A few weeks ago on the blog I was recounting bits of my week and saying how intense it was, mostly in a good way. At the time I didn’t divulge what was going on, but the following week I posted a picture of Jammy on the ride home from New York, which was the first of the two wonderful surprises that week.
Jammy had been in training at Guiding Eyes for the Blind for a year. She did very well on her initial evaluation when she first returned there in September 2013 and impressed everyone enough to be considered for a career in breeding. She held her own through the initial rounds of testing and moved onto the medical exams. One of the standard tests they give potential breeding dogs is an echocardiogram to check the structure of the heart. Jammy was diagnosed with triphasic valve disorder, which is a benign condition in the heart valves. It wouldn’t affect her long-term health but it’s an anomaly Guiding Eyes is trying to eradicate from their breeding lines, so she was removed from consideration for breeding and transferred to the training school, where she would train to be a guide dog.
She moved along in training as expected and the training reports we received were always very complimentary. One report even referenced her as a little flirt, always cuddling up to the boys at night. Yep, that was our Jams, the little social butterfly. It was always good to hear that she was happy and progressing well.
We visited her in March 2014 when Mercy went into training. She was sweet and perky and as lovable as she always was, so happy to see us. But while still in New York, we received word that Jammy had been moved out of guide dog training and into the Heeling Autism program because she wasn’t showing enough confidence to be a working guide. We were excited about this change, since the Heeling Autism dogs are companions to children and also family pets. We were thrilled, actually.
Jammy trained in the Heeling Autism program for 6 more months. The training process is a very long one, taking 12-18 months on average, but the pups spend a lot of time in schools, libraries, playgrounds, etc, getting to know the requirements for their new career. They’re also moved out of the kennels and instead live with a foster family, getting back in the groove of home life so their transition home with their final family will be a smooth one.
We were thrilled that the family that fostered Leila would also be fostering Jammy - nothing made us happier. Their children had done such a great job with Leila and we knew they’d fall in love with Jammy on the spot.
But apparently Jammy had other plans.
While she was learning great skills in schools and working with kids, she was apparently stressed and unhappy. When she went to live with her foster family, she peed and pooped all over their house multiple times, an obvious sign of stress. And despite many many attempts to get Jammy to bond with her practice girl Olivia, she remained glued to Danielle, Olivia’s mom. She would huddle so closely to Danielle that it was hard for Danielle to get through her morning routine with her kids, because Jammy wouldn’t leave her side.
Jammy was saying enough was enough, she wanted to come home.
And if there’s one thing that’s true about Guiding Eyes, it’s that they respect their dogs. If a dog does not want to work, the dog will not work. Period, end of story, plain and simple.
And Jammy was clear with what she wanted - to come home to Virginia.
And so on October 3rd, that’s what she did, and she couldn’t be happier. While she had a bit of an adjustment getting used to Oak and Oswin (who had taken over the role of First Lady in the house), she’s fallen back in step with our daily rhythms. Not once has she peed or pooped in our house. And while she does prefer to stay close to Winnie when she can, she’s getting comfortable hanging out with the rest of us too. She’s not showing any signs of stress, which is a relief to everyone. We’re happy to have her back and she’s very happy to be back. Win-Win.
So what’s the other good news surprise, you might be wondering?
Well, I’m not pregnant if that’s what you were guessing. Why would you think that?
(wait, don’t answer that)
It’s way more exciting than that.
(I’ve had 12 kids already, how much more excitement can there be?)
My intense but exciting news is that I’ve been commissioned by a Washington DC interior design firm to make a quilt to hang on the wall of a local restaurant that’s opening up later this year.
Commissioned as in I had to discuss the specifications with them, put up a portfolio site, offer up a few design ideas (to be clear, this was my offering - they did not ask me for any design ideas, so there was no spec work involved), and bid the cost.
Yikes! That’s the big time for sure!
And after plenty of back-and-forth and delays and misdirected emails (mine) and lags in communication (theirs) that had me positive I’d lost the job, I received the good news that I’d actually gotten it.
While I’ve done plenty of commissioned work in the past, this is my first commercial client.
The project is to create an original wall quilt that’s a modern interpretation of a traditional 13-star American flag. A modern twist on the most traditional of Americana, yep, that’s exactly it. This restaurant is a new build, so the architect is fabricating a special recessed frame into the wall just to hold this quilt. Holy moly.
It’s exciting! It’s thought-provoking! It’s challenging! And yep, it’s a little stressful too.
(But no, I’m not peeing or pooping all over the house, in case that was your next question.)
I’m really excited to share this creative journey with you over the next six weeks or so. I’ll be posting updates and progress shots and as soon as I’m allowed to reveal the name of the restaurant, you know I will, I promise!