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Diaper Depot and Assistance Dogs of the West

October 11, 2013

New Mexico – Thursday, October 3

The first thing I wanted to do this morning was take care of my donations. Last night I had read about the Food Depot in Santa Fe and they just started a new program they’re calling the Diaper Depot. When I called them, they told me they’ve identified a need for diapers among some of the Native American families and other low-income families, because without sufficient diapers their young children can’t participate in local Head Start programs, and they start falling behind. So I went to Walmart and shopped for diapers – I was able to get a couple packages in each of 4 sizes, and rounded it off with some packages of wipes. I took them over to the Food Depot and dropped them off – they had recently expanded to a bigger building behind their old place and were happy for the extra space.

Last night I also read about the Assistance Dogs of the West, and I wanted to make a donation to them too. They had a wish list on their website, and I tried calling, but didn’t get an answer, so I decided to just drive over to their office. It took me a little while to find it – it was tucked away on the second floor of an outdoor strip mall with no windows and I was just expecting a small office area. But when the lady answered my knock and invited me in, I saw it was actually a very large space, and there were about a half dozen young dogs in there, and everything was tidy and the dogs were happy and friendly, and it seems to be a very busy place. Assistance Dogs of the West provides trained service dogs to people with disabilities, and for nearly 20 years professional trainers have also worked with students, and juvenile delinquent students and disabled students to help teach them to train service dogs, which not only helps the dogs, but helps the kids too. The dogs know at least 90 commands when they’re placed with their clients, and they usually have at least 30 dogs in training every year, but there’s still a waiting list of people who would benefit from having a service dog. Most of the dogs live with their trainers, which is why there were only a few dogs in the office area, and most of them were labs. Many puppies are donated to the program – even some from the east coast! Some of their dogs become courthouse dogs, and children who have to testify in court can especially benefit from the presence of a calm dog. I was happy to be able to help this program in a small way.

The lady who showed me around told me where there was a nice hiking trail in the mountains where I might be able to see some fall colors, so I followed her directions and did indeed pass some aspens with leaves that were turning gold. I found one of the trail heads in the Santa Fe National Forest (after driving past one parking area that had a sign saying that location was a “high prowl” area – so I didn’t stop there!) and Tula and I ended up taking a beautiful 4 mile hike in the mountains with pine trees – it smelled so good! Then I passed a rec area on my back to Santa Fe and we walked another mile and a half there. I crossed a couple bridges over a dry riverbed – maybe some of these dry areas mostly see water in the spring.

Then I drove back to the Old Town area of Santa Fe and left Tula in the car while I walked around town. There were a lot of vendors in the park and along the long porch of the old governor’s palace – most of them had silver and turquoise jewelry spread out on Navajo blankets. I don’t know if this happens every afternoon or once a week or what. There were a couple bus loads of tourists walking around, and it was fun to see everything. I’m glad I wasn’t shopping for anything – the volume and variety of jewelry was almost overwhelming! I walked all over town and out into some of the surrounding area and covered more than 3 miles. I visited the oldest church in the country (built in 1610) and also the oldest house (built in 1646). Both were adobe structures, which are different than stucco buildings – I’m pretty sure real adobe uses straw as part of the mud/water mixture, and most of Santa Fe is stucco, which I read somewhere was “fake” adobe!

Then I got Tula out and we covered a mile and a half along the Santa Fe River. I actually walked around the Capitol Complex tonight, not last night. I walked about 10 1/2 miles today, to go toward the shortfall of the last couple days.

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