Category Archives: guide dogs

Carnival Post: I Will Not Regret the Past (Except for the Purpose of this Post)

Posts are being written and compiled for the next round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, the topic of which is regrets. I’m down to the wire on this one. The deadline is in just over an hour as I paste my post into WordPress.

the first idea to come to mind when I pondered what I regret about my first and current guide dog, Jayden, is that we didn’t go to Muir Woods when we were at school together at guide Dogs for the blind. As if to punctuate that thought the day I was considering what to write about for the blog carnival, I ran across this article about Muir Woods’s tallest tree.

I knew about the trip to Muir Woods before I went to GDB and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to. I imagined beams of sunlight sneaking through the canopy of tall, stately redwoods, the scene suffused with a warm golden glow, a lovely and peaceful walk with my dog through the beauty of nature, the quiet and meditative quality of the stroll with my new partner, it was going to be beautiful.

My first mistake was having that expectation. Never, never have expectations. Nothing is ever what we think it will be.

My training at GDB was hard on me emotionally and physically and when it came time for the Muir Woods trip at the end of the three weeks, I didn’t have it in my heart to go. All I could think about was returning home with my boy and settling back in to life where I was comfortable, without instructors popping out and telling me what to do. why wouldn’t they tell me what to do? Even major league baseball players still have hitting coaches.

I regret being so damned willful.

What an experience that would have been, to stroll through those woods, to smell the trees, to take a break from the honking, humming and thumping of cars but I was just so tired. I was tired and I did not want to ride on the bus for an hour on a winding road, worrying about limiting my fluids, not just Jayden’s. Not being able to smoke. I regret that I used to be held hostage by nicotine.

Looking back, I always think Muir Woods would have been the perfect place to have that first amazing walk with jayden; our other walks were stressful for both of us while in class. I deeply regret letting the physical and mental fatigue win.

One of the ways I live today is not regretting the past, yet here I am doing just that. Jayden and I did have that first awesome walk together the day we arrived home in tucson and he guided me out of the airport, around concrete poles, following B through cold rain and biting wind to the car. I grinned the entire time even though it wasn’t majestic redwoods he guided me through.

Thinking about regrets is dangerous territory unless we look at regrets not as regrets, but as mistakes.

I made a mistake by not going to Muir Woods and I won’t make that mistake again. I learned my lesson. I have not turned down a trip since then and Jayden and I have had some pretty awesome experiences together.

If you wrote your own post on regrets for this blog carnival and if that post dredged up painful feelings, just remember the past cannot be changed and we only grow by making mistakes and learning from them.

On a lighter note,another regret I have is not teaching Jayden to stay out of the kitchen. I envy my friend Carin that she did with her guide and you can bet I won’t make that mistake again. This is a small regret, but it’s the only thing that can grow into a big thing when He won’t get out from under-foot. I’ve been able to teach him to stay on the couch when I put him there however, so I found a solution.

Oh and one more thing speaking of the couch, I regret that he was taught such good house manners with regards to furniture because here at home, he does not need permission every single time he wants up on the couch. It’s your couch too, buddy!

(Ok, that’s not really a regret since I’m incredibly grateful for his house manners. thank you to his puppy raisers!)

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Filed under blog carnival, doggy school, fellowship, GDB, guide dogs, Jayden, jayden quirks, puppy raisers, sobriety, spoons, working dog

The Latest

Singing hurts when your jaw hurts, did you know that? Whoa, why did my iTunes radio just stop? Odd. It’s like it knew I had just written that singing was painful. Oh well, I put on some local radio since I had just been thinking it would be nice to hear some other music mixed in with the Christmas music I had been listening to on iTunes radio.

Christmas music? You’re listening to Christmas music?

Why yes, yes I am. I don’t start listening to it as early as most seem to do, like right after Halloween, but I was in the festive spirit this morning and Christmas music lifts my spirits. I just need to remember that singing hurts. This station doesn’t seem to be playing regular music with Christmas music though. Anyway, I wanted to write an update about my dental hell, er health, not music.

I can’t remember what I last wrote about though, let me go take a gander. Oh so I did already write about irrigating the sockets and stuff. I had completely forgotten. Wow. Next time I whine about my normal MS fog, I need to remember the pain and Vicodin induced fog, ok?

I had decided to write a post while I was having some chocolate ice cream for lunch. Yum, right? Yes, when you are having ice cream as a treat. Not so much when you just need calories and sugar in you because you were dizzy but if you ate anything solid you’d have to irrigate your sockets so ice cream is just easier. Also, I really like additives in my ice cream like chocolate chips or brownies. My how I mis texture!

I am developing an addiction to Stouffer’s mac and cheese. I’ve always liked it but since it’s really the only thing thats comfortable to eat right now, I’m eating a lot of it. So wait, is this addiction or dependence? I am dependent on Stouffer’s mac and cheese. Hi, I’m Ro and I’m a Stouffer’s mac and cheese addict. Hi Ro!

Speaking of addiction, I’m keeping a very close eye on me and this Vicodin. When it comes time to take a pill I take stock of my pain to make sure it’s needed. I told my massage guy last night that one thing I’ve noticed about being on Vicodin is that the rest of my body benefits from it, too. However I hate hate hate the additional cognitive issues and it makes me sleepy.

My sleep has been all over the place. I’ve really noticed that my sleep seems to be effected whenever I introduce a new medication of any kind. Wednesday night I could not get to sleep, which is usually never a problem. After B came to bed I decided to get up for a bit thinking that would help but when I went back to bed I was still wide awake so I just didn’t sleep at all on Wednesday night. I had a massage at 4pm Thursday and luckily was able to doze for a bit in the afternoon before the appointment and last night I slept all the way through after waking briefly when B came to bed. We both said uh oh, but I fell back to sleep quickly.

This morning I thought I might be able to clean up my kitchen but no. Just making the bed and messing with some tangled computer cables wore me out. I’m just so under nourished! I forgot to ask B to grab some Ensure from the store yesterday. I started sweating while organizing the cables and had to turn the heater off.

The heater? In Arizona?

It’s rainy and cold out, yes. We do get cold weather sometimes. I turned the fan on and before long I was cold. I’m glad I’m having my thyroid checked next month though I suspect the elevated temperature sensitivity has to do with all the work my body is doing to heal my mouth and the narcotic in my system might have something to do with it as well.

So that’s where it stands. The left side of my mouth doesn’t hurt at all anymore but that pesky right side is taking forever to catch up. That’s the side that had a really deep root and the pain goes all the way down to my jaw and up into my ear. Woo hoo!

I have more dental work to get done next year but there’s no way there will be this much pain. I’m glad I did all the extractions at once so that when this is done, it’s just done.

You know what I can’t wait for? Chili Cheese Fritos!

Oh PS – My massage guy and his wife adopted a career changed dog from GDB and when she was dropping me off last night, A said Jayden always looks so happy. She said she’s been paying more attention to the guide dogs at work and some of them look so sad. She said whatever I’m doing keep doing it. That made me happy because it was a great compliment, but sad knowing there are miserable looking guide dogs. I remember hearing a woman talking to her guide dog one day at the blind center and the angry edge in her voice was sharp as glass and I thought, poor dog.

I got to thinking last night about Jayden being a happy dog and beyond the fact that I love him more than life, I think I just always remember that he’s a living being first and a service dog second. I’m just so glad he looks happy! He has been such a rock for me during this last really really difficult couple months, as always.

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Filed under Dental Health, GDB, guide dogs, holiday, iTunes, Jayden, music, num num food, spoons, weather

Having Warm Fuzzies Until Realizing the Media was just Doing Its Thing

It’s amazing the spin the media can put on everything. At this point, what do you believe? I used to always trust the big news outlets but now the only media I can think of that I trust is Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Rays beat reporter.

So I’m reading Twitter after a busy morning/early afternoon of baking and cleaning and grooming Jayden. I read a tweet and click the link attached:

@CBSNews Blind N.Y. man allegedly kicked off plane over guide dog; passengers exit in solidarity http://t.co/mPCXpE2enU

Safari opens the link and audio begins to play. The story is about a blind man who was taken off the plane because his guide dog wouldn’t stay beneath the seat. The passengers got upset and left with the man and then boarded a bus to reach their destination. A couple passengers were interviewed and the blind man as well. As the clip is wrapping up, the broadcasters begin applauding the passengers. Tears well in my eyes as my faith in humanity is restored and I retweet .

I walk into my kitchen to put my freshly boiled eggs in the fridge, grinning, hearing my tweet getting retweeted and favorited. I come back to my computer and have a mention from a friend saying the story is quite different from what she’s been seeing. Oh no. Don’t tell me the media got something wrong again and got my spirits up only to have them shot down.

I start my own investigating and find this story and this story and this story and then I just stopped looking.

I had already planned on blogging about this story, sharing my good feelings but explaining that Jayden and I sit in bulkhead so that I don’t have to cram him under a seat but after reading the other stories, my good feelings diminished a bit.

Basically the airline is saying the plane was stuck on the runway for a bit and the guide dog got restless and began “walking up and down the aisle”. I find that laughable. I honestly can’t imagine a blind person just letting his dog leave his side. The flight attendants say the man got belligerent when he was told to keep his dog under the seat. Maybe all that did happen, but would the passengers have stood up for the man if he had acted so badly?

The audio I listened to made it sound like all the passengers got off the flight in solidarity, however the other stories say the flight was cancelled because of the upheaval over the man and his dog. So who’s to say the passengers did stand up for him? Perhaps the ones interviewed had been in a far away part of the plane and not seen the man behaving badly.

I don’t know what to believe about this story and that makes me sad, because it had given me such warm feelings. So media, oh never mind. You’ll never change. You all want to be first so fact checking has gone out the window.

I can still write that Jayden and I fly in bulkhead where there’s more room at my feet. I can’t imagine Jayden fitting under the seat. If fore some reason, this had been me and Jayden would not calm down and settle, I would have calmly tried to work with the airline to come up with a solution. When Jay and I were getting ready to fly to Colorado in May, I was nervous that the only direct flight I could get was through United, and I’ve read so many stories about United and service dogs. I was talking with Carol about it and she pointed out that most likely every single airline has had some sort of incident with a service dog and we never get the whole story. I’m sure some of them are true but I also think that a lot of these kinds of situations can be avoided if we are able to be our own advocate and our dog’s advocate. We also need to know our rights and business’ rights. No, our dogs cannot just walk away from us. My flights went off without a hitch but I’m a planner to the nth degree. Also, when I’m out with Jayden whether I’m sitting on paratransit, in a lobby or on an airplane, his leash is always attached to me. I never let it go. I just hope stories like the one above don’t keep disabled people from flying with their service animals. It’s too bad the twenty-four hour news cycle makes these things seem more common than not.

On a happier note:

Random Happy

This morning I opened this link about designing cities with the blind in mind. I was expecting an article but audio began to play so I sat back to listen. Chris Downey is an architect who went blind right around the time I did. He sure got out of denial faster than I did haha! Anyway, his talk was interesting and funny and I knew it would be my random happy for today.

Chris Downey: Design with the Blind in Mind

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Filed under advocacy, guide dogs, in the news, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2013, twitter me this

Carnival Post – Top Ten

Here is the complete Carnival!

***

It’s the tenth Assistance Dog Blog Carnival! Click here to read about what the blog carnival is and click here to read about this round and it’s topic. The ADBC has come full circle in this round, being hosted by the original host, After Gadget.

I have had the ultimate writer’s block but really wanted to submit since I submitted in the first round. I’m just going to write and not try to be organized haha! The topic for this post is “Perfect Ten”. I wracked my brains trying to come up with an idea but my inner creative chick is still sleeping apparently so I’m just going to jump in to some free form and see what comes out. Sometimes writing about Jayden is like trying to express gratitude. I tend to get very flustered when my heart is so full.

Jayden isn’t perfect and nor am I but I always say our match was perfect. Guide Dogs for the Blind was perfect in matching Jayden to me. I can’t imagine anything that is lacking from our partnership. When GDB asked me what I wanted in a dog I had no idea since I grew up with cats. I told them I just needed a chill dog who would be ok when my MS flared up and I needed to rest. I think GDB gave me the most chill dog available haha! He is cool with whatever I need. He loves to relax on the couch with me but when I need him to work he snaps to attention like a soldier. He has gotten so in tune with me that he knows exactly what I need, sometimes before I do. He’ll slow down on walks when he knows I’m tiring. Sometimes I try to speed him up and he disobeys and then I feel my fatigue. He knows before I do; it’s pretty crazy! He really was the perfect match in so many ways. I’m amazed at these schools and how well they do in the matching process.

I never imagined all the added bonuses (non guide work stuff) that would come with a guide dog. Let’s see if I can come up with ten added bonuses:

Good Potassium Numbers

When I was in the hospital when I went blind, my potassium was dangerously low. They gave me a pill and after I saw my doctor upon my release, she ordered a banana a day. That didn’t work out so well because I couldn’t make bananas last long enough; they went bad so quickly. After I got Jayden, I remember his raiser telling me Jay loved bananas. Now my potassium stays in good shape thanks to bananas and orange juice. How could anyone not want to share a banana with a dog who goes crazy when he hears the question, “do you want a banana?” (That link has audio) Oh and orange juice taste even better when it’s a banana chaser!

Tear Soaker Upper

I should have known what a comfort Jayden would be when I’m sad. Heck even my cats have soaked up tears over the years but they don’t hold still like Jayden does. Since Jayden and I have that incredibly strong bond of assistance dog and handler, he knows when I need him to just lay still and let me cry on him. It’s a good thing tears don’t hurt his coat haha!

A Schedule A Dog Makes

One of the hardest parts about going blind and being medically retired was the sudden loss of a schedule. Weekends were no longer anything special since every day was like a weekend. Working folk think this would all be a dream come true but when you’re twenty-nine and suddenly can’t be self supporting, it’s a huge loss of identity. It’s amazing what a schedule will do to add a sense of purpose, at least it did for me. Jayden is on a feeding and relieving schedule very similar to what he had at guide dog school. Working my life around his schedule led me to realize how great schedules can be for adding structure to my otherwise structureless life. I’ve since come up with workout and cleaning schedules that turn my week into a “work week” and allow me to enjoy weekends with B. Amazing how a pee schedule for my guide dog turned my day-to-day life into something more “normal”.

Fitness Lives

When I decided to get a guide dog I knew I’d have to do some work to build up my stamina. I needed to be able to walk a mile since I’m pretty sure that was one of the requirements for acceptance to GDB. Luckily the blind center has a gym and a health and wellness program and my name came up on the waiting list at the same time I decided to apply to GDB. Serendipity? My whole life I’ve wanted to be fit and healthy but it’s hard without guidance and I was never successful. I reached my goal of being prepared for guide dog school but I never stopped with the fitness. It has since become something of an addiction for me and since I no longer can work out at the blind center, I’ve developed a program for myself at home. I’m more fit that I’ve ever been and exercise has been the best form of treatment for the MS. This might be the most important added bonus!

Ex-Smoker

Ok this is easily a tie with the fitness as one of the best added bonuses. Anyone who smokes or used to smoke knows how hard it is to quit. For me it was easier to quit drinking than it was to quit smoking. Jayden became another motivation however, when I thought about what would happen to him if I wasn’t around. I also hated exposing him to that and I’ve now been quit over a year.

Someone To Watch Over

I’ve never wanted children. Ever since I was a teenager I didn’t want children. It’s almost as if something prepared me for my future. It’s not that I can’t have kids now,I’m fully capable, but I wouldn’t have the energy. The MS is definitely my primary disability, not the blindness. However as a woman, it’s in my nature to want to care for something. I worked in therapy about the choice not to have children because even though for years I told myself I didn’t want them, there was still this huge sense of loss when I realized I would never carry a child and rase an adult. Jayden has filled a huge part of that void and that is something I certainly never expected. I knew going into this partnership that Jayden would look to me to fill his needs but I never expected the fulfillment I get out of being that person for him! I take pride when the vet tells me how good his teeth look or when a fellow dog lover tells me how great he looks. Yes, he was raised by another before he came to me, but I’ve continued to mold and shape him and care for him and I think of him as my child. I think most animal owners think of their pets as their kids, I know I always did with my cats, but this goes so much deeper. I never expected my guide dog to fill most of the void left by the child I’ll never have.

Fear Management

The first summer after I went blind we had an insane monsoon season and during one particularly bad storm, I asked B to go into the spare room and get the cat out of there. I can’t remember why I wanted her out. B went to go get her and then I heard shattering glass and the door slam and I started screaming, not sure where B was. The wind had been howling and whistling, sounds I had never heard before. B was ok, he had just come out of the room when the wind blew the window in and caused the door to slam. After that I was terrified of wind. I was afraid I would transfer this fear to my dog so I asked at school what to do about that. I was told to just try and be as cool as possible and make storms fun for my dog. I never imagined how this would cure me of my fear! Now the wind has to be really bad to scare me but I don’t panic like I used to. I just calmly take Jayden with me to a safe spot in the house and “cuddle”. I feel safer and he doesn’t get freaked out. I love this added bonus! That fear of wind was getting debilitating before Jayden came around.

Ultimate Feet Warmer

As I’ve been writing this off and on over the last few hours, Jayden has been in several positions on the couch next to me. While I was writing the last bit, he got off the couch and lay down on my feet. It’s almost like he was saying, “don’t forget to include how much you love it when I lay on your feet!” There is just something so comforting about the weight of him on my feet and nothing is better at warming them! I love it when he does this. The only negative about when your dog is comfortable with some part of him resting on you is that you don’t want to disturb him and therefore don’t move. I’m pretty sure my feet are going to fall asleep haha!

Attitude Adjustment

It’s really hard to stay in a bad mood when you have a goober head constantly cheering you up. I might be feeling depressed and then it’s time for Jayden’s afternoon Kong Wobbler treat. I’ve taken to pronouncing “wobbler” so it sounds very French and you can’t stay in a bad mood when you’re asking your dog if he wants his Wobbler in a high pitched silly French accent. Then when he’s done with it and I ask him to show me and he takes me to where he left it, I get so proud and excited and he gets thrilled to get his reward “cookie”, that I find myself grinning so big my cheeks ache.

Fellowship

When I decided to apply for a guide dog, I told my friend Chupa that I wanted to start a blog to document the process. I jokingly said I could call it Doggy Diaries or something. She said I totally should and my old Blogger blog was born along with the Doggy Diaries category. Before I knew it I was a part of a fellowship of other guide dog handlers and puppy raisers and I felt so apart of the blind community, finally. I felt so alone when I went blind since no one I knew understood what I was going through. There was one woman I spoke with on the phone, a friend of a friend and it was actually her guide dog who was the first guide dog I met. This blog though, led me to the people who helped me feel not so lonely and they came with me on the journey of getting a guide dog. Some of those people are still my closest friends today and I bet some of those people are submitting posts for this very carnival. The fellowship in the guide dog community is certainly one I never in a million years expected when I applied to GDB in September of 2009!

Ok wow, my arms are aching something awful but look, I wrote the post! Haha, and it turned out more organized than I thought it would. I’ll come back and add a link to the complete carnival post when it’s up.

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, blog carnival, cats, Doggy Diaries, fellowship, GDB, gratitude, guide dogs, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, jayden quirks, misty eyes, monsoons, num num food, puppy raisers, relieving, spoons, therapy, weather, working dog, workouts, youtube

“Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Learning to See With Your Ears” by Tim Johnson

When I began Orientation and Mobility lessons a few months after going blind, I was amazed to learn that using a white cane involved so much more than just interpreting sensations in the hand holding the cane. My instructor, Dave, taught me to begin paying attention to sounds outside my apartment. Hear that traffic? If you ever get turned around, listen for the traffic and use the sound to point yourself in the direction of your apartment. Years later I would use this skill after arriving home with my guide dog while he was learning the lay of the land.

Dave also taught me how to listen for buildings and hear the difference between a flat building front and an alcove or covered area. I used this a lot while learning my home area since those sounds became landmarks. Instead of the mailbox on the corner letting me know I was close to my destination, the different sound the cane made as I passed by an aluminum overhang became my landmark.

Dave taught me how to tell which lane a car was in as we stood next to a three lane road. He would stand me near a bend in a busy street and have me point to where I thought the intersection was. In buildings and stores he would have me stop and listen for the sounds of a cash register or talking. When I expressed fear of entering a public bathroom alone, he found a blind female coworker who told me to listen for the sounds of the sinks, the hand dryers, the paper towel dispensers, the flushing toilets. Remember those sounds in relation to the door and you’ll be fine.

As I learned all these skills I couldn’t help but remember a television documentary I had watched with B back when I was blind in just one eye. This documentary was about a boy who lost his eyes as a baby. B and I watched in amazement as this boy road his bike, skateboarded, shot basketballs and didn’t miss, all by clicking his tongue. When the program ended I turned to B and said, “I should learn that in case my other eye goes blind.” I clicked my tongue a few times but the thought of losing my other eye never seemed like a reality. Who knew a year later I would begin to learn the basics of echolocation without even knowing it.

When I read “Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Learning to See With Your Ears” by Tim Johnson, I found myself remembering those early days of O & M Lessons with Dave and smiling. While learning to navigate the world without sight was frustrating and terrifying, there were also some really fun times. This book was a refresher for me in many ways but it also introduced new skills and concepts. It can be exhausting moving around the world with your ears. Johnson gives examples of relaxing exercises and techniques to practice to assist with honing your hearing, decipher sounds and open your mind. I think this is invaluable to help with energy conservation. I have found myself focusing on these things in the days since I read this book.

Johnson makes it clear that this book is not a replacement for O & M lessons with a qualified instructor. He also gives information about centers where one can go to specifically learn echolocation. I would love to be able to attend this kind of training! I remember when I was first blind, navigating around my apartment and stopping just before I hit a wall. I remember telling people, “I heard the freaking wall!” I really enjoyed reading this book and finding out in detail just how it worked that day I heard the wall.

Johnson explains sound waves and why certain objects sound the way they do when a click or clap bounces off of them and back to the ears. He explains how the visual cortex in the brains of the blind still function, allowing us to build images in our minds from the things we feel and hear. I ate this information up since I love brain science. When I finished this book I felt brain tired, just like I do when I read books about science. I love it! I also had an aching tongue from all the clicking I did as the book described different techniques. Johnson flawlessly uses descriptions to teach you all the different ways you can click.

I recommend this book for anyone, blind or sighted. Even if you are not interested in learning echolocation, it is still a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys learning something new. “The Beginner’s Guide to Echolocation” is available in print from Amazon with large print available and audio coming soon. You can also download the book in MS Word format to read with your screen reader.

We don’t think about the kinds of echolocation we use every day. Whether using a white cane or a guide dog, if we can hear, we can see our surroundings as we move through the world with our mobility aids. There are even some days I can tell when it’s cloudy, just based on how different the traffic sounds. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful to be able to sharpen all my tools as I continue trudging along on this sightless journey. My thanks to Tim Johnson, for devoting his time and skills to this book!

*Addendum* Exciting news! I heard from Tim Johnson and the audio book is now available for download here, and will soon be available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes!

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, Amazon, blind opinion, cool product, gratitude, guide dogs, NaBloPoMo 2012, Orientation and Mobility, plugs, white cane

Doggy Diaries – A Few Fun Dog Links and Brief Clicker Story

I kept two 1-800-PET-MEDS articles up today to blog about and share because I enjoyed them both. I’ve also had a youtube saved for awhile that I wanted to share but kept forgetting, so today I give you three fun dog related links.

This first one is about Dogs for the Deaf and how they’ve expanded into training service dogs for Autism and even classroom dogs. Possibly the best part? They use shelter dogs! It was heart warming to read about these dogs who might have been destined for euthanasia but instead become service dogs. How cool is that?

This next one is about teaching your dog tricks and the effect that has on the person. It is a really adorable story about how a woman trained her dogs to love her piano playing, or, ahem, something like that. Give it a read, it’s cute!

I don’t really teach Jayden tricks but I do sometimes teach him something new to either help me or enhance obedience. Either that or just turning something into a game. I recently got out the old clicker and showed Jayden that when I pat the couch and say “up!” that I want him to get on the couch. This might seem a little silly so I’ll explain.

Jayden was raised not to get on furniture unless invited. That part of his raising was apparently incredibly hardwired because there are times when he sits and stares at his side of the couch and waits for me to invite him up. Now since that’s his spot, I haven’t required him to wait until invited pretty much since bringing him home. Most of the time he gets right up when he wants but other times he refuses, to the point where I have to actually touch him and urge him up.

These aren’t moments of wanting affection, as he’s like a foot from me and sits on the floor staring at his side of the couch, sometimes even resting his chin on it. Sometimes I’m in the middle of writing something or eating or crocheting and I just need him to let himself up on the couch haha! So I did clicker training. It was so much fun for both of us. I’d have him sit facing his side of the couch, pat and say “up!” and when he jumped up I clicked and kibbled. Then I’d tell him “off” and at first he was confused like, but is this obedience? Look, I’ll lay on the couch. Haha! Then he’d finally leap off and jump around and we’d do the whole thing over. It worked like a charm! Now I just have to pat and say “up!” and he gets up. No more having to reach over and urge him up.

Then last night I thought we’d have to do the clicker training again. He sat there looking at the couch, I felt for a cat and didn’t find one so I patted and said “up!” and he wouldn’t. I repeated this a few times and he didn’t jump up. So I went to stand up and heard Timmy’s bell. Oh! He was curled up in the very corner of the couch. No wonder Jayden disobeyed haha! I moved Timmy and Jayden jumped right up. Training him is so much fun and so rewarding. I wish we could play clicker every day.

This last link might require some tissues or perhaps that was just me. The trainers at Southeastern Guide Dogs perform Trust Me Baby. I’m guessing the images are adorable. The lyrics had me sobbing the first time I heard it and when I opened the video to get the link just now I got misty all over again. The song is a take of Call Me Maybe which always gets stuck in my head when I hear it but now I get Trust Me Baby stuck in my head instead.

Hope you enjoyed the doggy links. I sure did!

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Filed under Autism, Doggy Diaries, guide dogs, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, jayden quirks, misty eyes, plugs, puppy raisers, Timmy, video, youtube

My First Week on Lexapro – The Drug Might Have Saved a Leaf Blower Man

Today is a week since I began taking 10mg of Lexapro daily to help with my depression and anxiety. I know I’m not yet feeling the full effects of the drug since it takes about a month for this kind of thing to really build up in the system but the placebo effect is strong in this one. Tell me this pill is going to make me feel better and just the knowledge that relief will come will make me feel better. It’s like when you’re starving but you know you’ll eat soon, you can make it, but if you don’t know when your next meal is coming it’s harder to make it through.

I feel like my hands have been freed and I can reach my tools again. I know how to cope and get through life but I couldn’t reach out and grab that knowledge. It was like the depression and anxiety were shackles binding my wrists. I now feel like those shackles have been loosened enough for me to get one hand free. Life is looking up, just knowing that my brain chemistry will be getting back on track.

The first few days I was a little apprehensive. I wasn’t told about side effects and I didn’t look them up. A friend told me she had headaches on Lexapro so wouldn’t you know, I started having headaches. I looked up Lexapro and headaches and sure enough, lots of people have had that problem though headache isn’t listed as a side effect. I found a forum were several people said the headaches went away after a week or so for most so I had hopes that they would for me too and they have. I started taking Advil when I felt a headache coming on and now I don’t even need that. I also experienced some pretty bad nausea when I ate but luckily that has gone as well. Too bad, I need to lose some weight after being so inactive. 😉

This week I returned to the gym. My doctor cleared me to exercise when I saw her last week and I’m so grateful. I know exercise will help with the depression as well and now that the weather has chilled out and I feel better physically, I feel like I’m in the home stretch. It was so great to get back and see my friends this week and today Jayden flirted with a new guide dog in the restroom.

Yesterday was a huge test of my psyche. I don’t do well with loud noise. If the police were ever to need to flush me out of a building all they would need to do would be to cause a lot of noise and I’d come out willingly. Yesterday morning I was relaxing, reading Twitter, contemplating doing a home workout, sitting on the couch with Jayden, when this God awful noise started. I thought it might be a leaf blower but the sound was more shrill. Turns out it was indeed a leaf blower. I began to live tweet about it and last night I copied the tweets to include in this post since I’m pretty sure something would have happened had I not been medicated. So, here are the tweets:

Noise outside, no clue what it is, combo leaf blower/wee wacker? OMG my head is gonna split open. Help! 8:39am

This could be a headline: “Blind woman accused of murdering a leaf blower in AZ” 8:47am

Reminder, a leaf blower is an inanimate object. Can it be considered an appliance? 8:50am

I’ve been known to murder appliances. Ok seriously, this dude needs to move the eff off. 8:51am

Why is he focusing on my apartment? I think he wants to kidnap me. Like Wanda Sykes’ comedy skit. 8:52

(Reply to friend asking me to just be sure to get out of prison by Opening Day) I just want to break his stupid appliance. Not him. That’ll be a slap on the wrist. 8:52am

My dog is starting to get stressed. What do I do? This dude won’t effing stop! 8:56am

Just when I think he’s leaving, he comes back. This is insane! 8:57am

I think he’s finally moving on to torture another apartment. Do I dare hope?9:00am

Hey leaf blower man, you’re lucky I’m medicated now. That’s all I have to say. He’s finally gone far enough, I hope. 9:09am

(Reply to friend telling me her old landlord threatened a leaf blower man with a gun) Oh geez! I would obviously never threaten this guy but he was out here much longer than normal. My head, oh my head. 9:13am

As you can see, the leaf blowing went on for a good half hour. He kept coming back to my door. I have no idea why he kept coming back and I was so tempted to open the door and scream at him or call the office and scream at them. Luckily I did neither. The stress of it exhausted me though and I ended up putting on comedy on ootunes to try and relax and recover. I ended up doing this for about six hours though I had no idea that much time had passed. I included two more tweets here to show how much time had gone buy:

Catching up on Twitter and I’m a little nervous to find out how that 23 mile skydive went. 3:13pm

Oh, apparently my nerves were all for not as the jump was aborted. 3:15pm

I was definitely still feeling anxious and had the worst case scenario in my head while reading tweets about that guy who wants to do a twenty-three mile skydive. Today I feel a little more hopeful about that haha!

So, that’s my first week on Lexapro. I’m excited that my life seems to be getting back on track and I think I’ll be able to handle the next curve ball a little more easily. Lexapro is my hitting coach. Can you tell it’s a day of baseball? Listened to the Nationals/Cardinals while at the gym and now it’s Reds/Giants. Gotta love playoff baseball but I sure wish my Rays had made it.

Oh, another possible side effect of Lexapro is the desire to switch to hot tea from coffee in the afternoons. That one is a little bizarre. 😉

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Filed under baseball, coffeeholic, doc, faith, gratitude, guide dogs, humor as coping skill, Jayden, mental health, twitter me this, workouts

Carnival Post – Walk the Halls

I’ve been writing so sporadically I’m shocked I’m writing for the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. It’s time for the 8th Carnival already. Eighth? How did that happen? I must have missed the last several rounds. I thought I’d write something up today since an idea just struck me out of the blue. Nice how that works eh? Be sure to check out this round’s host for details.

The theme for this round is “Marching to Your Own Drum”. This topic really had me stumped and I hadn’t the first clue about what to write. I thought I’d just skip this round like I have the last several but I kept seeing reference to the carnival on Twitter and every time that nagging little voice said, “write something!”

So I thought back on my day. Jayden and I went to the blind center where I worked out and he napped. As Jayden went to walk into the lobby where we wait for our ride I angled my body right and said, “let’s walk.” I felt him move in the direction I indicated and pressure on the harness handle as he took off down the hall. We live in Arizona. It’s late July. It’s hot! So we don’t go walking outdoors right now. Instead, we walk the halls at the blind center. There’s usually at least one person we pass who asks, “doing laps?” I think it’s kind of become a thing to see Jay and I aimlessly walking up and down in the nice cool building after I’ve worked out. “Yep, it’s time for Jayden’s exercise,” I always reply.

Blindness is my secondary disability. The more dangerous disability is multiple sclerosis, which caused my blindness and could cause a whole host of other problems. I purposely don’t read about the possibilities, and hush people when they jump into telling me about so and so relative or friend who has MS. I don’t want to know, thanks. I’ve gotten pretty good at managing my disease and one of the most important things is not getting hot.

Not getting hot? But you live in the desert. Crazy, I know, but it’s really not that hard. You just stay inside and go from air conditioning to air conditioning. The hardest part of this is finding creative ways to exercise my guide dog. I suppose that fits into marching to a different drum, eh?

Aside from walking the halls where it’s air conditioned, Jayden and I are big fans of crazy play. The crazier I can get him the better. To me it hasn’t been a successful play session if he isn’t fast asleep and dreaming five minutes after I sit down. He just thinks it’s fun chasing after the squeaky football or going limp and letting me pull him around. Shhh, don’t tell him, but we’re both getting exercise.

You might think the play is my favorite part of our different ways to exercise, but no, it’s the working. I don’t think there’s ever a time, even two years after our first walk together, that I don’t smile when he pulls into the harness. I love the feel of him slowing down and walking me around something. I love how quickly he responds when I tell him to “leave it” when we encounter another guide dog as we do our laps.

Life with a guide dog and two disabilities means constantly finding new ways of doing something. If that’s not marching to our own distinctive beat, I don’t know what is!

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Filed under blog carnival, desert life, Doggy Diaries, guide dogs, Jayden, jayden quirks, spoons, twitter me this, weather, working dog

Thoughts from a…I don’t know how to describe my mind at the moment

I wish I could blog about the last couple weeks with brutal honesty but I can’t, unless I want to completely embarrass myself, which I don’t want to do. Hahaha! I’ll just say, imagine some of the strangest things you’ve ever had to do, the weirdest you’ve ever behaved about something silly, and there you have it. It’s been an interesting start to the year, to say the least.

Things aren’t bad at least. Routines just haven’t gotten back to normal. Hopefully by next week they will. The combination of waiting on the repair guy, strange physical ailments and now B being off this week has made it hard to get back into exercising like I was, which has caused it’s own set of problems.

I can tell you this. If you exercise regularly and then stop for a brief amount of time, becoming more inactive than normal, do not, under any circumstances, chew a Pepto Bismol tablet every day for a week, no matter how badly a medication upsets your stomach. Just don’t do it. I really have no desire to explain why so just take my advice if you trust me. If you don’t trust me, still do not under any circumstances take a Pepto Bismol tablet every day for a week. I assume the liquid is just as bad if taken daily. Don’t do it, you hear?

Ok, now I feel better.

Today a question was asked on Twitter, not by anyone I follow, it was retweeted: Why do blind people have lights in their homes?

As you might be aware, we don’t have any living creature with working eyes in our homes, so why on earth would we need lights? Blind people only mate with other blind people and if they have sighted family, they don’t invite them over. Sighted people aren’t friends with blind people. So yeah, we really don’t need lights. Cats are designed to see in the dark, and blind people having guide dogs is purely a myth. No such creature exists. This blog is a lie. If I had a guide dog, he’d surely like light at night when it’s dark.

In other news, I have a crush on a man named Barbie who doesn’t exist. I think that’s the safest kind of love, right? I curl up in bed with him every night as he tries to save a town from a crazy man. When I’m tired, I go to sleep and leave him in mid step sometimes. He is who he is and I know that will never change because that’s how he was written. Pretty perfect, wouldn’t you say?

Ah, I just paused in writing this to take a shower. I still have no idea if the repair man will be here today. Story of this year so far. B had stepped out so I waited for him to get back. It was one of the best showers I’ve ever had. There’s something about a shower when you haven’t been feeling good that just feels amazing.

Ok, it’s now a one week countdown until life gets back to normal, hopefully. Clock…start…now!

PS – My computer hates the word “retweeted”. It always corrects to “retreated”. So if there’s ever a post I don’t feel like editing when I type something like, “David Price retreated me again”, you’ll know what I meant.

PSS – Can one retreat another? Can that be an adverb describing something a person does to another person? And if so, what exactly would David Price have done to me if he retreated me?

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Filed under guide dogs, humor as coping skill, no no sightie, quirky words, random stuff, sicky sick, silly girl, twitter me this, workouts

#NaBloPoMo – Doggy Diaries – Trash and laundry, robo and canine

There was a discussion on Twitter recently about robotic guide dogs. There was a link, but I didn’t click it. A robotic guide dog? No thanks. The discussion was interesting though, what if it rains, what if the battery dies. I couldn’t help but think about Scott Westerfeld’s “Leviathan” series. Which is better, machine or beastie? It’s a brilliant series of books. You should read them if you like alternate histories and fantastical creations.

Anyway, back to the robo dog. There’s no way a robo dog could intuit when you want the trash vs. the laundry. You would have to give it a command all the time. Sure, you might have to give a dog the command too, left or right etc, but I’m pretty sure most of them begin to read your mind. Ask any guide dog handler and they’ll tell you it’s true.

What amazes me about Jayden and has for awhile now, is that when I’m dragging the laundry cart behind me, he needs no cues. He knows right where to go. As soon as the cart comes out in fact, he gets excited. He takes the “dry” out of laundry, that’s for sure. His excitement makes it less of a chore and more of an outing, until it’s time to put the clothes away that is.

We had stopped taking the trash out, leaving it to the man of the house, after Jayden took me to the neighbor’s house one day after I tossed the bag. I was stuck with my handled trash can. I never just carry a bag in case I have to set it down in a hurry. I felt terrible because the neighbor lady wanted to chat and I had laundry I had to get back to. This must have been months ago now. I don’t think I blogged about it so I can’t remember.

Anyway, doing all the cleaning required trips to the trash so I finally decided to let Jayden take me again. I did some patterning after we tossed each load, using the trash can as a kind of cane, feeling the curb and pointing us in the right direction. Eventually he took me straight home and rekindled my confidence in the route.

Here’s where my amazement really kicked in. One day I had several loads of junk and didn’t fancy taking them one by one with the trash can. So I got the laundry cart out and loaded it with two bags. Hey, at least it cut the trips in half. As usual, Jay got excited when the cart came out and I expected him to try and go to the laundry which is the opposite direction of the trash.

He knew I had trash bags!

With no verbal or physical cue from me he went right to the trash even though I was dragging the laundry cart. This might seem small, but for the proud guide dog handler, this was exhilarating. I love to see his mind working. It’s almost like you witness new paths forming in their brain. I could almost hear him thinking, “she didn’t sort all those clothes first.”

When I did laundry next, I wondered if he’d want to go to the last destination the cart had travelled to. Why did I even doubt? The boy took me right to the laundry. There were more trips to the trash, but never both on the same day. See what I’m leading up to?

Tell me, would a robo dog take you to the laundry with your cart full of clothes and sheets and then an hour later, take you right to the trash with the cart loaded with two trash bags and a box? I think not.

That’s exactly what Jayden did today. After the laundry was put away I decided to haul the last bit of trash from the cleaning adventures. Without missing a beat my boy turned in the direction of the trash with no cues from me. What a smart dog!

We spent lots of time outside today since it was beautiful out. We decided to take a walk after the clothes were put in the dryer which worked out well since the electric bill needed dropping off. We can no longer use the outgoing mail slot since people break into it. Thanks, idiot people. Then again, outgoing mail, the one thing we mail a month, is a great excuse for a trip to the office so maybe I should thank the idiot people. Until summer that is, and then the man of the house can take it down in the heat. 😉

My boy is curled up on the couch after his great work today. If I knelt in front of him, he’d give me a kiss. Robo dog? Fah!

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, gratitude, guide dogs, Jayden, laundry, NaBloPoMo 2011, twitter me this, weather, working dog, wow