The camo camper-truck pulls in right before dark.
It’s been a long day for Rusty and Timber. They left around eight this morning. Soon Rusty walks over to our campsite. I can tell by his walk that he’s exhausted and I can tell by his face that he has good news.
The first thing he says is “I gotta’ sit down. My legs are killin’ me.”
I grab a folded-up camp chair (due to the wind) and open it up for him. I set another one up for myself and wait to hear his news.
“They tell me I might have my place in five to six weeks,” he announces.
“Oh, that’s great news, Rusty! Tell me what happened.”
To summarize . . . The VA person helps Rusty fill out all the paperwork. He arranges for Rusty’s bank statements to be sent to the Prescott VA office, thus eliminating the need for Rusty to have them sent to his Lake Havasu City UPS postal box and then forwarded to him somehow, and then having to drive to deliver the statements, burn gas . . . ..
The VA person asks Rusty, “How do you see yourself furnishing the place?”
Rusty tells him about this blog and the wonderful, generous people who read it and the promises to help him with furniture and such. The VA person is very impressed and says he will take a look at the blog.
Apparently in the course of filling out paperwork and discussing things with Rusty, the VA person realizes the extent of Rusty’s disability and difficulties. He tells Rusty he will not be assigned an upstairs apartment, something that has worried Rusty greatly the past few weeks.
“I can’t be climbing stairs. My legs can’t take it.”
Another worry dogging Rusty is the statement made at the last VA visit, something to the effect that Rusty should save his money for first and last month rent. At this meeting the VA person tells Rusty not to worry about that! He also tells Rusty that once he’s settled in, he will have regular doctor appointments and he will have his teeth fixed, among other benefits. The VA sees Rusty as a person, not a pile of paperwork to process!
I interrupt this report for some related news.
Gee, I sound like a news anchor. Timber, God love him, has been another worry for Rusty. Will Timber keep him from getting a house or apartment? Will Timber adjust to living around other people and dogs? How will Timber act inside the house when left alone?
In short, Timber is a big worry for Rusty.
For instance, Timber was unhappy at being left in the truck while Rusty visited our campsite (This was the day of my grumpiness.). In protest Timber proceeded to destroy Rusty’s computer, chewing the keys, scattering them all over the floor, tearing the screen off, ripping the wires. Yes, Timber, you made your point.
Back to the good news.
Timber is going to become a certified service dog! If Timber is a service dog, he cannot jeopardize or delay Rusty’s application. Rusty was given information from this blog’s readers, did some research online, and talked with the people at the VA. Eventually he found the right trainer.
Lucy the trainer has successfully trained several dogs for vets applying for housing through the Prescott VA. By telephone Lucy suggests Rusty bring Timber to the park by the courthouse so she can evaluate Timber.
That’s another worry for Rusty.
Will Timber pass the test and be accepted as a service dog trainee? Will he go nuts in a city park environment with people and dogs all around?
After meeting with the VA person, Rusty and Timber go to the park and meet Lucy. Rusty shows Lucy how Timber sits and lies down on command, and the tricks he knows. Lucy puts Timber through some exercises, including having Timber sit in her car. Timber sits in the back seat like a perfect gentleman which seals the deal. He’s in!
Lucy remarks that it’s the shepherd in Timber that makes him a good candidate for service dog training. Lucy works with Rusty and Timber for about three hours.
Every Monday for twelve weeks Rusty will take Timber to Lucy for class.
Actually, it’s Rusty who will receive training on how to train Timber. Throughout each week Rusty will have homework with Timber. The first six weeks will focus on the basics.
The second six weeks of training will focus on real situations. Timber will learn how to behave in public buildings, in the elevator, around strange people and dogs, etc. Lucy predicts that Timber will receive his certificate at the end of twelve weeks.
All of these worries, plus not knowing how many months before Rusty would have his new home, made me irritable the other day. I’m not a worrier myself, but when people I care about worry, it bothers me.
In one day, Rusty learns there’s no need to worry!
In that one very long day, Rusty drove to Prescott, dealt with his application at the VA, met with the dog trainer for three hours of training, shopped at Wal-Mart for a replacement computer, picked up ten gallons of water, and drove back to Camp Drake.
Wow! The saga of Rusty and Timber continues . . . and it keeps on getting better!