Pupdates

Pupdates, or updates on my pugs:

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Mavis – So if any of you have been religious followers all the way back to when I first got Mavis, you’ll know that I had been training her once upon a time to be my service dog. Well fast forward a year later and I am once again working on just that, but this time with a trainer from Service Dog Express. I think that it is possible to train your own service animal, but I also think that it can prove quite difficult to stay on track when you are on your own. This month Mavis has met with the trainer twice and we learned how to properly walk her so that she is right at my side and focused on me. We’re working on sit and stay as well as door commands currently and our homework for this week is to play hide-and-seek with her so that it simulates her getting help if I need it. Our biggest challenge is Eleven. Eleven likes to constantly be the focus of attention and additionally loves to harass Mave, which makes it hard for Mavis to concentrate with a jumping bean by her side.

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Mavis also has enjoyed trying out a funky hairstyle: pawfectly pink! She will be attending Pug Prom on Twitter this weekend, so we had to see about trying a new look for her date Dug. Keep an eye out on her instagram and twitter because photos are definitely happening.

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Eleven’s first pawdicure – Baby blue, which lasted all of 2 minutes!

Eleven: This month Eleven turned six-months-old! Six-months already!? Time has flown as my wee little baby is gaining confidence each day and catching up to her sister on size. We are trying to train Eleven to be more controlled in addition to Mavis because at home and when we go out as a family of four, it really will be a group effort. She has lost all of her baby teeth now and we are working on building her confidence as she is insecure around the unfamiliar.

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I’ve been drooling over this Betsey Johnson backpack for awhile now..

Well that’s it for now!

xo

-Cass, Mave & Ele

Let’s Talk

Gemma Correll has inspired me to talk about something that is a heavy topic for most people: mental health (how amazing are these images she drew up for Mental Health America?). Just this morning I had a panic attack which includes an endless cycle of “I have so much to do” and “why even bother, nothing I do is good enough.” I often have these all-or-nothing thoughts and it’s extremely difficult to break this repeating cycle. In planning my upcoming wedding, I have been overwhelmed with self-loathing thoughts: “no one will want to come” and “no one cares enough about me to be by my side,” but the truth is I do have wonderful people on my side. It may not be one-hundred, fifty, or even twenty people there to support me, but the people who are there, are the ones I WANT there. Those who love me unconditionally and understand my struggle with physical and mental illness and YET (yes, yet) still WANT to be involved in my crazy life; Those who are in my court through not only my ups, but my overwhelming lows.

I have struggled with major depressive disorder, anxiety, social phobia, and PTSD for years now and so many times I have felt ashamed, that I must hide these mental illnesses from society. [I think that] They will judge me, thinking “that girl is crazy”, “I don’t want to be around her”, or “she may snap at any moment”. The fact is: loads of people suffer with these issues of feeling inadequate at what they do. We are told not to express these emotions because we will appear weak and vulnerable, but holding on to them is what makes us weak and vulnerable in the first place!

I will honestly say that my anxiety is becoming unmanageable. I have tried so many different medications in order to feel more relaxed, but the ones that work are too sedative and/or they don’t last long enough; because of this, it is time for me to go to the next measure: a service dog. It was suggested to me in 2015 that I should obtain a dog for support (whether it be a service dog or a ESA) by my psychologist; I have always responded well to animals and grew up with a full house of five main animals (and some of them had various litters!). My pets have always gotten me through the struggles through the years: I grew up in not so favorable situations. I was abused as a child and the victim of severe bullying (this went on for over six years). I often spent my days hiding inside when I wasn’t forced (I begged to be homeschooled) to go to a school (and take the bus which was just as horrible if not worse) where I was constantly harassed. My only safe place was in the comfort of my own bedroom with my furry friends and dolls; even then I was tormented by my older brother and cyber stalked (even after I moved away from the hell of Newport, North Carolina) by the same cruel people I went to school with. These cruel girls thought it would be so “cool” for them to go to my social media platforms and save my photos so that they could go back and forth on Photobucket saying how ugly I was and that I was just a fat poser. I never understood the cruelty I received. I was brought up in a Christian household and taught to treat people like you want to be treated. I truly believe I have upheld this moral and proceeded through life with honest and compassionate intentions. I never bullied anyone, not even those who bullied me. I put my faith that God would lead me to a successful life, rich in love, which I have now obtained.

I got Mavis in March of 2016. After years of wanting a pug and a dog of my own, I finally received the gift of a lifetime in the form of this spunky, curly-tailed girl. I began training her at 3 months as a service dog, but with the stress of finishing my last semester and my first hard break-up, I took a [much too long] hiatus from the weekly training. Now that I somehow managed to graduate from Texas Tech and my heart is mended and found love, I am ready to get back on track! I want to use Service Dog Express to train Mave and get her into tip-top shape for her aiding in my life and the public access test (the test Service Dogs must pass before being deemed certified). I know anxiety will continue to play a big role in my life (although I wish it wouldn’t) and I’m tired of being afraid to go into public alone. I truly believe that I may have a shot of living a healthier life with her by my side. If you would like to get involved with our campaign, YouCaring is donating $500 to a fundraiser: It’s completely free, quick, and easy to do:

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Here is an example done by the wonderful Caleb (aka my fiancé) and my darling girl, Mave. This took five minutes to draw and take, so it’s super easy and affective. #SignedwithLove & @youcaring is all you need to include on your post! The opportunity to help will pass soon as it ends on JUNE 14TH.

or if pictures aren’t your style…

You can purchase one of the many cute clothing options available featuring “Mave Saves” on our Bonfire. The sales remain until JUNE 29TH.

Don’t want a hoodie or tee?…

The last option is to make a donation! You can do this through our Youcaring with a no end date or through our Paypal!

Here is our links: YouCaring, Bonfire, Paypal, & Facebook Page.

• • • • •

Struggling getting through the day? Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you need someone to talk to. We’re here for you, 24/7. 💚📲

Never give up ladies and gentlemen.

You are so much more than your illnesses and we need to fight together to end the stigma!

xo,

Cass & Mave

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Training with Mavis

Week 2

This week my little Mavis will be 14 weeks and will have been living with us for 8 weeks! She’s been in training for 2 weeks using Training Your Own Service Dog by  Lelah Sullivan and AKA Shana Cohen. For those who don’t know, Mave is my service dog in training and she is doing incredibly well for her age. After we complete Sullivan’s and Cohen’s book, we will be using a training manual from Service Dog Express. Hopefully once both guides are finished, Mave will be in tip top shape. If not, I have local training organizations willing to help out with basic obedience training. Service Dog Express can also provide further training and instruction via webcam. SDE (located in San Antonio) can evaluate Mavis with a final walk through, after her training, to see if she is ready for the Public Access Test and become a Service Dog! I wanted to start a series of posts dedicated to my tiny terror’s (oh the wonderful puppy stages!) training progress. I’m hoping to help others in their journey to training a service dog of their own and how to go about getting started and what options they can choose.

First of all, I am not a liscensed trainer, but I consider myself a dog expert. I have lived with multiple dogs my entire life, worked in the veterinary field for about two years, and continue to work as a dog behavior analyst as a doggy daycare attendant (which is much more hands on then you’d think). Anyways, I know quite a bit about dog behavior and health which has set me up with the perfect platform to training my dog. I have looked into the alternatives of having a service dog pre-trained and ready, but the cons (for me personally) outweighed the pros. First of all the wait is up to a year or more to be matched with a service dog. Furthermore, the price of a trained service dog is anywhere from $1,200-2,000 and upwards. Another reason I didn’t choose this option is because you really have to be hands on when training a psychiatric service dog because they need to get you and your moods. Your ups, your downs, your triggers. This, in itself, takes persistence, time, and a close bond.

We started the intensive training on April 14th, 2016 and have learned Focus (keeping her eyes on me all the time), Touch (hoping that she’ll use this to alert), and are now working on Blanket (having her lie down on a blanket) commands. Technically it was recommended that the Service Dog Express manual begin at 6 months of age, but we are getting a jump start with Sullivan’s and Cohen’s training guide to prepare us.

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Locations We Have ‘Worked’ At:

Different locations will allow you to bring a service dog in training (SDiT) into their locations if you ask, but it is your liability should anything happen (potty accidents, etc.). On request if someone asked me to leave a location, I would gladly do so because it is their right, since Mave is not a service dog (yet). These locations I we visited had no problem with me bringing in Mavis, but I only worked on training commands in outer locations since she is so tiny and not completely potty trained yet. Documentation is important! So lots of photos, videos, and a log should be written down, in the case your service dog is questioned or legal action is brought against you.

As we perfect our commands and learn new ones, we hope you will follow our journey.

Xo,

Cass & Mavis

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