Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Creative re-purposing of failed sensory products

I have a number of completely random fears about getting our service dog in August but the most recent actually deals with our beagle, Maizy. Last time I checked beagles were a type of hound; you know a dog commonly used for hunting. I’m assuming that also means very comfortable with loud noises since I don’t know many hunters who use silencers to hunt.  Maizy has been perfecting a fear of storms over the last few years. This fear now extends to heavy rain, wind, and now any loud noise. It seems that our neighborhood celebrates fireworks season as poppers and other random loud noise producing items have been quite popular for the last 2 weeks. This has meant that our otherwise sedentary dog has taken to wanting inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside repeatedly for hours at a time. She also has been trying to climb furniture like the cats do and when all else fails she pants and paces and pants and paces and pants and paces. If this is annoying you, try spending the day at our house.

So I’ve been waking up at night wondering if Maizy is going to teach this fear of everything to the service dog. A scared service dog trying to escape noise tethered to my son ….so many things wrong with that picture (for starters have you met my son….noise should be his middle name). I mean I’ve imagined our dogs’ stupidity driving the well trained really expensive dog to run off into the sunset in search of higher life forms but in those images the dog was never tied to my son and it certainly wasn’t over noise.  

We’ve already maxed out the doggy xanax so it’s time to get creative. A friend suggested a product called the Thundershirt. Ironically the vest is essentially a weighted pressure vest for dogs and the website even references Temple Grandin’s work as well as the use of weighted blankets in children with autism. Now this is interesting because we have a very cool, very unused CARS weighted blanket that is hanging over Caden’s rocking chair in his room because he didn’t like it no matter how many times or ways we introduced it to him. So I started to wonder if we can cut a hole in the blanket, add some Velcro, and we’d have a “re-purposed” doggy sensory blanket. Now granted I think it has beans or something in it so the hole would be a problem but nothing a little glue or tape (notice I didn’t mention anything about sewing) couldn’t take care of. I figure Caden and Maizy are pretty close in weight so that shouldn’t be an issue either. How hard can this really be (anyone else humming the theme song to You might be a redneck if…..?”)……….I mean really?  I proposed the idea to my husband who merely said just order the Thundershirt and I will tomorrow if I can find the measuring tape to measure the dog.

But who knows, this might be the start of a new “re-purposing” mission; when I think about how many therapy items that were practically guaranteed to work that are sitting unused on shelves the possibilities are endless. Think about it: “Chewies” for the dogs, “stress” balls for paper weights, specialty scissors, forks, and spoons for tree ornaments, and just maybe “light up fidget toys ” for the neighborhood. After all I wouldn’t even be blogging about this if they redirected their noise seeking stims with socially appropriate behaviors through the use of fidget toys. Just sayin’

For some reason we don't quite know, Caden's facebook group has disappeared. We are hoping it will magically appear as quickly as it disappeared but rest assured if it’s gone for good, we will recreate it bigger and better with your help of course!