A nice teaching event today
*Whew!!* No theatre today. No rehearsal. No frantically trying to find props. Only have to get Husband to practice his lines tonight so we’ll be ready for opening night tomorrow. Have been trying to spend today not thinking about the production for a change. I’ve not been successful at it, but I’ve been trying.
I did get to see my therapist today. She could tell that things haven’t been going so well. She asked how last Wednesday’s appointment was. I told her and said she should read my blog for more details. She asked how the show was progressing. Again, I told her and said she should read my blog. She asked if blogging has been helping and I wasn’t sure what to say. I think it has but then there are days I wonder. Plus, she thought it was a great idea and a good way to keep-up with what I’m doing/feeling/etc. but hasn’t been reading it. Glad I post for myself and not for her.
In the waiting room today there were small children. Two were about 6 or 7 years old, another was younger, and another was not quite 2 years old. Of course, when Celeste and I walked-in, she became the center of attention. Parents started trying to grab their kids and the “Don’t touch the doggie!” chants started. The toddler ran to her and hugged her before his mother could grab him. When they’re at that age where they don’t understand what a working dog is and can’t communicate themselves, I look to the parents to keep their kids in line. The mother apologized profusely but the little boy was just fascinated. She kept telling him “No” and pulling him away from Celeste while trying to get him interested in some of the toys they’d brought.
Having seen the toddler do this, the other three came over and started to pet Celeste. Their parents tried to grab them away from her and apologized. I told them not to move the kids but I also told the kids to not touch her. I then explained, in simple terms, that she is a working dog and cannot be petted by others. Of course, the kids looked at me like I was some insane lady and by now the toddler had snuck back over and gave Celeste a big wet kiss. She wasn’t happy about it, but she wasn’t going to do anything, either, since that would be against her training.
I had Celeste and the children sit on the floor. Every now and then they’d try to sneak a pet or try to get her to kiss them. I showed them her vest and backpack and for the ones that could read I showed them the “DO NOT PET” patches. I explained that she has to be paying attention to me and that if someone bothers her, she can’t do her job which makes her upset because she’s a working dog. The older boy asked if she was like the police dog they’d met at an event in town. I said that the police dog is a working dog too but that he and Celeste don’t do the same jobs. His mother said, “Remember when the police officer said you couldn’t pet him until he said it was okay?” and the boy replied that he did. I said that the same rules would apply to Celeste and any other dog with a vest or backpack that they might see. The youngest girl was quickly bored and wandered off but the older kids were fascinated. I explained that they should never touch a working dog unless they’ve asked the owner/handler first for permission. And I told them that they have to get the permission first because some working dogs can’t be petted or played with and to never try to pet a dog they don’t know. The two kept reminding each other about the “DO NOT PET” patches and asking first as they caught the other trying to sneak another pat on the head.
When the parents and children left, one of the other patients came into the waiting room and said how beautiful Celeste is and asked if she was trained or if I was training her. I explained that she is a service dog and assists me all day, every day. She told me how blessed I am to have a dog like her and that I must feel very lucky, which I do and I agreed with her. She asked me if I minded talking about Celeste and what she does for me. I told her that I didn’t mind and the lady volunteered that she has PTSD and always wondered if a service dog could help. I could see my therapist looking out of the doorway at us and I said that Celeste has helped me immensely before she began to tell the lady what a major change in me she’s seen and how much she enjoys Celeste being in our sessions.
The lady began to ask more questions — What is it like to have the dog with you? Do you have problems going places? What does she do for you? All the typical questions that are usually asked (and not always to my face when people think I’m blind or deaf and can’t hear them). I answered her and we talked for a moment about how my life has changed in both good ways and bad. I told her that once you have a service dog you can’t hide your disability because there’s a four-legged “billboard” basically announcing it and that there are times that the public just doesn’t (or won’t) understand why you have one when you “look just fine.” She said she’d never thought about that but for her she’d rather have the “billboard” and could deal with stupid comments on her own. We laughed and my therapist said she’d talk to the lady’s therapist about whether he/she believed that a service dog would be a good addition to her treatment. Then the lady thanked me and I went in for my session.
I’d been feeling really frazzled and angry over the past few days, but getting to sit and educate others on service dogs and how they can help people with “invisible disabilities” was awesome. When I left for my appointment I could barely stand to be anywhere and was just sure I was going to scream or cry or do something because everything had been so negative recently. Watching the kids understand to not disturb a working dog and helping another PTSD survivor realize that there is another way without tons of medication to mitigate your disability was very therapeutic. Even more therapeutic than the therapy session — and I didn’t have to pay for what I did in the waiting room.
Maybe I’ll actually get a chance to sleep tonight. I probably won’t since I’m sure the voices (which have already started again) will be reminding me of every little thing that has been going wrong with the show and worrying about my doctor appointment on Friday when I try to go to bed. But at least today I feel like I’ve accomplished something positive. And for now, that will do.