Category Archives: puppy raisers

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

Rays Road Trip Day One

So I shut down my Twitter client so I would just focus on writing this post. I tell you, Twitter has ruined my blogging haha! I want to capture as many memories as possible from this trip so I’m just going to write. I can pretty much guarantee that this post will be long. (Yep, WordPress tells me it’s 3,600 words. Whoa!) My hope is to write about the first day today before the Rays game at one and then write about the second day tomorrow. Let’s see how I do.

So for those who don’t know, B and Jayden and I set out on Tuesday August 6 for Phoenix, AZ to attend the two Rays games against the Diamondbacks. B got us a really nice room at a brand new hotel in downtown Phoenix right near the park and the hotel was pet friendly with complimentary dog bowls. When B read me the description of the hotel my eyes lit up. I was a little leery of dealing with other dogs but if the place was pet friendly, there would be a nice and easy relieving area, right? Ha!

B got a fantastic deal on the room. He’s really gotten good at road trips on the cheap, using hotels.com. The closer it got to the trip the more excited I started to feel but I made myself keep on an even keel so I wouldn’t get exhausted before we even left. Added to the mix was the possibility that we’d be going on the field for batting practice before the Wednesday game. What? I know. I got a message about it from David Price’s lady, Tiffany, a few days before the trip. David Price wanted to get me on field passes. Oh. Em. Gee. I felt the excitement bubbling up inside me at the possibility, images began dancing in my head of walking with Jayden on the grass, could we walk the bases? Could I get an idea of how big the field is? I started thinking about meeting the guys, getting a hug from David Price so I could tell how tall he is, telling Evan Longoria all about how he gave me baseball, was all this going to happen? Whoa there, slow down, stop it girly. Stay even. Deep breath. No highs ok? Don’t start with the expectations. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst right? Yes, even for fun things. So I tried putting that out of my mind. I told my friend Manda on Twitter and of course I told B and Carol but that was it.

So anyway, I had been checking the weather in Phoenix. Not for the impact on the games since Chase Field has a retractable roof, but for me. I was happy to read that it would be dry there. It had been somewhat humid here and I know I know those of you who live in humid climates think I’m nuts but I live in the desert because it’s dry most of the time so when you add a little moisture, I feel it.

We left here about noon on Tuesday and I was reading Twitter on my phone. David Price was tweeting a lot about food, making me laugh. Then Sarah Maddon, who I really hoped to meet who lives in Phoenix, tweeted about rain and Jaime Edmondson, Evan Longoria’s lady, tweeted about rain and I was like what? No! It’s supposed to be dry! Sure enough, we soon encountered wet freeway the closer we got to Phoenix. Bullocks. I heard rain on the windshield. Normally I love rain, however when I have to leave the house and go out in humidity, it’s a problem. Oh well, brush it off.

We hit a little bit of traffic going into Phoenix but not major traffic jams, miracle. B let me know when we drove passed Chase and I said hi to the Rays though it was like 2pm so they probably weren’t there yet. B found the hotel and it looked like it was valet only. He drove around looking for a lot but nope, valet only. Ok so valet is nice right? But when you’ve been in the car for two hours, you want to get out and stretch and leisurely move. At least I do haha. Nope! You have to get out and get your stuff right away. I’m not used to valet anything. I’m a small town girl haha! There was also kinda loud music playing. Not your normal stuffy hotel music either. So I couldn’t hear very well. We were downtown too so there was traffic noise right there, traffic and music and I just told Jayden to find B and I went on auto pilot. Somehow we got inside. B was checking in and I asked about the relieving area when suddenly there was another dog in the lobby so I was controlling Jayden and explaining that he couldn’t say hi and then B was done checking in and I asked him if he heard where the relieving area was because I hadn’t.

I had made sure we got a room near the elevator so I wouldn’t have to walk Jayden too far down halls in the morning when he had to pee. We were on the sixth floor. Holy plush carpet Batman! We went up to the room so I could use the human relieving area then we went back out to relieve Jayden. Remember how I thought a pet friendly hotel would have a convenient relieving area? Ha!

We’re walking and I’m like, “are you sure this is where they said to go?” There’s traffic and we cross a street and I’m like what? And it’s humid and I’m covered in sweat and then we’re going up some steps and I’m like, “seriouslY?” I hear a fountain and B said yes, the grass by the fountain and then there’s grass. Wow. Alrighty then.

We get back to the room and there’s time to relax before we need to head to the field. I need coffee desperately. B starts looking for the coffee maker. Hmmm. Actually you know what? He looked for it before we took Jayden out. There was no coffee maker in the room. Are you kidding me? I asked when we took Jayden out and the concierge lady said she’d send one up. They have coffee on the second floor in the morning too. I also requested dog bowls. So when we got back to the room we had the dog bowls and a coffee maker. I collapsed on the couch thing next to the bed and begged B to start a pot of coffee. I’m imagining those little pots in most hotel rooms right? Wrong. B isn’t a coffee drinker but because of me, he knows how to brew boring old coffee in boring old makers. I hear him making questioning sounds and I’m like, it should just be a little packet of coffee like a tea bag. He hands it to me. Oh! This is a K cup! Uh oh. I don’t know how to use a Keurig. I know what they are but I’ve never used one. So B reads the instructions and gets it figured out and brews me a cup. A cup. For me. The coffeeholic. Ha! There were two K cups. Two cups of coffee. I had to save the other one for morning. Oh my. But, the one cup was ok for right then and there.

I think I tweeted some then, Jayden drank water, we relaxed. I turned on my Verizon hot spot since the hotel didn’t have free internet. It was getting closer to game time and I was getting more and more excited. I changed into my Rays shirt and hat and we got ready to go. We were just going to walk from the hotel. The description on the website said it was a seven to ten minute walk. Not bad and B said it wasn’t far. Ha!

{Pause writing to drink coffee}

Ok, where was I? Short walk, right. I fed Jayden and we set out, pausing at the relieving area. It was so humid right there because of the grass and the fountain so I was drenched in sweat before we even really began the walk. Thank goodness for the cloud cover! It really was a gorgeous late afternoon for a walk except for the humidity. Rain had really cooled things down nicely.

We walked and walked and walked. And walked. And then walked. Jayden wasn’t happy. There were surfaces he didn’t like. I wasn’t really ok physically which added to his discomfort so the walk wasn’t fun but we finally made it. We’re here? Finally? The Rays are here! yay!

We got the tickets I had ordered over the phone. I asked the will call girl about what would happen if I got field passes and she said if they were there tomorrow, they’d be at window one. Naturally I focused on her saying “if”.

We walked not very far inside before B found our section. It was blissfully cool inside Chase Field. I had bought accessible seats on the phone but B said, “this is supposed to be accessible?” I asked if there was an usher and one magically appeared. She looked at the tickets and explained that she would get us chairs. Our seats were indeed accessible! We got cushy folding chairs right where wheelchairs would go. We just positioned the chairs behind a row of seats so we had drink holders and everything. The usher closed a rope behind us and we settled in. Jayden had tons of room and the seats were great. We were on the first base line behind the Rays dugout and up a few levels. We hadn’t needed stairs or an elevator. We had been to Chase for a game back in 2009 when the DBacks played the Angels and back then they didn’t have nearly as much accessible seating as they do now.

So anyway, I put Jayden’s mat down but he immediately plopped his belly down on the cool concrete, resting just his head on the mat. He passed out. It was blissful to take my backpack off! I learned from the game in Colorado, which I haven’t even written about here oops, and brought my own radio. It’s the radio I got when I was first blind, before I had any iThings and digital audio books. It’s an AM/FM CD player, like you’d have in your office. We had to get batteries for it, batteries! How archaic! It took C batteries. I didn’t even know there was such a thing haha. The radio got good reception as long as I held it on my lap. Unfortunately I couldn’t listen to my guys, Dave Wills and Andy Freed. If only the At Bat app wasn’t two minutes behind. Oh well, luxury problem. I had a radio and that was all that mattered.

Are we to game time yet? I will turn this blog right around and go back home.

I had given our seat info to some friend son Twitter, something I also learned from Colorado. Before we left the hotel, I tweeted Dave Wills and asked him the best way to make sure we met since we missed each other in Colorado. He said to tweet him when we got there so I asked Manda to tweet him my seat location. I snapped a pic of the field and tweeted it to let my friends know we’d made it. B was hungry but the heat and humidity had zapped my appetite. I knew I needed to eat something so he got me some nachos and then went off to find food fore himself. I munched on nachos and listened to the sounds of the park, music playing, fans talking,, laughter, calls from the beer guy. The game wasn’t quite close to starting. I was just taking it all in. You can feel the enormity of Chase Field. It was just as impressive as it was the first time I was there in ’09 only more so now that my Rays were there. Joe Maddon was there! Evan Longoria was there! Wil Myers was there! David Price was there! Jim Hickey and Tom Foley and Fernando Rodney and Jose Lobaton and Jake McGee and Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist and and and!!!!

“Ro?”

Did I just hear Ro? I had just shoved a nacho in my mouth. The din around me and the sound of my chewing was playing tricks on me.

“Ro?”

I know that voice!!!! I turned around in my seat, waved, pointed at my mouth and the nachos.

“It is her!”

I set the nachos on B’s empty chair and stood laughing and shouting about my mouth being full. It was Dave Wills and Andy Freed!!!! Right there!!! the men I listen to every single day, the men who taught me baseball, the men I so wanted to meet! They were right there!

I hugged them both and jumped up and down and they met Jayden and we chatted and I said they needed a park like this in Florida and they said a bit smaller and we chatted and I can’t even remember about what exactly. It was so comfortable because they weren’t strangers to me at all. I know them, probably better than they realize. When you listen to someone talk on the radio for at least three hours for at least 162 games, you learn about them. Especially Dave and Andy because they are great friends so they chat on air and you really get to know them. And here they were! I was just so happy, probably the happiest I remember feeling in a very long time. B got back with his food and I introduced them and they razzed him about wearing a DBacks shirt and then they had to go to work and they said they’d come by the next day too and I whispered about the possible on field passes and said, “shhh I don’t know if it has to be on the down low” and they laughed and we hugged again and they were gone. Wow! Ok, I’m good, let’s go back to the hotel. We got up and left. Just kidding!

Oh, one thing that really impressed me about Andy Freed was he just came out and asked how I went blind. I love that! Just get it out there when you’re curious. I can’t remember which one asked me how long I’d had Jayden but I ended up explaining that he was raised for a year before his training and Andy Freed said he knows someone who raises puppies and I asked if it was for Southeastern Guide Dogs there in Florida and it was. It was just kinda cool to have that link with him. Puppy raisers rock!

So wow, the game part of this post is probably going to be the shortest part. It was so awesome to be able to cheer loudly for my guys and ring my cowbell. Coors Field in Colorado had banned cowbells. Maybe that’s why I haven’t written about that game. I didn’t really get to be a fan there. Anyway, I got to ring my bell and cheer and listen to the DBacks radio guys describe the action and B was there and Jayden was there and my Rays were right down there on the field and yay! I heard the crack of the bat in person and yay!

Ok so Jeremy Hellickson is a slooooow pitcher this season. It’s bad enough listening at home on the radio but it’s kinda torture at the park when he’s pitching and taking so long between pitches. I just knew Dave and Andy would be talking about how his defenders were on the field way too long and getting bored and the DBacks radio guys were definitely taking jabs at Helli and how slow he pitched. He did get a hit though! I Honestly don’t even remember a whole lot about the game itself. I was oh for one coming into the game since the Rays lost the one game I went to in Colorado so I was hoping for a win. I cheered and rang my cowbell when good stuff happened and I heard other cowbells and it was awesome to add mine to the chorus.

At one point, Evan Longoria was batting. I had my headphones on in both ears, keeping track of what happened. Then the crowd got loud for really the first time and completely drowned out the radio in my ears. I figured since the crowd had gotten loud, something good happened for the DBacks so I sat back and waited for it to quiet down. B shouted, “you were awfully quiet, why didn’t you cheer?”

“The crowd got loud, I couldn’t hear the radio, I figured they got him out.”

“Longoria hit a home run!”

Crap. Evan Longoria hit a home run at a game I was at and I didn’t even cheer because I didn’t know it had happened.

I said that to B and then said, “well, that’ll make a funny story for the blog.”

When I read Twitter that night after the game, there were so many tweets about Evan Longoria hitting a home run and how excited I must have been. All I could do was shake my head and chuckle. It was a valuable lesson. I kept my finger on the volume wheel after that so when the crowd got loud, I could turn up the volume.

When the DBacks fans did cheer for something good, I could tell the difference then. Unfortunately, the DBacks fans got to cheer the whole rest of the game since they won it. I was now oh for two. Bullocks.

We stayed until the last out. Even though my guys had lost, it had been such a fun night! I packed up and we waited for the crowd to dissipate some before heading out.

{Pause writing to drink coffee}

Just had a quick thought, in twenty years I can say I was at a game during Wil Myers’ rookie season, a game in which I didn’t know Evan Longoria hit a home run. Who else can say that?

I stopped at the ladies room and the female DBacks fans were all nice to me. Classy fans, they really are. I was so impressed with the way the park cheered for Ryan Roberts, who is now a Ray but who used to be a DBack. It was just a great experience all around.

As we were heading out I heard my name. It was Sarah Maddon! Yay!!! I was so hoping to meet her after talking to her on Twitter quite a bit this season. She’s tiny! I only know that because we hugged, not because I did that blind movie thing where the blind person feels up everyone they meet. I got to meet her husband too. We only chatted briefly and then the rest of her party were leaving so we parted ways. I had the biggest grin as we walked out! I got to meet three of the people I hoped to meet! yay!

It was a completely different world outside the park than it had been when we walked in. There was a saxophone player somewhere nearby playing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. I sang along, a bounce in my step. There was music everywhere! Musicians on street corners, musicians in bars, music everywhere! There were people walking on the sidewalks, milling around outside bars, smoking cigarettes, talking and laughing. It was like we had been transported to a big city. Oh wait, that’s because we had haha!

We stopped and relieved Jayden before going back up to the room. Ah, quiet. I tweeted some and read all my mentions. My Rays Twitter Family had been very active and it made me smile to read all the messages. I love them so much!

I decided to shower that night because we had to check out the next day at noon. The shower was bizarre! Imagine a normal stand up shower with two sliding glass doors. It was like that, only with one door and it didn’t slide. It was where the shower head was and the other side was completely open. My uncle has an open shower like that but his is a big thing, this was just crazy haha. And it’s drafty hahaha!

It took me a long time to fall asleep and I didn’t sleep well. It had been such an incredible day and perhaps the latte I’d had in the seventh inning contributed to the sleep issue but man it was good. I had also been a little chilly in the air conditioned park.

The bed was extremely comfortable though I was confused at first. I always turn down the comforter and fall asleep with just the sheet. When I went to turn down the comforter I grabbed sheet. Huh? Turned out they made the bed with a sheet, the comforter, and another sheet, like a duvet cover that doesn’t close. Interesting. Haha! The room was swanky indeed. I was almost bummed we were only staying one night.

I think I’ve pretty much captured all of the first day. My arms are pretty sore now haha! Time to go through and edit and see if anything else comes to mind. Coffee first. πŸ˜‰

Finished editing and Jayden asked to go outside and I checked the time. Whoa! Gotta love the writing induced time warp!

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Filed under accessibility, apple Inc, baseball, blind tips, coffeeholic, desert life, Doggy Diaries, dogs, evan longoria, fellowship, gratitude, humor as coping skill, Jayden, jayden quirks, music, puppy raisers, relieving, spoons, twitter me this, weather, working dog, wow

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

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

Doggy Diaries – Jayden’s clean bill of health and perfect teeth

We saw the vet today for Jayden’s second wellness check since we’ve been together. I’m still having a difficult time believing we are in our third year together already!

Jay was given a clean bill of health and the vet asked if he can use me as an example. An example of what, you might ask? An example for how to keep a dog’s teeth in perfect condition. Why yes, you may.

I explained that GDB pounded into our heads about good grooming habits, not only because our dogs go into public, but also for the health of the dog. I have no desire to have to have Jayden put under for a teeth cleaning, and he enjoys getting his teeth brushed haha! Really it’s just the fact that the toothpaste tastes good and not the brushing itself.

I also explained that Jayden has a variety of Nylabones he chews constantly and his favorite toy, the Kong Wubba with the burlap type material, makes for great teeth scrapings in between brushes.

Jayden weighed a perfect 65 pounds which is right where he was when we left school and the vet had no complaints about his belly like last year. Jayden had indeed gained some weight at our visit last year, and the vet taught me that his belly should be right in line with his last rib, so that really has helped me make sure he felt at the right weight.

His years looked great, eyes, feet, everything. He’s in perfect health!

Thank God. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been at least a little worried about today’s visit with how this year has gone so far. Once again, Jayden is the one concrete and constant thing in my life. I don’t think I’d be as ok as I am without him.

Oh, while waiting for my ride, a girl with her little puppy complimented Jayden’s behavior and I gave credit to the puppy raisers. I always do when I get compliments on how Jayden behaves. Sure, I have to keep that up, but his puppy raiser is who trained him. I told the vet as well, when he commented on how good Jayden was about having his nails clipped. I explained that the people Jayden grew up with made sure to touch him everywhere, knowing that his blind handler would need to go by touch to make sure to find anything abnormal.

Another woman exclaimed, “what a beautiful animal!” when we walked out of the exam room. Jayden really is the lady killer, I gotta tell ya.

I also had a brief discussion with the handler of a German Shepherd who was there when Jay and I arrived. The dog was originally trained to be his wife’s wheelchair service dog but retired after becoming way too aggressive in wanting to protect her. The man said his dog was surprisingly calm around Jayden, even though jayden was staring him down. This dog was a hundred pounds, compared to Jayden’s sixty-five haha!

Going to the vet is just so much fun when we’re there for check-ups. Jayden forgets all about me when we’re in the exam room. He hangs out by the door waiting for the doc and his techs to come in hehe!

This post is all over the place. What else, oh, GDB grads? Are you remembering to have your vet fill out the wellness report we got in our binders? Remember the vet at school telling us only fifty percent of grads do this? Remember how these reports go into making our dogs great by tracking the health of the breeding lines?

I told my vet this poor stat and he was surprised. He said it doesn’t take any time at all to fill it out and they are more than happy to help the school. I always take my binder with me when going to the vet. Are you doing that too? I feel it’s my duty to have this little form filled out for GDB after all they have done for me.

Ok, I think that’s it as far as the vet visit. Finally something happy making to write about. Tomorrow is the first Rays spring training game, so there should start to maybe be some happy baseball posts, though writing about baseball last year kind of broke the writer in me haha, so maybe not.

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, dogs, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, puppy raisers, vet visit

Doggy Diaries – Jayden and the Car Wash

B and I decided to brave the mall today so I could grab something to wear to the family’s house for Christmas that isn’t jeans and a tank top. My nicer clothes have long since been donated after all my weight loss and I wanted to have something a little nicer to wear this year.

Before going to Dillards, we stopped at the carwash since B washes it on Saturdays. It’s just one of those drive through car washes and neither of us thought about how it might affect Jayden. He was curled up between my feet until he heard the water begin rushing over the car, and then he lifted his head. It got a little louder and he tried to burry his face under my leg. He does this in the car, but something told me he was a little freaked, so I put on my uber goofy voice and B and I chatted animatedly.

Jayden eventually stood up and gazed out the windows at the things traveling around the car. B said at first he looked panicked, but he eventually just looked curious the sillier I got. If the handler is happy, things must be ok, right?

As we went through the drying process it sounded like we were in a military jet taking off. Mind you, I’ve never been in a military jet taking off, but I’ve been in an airliner and this was way louder. After we drove out, B jumped out of the car to get some quarters for laundry, and Jayden stared after him like, you are coming back, right? That was just freaky.

I didn’t even think to have some kibble with me, which I always have if we’re going to be somewhere long or something might be freaky for him. So, if you’re going to take your dog in a car through one of those, just have something on hand to comfort him and be prepared to be extra goofy. That’s my forte, so we were ok. πŸ˜‰

Jayden got lots of praise from the sales associates at Dillards. I always give credit to his puppy raiser when I get compliments on his behavior. And as we were leaving, I heard a mom giving her child a lesson in service dogs. Hearing that kind of discussion always warms my heart!

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, family, holiday, Jayden, puppy raisers, silly girl, working dog

Sparks and polls that are gongs

This Sunday’s deadline for the short story challenge is going to be a hard one to meet, especially since right now is the first real computer time I’ve had all day, unlike having the entire day last Friday after Georgie picked the number. We’ll see if I can get the story written and posted by Sunday, but tomorrow I’m going to a memorial service so not sure how it’s all gonna look this weekend.

I’m gonna start calling your ideas ‘sparks’, because they spark an idea for a story, get it, get it? So this week’s sparks were:

1. Carin – A bunch of bananas, a wrench, a pile of dirty clothes

2. Amanda – A guide dog that loves things that squeak, a tall dark mysterious man, a talking Panda

3. Katrin – surgical scrub brush, headphones, post it note

4. Jen and Bil – Turtle, psychology,… mushrooms

Georgie picked the number 3 this morning on the phone, so I’ll be attempting to develop a story around Katrin’s sparks. Georgie doesn’t know what the sparks are, I just interrupt conversation and ask her to pick a number between such and such.

I must say I’m absolutely exhausted right now, after a lengthy phone conversation this morning, actually two, after some incredible excitement which will be another post in a minute if I can muster it. After that Jayden took me to my home gym where I worked out for awhile and then got my first minor head bump on the way home haha! After I had just emailed Jay’s raisers and told them I hadn’t had any work related injuries. Guess the figurative knock on wood wasn’t enough. I’m fine, but it sounded like the gong show when my forehead was introduced to the metal pole holding up the covered parking. Dave’s voice rang through my brain as I bounced off the pole…if you wear a hat…

The car was parked crookedly in the spot, so the space between the first pole and the second one were different. I had completely forgotten about the second pole since the first was no issue. After a rework, Jayden showed me and we went on our way. Luckily I’m fine haha!

It was nice on the way there too. We don’t usually have obstacles on the path, but we did today, and Jayden got me around it like a champ.

I didn’t mean to launch into an update but my fried brain is sending signals to my fingers without my permission. Ha!

Ok, off to write, maybe. Or just zone out. Whichever comes first.

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Filed under Jayden, puppy raisers, short story challenge, spoons, working dog, workouts

Carnival Post – Wait until you get your dog

It’s time for the second Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, can you believe it? For details, visit L^2’s post about this round, as she is our current host. The topic for this addition is ‘Decisions’. I have thought long and hard about what to write, since my first carnival post discussed my decision to get a guide dog. I decided to write a bit about decisions I made concerning how life would be with a sixty-five pound lab, since I’ve always been a cat person. πŸ˜‰

***

For some, the biggest fear in the decision to train with a guide dog is probably something like, can I really trust a dog to get me across a six lane intersection with speeding cars driven by people texting and talking on cell phones? Or, will my dog really run me out of the way of that darned silent hybrid car? Or, will my dog really get me home once we start to venture out? Or, what will happen if I get us lost, I mean, I can’t afford a fancy GPS, what happens then? Or, will my dog really refuse to step off a curb that’s really disguised as a thirty foot drop?

Sure, I had those thoughts. My biggest fear though? How will I keep my dog from eating cat droppings?

If you were a reader of my blog back when Jayden was affectionately called ‘Insert’, you’ll most likely remember all the things I worried about. If you were a member of the guide dog e-mail list I was on, you were probably one of the people who’s answer to just about every question was, wait until you get your dog. Should I get a kennel? Wait until you get your dog. Should I baby gate the room where the litter boxes live? Wait until you get your dog. Should I put the cat food up high? Wait until you get your dog. Do you know how maddening that answer was for someone like me? I’m a planner. I don’t like the what ifs in life and I will do everything in my power to eliminate the unknown. Getting a guide dog has broken a lot of the desire to control life, let me tell you.

When the service rep from GDB came for my initial interview, I asked him those very same questions about dog proofing my home. His answer? Don’t constrict your movements around your home and change everything in relation to your cats until you get your dog. In other words? Wait until you get your dog.

I asked my instructor towards the end of class, during our transition meeting, because I just wasn’t satisfied with wait until you get your dog. I had my dog. My instructor’s answer? Much more to my liking. He made sure I understood that cat food is harmful for dogs because it’s higher in protein, etc etc etc. To me, it seemed like he was on the same page. Finally, some validation! I was pretty sure I’d begin the dog proofing when I returned home with Jayden. I had him now. I didn’t need to wait anymore.

GDB recommended that my dog be restricted in the home for about two months. I had discussed this on the guide dog list, and it seemed everyone had different experiences with this time frame. Some went exactly two months, others did not with disastrous results, some waited a few weeks, some went beyond the two months. The horror stories about some of the dogs scared me to death.

When GDB asked what I wanted in a dog, I had no preference for color, sex or breed. My major requirement was good house manners. I did not want to fall victim to counter surfing or a torn up mattress, or delicates being chewed up. Because of my auto immune disease, I explained, I need a chill dog who won’t take a lot of maintenance. My fatigue levels just won’t permit a crazy dog. Once again, I was more concerned with having a dog in the home than trusting my life to one. For some reason, I just knew the latter would be fairly easy, and it was, after some transitioning.

The day I arrived home from GDB, it was cold, windy and rainy out. It was March in the desert, and I felt like I hadn’t left California. I entered my apartment with Jayden on a long leash since I had just relieved him after our flight home. Upon walking into the entry way, I heard my boyfriend say hi to Timmy, the cat, and I felt a strong lunging motion on the leash in my hand. Thank you, hitch hiker’s grip! Jayden received a strong leash correction, a firm NO! and the command to sit. Timmy ran and hid. I think he might have come out three days later. All the cats, three of them, vanished for quite some time.

I believe to this day, that the correction given to Jayden in our first minute in his new home, showed him I was boss and lunging after cats would not be tolerated. Even now, after Jayden has made best friends with the cats, he never lunges after them or chases them. He cuddles with them and loves them.

That first night home, I fashioned a tie down in my bedroom using the cord GDB had given me by wrapping it around the leg of a solid oak dresser. It would work perfectly for the time being, since I hadn’t gotten a kennel. I hated the tie down at night however, after a night at school when Jayden woke up with a shriek; he had gotten tangled in his tie down. I knew a tie down at night would not last long and within a couple days, I had gotten a kennel which he picked out. Wait until you get your dog. No really. Because your dog will tell you which kennel is comfortable for him or her. The first few were too small and he wouldn’t go in. The one we bought was all Jayden’s choice, after he walked in, turned around, and lay down.

I felt much better at night, knowing he had plenty of room and would not get tangled up. The only thing I didn’t like was that once he was in there, I couldn’t touch him. Our nightly ritual was fun however. After nightly relieving, Jayden would happily go into his kennel because he knew I’d be giving him a few pieces of kibble. A handler at GDB had suggested this when she showed me how to use a kennel. A few pieces of kibble just keeps the experience positive.

During the day when we weren’t working or doing obedience or interacting, Jayden was on tie down. After I had gotten the kennel, I wrapped the cord around the couch leg. This didn’t give him much room however, so I eventually clipped the leash to the tie down. The school had recommended not using the leash for this purpose, in cace the dog chews it, but Jayden hadn’t shown any signs of chewing so after the first experimental day with the leash, that served as his tie down. He was able to stretch out on the floor or even get up on his designated spot on the couch. Jayden immediately knew that if the towel was down, he was permitted to lay there. At first it took inviting from me, encouragement that he was allowed, before he’d climb up. Eventually he understood that it was ok. Now that couch is basically his, but that’s a post he wants to write for you.

So what about the cat food? I had left it on the floor in the kitchen in its usual place. I would walk Jayden near it while he was on leash since for the first few weeks, if he wasn’t on tie down, he was on leash by my side. If he made any inclination to approach the food, he got a mild correction. Soon he was walking past it without a second glance. Same for the room where the litter boxes are.

Even though he showed incredible self control, I decided not to tempt fate. I wanted to let him off leash soon, because I just knew he was a great dog and could handle the freedom. I decided to put the cat food up anyway, using a dining table the humans don’t use. Before I got a baby gate, I put a brick behind the door of the cats’ room. This wouldn’t keep him out if he really wanted in, but it dissuaded him enough. When I received the baby gate, I mounted it in the doorway about six or eight inches off the floor, so the cats can go underneath it. These precautions were more just for peace of mind rather than a lack of trust in Jayden. I just didn’t have the mental and physical energy for the worry that he might possibly forget his manners and have a snack. I didn’t care if the cats got angry that the strange dog thing ate their food, I just didn’t want Jayden getting sick.

After about two weeks at home, I started easing in freedom while my boyfriend was home and could keep an eye on what Jayden was doing. For the most part, he just wanted to be wherever I was. However if he heard a car or a dog outside, he was free to run to the security door and look out. I was so happy he had that freedom and it was fun to experience it all as he realized he was free. He would lay by the door for a bit and then come running to find me, staying by my side until the next outdoor noise was too inviting. I’d hear his tags jingle as he walked and when he came back to me, it was always a mini reunion.

Not long after those first experimental days, he was completely free during waking hours. The only time I put him back on tie down was if I was going to shower. I think in those first few weeks, I took two minute showers, terrified to leave him. What if he got tangled in the tie down? What if he found a cat toy I hadn’t picked up and choked? What if a cat got frisky and scratched him?

Once again, I had no fear in the possibility of getting lost when we checked the mail, my only fears were of him swallowing something and needing emergency surgery.

These fears passed slowly as I adjusted to life with a dog. His house manners were and still are, impeccable. Thank you, thank you, thank you puppy raisers!

Night time was a different story for a couple of months. Jayden slept in his kennel until I decided to try letting him out at night. He had gotten sick not long after being home and there were a few nights that he messed in his kennel. I had left him out on those nights and nothing bad had happened.

When the time came to let him start sleeping outside the kennel, he was terribly confused. When he knew it was time for bed, he went right inside. I left the door open. He’d walk out and stride around the room, coming up to the bed as if to say, mom I’m confused. Where do you want me? Eventually I gave him an old comforter which he promptly fell in love with. He still gets kibble before bed. It’s just a little tradition I’ve kept and he always wags wags wags after nightly relieving. I hear him lick his chops before we head into my room.

Only about a month ago, he’s realized he can go back out to his couch even after I lay down to read at night. I love the fact that he’s gained independence and can happily be where he wants. There have been no issues whatsoever, to which I am so grateful to his puppy raisers.

Jayden is completely free in the house all the time. For the most part, he still stays near me, but sometimes I find him curled up on his bed in my room, or laying on his crochet mat under the breakfast bar.

The decision to give house freedom is a very individual one, and just comes down to what the dog is like. I feel very lucky to have gotten the dog I did. He takes no energy from me, none at all. The decision not to wait two months to let him be free turned out to be a good one. The decision to dog proof as far as cat food, toilet and toys was one I made at the time, not knowing if I’d keep it that way, but one I have stuck with, again just for peace of mind. There have been the occasional hairball licking incidents, but that’s to be expected when you live with a dog and three cats.

In closing, if you’re waiting for your first assistance dog and you’re wondering all about house freedom and dog proofing and kennels, you know what I’m going to say. Wait until you get your dog. Every dog is different and you just have no idea what he or she will be like when you bring him or her home. Unless that is, you train the dog yourself. Then I suppose you won’t necessarily have those questions.

If you’re working on making your decision to train with an assistance dog and all those fears are plaguing you, not just freedom questions, but service related questions, or if you’re wondering if you’re cut out to be a service dog handler, trust your gut and take the plunge. Just wait until you get your dog; your life will never be the same. Doors will open up, you’ll never be lonely again and you’ll suddenly have the courage to do the things you thought you’d never do.

Feeling a hole in your soul that you worry might never be filled? Wait until you get your dog!

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Filed under blog carnival, cats, Doggy Diaries, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, puppy raisers, spoons, Timmy, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Dress party hair

It’s been busy around here, so time for a monster update.

I’ll start at Wednesday, since I finally got back to the gym then. I had been in quite a slump since the week of not knowing whether I was sick or not. The lovely vicious cycle of auto immune, get fatigued, need to rest, rest too much, non activity makes fatigue worse, fall out of routines, get nothing done, mental state gets affected by messy kitchen and not working Jayden much, finally get the energy to start to snap out of it, special circumstances not relating to auto immune interrupt attempt, mental state gets worse, event coming up that must be planned for, have shopping date lined up, not looking forward to it, party coming up, dreading it, planned day arrives and is perfect medicine for getting back to life. And on and on and on lol.

It felt great to work out Wednesday but I was still just really blah. Thursday I had plans to go shopping with Georgie for my holiday party dress. She’s at the university, so things have been crazy for her, and the day before the party was going to be the best day for her. I was dreading shopping, even though I normally love it and this year was going to be even better since I’m at my slimmest. Luckily once she got here, I was finally looking forward to it.

We went to JC Penny because that just seems to be the best place for holiday dresses. You get something cute but don’t spend a ton. Georgie was armed with what kind of material I needed. No wool or velvet or anything that would make dog hair cling. It seems as though the fashion this year is that one strap look, which I did not want. Georgie found four different black dresses. I hadn’t really had an idea in mind about color, but it seemed black was it.

The first dress I tried on was the one. I tried on the others for fun but the first one was a no brainer. It’s black but on the bottom it’s embellished with little silver things. It’s knee length and A-line, which Georgie said just looked amazing on me. It passed the dog hair test, fur just falling off. It also had these tiny little snaps under the straps that went around bra straps. I’d never seen that before, genius!

We went to the shoe department. I wanted flats; I do not do heels. She handed me a shoe but it had a corduroy type material on it. That would not pass the dog hair test. She found another pair and went to go get them from the sales person.

I’m sitting there, Jayden at my feet, my dress in the chair beside me. I hear the bell ringer outside. Ring ring ring. Jayden had been very distracted by that when we entered the mall and I couldn’t hear Georgie over it. Finally the ringer had taken a break so I could get inside. Ring ring ring. JC Penny announcements over the intercom in english then spanish. Someone walks out and sets off the security thing. Silicone Sally says, “Please return to the nearest sales associate. We must not have removed the security device.” She repeats in spanish.

Ring ring ring. Ring ring ring. People talking. People everywhere. I hear murmurs about Jayden. Children in the distance. Ring ring ring. Where’s Georgie?

I finally start to get a little panicky. Eventually Georgie runs over and tells me she’s waiting for them to get the shoes, they had finally gotten to her, only two people working the shoes. She goes back over. Then finally comes back. Shoes way too big. She goes back. They don’t have a smaller size. Sales associate comes over, apologizing for the wait, asking if she can help us find anything else. Georgie explains about dog hair. The associate finds a pair of black leather ballet flats with silver decorations on the bows. Oh perfect! Please have my size! She goes to get them. Georgie and I sit there. Ring ring ring. Associate comes back. They fit! Let’s get out of here.

I saved over a hundred dollars. The dress was a hundred and so were the shoes, both marked down to thirty. Wow! Georgie and I went to lunch. We went to the diner. They’ve closed. Man. We went to Denny’s. They have patty melts now. We both get that and then Georgie orders half the appetizer platter. We used to always get that. I accuse her of trying to make my dress not fit. It’s a size 10! Last year’s was a 14. My new dress fits perfectly. What’s all this food gonna do?

Before Georgie had come to get me, I had been working out getting to a hair appointment on Saturday, the day after the party. I’m more excited about that than the party. πŸ˜‰

Friday comes and I took it easy, talking on the phone for most of the morning, then slowly beginning the getting ready ritual. Sometimes getting ready really wears me out, so I did it all in stages. I had to wonder if the party was the fun part, or if the preparation was? All the exfoliating and moisturizing and pampering. I blow dried my hair even though I rarely did that, to make my hair even straiter and fuller. It reached my waist, long and black against my black dress.

B took some pics of me with his cell phone cam. Sorry I can’t share them here. I new the sun would be setting and it would be perfect. I put the pics on FAcebook and got compliments before I even left the house. Nice!

We drove out to the party. It was at this golf resort where it had been the first time I went to B’s holiday party. We parked and began the long trek inside. I don’t think B wanted me to work Jayden because he told me to grab his arm. We had to walk through a parking garage and there were lots of moving vehicles. Once we got up to the floor where the party was, it was mayhem. People everywhere! I had Jayden on a tight lead and did human guide with B. It would have been really hard to work Jayden and keep track of B with all those people and noise. The doors to the ballroom weren’t open yet. B asked if I wanted to go outside where it looked quieter. I was going to use the GL since Jayden was quite attracted to all the people. We went outside and found a friend of B’s and his wife. The friend had retired, but was still doing some consulting. His wife had just had foot surgery, so she was gimpy. I didn’t have Jayden’s GL, oops! I’d forgotten it was in my backpack. It was fine though, I just moved his collar up. Just that little thing makes him listen better. We sat outside for awhile and more people came over, some I had met before. One couple were admiring Jayden and how good he was, so I gave them a crash course in puppy raising. I also let them say hi to Jay and they were just in love with him.

Finally the ballroom doors opened and we went in to find a table. B’s friend found a table near the hallway doors, perfect. We wouldn’t have to weave through all the tables. I sat by his wife and we instantly started talking. We hit it off quickly. Before dinner was served, B took Jay and me to the restroom. This was the main place Jay did his job haha! Thank God for him, because the restroom was huge. No problem though; he’s perfect in restrooms haha!

When we got back, Jay instantly lay on my left. He usually passes out quickly but he was alert for the longest time, sitting there with his head up. I kept reaching over to touch him and make sure he was ok with all the stimulus.

The salad was yum and then our main dishes arrived. We had ordered about a month before the party and I didn’t choose the meat dishes because it was either steak or chicken, too hard to cut. I had ordered a vegitarian dish even though when B had described it I couldn’t quite tell what it was. When I got it, I was pleased to find it in a large bowl. Perfect for containing mess haha! It turned out to be almost like a greek plate, kinda like ravioli but in a pastry instead. It was delicious! All through dinner I chatted with my new gimpy buddy and we laughed about our men waiting on us. There was coffee nearby, Starbucks yum, so B kept going to refill for me. Her husband went and got her decaf. We had fun being waited on.

I met countless people. I saw people I hadn’t seen in awhile. Jayden finally passed out around when I started eating dessert, a custard type thing in a pastry thing, with blueberries and raspberries. Yum!

I was nervous about how it would be when the music got louder for dancing, since last year it was insane. But it wasn’t bad at all this year. We were able to still sit and talk, so we just hung out by our table. I wanted to see if we could find a spot for Jay to pee so B and I went outside and found a large grassy area. Grass! I gave B the leash after Jay relieved so Jay could just walk around and take a break from work. After that we went back inside. Jayden went under the table this time, completely hidden by the table cloth. Several people made comments after I said he was under there lol. There’s a dog under there???

We stuck around for the raffles but didn’t win anything. My new friends left about twenty minutes before we did, and after the last raffle was done, we took off. Things hadn’t gotten crazy like last year, at least not yet. We didn’t stay as late as we did last year haha.

I should mention that even when Jayden was on lead and B did human guide, Jay still worked, putting his paws on steps for me. When that harness is on, even if I’m not holding the handle, it’s like he knows he’s on duty.

We drove home and encountered a ton of cop cars. Still don’t know what was up with that. When we got home, I changed quickly for a good play session with Jay. He just goes nuts after a long work session. He ran around with the Wubba, dropped it, ran back for it, ran around some more, dropped it, lather, rinse, repeat.

We finally crashed out about midnight. What a night! It had been great. I don’t know why I had been dreading it. I’m sure it was because of my lack of energy leading up to it. I was able to conjure enough to make it through, though.

Yesterday morning I woke up excited. I was going to the salon with Lish.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a ton of Scott Westerfeld’s blog and ran across this post about a girl donating her hair after reading ‘Uglies’. Read that post, it’s really sweet. After I read it, I followed Scott’s link to Locks of Love and discovered that they now take colored hair. I had never tried donating before because I’ve colored my hair for years. This was exciting.

I posted about the possibility on Twitter and got several responses telling me how cool that would be. I had been thinking about cutting my hair and finding out I could donate it just cinched the idea. Long story short, through the wonders of Twitter, I found out about a salon in town that gives complimentary cuts and styles when you donate, and they take care of shipping the hair and everything. I had been there before for a trim a long time ago and used to get brow waxes there. Lish used to work there too. She offered to take me and before georgie had shown up on Thursday, I had an appointment for 1pm on Saturday to cut off my long lovely locks.

Friday night was my last night of long hair and I really noticed it. I noticed how it got caught in my purse strap, how I had to pull it back with a clip to eat, how it got caught between my back and the chair. I thought about all the hair that fell out around the house, how it always got stuck in Jayden’s face if it wasn’t pulled back, how I always had a hair band around my wrist. I was nervous to cut it, but knew it was time for a change and knew that someone needed it more than me.

At the salon, they have their apprentices do the complimentary cuts. They are trained stylists, but they are learning that salon’s way. I really liked my stylist. He listened to exactly what I wanted before cutting my hair. He sectioned it into four ponytails, to maximize the donation, Lish explained. She had donated her hair before too. When I felt the stylist snipping, I squealed and so did Lish. Lots of laughing haha!

Jayden did great at the salon. I think he was still exhausted from the night before. He just passed out beside me. Girls kept coming up and saying what an awesome dog he was, how they wished they could get a lab like that. I explained about career change adoptions and how to look into that. They were all very excited.

The cut took awhile. He did a great job of really shaping and doing what I wanted. I had told him I wanted a bob but not a crazy angled bob. He gave me just that. So now my hair falls just to the nape of my neck and gets a little longer on the sides. When it’s tucked behind my ears, it barely comes passed the lobes. It’s way short! Each ponytail was a foot long. Nice!!

When he was finishing up with the cut and style, the colorist came over for a consult. I’ve colored my hair with boxed temporary black for years now. I want to go lighter, so we talked at length about that process. I have an appointment in early January to start the lightening process. I can’t wait!

So that, in a nutshell, was the last few days. After we walked out of the salon, I felt my fatigue begin to say hi. It had held off for the time I needed it too and now it was begging for coffee. We got home and B couldn’t believe how short my hair is haha! I had told him before we left that I’d be back with his new girlfriend. He just kept saying wow, wow, wow. Haha! He likes it. πŸ˜‰

I forced myself to stay up until about nine last night and then gratefully took Jayden for his last relieving and crawled into bed. I’m looking forward to washing my new cut today. Oh, I also lied to Gamma. I told her Lish and I were going to lunch. I want to surprise her today with my new cut. It’s gonna be fun!

I think I’m taking the day off tomorrow. I can definitely feel how all the activity over the last few days has me tired. Time to finish my crochet projects. I must get them shipped out. Talk about delayed.

Ok, must get through another few hours and then I can relax. =D

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Filed under coffeeholic, Doggy Diaries, Gamma, holiday, Jayden, num num food, plugs, puppy raisers, relieving, Silicone Sally, spoons, treat for me, twitter me this, working dog, workouts, wow

Doggy Diaries – Human vet visit

Today was my first time going to the doctor on my own since going blind. I’ve only been a few times, twice for physicals and once for a mole removal, but those times either B drove me or a friend went. The first time I had a physical, a friend actually stayed in the room until the doctor came in, helping me change into the paper gowns and such.

The second time I had a physical, my friend stayed in the lobby and I used my cane when they called me back. Today I went with Jayden and took paratransit. I was like 6 months overdo for my physical. Oops!

I was a little nervous about how it was all going to work with paratransit. Since I schedule a return trip, it’s a little nervous making when you can’t be positive how long you’ll be at a place. When I used to work in the lab way back when, I’d have patients take paratransit there. We were a walk in lab, so you never knew how long it was going to take. You can do a will call, so you don’t schedule your return trip; you call when you’re done. I would have patients waiting for two or more hours for their return ride, because they have to fit you in since you don’t schedule a return. No way in heck I’m ever gonna do that.

When I made my appointment, I told them I’d never done paratransit there and was there any way I might be able to guestimate how long I’d need. We decided to schedule me for the doc’s first appointment of the day. The physical is a thirty minute appointment, but she recommended leaving a little leeway time in case things ran late.

I had an 8:50 appointment, and decided to schedule my return at 10:15. So to get picked up, my window was 7:50 to 8:20 and my return was from 10:15 to 10:45.

I was dreading being up and ready to go by 7:50. I was picked up at about 8am and got a little nervous when we encountered traffic and still had to pick up one more passenger. I wanted to have plenty of time to get in and use the restroom and stuff. We got there about 8:30, perfect.

Jayden had never been there before, so I asked the driver if we were right in front of the door and we were. I remembered that it’s a somewhat long sidewalk to the door and told Jayden to find the door once we stepped off the van. I love it when you can feel them sight in on what you ask. As soon as I said the words, we were off. He lines me up perfectly to reach out and grasp the handle. Wow.

I knew the counter was right to the left once we walk in, and the receptionist had actually seen me get there and had come out to sign me in. I asked if I had time to use the restroom and she asked if I knew where it was. I said I did and directed Jayden to find the door. I felt him sight in on the door into the office and I saaid “go right, find the door” and then I felt him sight in on the restroom. Wow.

When I was done I said to find the chair and he took me right to one. I already knew he was good at that lol.

The receptionist called through the window that she had a sheet for me to fill out.

“I…can’t…”

“Oh! I knew that,” nervous laughter.

I laughed back, “No problem, do you need my Medicare card?” She did, so I had Jayden find the counter. “People ask me if I need light, things like that, all the time,” I said, “I even seriously thought about borrowing a book from my sighted boyfriend.”

I’ve noticed that when people do that kind of thing, it helps if I tell them it happens all the time. Jayden found the chair again and then we were called back.

He did great while I was weighed and measured and when the vitals were taken. Then we went into the exam room and he stayed by my feet. Suddenly I had to pee again. Carin, remember mafia guy bladder? Yeah. Crap. It’s my appointment time, but there’s no way I’m gonna be able to manage the doc prodding my abdomen. I began cursing the one cup of coffee I’d had in the morning along with my glass of milk. There was no waiting.

Now, before Jayden, this would have been a pain, to stik my head out and get some help. Instead, I walked out with Jayden and ran into the doc, asking if her if I had time to use the restroom, saying I was sorry with the bad timing. Jayden got me back out to the restroom and back into the exam room no problem, and quick. Would have taken forever with my cane.

When the doc came in she asked who the great dog was, but didn’t try and pet him. In fact, no one did. They all said how beautiful he was but everyone knew the rules.

The doc always does the interviewing part before the xam part and Jayden lay quietly at my feet. About a week ago, I had asked Carin what she does with Trixie while at the doc, because I honestly didn’t know. Do I have him lay beside the table and hold his leash? Carin said she just loops the leash around the chair leg and I figured that would work just fine. I don’t think it’s even necessary to tie Jayden to anything anymore, but it helps just as a precaution.

I warned the doc and the nurse that Jayden would probably give them the evil eye, as he did with my massage therapist when I first started seeing him. It’s like Jayden is saying, what the hell are you doing to my mom? He indeed was giving them the evil eye, which they thought was really cute, but once he realized that I was ok, he took a nap.

Everyone raved about how good he was. I can’t tell you how awesome the whole experience was, being at a place I knew and knowing I could show Jayden where to go. He understood “counter” and “door” and “chair” no problem.

When my doc said what a good dog he was, I made sure to say it was all in the raising. I told her his raiser was a teenager and he had been her first dog. My doc said, “she did a great job!” Yes, yes she did.

We’ll have another doctor adventure some time soon, as I need to see a specialist. It’ll be a place I’ve never been, but my doc’s medical assistant called around to find the most accessible location for me. I’m sure it’ll go off just fine. Everything’s ok, it’s an auto immune thing and now that I have Medicare, I can actually see a specialist.

My vitals and everything were good, I just need to get my labs done, which will be another adventure. I’ve got to find the best place to go. I’ll be cabbing that trip for reasons explained above. My doc was majorly excited about my weight loss. I told her I’ve lost 20 pounds. (I was glad to see that I hadn’t gained any weight even with Thanksgiving and my inactivity. Looks like my metabolism knows how to act now, and I’ve got enough muscle to keep the fat at bay.) My doc was curious and looked up what I weighed when I first started seeing her in 2004. Since then, I’ve lost a total of forty-six pounds! She reminded me that I was drinking back then, and she was happy to find out I’m still sober.

Oh yeah, I was freaking out a little bit after the second bathroom break, thinking that my doc had to be in there by at least 9:30 so I’d have time to use the restroom again before my early window time of 10:15. Damn mafia guy bladder. Sorry if TMI. πŸ˜‰

I heard the van arrive right at 10:15 and made my way out to it. The driver took me home right away and no one else was on board, so the return trip went off without a hitch.

Oh wait, need to tell you about the lady on the way there. So another passenger gets on and of course she comments on how beautiful my dog is. Then she coughed and said, “sorry, he looked at me.” Alrighty then. She said, “he must have thought I was barking.” I forced a giggle. Then she asks if I’m training the dog. I explain that no, he’s my eyes. She asked how long they train. I explained about the puppy raising and then the guide work training. I can’t remember how I said I hadn’t always been blind, but she said, “it’ll be nice when there’s no blindness in the world.”

“Yeah, someday…” I said, thinking about stem cell research but deciding not to bring that up. It’s a touchy subject.

“Oh no,” she said, “it’s promised. The heavenly father said so.”

What to say. Anything? Hmmm. That’s your belief, I’m not gonna disagree. But hmmm.

“Actually, my life has gotten awesome since I went blind,” I said. It has! She didn’t speak again. What do you say to something like that? I mean, the God I believe in has no control over what we consider to be tragedies. Or maybe he does. I don’t pretend to know God’s will. I wasn’t going to have a theological debate with her though.

After I got home, I’ve literally been on the phone the entire rest of the day. Except for when my battery died and I turned the phone off to get a quick charge. Then my doc’s office called back while I started this post, I tried scheduling the specialist but they have to wait for the records to arrive, another call came in, and now I’m finally finishing this post. This day literally flew by. Wow! It was a great day. I’ve been so absent from life since not knowing if I was sick, starting the novel, the weather turning cold so I cuddled with Jayden and read books and ate pie and now it looks like I’m back to my regularly scheduled program. Ries are scheduled for the gym next week. I need my routines back! =D

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Filed under accomplishment, doc, Doggy Diaries, faith, Jayden, puppy raisers, white cane, working dog, workouts, wow