Thursday, October 24, 2013

Almost finished!

Tomorrow is our Public Access Test and if all goes well Graduation Day!!! Woooooo!!!

We have had a great experience here at 4 Paws and we love love love our Arizona! But we are definitely ready to go home to our own beds and to get settled back into our routines!

This morning we did three tracks and Arizona was a rock star every time! The last track we did completely in the woods, a lot of what we have done has been Dalton walking across a field then just inside the tree line but back home woods is more likely! Arizona found her boy without any issues.

Tethering has been a bit of a challenge so far, not for Arizona but for Dalton. We aren't sure what part of it his doesn't like just yet but we will continue working on it when we get back home where we can play around with the options a bit more.

Arizona also does some tricks like shaking hands, giving high five, playing dead, and we had to teach her to "fist bump" since this is Dalton's new thing! We worked on "giving kisses" a little bit last night but we have deterred her from licking from the beginning so this is a little confusing for her while sometimes it's okay and sometimes it's not so we aren't sure that we are going to pursue this one. However, Dalton thought it was hilarious when she was doing it.

We can't wait for all of our family, friends, teachers, and therapists to meet Arizona when we get home!!

I attached Mandisa Overcomer below especially for all the 4 Paws families. We were VERY lucky to get Arizona as soon as we did but these families work sooo hard to make this dream happen for their children/family! Even when the fundraising goal seems mountainous they just keep at it!!



Monday, October 21, 2013

Oh tethering....Day #7 & #8

Have you ever worked so hard for something then when you finally get it you have to take a moment step back and say "Am I sure this is right?" That's how we felt about the dog. We have fund raised and been waiting to get the dog for right at a year (some families wait 3 years!) so as we pulled into the parking lot the first day of class, I was thinking "Uh, I hope we were right." Right away when Dalton started taking up with her I knew we were.

Then the first day of tracking I was yet again reassured that I was right. This was one of the best ideas I have ever had!

Then today was the first day we have tried tethering and behavior disruption. It is definitely confirmed, I'm a genius!

For the first time we walked through the mall without anyone having a death grip on Dalton or him being on a harness or being in a stroller or buggy! He had his freedom to walk around and look at stuff but not so much freedom that he could take off running. I had a little peace of mind about him not running away!

Then we did a few tracks in the mall which really reaffirmed my genius. I now have a little bit of a security blanket that if he were to get away Arizona could find him in a matter of minutes.

The dog is also trained for behavior disruption. For us that means when Dalton gets overwhelmed and starts jumping and hand flapping the dog has been trained to come over and paw at him to distract him and to draw his attention to her. The dog is also trained to provide some deep pressure by laying over Dalton's lap to help calm him down, we can use the touch command for the dog to paw at Dalton when he jumps and flaps his arms to distract him, or nuzzle him when he bites his shirt or fingers (we are still working on this one). As you can tell Arizona's abilities are priceless! Plus Dalton and I taught her how to fist bump tonight.

The fist bump is his new thing along with high five. Of course Arizona fist bumps the same way she gives high five it's just Dalton doing something different but he doesn't care about the details! :)

However, dog supplies are not! I don't know if you guys have been to a Pet Smart or a like store lately but it's crazy!!

Needless to say now I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt I was right to pursue getting this dog and if I ever had to I would do it all over again I totally would and wait longer if necessary!!

We can't wait to get back so that everyone can meet the newest member of our family!

Below is the link to Chris Tomlin's - Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone). This is a favorite for me. Amazing Grace is a song I have sung almost everyday since my kids were born as a lullaby. God's grace is simply amazing, it's never ending.


Chris Tomlin--Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day #5 & #6

Yesterday I was a slacker! This being away from home and constantly on the go is starting to wear me down a little :) But we were up and back at it again today even if we were running a little bit late getting started!

This was after our tracking this morning in the rain! Today was the first day we got to take the lead about half way through the track. I definitely see why the lady trainer wears a glove on the hand she holds the flexi-lead with. Arizona is strong and fast as, I'm sure, the other dogs are and it doesn't take long for your hand to get raw. However, it is totally worth it! We have started working on a few short tracks in the hotel. Hopefully, it will start getting a little easier each time for Arizona to know who "her boy" is.

Payson, Nick, and mom went to a wedding today of a family member that lives close by. Apparently Payson was a wild woman, the norm, and Nick was as good as a baby can be. :)

Dalton is continuously warming up to Arizona and she is quickly finding her place in our little family. Charlie and I both agree that Papaw is going to love her which will make Dalton like her even more! One week down and one more week to go before we get to go home.


It was one of these kind of days today! --->   Free to Be Me

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day #4

Our tracking went pretty well this morning. They were mowing at the park we went to so it took Arizona a little longer to catch the scent and it was harder for her to keep it BUT she did it! I'm still just in awe of the tracking.

Arizona was listening intently during class!

However her boy was fast asleep again :)

It amazes us how quickly he is warming up to her. Payson was even petting on her A LOT tonight. Arizona hasn't quite figured Nick out just yet. I think she is trying to decide if he is a toy because he is so small. Every time he gets near her he gets a good licking right in the face.

Tomorrow will be our first public outing with the dogs and I'm excited to see how it goes. Tethering is a another BIG BIG deal for us so we are excited to start practicing that!

Below I attached the link for Casting Crowns "Praise you in this Storm" video. For a very specific reason. When we first started our journey finding Dalton's diagnosis, dealing with doctors, school systems and therapist, then getting a diagnosis, and finding a path we needed to be on to help him in the most effective way this was kind of my theme song. Because there were some weeks that every day seemed like a storm. Some days I was taking it hour by hour.

Once we found a diagnosis it was more like what we thought was a small detour in life changed the whole direction of it. The journey was just beginning! Our path is continuously changing depending on his needs and the other needs of our family as a whole. But I don't at this current time feel quite like everyday is a "storm" it's more like we have a few "misty spots" throughout the day.

But today I was thinking I want to praise God the same whether we have a stormy day or a misty day or a bright sunshiny day! Because regardless He is in control. He is our God and we will praise Him regardless of our situation and current outlook on the day!


Casting Crowns--Praise You In This Storm

Day #3

Yesterday was our first tracking exercise and I'm pretty sure everyone was in awe! For us-the only thing that I could thing was this is why we are here* It was amazing the way she found them.

Charlie and Dalton probably walked out 50-75 yards (I'm terrible with measurement by just looking at stuff and Charlie and mom are asleep so that is a total guess :) ), they let Arizona watch for the first 20 yards then the trainer stepped in front of her so she couldn't see where they went after that. Then Charlie and Dalton at the end of the clearing stepped a few feet into the woods. But Arizona went right to them without hesitation.

When you're in constant fear of your child getting out of the house and wandering off by themselves, it dominants your life. Every time we go somewhere new our first thoughts aren't, "Oh this is going to be fun." or "The kids are going to love this!" it's "Where can Dalton get away the easiest" or "What aren't we going to be able to keep him away from?" I mean we still think about the first set of questions but they definitely aren't at the forefronts of our minds. Sometimes we flat out avoid situations that we know they would enjoy but are just too much risk with Dalton.

This dog obviously isn't going to take Dalton's desire to run off away. But what we hope for is that if he ever gets away she can find him, she will give us another set of eyes on him, and in public she will be tethered to him to help him not wander off.

They are also bonding really well. We are super excited about this! We are bribing the dog to like him :) We make sure he gives him the best treats every time she comes around and only the good ones like Beggin' Strips!

We are excited to go out on another tracking exercise today and to see what other cool tricks Arizona has up her sleeve!


Psalm 28:7 NKJV--The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Training Day #2

Day #2 went really well! Dalton is starting to warm up to Arizona even more. He let her set a little closer and was petting her a little more. We are super excited and happy with how he is accepting her just 2 days in.

Tomorrow will be our first tracking experience. The trainers will be running the dogs for the first couple of go rounds but I'm excited to see Arizona in action! This was a major reason for us to get the dog so we are wanting to see it first hand.

Tomorrow will also be the first day that Arizona gets to come back to the hotel with us. We brought her crate home tonight and a few other supplies for her. We are excited to see how everyone reacts to the dog being with us ALL the time.

Dalton amazes us everyday with his ability to adjust and change for the situation at hand. Sometimes we forget that our worries shouldn't hold him back or dictate what he can or cannot attempt. We try to prevent every meltdown or tear or bad day and sometimes if we just step back and let life happen it will be OKAY. He will adjust and accept. Not always by any means but so many times he surprises us with the things that he just accepts!

Today we were talking about how much more he is talking. I'm not sure why we are still surprised when he spouts off some big sentence but we are. We don't always know what he is talking about but he is trying to communicate so much more! We are very thankfully for the fact that it's improving.


Matthew 17:20 NKJV--So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Meeting Arizona!

We meet Arizona today! We were a little worried because before we left the house we asked Dalton if we could go get a dog and he said "no." Mostly because he just didn't understand. But we were fairly certain he would warm up to her and thankfully HE DID!!! All 3 of the kids actually responded really well. We were concerned mostly because they haven't been around dogs very much at all and she has been scared of the ones that she has been around.

Right after he woke up from a nap he was a little skeptical again but he was, in general, kind of grouchy after his nap.
We went over some simple obedience commands in class. We won't start tracking for a couple of days and it will be a couple of days before we can start bringing Arizona home with us in the evenings.
We are looking forward to learning all about Arizona and she was well behaved today! She didn't jump on the kids or try to lick them too much *unless she smelled treats :)*
Of course we had to have pizza for lunch to celebrate! The kids were really good all day today! Hopefully Dalton sleeps better tonight than last night!
1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV -- And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

We have arrived...

We traveled into Ohio to pick up our service dog yesterday!

This morning is the first morning of class and it's almost surreal. We have been working on this since last year but we thought we still have at least another year of waiting ahead of us. So to be here now and to have prepared in a's just been a whirlwind.

There were times in our fundraising when I would be thinking to myself "is this really worth it." I dismissed it straightly because if I didn't think it was worth it why would anyone else? It's hard to fund raise that much money and to try to do it quickly so that the waiting is kept to a minimum. I feel very blessed to have this surprise dog come long earlier than expected!

Of course, at a gas station somewhere in KY, Dalton made a friend that had a 4 wheeler at a gas station. This older gentleman took him for a ride around the building. I was in the van and I could kind of hear the conversation going on between Charlie and the guy as he was asking if Dalton could go. I was thinking "Charlie please don't say yes, please don't say yes" Then of course Dalton got on the 4 wheeler and the gentleman's wife came out of the store and stood and talk to us while he rode. But I thought to myself that "it's terrible that in this day and age, we trust NO ONE!" There are some good people in this world.

The kids did really well on our adventure. We had to stop only 3 or 4 times, which isn't bad with 3 kids! Quite frankly I was getting more tired of being in a vehicle than they other I believe. Last night we got to go swimming. Which is Dalton's favorite activity! To our surprise Payson actually got in and loved it as well. She refused to get in the outdoor pool this summer but loved this one. It was supposed to be heated but it wasn't very warm, just warm enough to knock the chill off. So, Nick didn't spend a lot of time in the pool.

We are very very very excited to meet Arizona this morning. We are so thankful to everyone to helped us get here! Thankful that the good Lord had this special dog come around a little early than expected to help us out!


Job 35:11 NKJV -- Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth,
And makes us wiser than the birds of heaven?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oh boy!

We are preparing for our trip...and by that I mean I am mentally deciding what to pack, I'm thinking about doing my laundry, and putting it off in just about every way possible. HA!

We are so excited to get there but I have no desire to do the laundry it requires to pack our bags. That's so terrible. It's the steps I have to walk to go downstairs to do the laundry and then have to go back up 2 flights of stairs to put it up and pack the bags. *I'm going to get MOTIVATED!*

This is going to be an interesting 2 weeks. We will be getting an inside dog for the first time EVER since our all 3 kids have been alive. We had one for a very short period of time when Dalton was little but not since then. I'm interested to see how they all react when the dog comes home with us and gets to go inside. *Thank goodness for dvd players*

We have tried to talk to Dalton about the dog but I don't think he quite understands just yet that we are actually going to "have" a dog. But I did get him to pick her out a doggie bowl for her food. Now if I could just get Nick and Payson to understand that it isn't for them...

Now I am going to go pack. Right after I make my list of everything that we need to pack :)


Isaiah 40:31 NKJV--
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thanks to the moon & back....

As many of you know we have been fundraising for a service dog for Dalton since November of 2012. Well on Sunday we were surprised when there was post for a special dog offered if you had raised at $5000 & could be at the facility in a short time frame. Out of the families that requested the dog Dalton was chosen!!!

Everyone meet Arizona--

We are so excited to meet her and welcome her to our family!!

Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible! In whatever way you helped it is greatly appreciated! We cannot wait to get to OH and start our training!


Every good thing-The Afters