A quick training anecdote from yesterday:
I was working on “plate zen” with Barnum, which means I’m trying to teach him that all plates, bowls, and mugs are out-of-bounds for dogs. I am trying to teach this as a default behavior, which means I don’t want to have to say, “Leave it,” 80 times per meal. I want him to just know to leave all plates alone.
I used different plates, sometimes with a piece of food on them, sometimes empty. Sometimes I’d put them up to his nose, and sometimes I’d hold them in my lap. Barnum needs to have all the fine points explained to him. He apparently realizes that he’s a dog, and that therefore he doesn’t generalize well. (Gadget hadn’t read the book on dogs not generalizing well, so I used to think it was a load of hooey.)
Anyway, I switched back from a blue plate (yes, it was the blue plate special — thanks for asking) and put a clear glass plate in my lap. I waited to see if Barnum would back up.
Barnum waited to see if I would give him some clue as to what to do. I didn’t, so Barnum offered, “Chin,” and rested his chin on the plate in my lap. Then, like the gifted and serious-minded dog trainer I am, I fell out laughing.
It was so adorable: “Here, would you like me to put my big slobbery beard on this plate? Look, I’m really resting my whole head on the plate. Will you click me now?”
Barnum backed up in confusion when I started to guffaw. Having learned my lesson, we tried again. Barnum rested his head on the plate again. I burst into laughter again. Poor dog. We did eventually actually get to some real training, and he earned some clicks and treats.
I am very behind on emails and comments. I’ve been super sick for the past two weeks. I sent out a mass email telling people to please be patient, but there is a problem with my email, and I’m not getting all of them! So, I know at least one person didn’t get that.
Anyway, I am not apologizing, but I am explaining.
Readers have requested I write on certain topics. In many cases, I have written partial blogs in reply, but I haven’t finished them. In other cases, I feel so overwhelmed, I don’t know how to begin.
For instance, many of you have asked what you would need to be able to do to visit me. I am deeply appreciative of the interest you’ve shown in learning about MCS and less-toxic products! I wish I were more able to answer your questions in a timely manner.
Until I can write more, here are some links of resources put together by friends of mine:
- My first resource is the website of Peggy Munson. I just posted about her at my other blog. She is a writer who shares many of the same illnesses as me. Peggy has excellent information about CFIDS and MCS on her blog, especially about myths and facts on MCS and fragrance products. One of my favorite pieces of writing, ever, is her page (topped by her hilarious artwork), “Welcome to Camp NoStink.”
- Another great resource is the video/DVD, Secondhand Scent: Accommodating People with MCS. I’m biased because I participated in the making of this video, but I honestly think it is one of the best tools available to explain to people how and why to become more MCS-accessible. To order the video, please call the Boston Self-Help Center’s message line, 617-277-0080 (voice/TTY), and someone will call you back with details and arrangements.
- Finally, another video/DVD about living with CFIDS and MCS is Funny, You Don’t Look Sick. This doesn’t provide information about how to become MCS-safer, per se, but before I got Lyme disease and got sicker, it was a pretty good description of my life (except in terms of severity). Co-produced by singer/songwriter Susan Abod, the movie is “an autobiography of an illness.” It gives you an eloquent glimpse into the life of someone with MCS and CFIDS. If you scroll down, you can watch a trailer for the movie on this page.
Indeed, Susan is finishing a very important second documentary, which she has been working on for over ten years, right now! (The trailer for this movie, Homesick, is below the one for Funny.) I’m very excited about this. I hope to interview her about that project soon.
Enjoy! I am very grateful for the requests for information, even if I’m not always able to keep up with them. Keep it coming!
– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, head-on-a-platter SDiT