog I could not walk. I did my demo, this time pretending to fall over and grabbing onto Ike. I really know now what it looks like when they say " A Deer in headlights". This girl had not a clue. " No pets, No pets, you must leave now", at least I think that was what she was trying to tell me. I tried one more time to get her to understand, and when it was clear to me that nothing was getting through I just walked away. She looked at me like "how do you dare break the rules" but didn't chase me. So the search was on for the savior of fluids for my husband. I found some ginger ale and some Gatorade to help him keep hydrated while his body was doing it's best to get every last drop out of him. I found some saltine crackers for when and If he felt like eating, we were only there for two nights or I would have bought some soup too.I start down the next aisle when I spot in the stores rear view mirrors ,official looking people officially, or oafishly, which ever you prefer as both fit, looking for ME. They are hunting me down like Wiley Coyote going after the Road Runner, relentless and unforgiving. Did I need some Acme ammunition?. So here they come all pomp and circumstance to tell me that I can't have my "pet" in their store. Ike NEVER goes anywhere without his cape, harness, easy leader and certificate, even though legally all you need to say is that he is a service dog and this is what he does for me. The store police are now telling me I have to leave with my dog, and I tell them I won't leave until after I check out. A small crowd has now gathered, pointing and whispering. This is not only embarrassing but it is also Illegal!. Once again I tell the store police that Ike is my service dog, Ike helps me walk, Ike opens doors for me, turns on the lights ect ect. Ike probably could do a better job working as a store employee that the ones they have!. Since the whole store was now watching for the next move in this game of chicken, the store police escorted me to the check out stand. I had to grab and go the medications needed for the husband, and some "Chewy Sprees" for me, definitely not leaving without those. The store still does not understand service dog rules and normally( NOT) I would have them call the police to get informed what the rules are) but I had a dying husband in desperate need of aid. This is just one of a string of stories I'll be writing on this subject. Maybe someone who has no idea about service animals will read this and I can feel proud that I educated at least one. I would like to say that I will never shop at that store again, but if you are on Nantucket, staying in town without a mobile, then you are sh out of luck and forced to deal with the foreigners, Islanders, and just plain uninformed human beings...
Until next time, wag and bark as loud as you can to get the help you need.
Jennifer and Ike
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Thank you so much for your prompt response and willingness to help. I have not heard back from the woman who asked for my help:(. I really hope that they found a home for the dog and not just a kill shelter, but I have no way of knowing unless they call me. I really appreciate your response and hope we can remain in touch as fellow dog lovers. Quick story for your group
Growing up I was always the smallest kid on the block ( still am) and none of the other children would let me play with them. They bullied me to no end and I always was sad and alone, with my toys stolen and bruises. Then one day I was walking down the street and these big kids were following me throwing stuff at me calling me names ect ect. The door of the house of I was in front off opened and a man and a woman came out. They knelt down to my level and asked me if I could keep a secret...Boy could I ever was what I told them. They turned and looked at the kids that were following me and said as loud as they could ( guess it wasn't a secret) "Our Collie just had puppies and we want you to come and see them". Oh boy, was I so surprised and proud that they had picked ME to be the first ones to see their beautiful Collie puppies, Thumper and Bambi, and Heather was their Mom. I, from that time forward was no longer regarded as the kid to pick on, now everyone wanted to play with me. I no longer needed the approval of these kids, nor did I need to play with them. Every day after school I was invited to go and play with the puppies, walk them as they grew an Heather the Mom was my forever friend!!! I will never forget the kindness of Collie people, or the gentleness of the breed that taught me so many more things as I grew.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Hello everyone! I have not had a new post in months. I bet you were thinking that I had run of with Cesar Milan:) The Dog Whisperer, not quite. I won the grand prize of four surgeries from March 3rd until March 15th. It was not a whole lot of fun. Ikey got to come and visit me which was the highlight of my days there. At least I had my own room. I have had some very strange and actually Violent roommates. I had this one roommate who cried every 5 minutes for a nurse to come, I have no idea what was wrong with her besides the fact she was a pain in the you know what. When the nurses did not come fast enough for you liking she decided that I needed to help her. I just had surgery, I couldn't walk, she could!. She got very upset when I didn't come over to her bed to help her. She got out of her bed, picked up her walker and threw it at me, no kidding! Her I was scrunched up in my bed as far against the wall as I could get and she is throwing things at me. There were no other rooms available. I had to stay in this room with this woman who screamed at the top of her lungs that people were being mean to her, she wasn't able to smoke, her stupid as%$ husband wasn't visiting her, yep that was a great day. Another time I had a woman who thought God talked to her through a woman in Brazil, but she couldn't get the call to go through. Every two minutes she would pick up the phone and dial a number. She would say a couple words in Spanish and hang up. Now, this would be annoying if she was not on pain killers and speaking in a regular voice. She was so out of it that I don't think she dialed the same number twice, she YELLED into the phone, Rosa Is That You, It's Carmella, ROSA answer me and then she would pass out zzzzzzzzz Rosa Is that you!!! IT"S ME Carmella God%^$& zzzzzzz and asleep she was again. This went on, no lie for the whole day. Finally at around 7pm I asked her if I could dial the number for her. Understand that again I had just had leg surgery, not able to really get out of bed, but god as my witness Carmella was GOING to speak to Rosa. I pulled my stay puff marshmallow leg off the tower of pillows it was on, lowered my bed as far as it would go, and crossed the mighty divide between our beds. Boy was she surprised when I landed on her bed! In her haze she gave me the Brazilian Gods' ( otherwise now and always "Rosa") number. It was about 20 digits long and I had my doubts that I would end up speaking Spanish to Rosa or anyone for that matter. After a long silence the phone actually rang....." Hola, Rosa?, Si, Rosa, IT"S HER!!! I am speaking to the Brazilian God. I told her I had Carmella for her on the line and ...it was like Charo gone wild. AyyayyyaChicychicyayyyyaa CarmellaAYYAAAcoochycoochy. I gave the phone to Carmella and thought my job was done and I could take my staypuff leg and cross the great divide and back to bed ( plus I had to go to the bathroom:)). But....Carmella had her own ideas on what I needed. She decided that I needed to be healed and saved by Rosa! Rosa, the Brazilians God, Rosa, the Charo gone wild coochy coochy was now going to save my soul....and she wanted me to PAY for this great service. WHAT!!!!! I had just gritted my teeth, pulled my stay puff leg off the leaning tower of pillows, crossed the great divide to help poor poor Carmella out and now I had to Pay to talk to CHARO! I can't make this up folks, this is the truth. I kindly told Carmella that I was sure Rosa could save my soul but I really needed to get back to my bed before someone came in to check, as I was ordered NOT to get out of bed. I have had roommates that ONLY watched "Little House on the Prairie" and there is only one tv for every room, a woman who's husband was a drunk and came to visit and swore like a sailor and had more Gas than Mobile, A woman who thought it was 1940's Pittsburgh while we were in Dallas hospital, and the stories go on.
I hope you enjoyed a few fun stories and I hope my next post will be sooner rather than later.
Jennifer and Ikey