A Day in the Life for Saint and Dusty

Hello, Everyone! Saint and Dusty here. Every day is a blessing for us and even though we have gone on a lot of adventures in our time, it’s the average ones that stick with us the most. Every day begins and ends in Mummy’s bed. On days we stay right at home, usually we hop on
the treadmill for a little walk (or jog) to keep our hearts healthy and our legs strong to stay in shape. Usually Mummy just works at her desk the whole time while we do this. If we have to go to campus, we then ride the lift downstairs and help Mummy get ready and then we load up in
Miracle and ride to UMPI.

Once we get to campus, most times we will stop by Mummy’s office and help her take off her coat and gloves when it’s cold. Then we make our way down the hall to the classroom and lie down on our bed at the front of the class. Sometimes we sense students looking and smiling at us, sometimes not. Sometimes we fight with each other over who gets the most space
on the bed, sometimes we don’t. A lot of classes involve a lot of Mummy speaking but also a lot of conversations between students and Mummy and students with one another. Each class seems very talkative. Although there are those few times a year when a movie is played and the room
gets very dark. Those are always the best days for sleeping.

After the classes are over for the day, we go back down the hall to Mummy’s office while she stays for a while working on her computer. Our bed in her office is right under her desk so we can be close to her. Sometimes guests will stop in and make things a little more interesting. Some nights Mummy is there very late working, reading her students’ work and giving them

Once we get home, we do everything in reverse, going back up the lift and back into bed. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. We will finish this blog by saying something we’ve heard Mummy say in her classes before. You can have good days and bad days, but most of the time you just have days.

Our Story of Abuse

Hello everyone! Saint and Dusty here.

Today, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on something that happened this semester. While Mummy was with her students and her focus was on their work, we experienced abuse from a student we had thought was a friend. We are very good dogs and would never do anything to make a scene such as barking for Mummy’s attention while in a meeting. In fact, service dogs like us are trained not to bark and we take that training very seriously.

So, when a student came up to us and tied one of our gentle-lead-nosepieces to one of our vests, we became stuck together in an awkward position until the end of the meeting. We might have been stuck for a longer time if a couple of Mummy’s other students had not stayed behind and realized we needed help. Mummy was very upset that we had been treated that way because she knew we did not do anything to the person who tied us together.

We decided that we should share what happened to bring some awareness to the issue. As services dogs, we will not defend ourselves, so unfortunately this means people could get away with abusing us. It hurts knowing that people might abuse us because we love everyone so much. If it can happen to us, then it can happen to any service dog. Even though there is an ADA law that protects us, abuse can still happen. We feel grateful that Mummy was there and that the abuse did not escalate any further. Other service dogs may not be as lucky. So, Mummies and Daddies, please be aware of the company who is around your service dog or fur baby because we cannot tell you if they harm us.

Here is a picture of the newly broken plastic hook on our vest that the gentle lead was tied to.

Until next time. Take care. Be well. Hugs and wags.

Saint and Dusty

The Fruits of Our Labor

Hello everyone! Saint and Dusty here.

Today was such a good day. Instead of going straight to school, Mummy took us and our newest sister, Megan (one of Mummy’s students), to the grocery store. We love going to the grocery store because everything smells so good. We get to smell the bouquets of flowers, the bread from the bakery and anything else we pass.  Mummy had a fruit bowl waiting for her! We always get so excited when Mummy gets us fruit.

Before we left the store, Mummy stopped to see Penny.  Penny works at the grocery store but she always makes time to say “hi” to us. After seeing Penny and paying for the fruit bowl, we went back to school. Class was even more exciting, since we got sweet, juicy fruit throughout the day!

Here is a picture of Mummy feeding us fruit!

Until next time. Take care. Be well. Hugs and wags.

The Day That Would Never End

Hello everyone! Saint and Dusty here. It has been over six months, but we thought we’d talk about one of the strangest days of our lives! Last summer, Mummy loaded up the van Mummy calls Miracle with all sorts of food and clothes. We weren’t sure where we were going, but we knew it would
be for a long time. We’ve been on long road trips before with Mummy, but knew this one was different. She even packed a little fridge in the back!

After many long days of traveling and staying in many different bedrooms, one day seemed to never end. We began riding on this very bumpy road. Dust was flying up on both sides of Miracle. Mummy seemed a little bit stressed. The little handle on the steering wheel kept popping off and Mummy kept having to put it back on. We knew we would stop eventually, but the day kept dragging on. We were content to spend most of the day sleeping as usual, but we kept waking up and it seemed like we were still
in the same spot of the road. It all looked the same!

Eventually, very very late at night, we woke up and heard Mummy talking to a man. “You’ve still got four hours to go!” we heard the man say. Finally, we had an idea how much time was left. That’s only about three classes worth. We knew we could sleep through the rest.

When we woke up again, we heard Mummy talking to another man who spoke like he was very important. There were huge fences with big round circles on top of them. We haven’t seen anything like that in Maine. We heard Mummy say she was trying to find the hotel, and the man tell her this was a military compound. All sorts of other men we noticed were holding big guns! Suddenly, the day went from long to strange. Eventually, the man was nice and helped give Mummy directions to the hotel. Finally, the day that seemed like it would never end, ended. We knew Mummy would get us wherever we were going, and we never worried. That’s Mummy’s job!

Exploring the Whitehouse

Hello everyone! Saint and Dusty here.

Mummy took us on another adventure today — Tuesday, March 15, 2023. It was a great day in Washington, D.C. We waited in line to tour the White House, which started at 11 a.m. It took time to get inside, but we made it! We went with many of our friends who are usually in Mummy’s classes. We took many photos with Mummy and the group while inside the White House.

There was so much to see! We saw the state dining room (yum), the blue room, the red room and the green room. We saw that the library has over 2,700 books. That is a lot of hours spent reading!

Because of Mummy we even got to see exclusive areas of the White House such as the part of the building that has scorch marks from when the British burned it in the War of 1812. It was a day to remember! We cannot tell President Biden’s dog this, but we even urinated on his lawn, which means we technically own part of that lawn now, if we are using dog rules.

The fun did not stop at the end of the White House tour. The next place we went was the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. We saw so many bones!! Although these bones were too big to chew on because they once belonged to dinosaurs! We ended up staying until they shut down the place.

Here is a photo of us with the whole group spending time in the White House!

Until next time. Take care. Be well. Hugs and wags.

Flying to D.C.

Hello everyone! Saint and Dusty here.

Today –Monday, March 13, 2023—was such an unusual day. Mummy woke us up very early so that we would be out of Presque Isle by 1 a.m. We had a goal to get to Washington, D.C., with 11 of our friends who wanted to come with us. For us this meant catching two flights on time. Good thing we really enjoy catch!

We arrived at Bangor and caught our first flight. We flew in style when Mummy got us moved up to first class. We got many smiles as we greeted each person walking to their seats on the plane. All of the passengers loved us!

There were also many good smells and crumbs surprises under each seat.
Our second flight took us to Washington, D.C. There were not as many crumbs under these seats as there were on the first flight. We got to nap the rest of the way there. When we woke up, we had done it! We were in D.C.
From then on it was back to riding in a vehicle. A nice man in a wheelchair accessible van drove us to our hotel.

Teri was waiting at the hotel for us! Teri has helped Mummy and us many times. This time she is attaching wheels to a big kennel so that Mummy can pull us around in it. This will be great for our journey through Washington!

Here is a photo of us spending time together inside in the airplane.

Saint and Dusty sleeping on the airplane.

Until next time. Take care. Be well. Hugs and wags.

Saint and Dusty

The Ramp to the Hair Salon

Hello everyone! Saint and Dusty here.

Mummy took us to a special place in town on Tuesday, February 7, 2023. It was –7 degrees, but we ventured out in Miracle –the van Mummy drives– anyway. The drive was quick. We pulled up to the building and got inside from the cold with ease.

For five years we have been going to Salon 207 because this is where Kim works. Kim is a beautician who cuts Mummy’s hair. Kim also makes sure that Mummy always has access to the ramp to get into the building even when guys in Jeeps think the accessibility ramp is a parking space. That has happened often. It’s good to have Kim looking out for us!

Mummy’s haircuts aren’t long, but we make the most of our time by sniffing around. Kim lets us explore the room while she and Mummy are busy. Sometimes there the sun shines through the windows onto the floor and that makes for a great spot to lie down. This time there was no sunny
spot to lie in, so we spent time together, by Mummy’s side, until her hair was all cut.

When we were getting ready to leave, some other costumers were just coming in. We greeted them before heading back outside, going down the ramp, and then into our seats inside of Miracle. What a good day.

Here is a photo of us spending time together inside Salon 207 during the hair appointment!

Saint and Dusty spending time together at Salon 207.

Until next time. Take care. Be well. Hugs and wags.

Saint and Dusty

Going to an UMPI Basketball Game

Hello everyone! Saint and Dusty here.
It has been a while since we were able to go watch a basketball game. The gym looks so very different now! Although we could smell some dry wall that we remember from when they worked on our house years ago. So we think that there must have been some big construction since the last time we went.
This time we were able to sit in the bleachers! Mummy had a spot all picked out for her
that happened to be right next to the opposing team’s players. This felt a little weird since we knew we were there to root for the Owls. We recognized some of the players warming up before the game started from one of Mummy’s afternoon classes. We could tell by their scents because
they all look the same in their uniforms. We could sense that Mummy wanted to go right out on the floor to ask them about their progress reports. (That has been a big topic of discussion we remember from that class when we aren’t asleep)
The women’s game was pretty easy going, as people in the crowd seemed to be happy throughout. The women’s team was playing really well. Once the men’s game began, however, things started to feel much tenser. Players were getting really rough out there. The student section kept yelling at one individual player from the other team. We think it was because he was
scoring a lot. Toward the end of the game when things were really tense he came flying across the floor right next to us. He almost slid right into us! He didn’t, thankfully, and wasn’t hurt. The game went right down to it, and unfortunately the Owls lost. The energy in the building was a little deflated. But we know there will always be more games to be played.

It was awesome watching a basketball games again, with all the people in one big room cheering the Owls on. We can’t wait to attend more!

Hugs and Wags,

Saint and Dusty.

Thanking Mummy’s Dad at Sainte Anne de Beaupre

Dusty and Saint on the Grounds of the Shrine at Sainte Anne de Beaupre, Quebec, Canada. The Weather There Cleared for Us Just in Time: 8.18.2022

Hello Everyone!  Saint and Dusty here.

Anyone who knows Mummy at all knows that her daddy was a huge influence on her.  She always says that anything that she has achieved she owes to him.  We thought about him a lot on our trip.  We know that he would have been so excited about our adventures.

When Mummy was a very little person, her daddy took her mummy, her sister, and Mummy on a trip to Quebec.  One of the highlights was a visit to the basilica at Sainte Anne de Beaupre. 

Mummy had always wanted to go back.  Since we were traveling through Quebec on our way home to Maine and would be staying only a few hours from the shrine, this seemed like the perfect time to visit. 

The weather was not good the day that we went: Thursday, August 18, 2022.  It was raining really hard and foggy.  We had to drive through Quebec City, which had lots of road construction.  But Mummy was determined.  And amazingly enough, when we got to Sainte Anne de Beaupre, the weather cleared!  It didn’t get really sunny, but we were able to walk around the grounds and savor the beautiful views, as well as explore the inside of the basilica. 

The basilica is old.  They have made some real efforts to make it accessible to everyone.  We were able to see quite a lot.  We tagged along with a group that was getting a tour in English.  It was wonderful to learn the history of the shrine and what so many of the artifacts mean. 

The only thing that we took exception to was the mosaics of the seven deadly sins in the floor.  We specifically objected to the illustration of Envy.  They depicted a dog!  Can you believe it?  All the dogs we know are very kind and generous.

This excursion meant a lot to Mummy.  She wanted to thank her dad for the good life that his faith and support of her has made possible.  We bet that he was smiling down during our whole visit.

Driving back to our hotel, the weather was awful again.  But we got back safely.  And the weather didn’t matter.  We had done what we set out to do.  So we brought the sunshine with us. 

We have a photo of the mosaic with the dogs symbolizing envy.  But we would rather share a photo of us outside on the lovely grounds of the shrine.

Until next time.  Take care.  Be well.  Hugs and wags.

Dusty and Saint

An Unexpected Jewel

Saint and Dusty by Kinross Pond, Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Catching Some Sun. The Lake and Fountain Are in the Background--8.16.2022.

Hello Everyone!  Saint and Dusty here.

When people ask us how we decide to stay where we do on our trips, we explain that the answer is simple.  We need to stay in a hotel that is wheelchair accessible.  The vast majority of hotels still are not.  That always kind of shocks people when we tell them.  There’s a lot that goes into accessibility.  We won’t go into the details here. But if you would like to learn more, we are happy to share. 

If you’re going through a less populated area, you are going to have fewer options.  So those days of driving were longer, since we needed to get to the next stop that was wheelchair accessible.  That’s how we wound up making a reservation for the Microtel in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, for 8/15/2022-8/17/2022.  We knew that there was a lake in Kirkland Lake (hence the name).  But that was about it.

Kirkland Lake was a wonderful surprise.  The lake attracts people to fish and do water sports—none of which we do.  But there were other fantastic features.  Kirkland Lake is a lovely little city.  It’s immaculate.  Within a short roll of our hotel is an amazing monument to labor (mining), beautifully landscaped. 

The people who work at the hotel could not have been nicer. They were very, very interested in what we do and in service dogs in general.  This was a great teaching opportunity. 

Mummy asked the staff if there were a nice park where she could take us.  That’s how we found Kinross Pond. 

Kinross Pond is a treasure.  It’s a few blocks off the main street, which is the Trans Canada Highway.  But those few blocks take you to another world.  The pond has a fountain in the middle.  It is surrounded by marsh grasses.  There is a paved loop around the pond.  There are inviting benches periodically so that people can rest and contemplate.  There are markers every so often around the loop that give you the history of Kirkland Lake and tell you about some of its significant residents and events. 

When we went, it was lunchtime.  So we saw a small cross-section of the community.  There were people who seemed to be taking a break from work.  There were children on the playground.  There was a family having a picnic.  There was a very elderly man having his daily constitutional.  Boy, was he moving!  Several people brought their dogs there.

Here’s a photo of us relaxing by the pond.  It was pretty warm that day, as you can tell.  Behind us, in the distance, you can see the fountain in the pond.  This truly was an unexpected gem.

Until next time.  Take care.  Be well.  Hugs and wags.

Saint and Dusty

A Jungle in Thunder Bay

Saint and Dusty at the Centennial Botanical Conservatory, Thunder Bay, Ontario--8.14.2022

Hello, Everyone!  Saint and Dusty here.

When you think of Ontario, Canada, your first thought might not be of a jungle.  But that’s exactly what we found during our stay in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  On Sunday, August 14, 2022, we went to the Centennial Botanical Conservatory.  The conservatory was a project by the Fort William Parks Board.  It opened in 1967 and is a legacy to the citizens of Thunder Bay.  It is open year round.  It must feel amazing to step into the jungle setting in the middle of winter.

We went on a quiet, rainy Sunday.  We were the only people inside.  We took our time, checked out everything, took lots of photos.  Because of COVID, the cactus house wing was closed—people would be packed in awfully close.  But we could see in. 

Mummy let us climb up on a couple of benches along the way.  You can get tired walking through a jungle.  The benches are very thoughtfully placed to encourage people to sit, enjoy, meditate.  The plants are labeled so that people can learn.  They really must like it in the conservatory—some of them are really, really tall.

In the summer, the outside grounds are also very lovely, filled with gardens and bee hives.  Even though it was rainy, we truly enjoyed strolling around.  It was so peaceful.

We are including a photo of us, a closeup of us on a bench.  Dusty really likes to rest her head on Saint.  And Saint, being a good big sister, lets her.

Sometimes we hear people saying, “It’s a jungle out there.”  We wonder if they’re talking about the Centennial Botanical Conservatory in Thunder Bay?

Until next time.  Take care.  Be well.  Hugs and wags.

Saint and Dusty

Spinner Knobs and Human Rights

Mummy and the Girls--Canadian Museum for Human Rights--Israel Asper Tower of Hope--Winnipeg, Manitoba--8.12.2022

Hello, Everyone!  Saint and Dusty here.

Mummy drives our van, Miracle, using hand controls.  There is no driver’s seat.  Mummy deploys a ramp, rolls up it into Miracle, folds up the ramp, and locks into the driver seat space in her wheelchair to drive.  Since she can’t use her feet, she has to do everything with her hands.  With her right hand, she uses a spinner knob that allows her to completely control the steering wheel and make the sharpest turns with only one hand.  It clamps onto the steering wheel.  Mummy’s is egg shaped.  That’s more comfortable for her little hand than a round shape.  It has blue tooth toggle switches that she can use for her directional signals, bright lights, and windshield washing.  She uses her left hand for a lever that ties into the brake and gas pedals.  She accelerates or brakes using that lever: down for gas, forward to brake. 

Mummy has been using hand controls for many years.  She has never had a problem with them—until we were driving across Manitoba, toward Winnipeg, on August 10.  Suddenly, the spinner knob fell off the steering wheel into Mummy’s lap.  This was a terrible feeling.  We were still more than 2,000 miles from home.  How could we make it that far without our spinner knob?

If this was going to happen, it couldn’t have picked a better location.  Manitoba is very flat and the roads are quite straight.  (We are so lucky that this did not happen in the Rocky Mountains.). Mummy managed to tamp the spinner knob back onto the wheel so that she could use it, although it kept falling off. 

When we got to Winnipeg, Mummy took the spinner knob, put it on the steering wheel, and lined up the set screws.  (They were still in the spinner knob.). She didn’t think that she had any tool small enough to tighten the tiny screws.  Then she remembered that she had a small file on a little Leatherman tool on her key fob.  So she was able to use that.

In Winnipeg we saw one of Mummy’s former students, Terry Lewycky.  He came to see us to catch up and brought some tools.  We were also able to borrow an Allen wrench from the hotel maintenance man.  So we got the spinner knob back on good and tight.

We didn’t want all this excitement to prevent us from going to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.  We had been looking forward to that for so long.  So we went on Friday, August 12. 

This was the first Museum for Human Rights in the world.  It is an amazing place and so accessible.  The parking was fantastic.  The bathrooms were the embodiment of accessibility.  We saw many exhibits and films.  The lower levels of the museum focus on Canadian Human Rights.  There was much information about Indigenous/First Nations people and Metis.  Higher floors looked at Human Rights, globally.  You could spend weeks there and not see and absorb everything. 

The docents had urged us to be sure to go to the top of the Israel Asper Tower of Hope.  People can climb the steps, which symbolize the challenges of achieving Human Rights.  Fortunately for us, there is also an elevator.  It’s very moving and humbling to be at the top.  On a clear day—and we were there on a very clear day—you can see all over Winnipeg and beyond. 

We are including a photo of us with Mummy at the top of the Israel Asper Tower of Hope.  Our dream is that you draw some hope for Human Rights from it.  As Mummy always says: We All Can Make a Difference.  We All Can Be That Difference.  Let Us Start Today. 

Until next time, folks.  Take care. Be well.  Hugs and wags.

Dusty and Saint

Pumping Gas

Hello Everyone! Saint, here.

Tonight Mummy and I are in Morris, IL. That’s a little beyond Chicago.

Today we drove across Ohio and Indiana. It was beautiful farm country. There were lots and lots of trucks on the road and much road construction, so we pretty much just chugged along and didn’t get many photos.

In Indiana, we stopped at a rest area named for Ernie Pyle, a famous war correspondent during World War II who reported on the infantry and was killed during the battle of Okinawa.

Driving through the outskirts of Chicago was pretty exciting. I have never seen so much traffic. I don’t know if Mummy was nervous. I wasn’t nervous, though. I trust Mummy to get through anything.

One of the big achievements for us so far is that Mummy has been able to pump our own gas. Now, most people probably don’t really like to pump their gas, but for them it’s not a big deal. But for people in wheelchairs, it can be a very big deal. Gas pumps usually have a concrete curb around them to protect from being hit by a runaway car. These curbs used to be too wide for Mummy to get close enough to reach the pump. So when we travel, Mummy has always had to go into the gas station store and get someone from inside to pump for us. Most of the time people are pretty nice. Sometimes they are not. They seem to think that Mummy is annoying. And if there is only one person working in the store, we sometimes have to wait a long time.

So before we left for this trip, Mummy worked really hard to try to strengthen her arms enough to lift the pump. And so far, she’s done it! Also, the newer pumps now have a cutout that’s perfect for a wheelchair to get closer. Mummy says that this makes us a little freer.

Who knows what adventures lie ahead? I’ll try to keep you all posted.

Wags and hugs.


A Day at the Ballpark

   Hello everyone! Saint and Dusty here. We hope you are doing well since our last post, we certainly are! The snow is melting and the temperatures are rising. We can’t wait for warmer temperatures so we can go outside in it!!! Speaking of nicer weather, we wanted to tell you about the baseball scrimmage we attended with Mummy this past fall. It was a blast! We got to watch some of the boys that Mummy has as student play on the baseball field with a ball! It’s like they know that we love to play with tennis balls!! We almost couldn’t contain our excitement as the ball kept moving around the field so quickly! It was like this giant game of fetch back and forth that they were playing with each other the whole time.  

     But that’s not even the best part of the game! One of the coaches was cooking sausages for the team for after the game (how did they know we love sausages too!) and we were soooooo excited because we wanted a sausage too, but that’s when the coach told Mummy, “it looks like we only have enough for the boys tonight”. We were so bummed! How could they cook sausages right in front of us the whole time and not offer us one! That’s just so unfair! It didn’t ruin our spirits though. The game was lots of fun anyway and we had a great time with Mummy as usual!      

     Be on the lookout for our next blog to see what adventures we talk about next and thank you for tuning in this week!! 

Hugs and Wags, 

Saint and Dusty 

A Day at the Ballpark (again)

Hello everyone! It’s Saint and Dusty again. We wanted to share our time watching the UMPI Baseball team play some home games this week. Mummy had some difficulties getting into the parking lot on Saturday because there was no spot reserved for her like usual! But if you know our Mummy, you know that she finds a way for her family.  

Mummy found a spot and we made our way to the field. When we arrived there was a mesh blocking behind home plate where we usually sit. This made it impossible to see the games from our usual seats. So Mummy tried to move close to the dugout to watch the game. This made it to where we could see but Mummy still could not. There was a yellow thing one of fencing right at eye level for her. We ended up leaving early because Mummy was hurting her back trying to look at the game. 

The next day we went back to try and watch the games again. This time, there was a spot reserved for us and part of the blocking behind the home plate was taken down by our spots! This made us all so happy as we could stay and watch part of the games even though it was pretty cold and chilly. Mummy loves to get to watch her family play baseball and we love getting outside so it’s a win for everybody! 

Thanks for joining us again for this story from us! Take care and be well! 

Hugs and Wags, 

Saint and Dusty