Sunday, March 30, 2014

Good friends are the best medicine! 3/31/14

Our snowy cold blustery Sunday was brightened  by a visit from the Lees!  A warm fire, hot tea, and a lively game  of cards ensued. As the wind and wintry mix swirled outside, laughter, fun memories, and maybe some card trickery   created a magical ambiance inside. We are blessed today to be warm and safe at home with friends.  Surely Spring is right around the corner.  

Team 44

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wonderful teachers! 3/26/14

These two are helping me get closer to graduation as i have ever been. They are lots of help with all of my  assignments given to me as homework. It will be very gratifying to graduate high school in June and be finished.

Thanks to home bound teacher Ms Miller & speech pathologist Ms Gauthier who are helping me complete 12th grade English Thanks a whole bunch you guys for being so helpful! -Forrest Stone Allen.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back Home 3/12/14

Forrest was in Baltimore for several days for appointments, and we wanted to put people's fears at ease. The wound breakdown in Forrest's scalp appears to be improving. The Doctors feel comfortable that it can be treated at home. We are keeping the wound open and although the daily cleaning isn't very pleasant for Forrest, it's helping it to heal. We were able to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore and see their impressive new Blacktip Reef exhibit. Toliver was especially intrigued by the puffins and jellyfish.

Thanks for the well-wishes, we are glad to be back home rather than staying at Johns Hopkins.

Austin, Forrest, Kent & Rae

The cranio-facial reconstructive surgeon examining and treating Forrest's skin breakdown

The family had a great outing at the National Aquarium in Baltimore

Monday, March 10, 2014

Life's Precious Moments 3/9/14

If you look for them life's precious moments are all around.  Sometimes the most powerful moments are the simplest ... an unexpected smile or a kind word.  Sometimes they overwhelm us with love and gratitude and the pure joy of spending time together.   Saturday was a magical day in Middleburg and everything just seemed perfect.  You were in great spirits, in music therapy you composed  a new song with Tom about Toliver, stretched your tight muscles on the Pilates reformer with Kay, and then we had lunch together at Salamander Resort to celebrate your successful CCI recertification with Toliver. The sun was shining again and the promise of Spring was finally in the air.  

A Short 24 hours later on Sunday we find ourselves at Johns Hopkins emergency department with yet another breakdown and infection in your beleaguered scalp.  It feels a universe away from the magic of Brightwood, but even here at 3 o'clock in the morning we are blessed with precious moments. A compassionate but clearly exhausted surgical resident delivers good news with a warm smile. Your bloodwork and CAT scan suggest the problem is still superficial.  The primary craniofacial reconstructive surgeon cannot see us until Tuesday and cultures and more bloodwork are pending.  We are grateful for the good news and stumble out of the hospital bleary eyed  to find a nearby hotel.   

We will make the most of this day. Austin is driving up to deliver more medication and supplies.  We plan to visit the aquarium to reconnect with each other and some sorely missed marine life!  Hopefully tomorrow will bring more encouraging news and a clear path for the future.  

With love and gratitude for precious moments,


Forrest and Toliver Saturday at Salamander Resort in Middleburg

Toliver giving his paws up with Forrest & Pops in Johns Hopkins ER early this morning 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Toliver and Forrest's Bond Grows 3/5/14

Today as Toliver and I wait for you Forrest, outside the Hyperbaric Chamber, he remains focused on the door, waiting until you reappear.  His whole demeanor changes when he catches sight of you. You are HIS person and he is totally devoted to you.  If your voice raises in frustration, he moves immediately to place his head in your lap or touch your hand.  His unwavering focus on your face says, "Let me carry your load.  I can handle it."

 Day after tomorrow, you Toliver and I will meet with CCI trainers and other recent graduates for your recertification test. You haven't been able to get out much since your surgeries, so this week Tori was home from school and volunteered to help you and Toliver sharpen up your public skills at Wal Mart.   You and Toliver navigated the aisles like a well seasoned team and Toliver demonstrated his ability to open the refrigerator door by pulling on the attached felt rope.  Then Tori pulled out the country ham we brought and subtly dropped it on the floor.   I pushed your  wheel chair forward and you told Toliver, "Let's Go."  He walked forward proudly by your side and never so much as glanced at the tempting ham as he strode right over it.

                                          Toliver celebrates with you and Tori by selecting a new chew toy!

You and Toliver are ready, Darlin.  For your recertification and for what ever other unknown challenges lie ahead.  We are eternally grateful for Toliver, Canine Companions for Independence, and for Colleen, who taught Toliver how to love, trust, and heal HIS person.

Colleen, Toliver and Forrest were featured today in the Farmville Herald cover story.   Try this link to read about them: 

We hope you will enjoy this story and its message of generosity, love, and the bond between assistance dogs, their trainers and the recipients of this amazing program.

With love,