Holiday Inn

Photo op post hot springs

Instead of going berserk shopping on black Friday, the family packed up the MPV and headed to Terwilliger Hot Springs.  Bear was along for the trip, and on the drive down he struggled to find a comfortable spot in the car as Fiona kicked him off the back seat, and he is getting too big to squeeze in on the floor between seats.  He settled on sitting between the front seats, resting his head on the armrest.

Don’t want to spend a lot of time on the hot springs experience, but if you’ve ever been to a hot springs carved into the mountain beside a river (I seem to recall visiting one in my youth outside of Steamboat Springs), but a lot of people who frequent these venues loving feeling natural in nature.  The kids had no idea, but as we rounded the corner on the trail for the final descent to the springs you could clearly see that the ratio of suits per person was zero.  We had come all this way, and we were meeting another family here, we changed into our bathing suits, causing everyone to stare at us, probably feeling bad for our kids that had to grow up in such a restrictive home.

We stopped for a picture on our way back to Eugene, looking forward to a motel with hot tub and pool that required bathing suits.  Signing into the motel, a Holiday Inn Express, the last initial on their form was to comply with their no smoking and no pet policy.  I let them know that we had a service dog.  The receptionist let me know that there were absolutely no pets, to which I responded it was against the ADA law to restrict a service dog.  She said that proper documentation was needed to ensure that it was a service animal, some sort of certification.  Though I knew there is no such thing, I told her that it was in the car.  I put the vest on Bear and brought him into the lobby.

At this point I explained there was no such “certification” for a service dog, that she could call our trainer if she wanted, and that we’d taken Bear to Canada.  I’m not sure why a trip to Canada would institute proper certification, but she bought it.  The whole thing left a foul taste in my mouth, though.  It made me think of the comments left on the story about the service dog that the Christian school forbid from coming to school.  It made me wonder about how far it is worth pushing this.  There certainly are a lot of service dogs out there.  It wasn’t long ago that service dogs were limited to seeing-eye-dogs.  Now there are dogs for people who get seizures, people with autism, people with diabetes, and I suppose there are others.  A quick Google search not only lays out some types of service dogs, but also quotes the ADA law.

Though I feel that having Bear assist with managing Declan and Maggie’s diabetes is a great thing, I am not sure if I am ready to battle hotel chains, schools, and the outspoken slice of america that believes people are abusing the “service-dog” categorization.  Taking a step back, I can see how easy it would be to simply tell the clerk that it is a service dog, giving the family pet free range to everywhere but the religious institutions.

On the flip-side, my blood boils as I am told that “absolutely no dogs are allowed.”  I am invested in this service.  We spend a lot of emotional energy dealing with diabetes, of managing blood sugar levels.  We give/receive up to eight shots a day.  We check blood sugar up to twelve times a day.  We treat low- and high-blood sugars.  It is a constant balancing act between insulin, sugar, activity, stress, sickness, and adrenalin.  We have spent hours training Bear to signal a low-blood sugar scent.  And when he signals on either Declan or Maggie the energy changes, going from a “well this sure is a bummer” feel, to a “Good job Bear!” celebration.  I suppose that I am somewhat biased in how different the feeling is when Bear tells them they are low versus the meter telling them they are low as I have spent a lot of time soliciting the signal from Bear using scent samples.


  • How do people feel about service dogs?
  • When will Bear signal unsolicited?
  • Can you define when a service dog is needed?


  • Two more ear buds
  • Three Tupper ware containers

Turf Wars

It has begun.  I woke Saturday morning to see the note.  Scrawled on an envelope it was clear Fiona had been wronged.  It said, ” Bear is no longer allowed in the basement.”

Since the end of summer Bear has had an all-access pass to the house.  He ventures down to the basement to escape the heat.  He also finds a lot of treasures in the kids’ rooms.  He’ll often come up to his favorite couch in the living room and tear apart the remains of a bag of corn nuts, or lick the inside of a Kit Kat wrapper.  It makes me wonder what other living creatures are feasting on the remains of summer in the basement.

Bear also runs to the bathroom as he hears cat food being poured into their bowls in the safety of the bathtub.  He’ll lay impatiently outside the tub, waiting to devour the food.  He hasn’t gone over the tub threshold.  The cat food remains safe in the tub.

The First

I don’t think it was planned out.  It was more of a third degree offense.  Bear needed to relieve himself and the tarp smelled like the outdoors, so he went ahead and made a steamer in Maggie’s room partially on the tarp.

Maggie had been vocal about not wanting Bear in her room.  He had chewed up a book of hers, eaten quite a bit of stashed goodies, and spread her garbage across her floor searching and finding more treasures.  So it is not shocking Maggie attempted to revoke Bear’s visa to her room.

It is worth noting Bear had been mining treasures in Fiona’s room as well.  However, the state of Fiona’s room prohibits any sort of detection of foraging for treasures and spreading garbage around the room.  Maggie’s room, however, resembles a military cadet’s room who happens to have a lot of colorful clothes, makeup, and a lot of purses.

Though I was upset Bear had an accident indoors, I was partially tempered by the fact that it was done on the tarp, and that it was mostly a healthy poop.  I chalked it up to not letting him out on time and the tarp resembling the outdoors; in a dog’s odorous world, smell dominates.

The Second

Not sure when it happened, but the result I saw was the note scrawled on the envelope.  Bear had an accident in Fiona’s room.  Again, I don’t believe this to be a premeditated crime, more of an accident of coincidence.  Say Bear had a big meal, had a nap, woke up to find some dessert in Fiona’s room, and suddenly the meal is done processing.  To the victim, however, it is an assault on the sanctity of her room.

A line has been crossed.  Suddenly the presence of Bear in her room is very obvious.  Though he’d been foraging in her room for days, and some chips and crackers and cookies may have gone missing, this is the first time Fiona has really felt Bear’s presence in her room.

At this point I am a bit worried.  Though the basement often looks like a dumping ground with Legos, clothes, towels, and papers scattered around, I do not want Bear to think it is his dumping area.

Fiona is not happy, and she lets Bear know.  She glares at him and tells him to get away.  As a puppy, I am not sure that Bear picks up on any of the subtleties of a teenager’s verbal and nonverbal cues.  Maybe an “angry” scent is released, keeping Bear a safe distance from his new nemesis.

The unfortunate thing is we are to drive to Seattle for a family celebration.  We have a room reserved and Bear is coming with us.

It’s a three hour drive.  There is a fair amount of positioning in terms of who sits where.  The preferred seat changes depending on the age of the kids.  A few years back, Fiona and Declan preferred the backseat so they could annoy and beat each other up as we crossed the Rockies.  Last year Fiona and Maggie preferred the second row as they were able to help choose the playlist, and at the same time staying away from Declan.  With Fiona’s recent musical tastes straying from Maggie’s tastes, and with Fiona’s anger still bubbling over, she chose to sit solo in the backseat.  Sitting in the middle of the backseat allows her to stretch her legs as she blasts Watsky on the iPod.

The First Counter Action

Bear is getting bigger.  In fact, at his last visit to the Vet he weighed 45 pounds.  As he grows he prefers human furniture more and more.  Early on during car trips I tried to get him up on the seat, thinking that it would be more comfortable and less apt to car-sickness (being able to see the horizon).  He would whine on the seat and find his way to the space between the seat and the sliding door.

Soon after departing on the three-hour trip to Seattle, Bear was eyeing the right-side of the backseat as a nice napping spot.  All would have been smooth had he not recently pooped in Fiona’s room.  Fiona eyed him with contempt, wanting nothing less than to have him share her seat.  Though there was room on the floor, Bear now preferred a seat.  He pushed his way up onto the seat.

Bear sipping water at the pumps

Fiona continued to glare at Bear, complaining about how much space he was taking up.  Now is the time that Bear began reacting to all this negative energy coming from his seatmate.  Instead of settling down and sleeping, Bear sat up, staring out the window.  And he began drooling.  A lot of drool.

“Ohhhh GROSSSSS!  He is drooooooling!” Fiona screamed.  This normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but being an experienced road-tripper, Fiona has a setup in the backseat with all her stuff, which appears to be most of the contents of her room.  She has both ends of the seat laid out with books, sketchpad, shoes, makeup, and other sundry items.  Not seeing a solution, Heather suggests that Fiona put her stuff all to the left side of the seat.  This keeps the drool from her stuff, but it doesn’t take away the already drooled on stuff, nor does it take away the poop from yesterday.  The glares continue.

It takes a while, but Bear finally settles down and goes to sleep.  We arrive at the hotel, change for the party, and find out we are in someone else’s room, which would explain the grapes on the table that Maggie ate to treat her low blood-sugar, the suitcase on the couch that wasn’t ours, and the toiletry bag that resembled a lunch box that also wasn’t ours.  They will find us another room, but in the meantime we have to pack our stuff.  I am amazed how quickly we can fill a room with our junk.  One bed is completely covered with Fiona and Maggie’s clothes.  There are five pairs of shoes by the closet, and Bear’s pen is set up in the corner.  We pack everything back into the car and head to the party.

Counter Strike Two

Again, I don’t think it is premeditated, but Bear strikes again.  Because of all the people in the party, with food and drink everywhere, Bear stays in the car while we go inside.  This may seem cruel, but in actuality is much kinder to Bear, where he can enjoy the entire backseat to himself.  Granted he is alone, not his preferred state, but he is not bombarded with strangers and noise and smells.  Overall, a healthier place for him to be.

And he did not stay there in solitude the entire time.  Like parents in a previous era who would go to the bar and drink while their kids played in the car, we came out occasionally to take Bear on short walks and make sure he was alright.  Also, some people at the party wanted to meet him.

At 1130 we piled into the car with Leer, a friend of Fiona’s from camp.  She lives in Seattle and came to the party to see Fiona and was coming back to the hotel with us.

Fiona, Leer, Maggie, Dec, and Bear in the van. Bear sits on the side that he puked on.

As they climbed to the back of the van, Leer noticed the vomit.  Bear had thrown up on the seat and on the toiletry bag.  Had it only been on the seat and the floor of the van, it would not have been so bad.  But all our stuff, including the toiletry bag, was back in the car.

Not sure what to say at this point.  I don’t even want to consider some stomach ailment.  In fact, I only think that he was nervous.  A car ride, being glared at, a hotel room, back in the car, and then all alone.

We cover it up with a blanket and get on to the hotel.


Bear is back on the bland, low-fiber food until things firm up some more.  I think he actually prefers that food.  After getting to the hotel room, I take him outside to do his business.  Since he pooped on one of the walks during the party, I am not concerned that he doesn’t poop.  But it is strange.  He normally poops several times a day, and he has pooped once.

And the next day he only poops once.  And then the next day he doesn’t poop at all.  That low-fiber food is doing its job.

Then Bear puts one pile on a some Legos and two more piles close by.  And the basement officially becomes the dumping grounds.  So maybe he actually only weights 140 pounds now.

This brings us back to the opening note scrawled on the back of an envelope. I need to put the gate back up so he doesn’t wonder back down there and leave a deposit.

Bear is no longer allowed in the basement.

Back home

After one last trip to the beach, and some swimming in the pool, we left the land of “nice cars” and “fancy houses”.  We departed the land of Mercedes, BMWs, and Audis, heading north to the land of Mazdas, Subarus, and trucks.  We traded the nice water of Del Mar beach for the murky chlorine of Sellwood pool.

Aaron picked us up at the airport with Bear in tow.  He was very happy, but tired.  After licking hellos, he quickly settled back down to sleep.  Once we got home and went inside, however, he was really excited.  He was happy to see his people, but overjoyed to be back in his digs after his five-day stay at the hospital, three days at the Souther’s, and one day at Aaron’s.  And he was hungry.

He scarfed down the bland food from the vet, and moved onto the kibble from the pantry.  He looked the part of a starving dog, and was acting as one as well.

We went through some of the training from ten days before: Go to bed, scent-training, and obedience.  I am curious to see how he picks these skills back up.  Going on walks is clearly something he has not done very much of.  The obedience and scent training is also something that he needs more practice with.  On the whole Bear still needs a lot of rest, and his excitement for being home is masking somewhat his need to mend.

It’s nice to be back home with Bear, though our time in San Diego was great.

Maggie at the Del Mar racetrack, viewing horses before the post.


Maggie and Declan on our way into Legoland (one of the low points of the trip)

The miles and the sunflower seeds

A few summers ago we drove to Colorado for a family vacation.  Heather had to fly back for work.  Her flight was at the rude hour of six in the morning, so she needed to leave at 430 AM.  To jump-start our drive, we decided to leave when she was being taken to the airport by my loving mom.

The route was about 1,200 miles.  We got a call somewhere in western Wyoming from Heather.  Apparently her flight was the next day.  We were too far into our drive to return, and we were about to stop for gas and a breakfast of Slim Jim’s and Bugles (not much in western Wyoming); this was not my crowning moment as a parent.

When driving for long periods of time I need sunflower seeds to stay awake.  (This habit started in high school when Mike and I were driving to Lake Powell in a beat up Bronco.)  As we drove through Utah and into Idaho on our return trip from Colorado, we decided that we could make it all the way back to Portland without stopping.  The trip took a total of 22 hours.  I did pullover for a cat-nap somewhere in the Gorge.  At the beginning of the drive I bought a huge bag of seeds.  At the end of the trip there was a handful left.

I took the remaining seeds, in the bag, into school.  Teaching middle school math, I intended to use the remaining seeds as a proportional problem when we got to that unit.  Though I never busted out the seeds that year, asking students, “So what is my SPM?  Seeds per mile?”, the seeds remained on the board beside my desk for the entire year.

I think of that problem nearly daily.  This summer has had a lot of driving, all of it with Bear.  The first trip was a mere 90 miles from his original home.  Twice daily trips to Forest Grove began (65 miles round trip).  We’ve made that trip thirteen times.

We took Declan and his buddies to Evergreen’s Wings and Waves Water Park in McMinnville (80 miles).

We drove to Canada to visit Fiona, which included three ferry rides (700 miles).

We took a day trip with some neighbors to Astoria and Fort Stevens (225 miles).

And a trip to Port Angeles to pick Fiona up from camp (470 miles).  {I thought we might be driving to San Diego, but we luckily are flying}

In all of these travels I have been cracking seeds.  I prefer the cracked pepper flavor, but they are rare.  Ranch flavor is alright.  The Canadian “Seasoned” flavor is a close second to cracked pepper.  Thus far I have had two bags of cracked pepper, three bags of ranch, one bag of seasoned, and three bags of regular.  The question I would ask students is how many seeds a mile do I consume.  And how many more miles until my mouth is completely torn apart.