This picture is of me and my 5 year old service dog named Candi. We are riding inside one of the gondola cars traveling back down the mountain from atop the ski area. It was after Labor Day last September and a stunningly gorgeous day with unbelievable views at the top.
OK lets back up to the day before. I had done my research online about the ski resort so I would know what to expect and to bring. At the top of the ski area where the skiers get off it is quite high and much cooler than at the bottom...about a 15 degree difference, which meant dressing in layers. So I picked out a jacket that had an inside zipper for my small wallet and other pockets for other things. I made sure my big camera that I was taking was in its camera bag with its wide strap.
I needed to keep my hands free of carrying anything because my left hand held Candi’s leash and I had to keep firm control of that at all times. So no purse, no cane or anything else in my right hand. The camera then went around my neck. In Candi’s dog vest she carries information on her, poop baggies, some treats, water, etc.
Next morning we were off and it is a bit of drive to get there. When we finally got there it was obvious tons of other people had the same idea and the parking lot which is on an incline was almost full. My heart sank for I can’t walk that far on an incline. But then an attendant came up to us and said we could the handicapped parking, for he had noticed the handicapped license plate on our SUV. Off we went and parked within feet of where we wanted to be, we were so lucky!
While I got things ready my husband took Candi for a potty walk in an appropriate area and she was now set. Then we got our tickets and used the nearest restrooms. Candi goes with me and we use the handicapped stall. She is trained to sit and stay where I put her in there and she does fine. If I need help getting up then she is there. When I go to wash my hands she gets a drink of water out of my hands as her front paws rest on the counter. When done I wipe up after us. It’s my responsibility to keep her clean and any area that she uses.
I do walk by myself but I am a bit wobbly but walking with Candi controls that. She walks on a short leash right next to my left thigh and also wears a Gentle Leader which is a strap attached to her leash that goes high around her muzzle. With this on it helps me keep control of her pulling and walks at a safe gait for me.
Anyway we now go to the lines waiting to take a gondola ride up to the top. These cable cars keep moving along when they come into the station platform that is how you get on them. A touch scary for someone like me. So my husband had me get in the car first and then he gave me Candi and then she followed right after me. All went fine and we sat down for the ride to the top, Candi was a bit concerned about this moving and noisy thing we were in so she just sat next to us and we took pictures.
Arriving at the top we had to get out of this moving car but again holding tight to Candi and help from my husband all went fine. The view was breathtaking to say the least!! They had a restaurant, restrooms and a gift shop BUT everything was built on platforms with stairs and no level ground anywhere and sheer drop offs everywhere. Yikes! Well after all this is where the skiers start their skiing from but I just had not anticipated this. However the info I read about the top said getting to the restrooms up there was tricky but I had ignored that as we used the restrooms below. I should have paid more attention to that warning for now I know why.
I don’t do well on stairs and inclines at all. My husband wanted to go everywhere and see everything but I could see I couldn’t do that. So told him to go ahead and Candi I would do our best to take in as much as I could albeit slowly. But I was determined to give it my best shot. I was scared every minute that I would fall down and roll off a cliff or something. My husband reminded me this would not be a good place to have to call 911 so be careful!
So Candi and I just meandered around and took pictures. Without Candi’s help I could not have done it and didn’t want to impose on my husband and he could not have helped me the way Candi was trained to do anyway.
Finally it came time to go back down and all went well again and Candi was so good about it all. When we got back down we took in some other things that were there and sat for a while in the sun. We were tired now and headed on out and then my husband had a rest room stop. While I waited for him a lovely couple came up to me to talk about Service Dogs. You would be surprised at the attention we get this way all the time. One big thing I have learned from this is that the average person knows very little about Service Dogs and we are both more than happy to explain things to them.
This particular blog is just meant to show a glimpse of what a Service Dog can do for someone living with MS for the list of what they can do is extensive.
Next Blog, Getting and Living with a Service Dog and is it right for? Just another great option for people with MS.