Wednesday, October 15, 2008

4th Annual Psychiatric Service Dog Gathering in Arlington, Virginia

Before departure at the Portland International Airport in Portland, Maine

October 3- October 6, 2008, My friend and I set out via plane with our service dogs to attend the 4th Annual PSDS gathering in Arlington, Virginia. It was much more fun traveling with another person and service dog and turned what would have been a lot more nerve wracking actually kind of fun!

We arrived in Arlington at about 3 pm on Friday the 3rd and spent a little relaxation time in our hotel room before hiking out for Joan's apartment for the evening gathering of people and their service dogs. She does this every year and we manage to cram quite a number of bodies into that little apartment. She always has good food and drink waiting. To my surprise, my friend Elaine and her Sheltie SD and me and my Rosie were the first to arrive. We helped put some things together for the main even, the Saturday gathering at the dog park. Eventually people began to show up. There were many dogs, some not on their best behavior (or maybe they were), and of all sizes. I recognized each dog as they came through the door and thus was able to identify the human following behind as a result. We watched a couple of videos, but it was hard for me to get comfortable as Rosie needed protection from me and I needed to relocate to view one of the videos. This put me peering into the bedroom from the door with Rosie underneath me as I tried to view the video on the bedroom TV screen.

Rosie finds a safe place to chill out at Joan's busy apartment

We were close enough to Joan's place to be able to walk there and walk back to the hotel afterwards. Service Dog Winston and his human joined us for the walk back that night.
Some familiar canine faces at Joan's apartment: Service dogs Teddy (a Keeshund from Alabama) and Winston (a Border Collie from Vermont)

My friend Elaine and I took a slow morning and ate breakfast with some new friends before heading out early to the dog park to help set up for the main event... the Silent Auction and luncheon.

Rosie waits for me to finish breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Love the carpet


Supporter patches decorate part of the PSD Access quilt project. Wagnit's display was something else this year! They had an ad in Bark this past year!

Winston hangs out while his human, Melanie helps set up for the big event. Elaine and Jenn look over Silent Auction items during set up.

The fabulous Could Be, a Miniature Schnauzer from Washington State was able to attend with his human!

I helped lable the items that were up for the silent auction... especially the items I donated, and I tried my best to organize all the items. I thought there should have been at least 1 more table. It was a bit chaotic up there. Wagn It had these neat Pet Passports that if I traveled more, I would have purchased one. What was great was that having the tent set up right next to the dog park, we could take the dogs over to play or whatever when ever we needed. I find I need to make sure there are not a bunch of rowdy dogs out there before I take Rosie out. We got to meet Winston off leash in the dog park which was great. Rosie got to play with his ball.

Goofy Border Collies play in the dog park... Winston plays with his oversized ball and then give Rosie a chance to try it out. She is so used to controlling balls with her teeth, it took her a while to figure out how to maneuver the large orange ball.

Unfortunately, there was no Godiva Chocolate Cheese cake this year. However, I got to try out some foods that typically I would not eat. All the food was good... even the lasagna that I was not too sure about trying.

I did not spend as much money at the silent auction as I did last year to save money for the rest of the weekend. I only spent about $26. I was surprised that not more people were bidding on things... especially since some items had no bids at all. Some items were more expensive items that unless a person planned on it, s/he would not be able to bid on it at all.

Two Standard Poodles participate with their human in the "Doga" class

Events: Doga (Yoga for you and your dog) and a "how do I teach my dog to find my car...?" class. Elaine did some fiddlin' and I got to meet some people and dogs I'd only typed to on the listserv or on Dogster.
PSD User squares on display... ready for attachment to the growing quilt project!


Service Dogs in Training: Chocolate Lab, Fallon and German Shepherd Dog, Sophie get dressed for the hike back to their hotels with their humans... Elaine with Destry, a Belgian Shepherd from Texas.

Paxil, a soon-to-be retired service dog finally agrees to a photograph... "Did someone call for Security??" Rainbow, the Rhodesian Ridgeback (one of Joan's dogs) makes her rounds to check up on things. (She always has a furrowed brow which gives her that always worried expression... too cute!)


I will be posting on the rest of Saturday... the hike home and evening visitors. STAY TUNED!

People and their service dogs gathered in the dog park for playtime for one last time before returning to the hotel for the evening... Rosie takes a break with Winston's ball in the park while I try to egg her on... Jenn and her human rest along the fence at the dog park to watch the others play after a long day of activities.
Winston and his human, Teddy and his human, followed by Fallon and his human walk through Arlington after the festivities on Saturday evening. Fallon and Winston and their humans spent the evening with Elaine and Jenn, and me and Rosie in our hotel room for a night of pizza and comraderie.
Rosie and new boyfriend, Winston veg out on my bed in the hotel room... notice how they both have their tongues sticking out of their mouths. I thought Rosie was the only dog that slept with her tongue sticking out! Fallon found a cozy place in the corner of the hotel room, next to the desk to veg out. He had his own nap pad with him! What the little boy scout!

Sunday Morning, we wait with our service dogs for a group to gather to walk to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. Fallon patiently waits with his human while Rosie does a goofy paws up for the camera.

Fallon on the left with his human, Winston and his human, and Teddy with his human walk down the sidewalk in Arlington. We are going to meet with other SDs and handlers for a Sunday lunch.

Here is Rosie and me walking in Arlington to get to the restaurant with other service dogs and their handlers... I look over my shoulder as Melanie takes a picture of me with Rosie, and to my right, Teddy and his human wait.

Doesn't this seem like a very typical photo of Neil? I mean, where else would someone on the listserv expect to see him? But seriously, at the lunch table in a restaurant? Do you think the listserv can go without a moderator long enough for us to eat lunch?
Nose to nose seating underneath the table at the restaurant... what amazes me is that these dogs don't know each other yet they can lie quietly nose to nose without fighting or getting all gitty about all the other dogs. Now THAT is service dog material!

Sophie, Service dog in training uses Winston's butt as a pillow.

After the restaurant on Sunday, Elaine and Jenn, and Rosie and me head for the train to tour DC for the rest of the day. Stay Tuned for the pictures of this "monumental" trip!!!


Heather said...

I wish my son and I would have gone. Looks like everyone had a great time. Maybe if there is another one on the east coast we will see you there

Anonymous said...

Yay!!!! :) Thanks for sharing. I wish Luigi and I could attend one day!