Category Archives: desert life

Doggy Diaries – Food switch complete and a gym adventure

Today is the first day of just the Blue Buffalo. I decided to stop doing the integration once we reached a full cup of Blue, since the lady at Blue Buffalo said he’d only need one cup twice a day. So, bye bye smelly Science Diet! Now we’ll get to watch and see how he does on just the Blue. So far everything seems great.

This morning I had Dave watch from afar as we got to the part of the sidewalk that Jayden was having problems with. Sure enough, he hesitated, but then obeyed my “hop up” and leash action. I just knew it would be like when you take the car to the mechanic. Ah well lol! Jayden happily walked all the way to the office without any problems. I had given him a chance to relieve before we left, even though it was only just an hour or so after his first relieving of the day. He didn’t need to go, and didn’t indicate on route that he had to go. When we got to the office, we had a party with lots of praise and jackpot kibble.

Dave got there and said the only thing he saw was a motorcycle parked in a spot nearby, with a black cover on it. He thought maybe it spooked Jayden and maybe it wasn’t always there. We have no way of knowing if it’s a new addition. Hopefully whatever it was is fine now, as he had no issues, and the morning got fun from there on out.

We have a little gym here at my complex but I haven’t used it at all since going blind. I talked to Glenn on Monday about wanting to lose another five to ten pounds by December 10th for B’s Christmas party. Glenn had said it’s definitely possible, but since I’ve totally plateaued I’ll either need to step up the workouts or change my eating. I eat pretty well aside from the occasional fast food, so working out more just sounds more happy making to me hehe. So I asked Dave to help me figure out the gym and see if we’d have to mark the machines.

It was so fun showing Jayden where to go. Especially since I have leftover visual memory of the place. We walk through the clubhouse to a door into the gym. Jayden immediately wanted to take me to the restroom haha! Everywhere we go, he finds the restroom. Wow.

First, Dave and I picked out a safe spot to have Jayden lay. There’s a nice corner so it’s perfect. Then Dave checked out the treadmill. It’s not totally tactile, but there are raised lines I can feel and can find the controls easily enough. So I practiced starting and stopping. Luckily it beeps when you increase and decrease, so I can tell how fast I’m going.

Next we checked out the eliptical. We don’t have one of those at Saavi so I’m glad to be able to use it. Same thing with the buttons, not exactly tactile, but good enough and it also beeps. When you add resistance, it feels like you’re walking in deep sand. Sweet! I practiced getting off and on that a few times and then we checked out the weight machine.

It’s got a lap pull and a leg extension just like Saavi and Dave showed me how to change the weight. It uses the same weights for the different machines. The extra one that Saavi doesn’t have, is the tricep extension press and the peck press. Sweeeeet!!!!

I am *such* an exercise addict. Can you tell?

So, I’ll be adding home workouts to my Saavi workouts. After we checked everything out, we practiced another way of getting to the gym, in case I want to go when the clubhouse is locked.

We can access it from the pool, so we started at the manager’s door which is our landmark and I directed Jayden to find the gate to the pool. It’s just a series of easy moving turns. Once in the gate it’s a quick right and he has to negotiate patio tables and chairs. He took me to the sliding glass door, which is a good landmark because it has a mat, and then I directed him to the other gym door, where I gave him a jackpot kibble. We practiced going back to the gate, more jackpot, then back to the gym door. The second time around, he made a bee line for that door haha! Lots of praise.

Jayden was prancing and wagging the whole time. I could tell he enjoyed the new challenges. I’ll probably do the pool route a few times here and there even when the clubhouse is open, just to keep it interesting.

We talked to my maintenence guy a bit because B has been getting pack rat crap in his car even though he drives it every day. I noticed a funny sound when we went to Gamma’s on Sunday so he looked under the hood and noticed a nest. It doesn’t look as though anything has been chewed. I talked to S, the maintenence man, and he said that if you put a bar of Irish Spring soap in the engine compartment in a place where it won’t fall into anything, the smell keeps the pack rats away. Sweet!

He then told me about the great pumpkin massacre of years ago. He was alerted to tons of pumpkins being destroyed and when he showed up, the cops where there. The residents thought kids had done it, but none of the upper level pumpkins were slaughtered. Then he noticed the teeth marks. Yep, you guessed it, javelina. If you stick a candle in a pumpkin, it smells good. Javelina supper.

I’ll be glad when pumpkin season is over! Though I do love all the pumpkin flavor stuff everywhere right now, yummmm.

Soooo, anyway, food switch complete and Jayden seems himself again. I think it was just fall fever. He’s used to working more now I think. I’ll take advantage of cool weather and use my home gym until it gets hot again. Yay! More muscle!

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2010, num num food, relieving, weather, working dog, workouts

Doggy Diaries – Food switch Day 4 – Bad timing? Help

I have no idea if this is coincidence or not. I know there have been quite a few changes for Jayden, what with the visit from B’s dad where we always had company and did a lot of different things, to suddenly going back to the mundane and then the weather changes making me ill. I mean really I’ve been kind of out of sorts since that one Goalball practice back in late September. I’m just now this week able to work out more to my old strength. So there’s all these slight differences and then I go and do a food switch. Bad timing?

He’s just being a bit of a brat. He’s much more distracted by people. We’re working on that. Then there’s the refusing to work the road yesterday. Today at Saavi he did ok except when we first got there he tried to take me to the people smoking instead of inside, which is silly since we get dropped off right at the door. He did ok while we were there and when he tried to say hi to people I was quick to correct.

Another guide dog handler came into the gym while I was on the treadmill and Jayden was on his mat. I heard the handler and guide dog come in and asked Glenn what Jayden was doing but Jayden was completely ignoring the dog. I told him good boy while I was on the treadmil. Not long after, Jayden stood up so I told him down, again still on the treadmill. Glenn was telling me what Jayden was doing. He lay back down just fine.

He did fine after I worked out, waiting for the ride and what not. We got home and I relieved him and gave him his frozen Kong. I had a message from the office that B had a package, did I want to come get it or he could bring it up. I was gonna wait for Jay to finish his Kong and go down so I tried calling to find out how big but no one answered. Jayden finished his Kong and we headed down.

He did fine getting me to the mail and then when we were on the sidewalk, he tried to turn back. He refused to go. I probed out and nothing was there so I gave him some leash action and he walked a few steps, went to the left and put his paws up on the curb as if to show me. This was just bizarre. We never do that once we’re on the sidewalk. It’s a long straight shot. I kept getting him back on the sidewalk and finally he picked up his pace, then stopped and pooped. Ugh. He had been trying to tell me he had to go. He’s done that before, getting off the sidewalk, but he has never alerted to a curb before when he has to go so that through me. He also rarely poops in the afternoons. So I picked it up and went back home to get rid of it then we started to head back.

While I was locking my door he actually turned and faced the door instead of facing outside like he always does. He wouldn’t get into working position. He refused. So I took him back in and gave him water. That seemed to do it. When we left the house, he was eager to go like always.

It was fine until after the mail. Same thing. Only he wasn’t getting off the sidewalk. He just absolutely refused to go forward. I ran through obedience. Nothing. By this point I was just done. I needed to eat. So we turned around and came home where he promptly sprawled out and took a nap. I called the office and the manager walked the package up to us.

Jayden has seemed himself inside the rest of the day. It was just feeding time and he got all excited, jumping up and down and such. I’ve kept the water down after all that in case maybe he hasn’t been getting enough, but I don’t think that’s it.

He’s up to a half cup of Blue today, just had his second helping.

I don’t know if this is the food switch or not. I don’t know if this is normal during a food switch. One theory I have is that maybe fall here is like spring in cold country. The weather doesn’t suck. Maybe he’s got fall fever like so many dogs have spring fever. I spoke with the guide dog handler at Saavi today and his dog has been off too. So maybe that’s it?

I almost called GDB but I’m gonna give it a few days. We may or may not work tomorrow, I’ll have to see how much energy I have. It’s amazing how much it takes out of me when he’s less than stellar.

Any thoughts? I need some experience, strength and hope on this. Thanks.

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, guide dogs, Jayden, jayden quirks, num num food, spoons, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Food switch Day 2 and some questions

There’s not really anything to report. You know what I think this is? Just an excuse to write every day haha!

Jayden has had his fifth helping of Blue now. I officially made yesterday the start of the food switch since it was the first full day on it, even though he had his first quarter cup Saturday at dinner. I did notice his stool was a tad softer this morning, which is a good thing as I think he had gotten a little constipated on the SD. In the mornings I was noticing hard pellets and he seemed to take longer. Gross topic? Maybe, but stool is important in the health of a dog haha!

I don’t know why but yesterday I only put the SD from his food into the treat pouch and the Kong. Today I mixed the food first and then put the handful in the treat pouch. Might as well get us both used to the smaller kibble pieces for food reward. I also included some of the Blue in the portion I moistened for the Kong I freeze overnight.

He’s still licking the bowl much longer haha. And you know what? Blue smells good. When I open the Rubbermaid, a pleasant scent greets me, one of mild fish mixed with sweet smelling fruits. It’s much more pleasing to the nose than the SD haha! Question: Are you ever tempted to try your dog’s food? Am I weird? I’ve been tempted since I got Jayden, but have never done it. Have you?

On a non food related topic, I’ve put him back on a water schedule. When it started getting hot here, I had him on free water. No way was I going to deprive him of water with our heat. It was never a problem; he only drank what he needed.

Lately however, I’ve noticed a few problems. He seemed to be drinking a little more than he needed, and twice he peed in harness outside during our walks at a time he wouldn’t normally pee. That has never happened before. If it had been small amounts of urine, I would have thought he had a bladder infection, but it wasn’t just dribbles, it was actual urination. This seemed to happen as soon as the temps cooled off. I really think what happened is that his body just doesn’t need all the water he had gotten used to drinking. It wasn’t increased thirst, I don’t know how I know that, but it wasn’t or I’d be worried. It wasn’t like he’d go drink the whole bowl, he was drinking as much as he did in summer and he just doesn’t need all that water now.

What cinched the decision to put him back on a schedule was yesterday morning. In the mornings I wake up, put on sweats, use the restroom and take him outside. Yesterday as I was in the restroom, Jayden peed in the house. That was a first. I decided then to put him back on the schedule he was on at GDB. I think it was the right decision as there haven’t been any problems since. This sstarted before the food switch thankfully, or I would have thought maybe he had the excess vitamin D the recall articles all mentioned.

Wow, guess I had more to report than I thought I did. I’m sure grateful I have the blog to help me keep track of all this.

Oh hey, another question to those of you who have male dogs. I was feeling Jayden’s throat and noticed what feels like an Adam’s Apple so I looked it up and male dogs definitely have them. However there wasn’t a good description of how it should feel. It’s right where it would be on a human and feels like a smooth golf ball, like if you cut a golf ball in half. Is that how it’s supposed to feel? I’m pretty sure I just never noticed it before, but I was checking the fit of his collar and noticed it. I’m not alarmed, but would still like to know if that’s how it’s supposed to feel. Thanks!

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, Jayden, num num food, relieving, silly girl, weather

Doggy Diaries – Too short

Well, B’s dad left this morning. We said goodbye to him last night since his flight left this morning at six. The visit just wasn’t long enough. It was so fun having him around. Every time Jayden hears a car now, he runs to the door. Poor guy.

The Melting Pot on Friday was awesome as usual. Of course, Jayden did great. It was easily two hours there. We were keeping track of the Rangers game on B’s phone. We caught the end of the game when we got home. We hung out for a bit and dad went back to the hotel. Oh wait, I should mention that before he left, I played with Jayden with the Wubba so he could blow off steam after laying under the table for so long. He plays pretty rowdy after being at the Melting Pot.

Oh, and at one point the manager had come up asking about our service because our server was new. She told us to give him a hard time. So at one point, dad asked the server if he could take the dog out. He laughed. I still don’t know if he knew Jayden was there, because as we were leaving, the manager said, “I hadn’t looked under the table. There was a dog under there!” Haha!

Yesterday dad came over in the morning and B wasn’t up yet, so we sat and chatted for awhile before B got up. B was going to drop his car off for an allignment since dad had the rental car, so we did that and then went to Borders. We ran into a friend there that I hadn’t seen in awhile, so that was nice. After that we went to the electronics store again so I could find out if they had any wireless keyboards that work with Apple. B got one and I was envious lol. They didn’t so we left. B said we could go to the Apple store later and eat at a restaurant nearby. We stopped by the hotel so dad could grab his camera. I should have some pics of Jayden to put up. I never have a camera around haha.

We came back to the house and ordered Jimmy John’s. Yummm. Then dad and I went for a walk so he could see the rest of the complex.

Holy grap is Jayden a water dog. He wanted so badly to get in the pool hahaha!! Dad had to help us get around the pool so we could go a different way. The initial way we went had a bush full of bees. Ick!

Once Jayden was away from the pool, he did fine. It was so great to be able to go for a walk at 2pm and not melt. The weather was really nice for the visit. It rained on Friday, which made me feel pretty awful but I managed to push through. Yesterday I felt great.

Dad went back to the hotel shortly after our walk and I can’t remember what I did after that. Hmmm. Probably tried to conserve spoons.

He came back about 4:30 and they went back to get the car. The shop had called and told B that the allignment guy had had a family emergency and didn’t get any work done on the car. So that was a bummer.

They got back and we finished the Rangers game and set off.

We parked a ways from the Apple store so we’d be closer to the restaurant. A lot was going on there at the outdoor mall. Jayden was a little distracted but not too bad. We had to go down some stairs and finally got to the Apple store. It was a mad house, as usual. I ended up doing human guide because I couldn’t hear very well in there. I checked out a keyboard and fell in love with it. It’s tiny as heck, very thin and ways less than a pound. B bought it for me and we headed to the restaurant. Jayden was getting more and more distracted and when we entered a pet store, we turned right around and came back out and I went through obedience with him. He was much better after that. We were early for our reservation but they took us anyway. I ended up doing human guide to the table because again, it was noisy and Jayden was distracted again, lunging after food on the floor. By the time we got seated, I was totally worn out. It’s hard handling a 65 pound animal who doesn’t want to listen lol. I should have put the GL on him. Hindsight and all that. It’s just so rare for him to be that way, but I know there’s been a lot of excitement over the last few days.

Dinner was great and we came back home and I started trying to pair the keyboard. I think that’s going to be a post in itself. Long story short, dad was reading the instructions and helping, which helped since I couldn’t see the light. It didn’t end up working though and I was going to give up for the night.

Dad decided to leave so he could get some sleep before the early flight. I hate goodbyes and was caught off guard since we had been working so hard on the keyboard. In a flash he was gone.

I set to work on the keyboard as a distraction but that was the wrong thing to do. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Finally I gave up and turned the computer off and proceeded to break down. I really like dad and we had such a good time. He loved my dog and vice versa. It was just really hard to say goodbye after only three days.

I passed out pretty quickly when I finally went to bed. I was definitely exhausted, both emotionally and physically.

This morning I tackled the keyboard and it’s now working. I’m stretched out on my couch typing this.

I’ll have to do a post about it. So coming soon is that and the chair adventure with Carol.

I’m going to Gamma’s in a bit and I’ll take Jayden’s Kong Wobbler. I think Gamma will get a kick out of that. Dad sure did.

I’m really missing him this morning.

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Filed under apple Inc, desert life, Doggy Diaries, family, Jayden, misty eyes, num num food, proud geek, spoons, weather, working dog

Fight or flight

This morning I was sitting on my patio enjoying the morning. The birds are always so delightful, singing their good morning songs. It was warm but not hot. Mornings are my time to reflect and meditate and I love having the ability to do this outdoors.

Where I sit, there is a wall next to me separating my patio from the neighbor’s. The patio is not fenced. Suddenly I heard a noise coming from the direction of the neighbor’s patio.. It was a noise I could not place and it sounded as though it were coming straight towards me. It was as if time slowed, as my remaining senses kicked in to overdrive, assessing the situation.

We have javelina up here. For those of you who don’t know what javelina are, they look like wild pigs, but they are actually giant rodents. ‘Princess Bride’ anyone? Thanks Lori. They say you can smell them before you see them, but I’ve never smelled them. I saw a heard back in my sighty days at my old apartment in the same complex. It’s said that they won’t bother you unless you mess with their young, but I wasn’t taking any chances back that night I saw them. One actually came right up to my sliding glass door after I had retreated inside. Oh, and javelina is pronounced “have uh leena”.

Since I could not place the sound right away this morning, my first thought was of javelina. They tend to wander in the mornings and evenings, though to my knowledge, there haven’t been any lately. B said he thought he heard one a few nights ago though, so I’ve been on high alert.

When I heard the sound of human footsteps in the gravel, my mind instantly knew the threat was over, but my body took a minute to catch up. It sounded as though the person were spreading some sort of powder and what I had heard was the shaking of the powder. It sounded like sand in a plastic coffee container, now that I’ve had time to process the sound.

The amazing part of this whole experience were the moments after the person had passed my patio. My body was still in full fight or flight even though my mind had rationalized the situation.

I remember learning about fight or flight in high school, about how your body produces an extreme amount of adrenaline, preparing you to either fight or run for your life. Of course I have felt this in my past, but I never managed to sit and actually think about it and feel it. I did this morning and just sat in amazement feeling my body preparing for what ever decision I had come to if I had, in fact, been in danger.

My heart was racing, circulating blood quickly. Adrenaline was surging, the quickly pumping blood making it pour into my muscles. My muscles burned and twitched. All pain vanished. I think that was the most remarkable part of the whole reaction. Since I’m in chronic pain, I’m used to it. So when it vanishes suddenly, it’s pretty easy to take notice.

I sat there marveling what I was feeling. The pain free and twitching muscles were ready to spring into action and fight an enemy or begin running, whichever decision my brain would have sent to them had danger proven imminent.

I sat there feeling my body shaking, inwardly chuckling and telling my adrenaline that was enough, it could stop now haha. I just thought the whole thing was kinda cool, since I actually had the presence of mind afterwards to experience the amazing protection mechanism the human body possesses. I’m glad it wasn’t anything serious, but I’m glad to know I would have had the capacity to fight or run if I’d had to.

Just an afterthought, I wonder if the whole thing was more obvious to me now because I’m strong these days. I’ve never been strong until about the last year or so, so I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I was really able to feel my muscles preparing to spring? Hmmm.

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Filed under desert life, random stuff

Doggy Diaries – Long time no blog

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to write a monster post because I’ve been slacking haha! This falls under the Diaries though I’m sure there will be talk of all things.

Where to start? Maybe I should look at where I last posted. Ah, ok memory jogged. I love having a blog to keep track of memories. 🙂

So yeah, the last time I really wrote about life was when I was feeling a fatigue coming on and I wasn’t sure if I’d make goalball practice. I did indeed miss practice that Saturday. The pain that Friday night was just getting increasingly worse so I cancelled my ride and called Lisa, then proceeded to crumple and dissolve into tears. I hate it when my stupid disease has to give me a big reminder that I’m sick.

Weather was definitely the cause of it all. We got hit pretty hard over the following days, but luckily it was the start of cooler weather. Yay!!!

I went to Gamma’s that Sunday for her birthday lunch and my dad and uncle went as well, which was really nice. My dad had yet to meet Jayden, wow. He’s not much of a dog guy, but my uncle sure is. Jayden had a blast with him and went for a run around the whole house, causing much laughter from the three of us. Dad had already left. My uncle also got to see Jayden jumping straight up in the air and side to side when I asked if he wanted a banana. Fun!

I worked out that Monday and just didn’t have the stamina I’ve built up. It was rather disappointing, but I’m sure it’ll come back. Tuesday, we had our lesson with Dave. I just was able to keep lessons with Dave by the skin of my teeth. Due to budget constraints, many O & M services have been cut. Luckily, I fall into the “safety” category, meaning I still have things to learn to keep me safe. IE, still need to learn new routes with Jayden. The summer months really set us back because we had to do things in pieces, so most of my routes have not been done in their entirety.

Tuesday was fun because we had an O & M student come along to observe. She’s working on her masters in O & M and just moved here six weeks ago. She’s a teacher for the visually impaired, but wants to get out of the classroom and into nature. This was her first time watching a guide dog team learning a new route. She’s off to the Seeing Eye in New Jersey in a month to spend a week there. Awesome! I told her she has to do a Juno walk. She asked a lot of questions and had a good time.

It was the perfect lesson for her, since I had chosen this walking path I want to learn since it’s cooling off. This was not easy for Jayden. Just like the rules of traffic, you must stay on the right side and not cross the yellow line. Jayden wanted to shoreline on the left. It was getting quite difficult to keep him from drifting and I could not stay in good follow position. Dave usually follows my lead and lets me brainstorm, so I tried the gentle leader. Distraction wasn’t the issue so that didn’t help. So I took the GL off and told Dave to tell me the moment Jayden hit the line. Dave would give the word, I’d give a correction and ease Jayden towards the right. I had the keep the leash out the whole time. He was doing better, but still not staying on our side of the path all that well. We turned around and walked on the other side, and this seems to be the way to do it. You can start out going clockwise or counter clockwise, and Dave had suggested going counter clockwise since that’s what he does when he guide runs. However, I think clockwise is the answer since after Jayden was staying on the correct side better, we realized I was in a safer place walking that way. Going the other way, we were much closer to traffic.

So it was great for the student to see how a new route is worked on. She got to see that there is a good deal of scoping out the situation, if you will, and then letting the team work together to decide the best way to tackle it. The student had a great time and when we got back home, I deharnessed the boy so she could say hi and Dave gave Jayden a good loving too. I explained to her that it’s a personal decision for the handler to allow this, and that in our first few weeks home, I didn’t. But Jayden knows who he is bonded to now, so I let people say hi a lot more, but only when he’s naked.

Normally Jayden just eats up the attention, but he knew that after he works, he gets a frozen Kong, so he just wanted to get inside hahaha!! The student got a kick out of watching him perk up when I asked if he wanted it.

I don’t remember what day it was, but I know it was before the rain because it was hot. I had the bright idea to go get the mail. It was hot but not as hot and I’ve been itching to be able to leave the house when I feel like it, no matter the time of day. It was some time after 4pm, I remember that. Actually I think it was a Monday because Dave was here the next day. So it must have been about two weeks ago. Anyway, we went to get the mail and I guess I wasn’t paying attention on our way back. We do that route so often that Jayden knows it no problem so I must have zoned out. I was in the remaining recovery from the first goalball practice I think. Anyway, I don’t know how I figure out that we were lost, but we were majorly lost. Hmmm. Probe out. That curb feels awfully high. Hmmm. It’s hot. Jayden, find home. Walk some. Stop, probe out, a curb. I can’t relay step by step what happened, but I started getting really hot and freaked out and of course I didn’t have my phone. I told him to find home and he started taking me to doors that weren’t ours. I am lucky enough to have a “warning track”, a bump on my sidewalk. There was no bump. Eventually Jayden walked us under shade and we stopped and I called out, “is anyone there? I’m lost.” Nothing. Of course no cars came or went to help me out by sound. I couldn’t get a read on traffic. I couldn’t concentrate. Finally I just took a deep breath and listened. Ok, traffic is on the wrong side. It’s distant traffic, but an audible landmark just the same. I walked into the sun and it was on the wrong side. Ok, I know more of where we are now.

Then, the heavenly sound of the yip yip dogs!! Oh, yip yip dogs how I love thee! And my they were close, coming from inside their house. Nice! I know they live catty corner to us. Ah…thank you yip yip dogs! I turned in the right direction and told Jayden forward. Once we got over closer to home, he knew right where we were. When I felt my warning track I was so happy and when Jayden got us to the door, I collapsed on the ground and hugged him and gave him a jackpot kibble. After we got in, we both chugged water and collapsed into a heap in the foyer. What an adventure!

I told Dave about it the next day and we still don’t know what happened. It must have just been the slightest deviance from the path that I didn’t feel. It all worked out though. It was the first time I’d used the sun to help me navigate. I remember way back in the beginning of the O & M lessons when Dave tried to tell me about navigating by sun. I told him I didn’t want to rely on the sun because what if it was cloudy? Good point, but man, that sun comes in handy.

I’ve still been working on fall cleaning, and it actually feels like a hint of fall in the air. Jayden and I are doing more walks now and it’s awesome! I haven’t been spending as much time on the computer. I’m pretty much keeping up on your blogs, even if you don’t see me commenting.

I’m not gonna talk about baseball. I just can’t do it. The Rays play in about two hours. That’s all I’ll say.

I did a blind blunder on Thursday. I had to clean because baseball was upsetting me, so I did the patio doors and then went outside and swept and cleaned up the back patio. Now that it’s cooling off, we can actually go back there. Before, there just wasn’t a point to going back there. Since I hadn’t swept and stuff, I hadn’t taken Jayden back there. So I got it all cleaned up and took Jayden out on a long leash. It’s not fenced, so I can’t let him be free. He sniffed a lot and marked a spot and then he wasn’t moving so I went to reach out and see if he was hunched and that’s when it happened.

Pain. The weirdest pain. Kinda like when an ice cube hits an exposed nerve in your mouth. What had I done? Wait, it’s wet. My hand is wet. Oh no. What happened. The top of my hand was bleeding. I had felt something ram into my hand. I stuck my hand on my pants leg and got Jayden inside. I rinsed my hand and there was this knot forming on the top of my left hand, towards the outside, just under the pinky knuckle. I forced myself to stay calm and got out the ice pack. I sat with my hand on the ice pack and texted B clumsily with my right hand, letting him know what had happened but I thought I was ok.

I had explored the area off my porch with my cane before taking Jayden back there. It had been just dirt. What I failed to remember was that there is an agave plant between my patio and the tree. My cane must have just swept right under the jagged protruding leafs. When I had reached out, the thing had stabbed my hand.

When the game was over I called Carol and she looked up agave to see if they’re poisonous. I wasn’t having any strange symptoms, but just wanted to make sure. Turns out if you get pricked by an agave, it causes the blood capillaries to rupture. I had figured that was what had happened, because I had seen that back when I was a phlebotomist, and the knot that formed looked just like when I had grazed a vein. It seemed like ice and pressure was doing the trick though. Yesterday it was pretty sore but today it’s pretty much fine, though there’s still a little knot there. Carol came over yesterday and noticed a blood spatter on my pink Croc. I can’t believe how much it bled from just a tiny little prick haha!!

Carol spent the whole day here yesterday which was awesome. She had come over in the morning for coffee and we actually got to sit out on my patio. Before we knew it, it was noon! We just didn’t feel like stopping conversation so I just made more coffee and we stayed outside. It was brilliant to be outside for so long and Jayden was just lounging out there with us. As the sun moved, Jayden scooted into it and had a sun bath. It was the nicest day!!

She’s coming back on Monday so I can go get B’s birthday present. His birthday is Friday. His dad is coming for a visit from West Virginia! I can’t wait!

I think that’s about it.

I’m really looking forward to the blog carnival. I’ve decided what I’ll write for it and it’s a story I don’t think I’ve shared here before, so I’m excited to get to work on it.

Oh yeah! Congrats to L^2 and her new guide dog, Mr. J!

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Filed under baseball, birthday, blind blunders, coffeeholic, desert life, Doggy Diaries, dogs, family, Gamma, Jayden, Orientation and Mobility, weather, working dog

Blah

I just thought I’d write quickly, since I haven’t been writing much. I’ve been doing my fall cleaning, even though fall still hasn’t hit us yet. We set a record yesterday; 104 degrees. Blech. I’m so sick of this heat.

I’m grateful to have been able to really tackle the deep cleaning our house has needed. I’m not sure if it’s all the cleaning I’ve been doing or what, but holy hell do I feel terrible today. Just out of no where. Attack of the spoon thief I guess. Except my hands hurt. My hands and my wrists and all my joints. Normally I would say that means rain. There are rumors of rain and cooler temps next week, but who knows.

I’m supposed to play Goalball again tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes. Maybe my body said no cleaning today so I’d have energy tomorrow.

I’m reading blogs, just not commenting much. My mental energy has been on the fritz too. Maybe that’s why cleaning is a good passtime when the body is up for it haha.

Anyway, that’s what’s up. Nothing much to report; just business as usual. 🙂

Oh yeah, happy birthday Gamma! 86. Wow.

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Filed under birthday, desert life, Gamma, goalball, spoons, weather

A quick hello

I’m starting to get e-mails and blog comments asking where I am and if I’m ok. This soooo warms my heart! I’m doing fine, just been doing some fall cleaning. I don’t know why I call it fall, because we’re still having hundred degree weather, but ya know. About twice a year I do the deeper cleaning, so that’s what I’ve been up to. Gotta take advantage of the great spoon days to get this stuff accomplished. I sure hope I don’t end up paying for it.

Everything is holding steady. Jayden is doing great as usual. We start Goalball on Saturday. Oh and I finished the crochet mat and he loves it.

That’s really about all there is to report. I’ll try and get back into the blogging routine soon. Thanks for checking on me! *hugs*

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Filed under desert life, goalball, gratitude, Jayden, spoons, weather

Doggy Diaries – 6 months home and a “typical” day

Can you believe that six months ago today, Jayden and I flew home from GDB? Wow. Six months we’ve been home now. It’s kind of hard to believe!

I hadn’t had a post planned, not a specific topic anyway. I knew I’d write something, but wasn’t sure just what. Then I got an e-mail from Beth Fink asking if any of us have written a post about a typical day with a guide dog. Someone had asked her about it for help with a research project. So, since today is six months since Jayden and I have been home, and since it’s already been an eventful day, I thought I’d write about it, filling in the later part of the day with what’s typical for us.

As Beth pointed out in the e-mail, there’s never a “typical” day with a guide dog. This is most definitely true for me, since I never know when a fatigue will hit, disrupting our plans, or when a burst of energy will hit, causing us to do something different. Maybe a friend calls with sudden plans, or maybe a storm comes through and cools things off so we’ll take a walk, or maybe something comes along that makes me change the feeding and relieving schedule. You just never know, so a typical day is only typical after it’s done and we say good night.

Here are the questions she asked.

“Can you describe your daily like routine? Such as waking up by using
alarm, going shower, prepare food for both you and your dog….etc. Do you spend your time with your dog 24/7? Does the dog sleep in your room?”

During the week, I set an alarm. I had tried getting up and going for a walk in the mornings, but it was already too hot and wasn’t good for the start to my day. The alarm goes off at 7am on most days, except for today. Since I’ve been having early lessons with Dave on Tuesdays, the alarm goes off at 6am, yuck haha!

Jayden indeed sleeps in my room, on his comforter next to my bed. As soon as I sit up, he stands and waits by the bed. I change into a tank top and comfy pants. I check the spots where Timmy the cat might be sleeping so that I can put him in the spare room when I take Jayden outside. Jayden follows me all over the house while I set down my phone and such and look for the cat. If I don’t find the cat right away, I give up. I shuffle into the kitchen and flip the switch on the coffee pot. B gets it ready at night for me, what a guy.

I use the restroom and then walk into the kitchen again and Jayden starts getting excited. I grab is food bowl and go to his food container. He sits patiently next to me as I scoop his food and as soon as he hears it, he lets out a little squeal. He follows me into the kitchen and waits while I add some water and set the food down. He must sit before I set it down and he does this automatically. He waits for me to say “ok” before he begins to wolf it down.

I go and slip on my Crocs and grab a bag. He’s done eating in about two minutes. I rinse out the bowl and walk to the counter where his collar is. I put it on, attach the leash, and step outside.

If I haven’t found Timmy, I sweep the door with my cane as Jayden and I go outside. I prop the cane up by the door and take him to his spot. I don’t need to harness him up for this. He goes and if Timmy is out of the room, he stands by the door meowing. As we approach the door, I grab the cane, open the door a crack, and sweep the cat out of the way with the cane, telling Jayden go go go, like a military guy haha!

I take off his leash and he pretty much instantly goes into the living room and gets on his spot on the couch, right next to wear I sit at my laptop. He’s got the routine down. I get my coffee and get online to continue waking up. Jayden takes his morning snooze. Most mornings I start getting ready about an hour or so after this, for whatever the daily plans are. B gets up and goes to work sometime between when I get up and when I leave. On days where nothing is planned, I stay in my comfy pants. 🙂

If I start getting dressed, Jayden takes notice, because it means we’re doing something. He’ll follow me around most of the time, except for Tuesdays. I start getting dressed while he’s still taking his morning snooze.

On later days, I take him to relieve again before we go anywhere. Usually I can find the cat pretty easily, since after I make the bed, he goes to his spot.

I harness Jayden about five minutes before the ride will be here and he goes into work mode, laying down to wait for the ride. When the ride comes, I attach his leash and we are on our way.

This morning we went back to campus to work on the route to the gym where goalball will be. Jayden did great. He had only seen the route once, but he pretty much nailed it today. He kept showing me the ladies’ room, just in case, which he got big time praise for hehe. We worked these funky steps a few times. He did great!

Whenever we get home from being out working, I relieve him and then give him his frozen Kong treat. He knows he gets this every time so he’s always happy to take me to my door. This helps too, because since he’s occupied by that, I can decompress and get changed and cool off. I always call Gamma when I get home from anywhere, so I sit and chat with her.

I get on my computer while Jayden works on his Kong. When he’s done with it, he walks over to me. I tell him to go get it. He stares at me. I sit back and type. He goes and gets the Kong and drops it at my feet and anxiously waits for my praise and a piece of kibble. I rinse it off and go back to my computer and he settles in on the couch or at my feet for his after work nap.

Afternoons you never know what we’ll do. This will change when it cools off, but for now, it’s all inside. I’ll do my thing on the computer, or crochet or whatever. It’s really similar to one who would work. Except Jayden is home and can do as he pleases. Sometimes I turn obedience into a game of hide and seek. Sometimes we’ll play with the Cuz or tug rope. Today I have an empty rinsed out milk jug that we’ll play with until he destroys it in about ten minutes.

If no plans are in the way, he gets fed at 4:30pm. At about 3:30, he starts to tell me he’s hungry. If I move, he thinks I might feed him. He’ll walk up and put his head on my leg. Finally he gives up and takes a nap or chews a bone. When it’s time, he knows for sure, because I put on my excited voice and ask if he’s hungry.

Afternoon feedings are much more eventful than morning feedings. I’m awake so I’m all silly with him and he hops as he follows me to get his bowl and then to the food. Then he hops into the kitchen panting, and we do the same as we do in the mornings. I take him out and then we settle in to a baseball game, for now.

When B gets home Jayden greets him happily. When we have dinner, Jayden lays down on my left, right by my side. I told him he didn’t have to anymore, but he still does.

After dinner, I chill for a bit, B and I talk about our days and do our thing on our computers in the living room. Jayden has bonded with him now too, and will go lay by him, or lick his face if he’s laying on the couch. For now, I’m usually finishing up a baseball game.

By 8pm, I’m pretty much spent. I need some time relaxing in bed with the tv before I sleep. I’m so grateful Jayden is cool with being in bed for a good ten to eleven hours every night. Before bed,we have a romp fest. Sometimes with the Cuz, or the rope, or just me. Jayden never knows what will happen. I like to switch things up, even though we’ve got a pretty set routine. At 8:30, I take him out for nightly relieving and now that it’s nice in the evenings, B comes out too and we hang out for a bit, sometimes letting Jayden leash guide me around a bit.

We come in and I ask for Jayden’s collar. He walks to me, knowing it’s bedtime. I remove the collar. I do this because the tags jingling in the night was a bother, and I think Jayden likes being naked at night. 😉

After the collar is removed, Jayden goes and stands by the treat pouch. I ask him if he wants his good night snack and he follows me happily into my room and gets on his bed. He gets seriously excited over four pieces of kibble haha! He gets kibble because when he was sleeping the kennel, I gave him kibble when he went inside to keep it positive, and it’s just carried over. After he’s had his kibble, I hug him and pet him, he licks my face, I climb into bed to watch tv and he promptly begins snoring, ever so lightly. He dream yips and wags every night, so I know he’s a happy dog. I reach over quite often before I’m asleep and give him a pat, and he usually responds with a little happy grunt, especially when I find him on his back and give him a belly rub.

Lather, rince, repeat. The days vary depending on the activity, but that’s pretty much how it goes. Weekends everything is done a bit later since I don’t set an alarm.

I should sum up by saying that the dog is matched to the person, depending on their circumstances. GDB was aware of the fact that my blindness is not my primary disability. I have MS, so that is the main thing that tends to control my days. I told GDB I’d need a dog who would be fine on days where I’m pretty much useless. They couldn’t have matched us better.

Now that we’ve been home six months, Jayden just knows when it’s his time and when it’s my time. As I’ve been writing this post, we’ve been home about an hour. He knows that when I get home, I have to chill a bit before another possible burst of energy. He started off at my feet and now he’s on the couch next to me.

It’s perfect that Jayden has adjusted to my lifestyle. He’s totally cool with a quick ten minute play fest followed by a few hours of recovery time. He can spend an entire day lounging around. He gets tons of love and affection, and returns it with gusto.

So, since there is no “typical” person, there is no “typical” day for a guide dog team.

In a nutshell, this is what a day is like for us. I’ll have to do what the day is like when we go to Gamma’s too, because it’s so adorable how he knows what the routines are there, as well.

There’s nothing like the freedom I have today. There’s nothing like going to the gym twice a week and just following him as he gets me there. There’s nothing like showing him a new route and watching him get it so quickly. There’s nothing like knowing I can start something new, like goalball, in a completely foreign place and know we’ll be just fine. There’s nothing like knowing he’s watching my every move and looking out for my best interests. He knows when I’m getting fatigued and actually slows his pace and is extra careful.

There’s nothing like having a constant companion and friend. Yes, we are together all the time, to finally answer that question. We may not always interact, but we are always together. And he snaps to attention the second I call him and grab the leash. When he sees my shoes go on, he waits patiently and happily accepts the harness, waiting to run off into our next adventure.

I absolutely adore my guide dog!

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Filed under coffeeholic, desert life, Doggy Diaries, Gamma, GDB, goalball, Jayden, plugs, spoons, Timmy, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Random musings

I woke up this morning to the barking of the new neighbor’s dog. I didn’t know they have a dog. Coming out of the funk of sleep I couldn’t comprehend where it was coming from. My first thought was, why is Jayden outside? He never barks, but a sleep haze does strange things to the mind. I reached over on the floor and there he was, always by my side.

I couldn’t get back to sleep with the constant barking so I just got up. I can’t hear it out here in the living room. Were the neighbors home? How could you just ignore that barking? It sounded like a very lonely bark. It didn’t sound distressful, or I would be trying to see if I could find the neighbor’s door. I sure hope that’s not going to be a normal thing.

I caught up on my normal reading and thought I’d sit and write about Jayden.

Yesterday we did laundry and when we left the apartment, I felt a right turn way too soon, before our veering left. I knew where we were but turned us around and had Jayden find home and start again. A few times recently when I take him out for his nightly business, B has come out and I’ve let Jayden kind of leash guide me where he wants to go to just sniff and be a dog. I had let him take this other sidewalk, and that was what he did yesterday while I was pulling the laundry cart. Oops. Gotta break that now lol. No other sidewalk while in harness, babe. So when I felt him pause at the turn I told him to hop up and he went the correct way.

Once we got down by the parking lot, he had some fun challenges. Cars were parked where they normally aren’t, directly in our path. He had to show them to me after I said forward and he didn’t move. Oh! Gotcha. Good boy, figure it out. I love telling him to figure it out and then wait patiently while I feel his body move ever so slightly while he works it out. He found a path between two cars. I did a moving right which probably wasn’t necessary because he knows the curb to the right is my landmark and he knows he gets praise and the surprise kibble here and there when he shows me that curb. After he found the curb I heard, “He’s such a good boy.”

“Yeah, he’s amazing,” I replied.

“So are you,” declared the female neighbor.

“Awww, thank you,” I said through a smile.

We continued on and Jayden found the laundry room. Coming back I don’t have to drag the cart. We approached where the cars were and I swear I could feel his excitement at the challenge. He gets this different pant. I can’t explain it. I swear I can feel him thinking. He found the wide enough path and gently guided me between the two cars. I could feel that they were close, but I touched nothing, not even a rear view mirror.

Laundry just goes off without a hitch these days and it doesn’t wear me out like it did when we first started. Jayden takes so much of the burden of travel off of me. He’s just incredible.

It’s getting to eh point where it’s still incredibly hot in the afternoons, but by evening the sting of heat has been alleviated a bit. So after B got home and made out our checks for rent and electric, I said Jayden and I would walk with him to drop them off. It was nice to actually be able to go for a walk at a normal time, and not the very beginning of the day.

When we were coming back, B told me a dog was coming. I’ve been a little shell shocked since the day of the obnoxious barking dog and the ignorant handler, but I was prepared as I heard the tags approaching. Jayden pulled a tad but as soon as I said, steady and leave it, he stopped. The other dog handler veered away so as not to get in our way and I kicked myself later for not thanking him. Some day I’ll get the hang out of handling my dog and commenting to passerby.

Jayden’s crochet mat is almost done. We start goalball two weeks from today I think. Dave and I have to get back to walk the route once more before practice starts. We don’t have Friday lessons now. You could say Jayden and I have graduated to once a week. 🙂

I can taste the days of cool weather. I can anticipate the long walks we’ll be able to take soon, to start the next chapter of our first year together. I can’t wait. I’m tossing a sweater in with laundry now, so they’ll be ready to go when needed. I can feel that soon I will get to come out of my shell, crawl out of my hibernation cave.

Last month when I did the flea and tick treatment, Jayden tried to roll around on the carpet to rub it off. So this month I was prepared. As soon as I did the treatment, I asked if he wanted to play hide and seek. I strapped the kibble pouch on and he forgot all thoughts of trying to rub the treatment off. A nice long game of hide and seek gave it time to dry and we had no problems. Nice. I followed that up with some crazy play with the Cuz. He loves that thing. And there’s no better medicine for me than a dog and an annoying squeaker toy.

Life is still hard right now, I won’t lie. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel and hope is showing me the way. Every night I stroke Jayden and tell him I love him and think about how grateful I am to have him. Thank God for my guide dog!

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, dogs, gratitude, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, jayden quirks, laundry, weather, working dog