*This post is part of a series originally posted on my former blog, Stinker Babies. I’m reposting here for families who are interested in learning more about the process of being matched with a service dog for their children. This series was written during March of 2013.*
Today was a little bittersweet. It was our last full class day. We reviewed our obedience commands, discussed any issues or concerns, talked a lot about going home and what to expect. The trainers told us that it’s a guarantee that we’ll be questioned about public access with April. We heard several stories that just make your jaw drop at the rudeness and lack of tact that clients have experienced. We learned a little bit about what ADA law covers. April is protected under the law just the same as someone’s wheelchair. A hotel or apartment complex wouldn’t charge someone extra because the wheels might wear on the carpet. If there are damages, then we are absolutely responsible. An example would be our rental car. We purchased the insurance on the rental car that basically releases us of all liability. But they made sure to inform us that we will be charged a $250 cleaning fee if there is any pet hair in the car. So we’d come out cheaper to just push it off a cliff. We’re responsible people and we plan to clean it out anyway, but we’re also not planning to pay $250.
We had a chance to voice any fears about public access and the most common one seemed to be the poop issue. We’re all scared that our dog will be in a store or mall or somewhere and poop on the floor. So the first thing they reassured us about is that it will happen. We heard some hilarious stories from the 4 Paws founder, Karen Shirk, that put us all at ease. As she put it…When, not if, but when it happens and you’re embarrassed and cleaning it up, just remember the stories I told you and know that at least it’s not as bad as what happened to me.
We came back to the hotel tonight and have been rushing around trying to pack it all up. April definitely is a little more clingy than usual. She’s definitely picking up that something is going on. Some extra snuggles and cuddles and she seemed to feel better. So Jake will get up in the morning and take the borrowed kennel and food dishes back to 4 Paws and maybe run April a bit. Then he’ll come back here and we’ll load up the car. We will check out of our Home Sweet Homewood Suites and head to the mall at 11:30. At noon, we will take our public access test. EEEEEK! Assuming we pass, we’ll head back to 4 Paws to do all of our final paperwork, get April’s medical records, etc. Our classmates and some of the foster families will join us at 2:30 for our graduation ceremony. I’m just accepting that I’m going to be a crying mess tomorrow for pretty much the whole day. After all of our celebrating and tearful goodbyes, we’ll hop in the car and head south. We’ll see how far we get!
Prayers are definitely appreciated for our test and our travels tomorrow. I’ll try to update from the road tomorrow because it will be a huge day, but it might be a bit difficult. I’ll at least add some updates and pics to the Stinker Babies Facebook page (http://facebook.com/stinkerbabies *That address is now facebook.com/ashleydpooser*). If a blog post doesn’t happen tomorrow, you’ll be sure to get an earful (eyeful?) on Saturday after we make it home. Thank you so much to everyone who has been following this journey and for your prayers and your support and your encouragement. We are looking forward to getting April all settled in at her new home and getting back to our routines. It should definitely be an interesting transition and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories!