Category Archives: transitioning

Moving State with a Disability

I’ve needed to write a post about moving and simply have not gotten around to it. Then this morning, it occurred to me how I can sum it all up with the aid of lists. So let’s see how this works. I’ll attempt to briefly sum up the reason for the move, and then add some lists. Ready? Here we go.

I’ll not give details, but B and I split up and tried to stay in the house in Tucson as roommates, since I didn’t exactly have easy options for moving out. Life tends to offer little choice when living on disability, as I’ve learned all too well. Our lease was up at the end of September, and we were going to go month-to-month while I figured out what I was going to do.

I had a plane ticket to Washington to test things out. Doctors have told me for years to move to a cooler climate, and it seemed as though the Universe were nudging me to finally act on that advice. I had met someone on an iPhone app called Vorail, which is a voice only social network. You can see why the blind flocked to it, ha! His name is David and we quickly formed an intense friendship. He came to Tucson in early July and we clicked.

So, August 15 was to be the start of a test here in Washington, but then it turned out that B and I would not be going month-to-month after the lease was up, so I had nothing to return to.

I packed everything up and put it into storage in Tucson and brought with me to Washington, three suitcases, a backpack, and Jayden.

Crazy right?

I could drone on about the travel day, but really there’s not much to say, other than I bawled my eyes out that morning after the movers came back and took my bed and my friend picked me up to drive me to the airport. Thanks Maritza, miss you! Leaving Tucson, the only city in which I’ve ever lived, for good? I didn’t yet know. Tears rolled down my face as the plane taxied and a man behind me told stories to his son about the things he saw out the window, how the airport had looked decades ago. I cried as I thought about my grandpa having been the accountant for the airport and how, at his retirement party, he was presented with two cakes made up to look like Alka-Seltzer tablets.

The roller coaster of emotion I had been on for months was taking another loop-the-loop. I was so excited to get here to David, to meet his nine year-old son, to see the house I’d heard so much of over vorail and FaceTime, to meet his family, to be near the ocean, but I was leaving my entire life behind. I was so grateful I had Jayden with me.

So that, in a nutshell, is the how and why I have been in Washington state for two months. Now for the lists of things I’ve experienced and learned that I think will be valuable for other disabled people contemplating a move to a different state. *Disclaimer: The following experiences have been my own and may not be the same for every state and/or every person with a disability.

Moving state when you live on disability

• Transferring your benefits is nerve wracking and scary, especially if you have a chronic condition like I do.

You can’t have benefits in two different states, but you’re limited as to how long you can be out of the state where you have current benefits. In other words, if you have an emergency situation, your hospital is covered by Medicare, but any medications are covered by your state, in my case AZ. I had a bout of diverticulitis after being here two weeks, Medicare covered my hospital but my medications weren’t covered. While I was recovering and sick from antibiotics, I was helping the hospital via the phone to get my AZ insurance stuff settled.

Rule of thumb: as far as I can tell Medicare is national and follows you. Medicaid is by state.

• Refill your medications before you go, and try to have more than a month on you.

Luckily, I was able to get three months of my meds before i left Tucson, all but my MS medication Gilenya. That’s been another scary thing, since I knew I’d be between insurance coverage. Luckily, I can get Gilenya straight from the pharma company temporarily until I get my insurance stuff settled, which is still a work in progress but will take a second post to explain. Maybe next Sunday ha!

• Do all this insurance research stuff before you leave your state.

I did not. Everything was happening so fast before I left Tucson, that figuring out benefits wasn’t high on my to do list. I thought, how different can it be? Mistake. Big mistake. Don’t assume anything. Medicare and your Social Security benefits are the only things that stay the same, but the majority of your day-to-day medical care, like doctors appointments, medications, and medical tests are covered by your new state’s Medicaid and those programs are vastly different. Luckily I now have Washington state benefits and the application process was much less of a headache than it was in Arizona, that’s for sure. But, their program is much, much more confusing than AZ.

* Be prepared for stress as you learn your new benefits plan.

Because I was honest about the chunk of my inheritance from Gamma I get every month, and because I can’t pay David rent lest his benefits get affected, I am not considered medically needy, which means I have a deductible of $3,400. Which resets every six months. I need to keep track of all my medical receipts and submit them to Medicaid every six months to prove I’ve met the deductible, or spend down as they call it. This means my Gilenya would need to be paid for out of pocket before the spend down is met. Thank God the Pharma company is helping, because I cannot miss a dose, and I don’t have $1,200 laying around every month.

• You’ll need a credit card.

I should say that all this is just one person’s experience, so don’t take what I write here as fact for everyone in every state with every disability. I could have done all this with no credit card, had I had plenty of time to get everything arranged, but I needed to put my stuff in storage and had no credit card. I don’t know what people do who don’t have a good support system, I really don’t. I’m also pretty scared about what’s going to happen with my medical stuff with no credit card and this spend down thing, but luckily there’s an agency here whose primary purpose is to help the disabled navigate the system. It’s called the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA), and they helped me feel a little better about how I’m going to handle things.

• Take plenty of time to plan a move to a different state.

That’s my advice to anyone on benefits due to their disability. Give yourself plenty of time if possible. Moving is expensive for anyone, and when you have to worry about your benefits, the whole thing gets very overwhelming. Disabled housing takes years to get, so you’ll need to have a place to stay where you’re welcome for an extended period of time. If your temporary address is with another person on benefits, be aware that your presence might very much affect their benefits, which will affect yours since you won’t be considered to have shelter expenses.

Those bullet points are the things I can think of today that other folks on benefits might benefit (haha) from knowing before a big move. The most disheartening thing about all this has been feeling like I’m not supposed to fall in love with a blind guy. I’ve known that benefits are not family friendly, and now I really know it. I feel like, oh you’re disabled? Oh we forgot to tell you that you don’t have the freedom to pick up and move where you like, or to fall in love with who you like. I’ll be applying for disabled housing since combining incomes when you’re on benefits just does not work. How lovely.

and for Heaven’s sake, if you get a little extra from a family inheritance, be prepared for it to hinder more than help. Do I use it to buy the things I need for life in a cold climate that’s good for my health, or to pay my medical bills I’ll wrack up thanks to my health? My dad said, honesty is the best policy, unless it isn’t.

I wanted to end this post with more entertaining facts about my move, but I’m feeling rather mentally unstable today. Writing fun stuff would probably help, but I’m so tired after writing the frustrating stuff. I suppose this is motivation to write again soon, eh? I realized today that I’ve neglected the blog so much because I wasn’t living life. Now that I’ve moved, I’m living again! I know I was meant to move here, know it with all my being and I won’t let all the red tape kill my happiness. Not totally anyway. I need to have days like today to remind myself of how good I have it.

My next post will include pointers for moving from a hot climate to a cold one, and a story about a drone that nearly drove my dog insane.

***Parting thoughts: If your poop bag malfunctions first thing on Sunday morning, be prepared to have a shitty day.***

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Filed under accomplishment, family, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, humor as coping skill, Jayden, transitioning

Doggy Diaries – Jayden is Marley and he’s almost 2

Yesterday I walked into the restroom at the mall and a little girl exclaimed, “it’s Marley!” I know right after the movie came out, yellow lab handlers got a lot of this, but it was a first for us hehe.

Kids are just too cute. As we entered the mall, a group of kids started saying “ooooh look at the doggy!”

Adults are fun too. At one point Jayden tried sniffing a man as he passed. I told Jayden no and the man said, “oh, it’s ok…” Dave said it looked like the man really wanted to pet Jayden.

I’m pretty sure that we’re nearing the end of the need for lessons with Dave. I’m finally getting to the point where I’m trusting Jayden so well, that I’m ready to really start venturing out a little more on our own. There are only a few places we currently go to on our own. The lessons with Dave have ben about getting Jayden and me comfortable with certain routes, and places we can go to while it’s so hot.

We didn’t have a whole lot of time to work on outdoor stuff before it got hot, only mastering the places in my home area, so once the weather cools off again, Dave and I will work on just a few more outdoor things, and then I think we’ll be ok until there’s something new I have to tackle.

Sometimes I wonder if my adjustment is taking too long. Sometimes I don’t want to admit to you all that the only place I’ve gone alone with Jayden is to Saavi and one therapy appointment, well and that cab ride to the vet. Sometimes I think I’ll get judged. Really? She’s had the guide dog for almost four months and still relies on people?

But then I tell that little voice in my head to shut up haha. I wasn’t even blind two years when I turned my trust over to a k9. I hadn’t even yet mastered total independence with my cane. I’ve only been blind a little over two years. So there’s not gonna be a set time where I’m going to suddenly flourish.

As with everything else in my blindness, I just suddenly know when a fear has been lifted. I just suddenly know when I’m ready to do something I feared at one point. So I know it’s all happening when it’s supposed to, and if I hadn’t been ready for a guide dog, GDB wouldn’t have excepted me.

I just realized there’s something about four months with me haha! When I went blind I sat on the pity pot for four months before deciding not to be miserable, and now I’ve taken baby steps with Jayden for four months before really feeling confident to go tackle the world.

Thursday is Jayden’s second birthday, so we’re gonna go to Petsmart and get him presents. And I’m taking paratransit. I know the store well enough and feel comfortable there. The last time I was there with Dave, he just shadowed us and I didn’t need him once. So it looks like Petsmart will be our first full on adventure together, and it’s one of his favorite places.

Any suggestions for toys? I really like the Kong and Goughnut material. What’s a Kooze, did I spell that right?

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, birthday, desert life, GDB, Jayden, transitioning, weather, white cane, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Laundry and walking

I’m so relieved that it’s Saturday haha! I jumped back into things in earnest last week, feeling that my back was finally healed. I mentioned that I’d need to start setting an alarm to get out with Jayden before it gets miserable, and that worked great. I had also mentioned that I’d need to get to bed earlier, but was worried about the relieving schedule.

Enter my brain fart moment. Duh. I wasn’t worried about the time of the nightly relieving, I was worried about the time between relieving. But yeah, um, what I failed to remember is that if I’m getting up earlier, Jayden relieves earlier, so the nightly relieving can be earlier. I am so tempted to blaim this oversight on my spoons, but really it was just a dumb moment haha!

So we got out every morning last week, and Thursday we were out for a long while. It was laundry day, so I had the load in by 7am. It was actually really beautiful out. It was warm, but there was a light breeze that felt great. We dropped the laundry off and headed for home, but only briefly. I drank some more coffee and then we set out again. I tried to time it so we could walk and get back to the laundry room when it was time to make the switch from washer to dryer.

We took our route and I let Jayden make the decision I mentioned before. He can either go straight at the end of the sidewalk when we turn around, or make a right. Thursday he chose to go right. We reach the end of another sidewalk and cross over to a curb. I don’t think I was awake yet. Actually it was probably another dumb moment. I forgot that we need to get to another curb before verring to the left to shoreline yet another curb. So we start walking and suddenly it just doesn’t feel right. I tell Jayden left to do a curb check and yeah there’s a curb there, but why does it sound like something’s over my head? Ooooh….we ended up under covered parking hahaha! It was fine though, as I knew where we were. We had gotten back to our original sidewalk, just in a round about way.

The cool thing lately is that my trust in Jayden has just clicked. It takes a long time to learn to trust a dog. No matter how much I tried to force it in the beginning, I always felt I knew best. I mean, if we were in my home area, the place I used to see, obviously I knew better, right? Wrong. It’s all totally different without that cane giving me information.

Eventually I quit trying to force the trust, knowing it would come with time. And when I let go, it started happening. Not only do I have to trust Jayden, I have to trust my inner compass and listen when something feels off. But with that comes the question, does it feel off because it is, or does it feel off even though it’s not? Those are the times when I choose to trust Jayden or trust myself. Usually I’m the one that’s wrong. 😉

So we got back to the laundry with four minutes to spare and went in to turn the swamp cooler on and wait in the cool. We switched the clothes over and went back home, where I drank more coffee and started my daily internet reading. It was time to go back and get the clothes, so we set out again.

As we rounded a corner, a vicious barking met us. We both froze and I bent over to stroke Jayden, telling him it was ok. I think I was more spooked than he was. Earlier we had encountered a guy walking his puppy. Jayden started to pull me towards it but I told him no. The guy said, “I’m sorry, he’s just a puppy” and I told him I was telling my dog no, not him. I’m finding a few occasions where I think people might have thought I was talking to them when I’m actually talking to Jayden. Oops.

Anyway, the dog stopped it’s barking but Jayden still wouldn’t go to the laundry door. Come on, find the door. Hellooooo…hmmm. Ok. Reach out. Oh! A big honking trash bin was right outside the door. Ok…well, now what. A lady came out saying sorry, sorry. She was cleaning the laundry room. Why would you leave a trash bin right in front of the door? Anyway, she moved it, we got the clothes and went back home.

Jayden thought it would be frozen Kong time, but we weren’t done yet. I put clothes away and called the office because UPS had left a package there the day before and I wanted to know how big it was. B was expecting a cd and I’m still expecting the Rays gift box. It was a small package, so Jayden and I set out again.

We were walking and I heard my name. It was my friend Lish who lives up here too. I hadn’t seen her in forever, so that was cool. She was heading to the office too so she walked with us. It was lucky she did, because they were cleaning carpets and there were hoses and chords across the sidewalk. Jayden and I would have figured it out alone but it was nice that she was there. I carefully heeled Jayden across it all and we continued on.

On our way back we stopped and talked for a bit and then I was anxious to get inside. It had been an incredibly long morning already. We went home and Jayden got his frozen Kong. He’s so funny. He comes in and sits in the kitchen and then jumps up and down when I bring it to him. I go through obedience and then once he has it, he runs over to his favorite spot and goes to town. Anytime he’s done with a Kong, he would bring it to me. I’m assuming he was hoping for more. But it works rather well, because I like to rinse it off and put it away when he’s done with it, so I’ve started rewarding him when he brings it to me. He brings it every time now, which means I’m not going on the hunt for it or walking through and kicking it across the room haha!

Carol came over later on Thursday so Jayden got to see another friend.

Ok this turned out long. Originally I was just going to say I’m happy it’s Saturday because it’s our day off and I finally get caught up on blog posts and reading haha! I’ll talk about Friday in another post…

Oh, quick heat tip. When I’m doing laundry, I’ve been wearing a wet bandana on my head. It really helps.

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Filed under coffeeholic, desert life, Doggy Diaries, dogs, Jayden, jayden quirks, laundry, transitioning, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – He loves his comforter

So pretty much ever since we got home, Jayden has been by my side. At first he had to be since he was on leash or tie down, but that didn’t last long and soon he was completely free except at night. So he’s always on the couch by me, or on the floor at my feet. Sometimes he goes and lays by the door, but that’s really the only time he’s not near me, and before long, he’s running across the apartment to join me on the couch.

Last night, he wasn’t by me, he wasn’t by the door, so I went in the bedroom and he was curled up on his comforter that I just put down for him so he’d want to be out of the kennel. This morning, he stayed with me for a bit then disappeared and sure enough, he was on the comforter in the bedroom. He came out for a little bit and wagged and said hi and I told him I felt abandoned. Then he went and curled up again. I feel like I’ve lost my shadow! I’m so used to being able to reach out and touch him, but now he’s in the other room. Hmmm. Replaced by a comforter.

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, Jayden, jayden quirks, transitioning

Doggy Diaries – Where are we?

I’ve started getting the ‘where are you’ emails hehe. Those are always so nice; makes me feel loved.

Time just got away from me. I’ve been doing a lot of movie downloading and finding ways to occupy Jayden now that it’s hot. I tend to get pretty down in the summer because the heat is just so oppressive.

We’re doing well though. Friday on the lesson with Dave, we went to Petsmart. I wanted to get Jayden weighed and talk to them about grooming. Dave was there, but he just shadowed us. He didn’t offer any help unless I asked for it, which I didn’t. I found a sales person and she was awesome. She helped me look at collars, which I was disappointed in. They don’t have the Martingales like the school gave me. Then I got some more Kong stuffers and weighed Jayden. Eek! He’s gained a couple pounds. A little while ago, I was doing my touch thing GDB taught us, having the dog standing in front of you and running your hands along the side. They said you should be able to feel ribs, but not too easily and they should have an obvious waist. It seemed to me like he had gotten a little thin, so I increased his food by a quarter cup. Well, lesson learned, no more changing food unless I actually weigh him. I had decreased when we got hom, because the school vet said most guide dogs gain weight when they get home. Unless you live in a huge city and go all over the place every day, they’re not moving as much as they do at school. I will not have an overweight dog haha! So I took the vet’s advice and decreased when we got hom. The first weigh in showed him right on track, so I’ll keep feeding that amount. I just thought he might lose in the summer.

Upon talking to them about grooming, I found out they do nail trimming and ear cleaning for like fourteen bucks. Sweet! GDB had told us we wouldn’t need to trim the dog’s nails because the pavement will keep them worn down, but that’s not the case with Jayden. His nails were growing like weeds. Petsmart told me that yeah, the nails will wear, but the quick will still grow, so they recommend a nail trimming once a month. Jayden did great. They were all amazed that he’s not even two. They trim the nails and then file them with a dremmel thing. I won’t do the ear cleaning again though. They use an alcohol based cleaner that I don’t like. Since I do them regularly, I won’t have Petsmart do them when I get his nails clipped.

The associate helped me to the register and we were done. I certainly hadn’t been expecting to get Jay a pedicure hehe. But so glad I did. I’m sure the booties will be more comfortable now.

Dave said Jay won’t have to wear the booties all the time. As long as he’s moving, like from the car to a store or something, it’s ok. But I always have them with me just in case for some reason we end up on hot pavement and he has to be still.

He’s adjusting to the heat ok. I freaked out last week and Called Dave because of Jayden’s breathing as he was cooling off, but Dave said that’s how they cool off. I keep a konsicle at the ready for hot days.

His work is still flawless, and he’s out of the kennel now. He was still unsure about things, so I took an old comforter out of the closet and laid it next to my bed. Jayden loves it! He goes and lays down there in the middle of the day haha. Last night he went right for it and ignored the kennel, settled down nicely, and we went to bed. I love having him right there were I can touch him.

Yesterday while making my bed, I pulled something in my back. So all day I was in a ton of pain and it hasn’t improved this morning. Bending over hurts like hell. I’m living on a heating pad and trying to pop whatever slipped back into place. I had hoped it was muscular, but I don’t think so. I’ve got a text into my osteopath friend to see what she says. Just one more thing to add to making things boring for Jayden. GDB assured me my dog would be fine in the summer months as long as we did early walks, plenty of play and obedience, so we’re doing that. Jayden is always a happy dog. That tail never stops, so I know I’m just being paranoid.

Anyway, that’s about it. Been crocheting to movies in the afternoon. All three projects are coming along nicely. I got video of Maddie’s blanket in progress, showing how I prepare the scrump ball. I’ll get video of the other two to post after they’ve received the projects, which should hopefully be by the cold weather time.

The Rays are only a game ahead of the Yankees now. It’s become a race, watching what the Yankees are doing every day. Seems they lose when we lose and win when we win, for the most part. Arg, baseball can be so unnerving. We got beat really bad Friday by the Marlins. But, we fought to come back and while we didn’t, it wasn’t as humiliating as it could have been.

So, I’m ok, Jayden is brilliant, the summer will pass eventually and then the real fun starts. 😉

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Filed under baseball, crochet, desert life, Doggy Diaries, GDB, guide dogs, Jayden, transitioning, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Transitioning from kennel

Every time it’s time for bed, I feel awful when I close the door to the kennel. It’s not that I think Jayden doesn’t like it. He goes in with tail wagging every night. I always give him some kibble when he goes inside, so when we come in from final relieving and I take his collar off, he walks over to where the treat pouch lives, waiting for his treat.

I think part of why I get sad when I shut the door is because I can’t touch him. He’s in the room with me, right by the bed, but he’s enclosed and away from me. So I’ve really wanted to show him he doesn’t have to sleep in there unless he wants to. But every time he’s gone in and I leave the door open, he comes out and seems all confused. When I get in bed, he wouldn’t settle, so finally I’d put him back inside and he’d settle down and sleep.

So last night I decided to try a new tactic. The kennel door doesn’t stay closed unless it’s latched, so I put him inside, gave him kibble, then propped the door closed, using the arm of the sweatshirt I drape over the top to hold the door closed. Then after I was settled, I moved the sweatshirt so the door would open on it’s on.

I got up at one point and when I came back, I reached in the kennel and he was all curled up in the back of it, but he licked my hand, yet still stayed in there.

This morning I woke up to him resting his snout on my bed hehe. I fell back asleep and when the birds started chirping and I woke up again, I reached down and he was asleep on the floor right next to me.

So, I think that’s the way to do it. Let him get comfy in the kennel, give him his kibble, then let the door open on it’s own so he knows he can be where he wants. I like having him right next to me where I can just reach out and touch him. 🙂

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, Jayden, transitioning

Doggy Diaries – Kibble Kongsicle

It’s already damn hot and it sucks.

K just had to get that out of the way. So at GDB I had asked about ways to make sure Jayden doesn’t get too overheated, or ways to cool him off when we get home. I gotta say I’m grateful I got a yellow dog. Black dogs would get even hotter. Anyway they had suggested moistening some kibble and freezing it in a Kong. Be sure to use the kibble that came out of the daily ration though, so poocher doesn’t gain weight.

The other day I had some good leftover ice from a drink so I rinsed the ice and put it in the Kong overnight to give Jayden after we did laundry. He went freakin wild haha! I don’t have ice here on a regular basis. I have trays but forgot I had them. Shows ya we don’t use ice. Gonna have to change that.

Yesterday, I took the leftover kibble from the treat pouch, put it in the Kong, plugged the small hole and added water. Then I put the Kong on it’s side in my hand to let most of the water run out, but not all. I put the Kong on it’s side in the freezer door. Then before bed, I took the leftover kibble from the dinner ration, put it in the Kong, made sure the frozen portion was on top and repeated the process.

What came out this morning was a frozen Kong with two layers of kibble stuck to two sides, with like a tunnel in the middle.

I offered it to Jayden and his tail thumped the wall so hard it must have hurt haha. I settled down next to him to listen because I didn’t know how the kibblesicles would break up. He got little chunks out at a time, so I realized I wouldn’t have to worry about choking. He loved the treat and I’m sure it’s wonderful after a walk outside.

We went to pay the rent before 10am and by the time we got back, he was panting and I was sweating. He doesn’t run and chug water, which is good, so I think a nice frozen Kong is great to help him cool down slowly without chugging water.

I put my palm on the blacktop as we neared home and it was warm but I could hold my palm on it. GDB said it’s ok if I can hold my ppalm on it, but once I can’t, it’s time for shoes.

Sunday was one of those days so the shoes went on at Gamma’s and he was not happy. I need to put them on him at home for short amounts of time so he can get used to them. The only time we’re out in the heat of the day is when I go to Gamma’s or out with Lori in the afternoons, so he won’t need to wear them all the time since I do everything else in the mornings before it heats up. Actually I get home from workouts in the heat of the day, and we have to walk across blacktop from the van, so it’s looking like the shoes will go on before we leave the gym. He’s not gonna be happy. I wish I could explain to him that they’re to protect his paws.

There’s a new employee at Saavi with a guide dog and Jayden and the other guide dog like to greet each other. The handler and a friend of mine are talking, so maybe Jayden will have a cousin? 😉

Anyway I talked to the handler about the shoes and he uses them on his dog. He takes the bus everywhere so he’s on pavement a lot more. He says his dog got used to them and is fine with them now. So we’ll just have to keep practicing. I think I’ll put them on for the lesson with Dave tomorrow morning.

Not much else to report. Our routine got a little screwed up with the holiday and a stomach thing I had. So now it’s gonna be all about getting inventive for things to do that won’t kill us. It’s gonna be a long summer. We sure didn’t get much time together in nice weather.

We’ve been together just over three months; can you believe it?

Oh, I should mention our walk to the office. We had two dog distractions but Jayden did great. He pulled a little but stopped when I said ‘steady’. The other dog was snarling but I could tell it was with it’s owner, so we continued. Coming back there was another dog and Jayden looked in the direction but I told him ‘leave it’ and ‘hop up’ and he continued. Also on our way to the office, he stopped in his tracks. I was about to probe out when I heard a guy say ‘there’s something right there, what a good dog’. He moved whatever it was and we continued. Coming back, Jayden slowed down in the same place. The guy said it was all clear, but I could hear them doing work in the nearby apartment. So Jayden was being super cautious. There’s been enough times now when I’m out with others who can tell me why Jayden slows down. Maybe there’s a bush or an overhang. So now when he slows down and I feel us veer just a tad, I know what he’s doing and it’s so cool. On the way there, there was one spot where he slowed way down and veered me a little. Coming back, I understood. There must have been something in the path on my side. Coming back, he stopped and I had to step off the sidewalk to get around whatever it was. I never had to reach out and risk touching a sharp branch. He got me around it perfectly.

The more we’re together, the more I’m just amazed. To get to the office, it’s the same path as to the laundry, but without the left turn at the mail. I’ve trained him to always show me the mail because it’s a good center spot, a good orientation landmark. So today when we left I said, “let’s go to the office.” I always tell him where we’re going, like Saavi or mail or laundry or Gamma’s. So when we reached the spot where we’d turn left, which we do a lot more often then go straight, he went straight without my telling him. Is it really that he understood when I said office? Or maybe because I wasn’t pulling the laundry cart, he knew we weren’t going to the laundry.

He’s just so amazing. I don’t know how I managed before I had Jayden!

Ok I think that’s all the updating I have. I know I’m not writing about him much. I want to try and get video of the next kibble Kongsicle. =D

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, dogs, Gamma, GDB, guide dogs, Jayden, laundry, num num food, transitioning, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – What to write when your dog is perfect

Yep, Jayden is perfect. There’s nothing else to say on the matter. There have been no issues, nothing worrying me that I need advice about, nothing but perfect work. I honestly don’t remember the last time he made a mistake. Actually, he blew a curb at Walgreen’s once, but that’s it. He gets really excited about going to Walgreen’s, and this was a different one. Also we were with Kevin and Jayden adores Kevin. It was so cute when Kevin came over. I have Jayden sit and calmly greet our guests but after I released him from the sit and told Kevin he could pet Jayden, Jayden started jumping straight in the air. Not jumping on Kevin at all, just bouncing straight up and down haha! Kevin got such a kick out of it. So when we got to Walgreen’s, Jayden was just really happy and blew the up curb. I was expecting the curb, so no biggie.

When we were in line there, Kevin told me Jayden was licking the lady in front of us. I told him no but the lady was like, “that’s ok, I just lost my dog on Monday.” Awww…I’ve heard about people telling you stuff like that when you have a guide dog. It was sad.

Jayden looks forward to when Dave comes because it always means an adventure. Tuesdays we’re meeting really early now to try and beat the heat. I’ve been in a fatigue for the last two weeks, but I can pushed through it for an hour for Jayden. We went to the historic neighborhood because there’s these bushes on one corner that I wanted to practice with. Don had showed me what to do if Jayden runs me off the sidewalk trying to get around a bush like that. Rather than a full on rework, he says to push into Jayden, patting my leg and saying careful as we continue to walk. When the dogs are being trained, that’s what the instructors do. They are taught to let the bush brush them so as not to run us off sidewalks and risk a turned ankle. There were lot’s of obstacles aside from those because since it’s spring, everything is growing. Jayden had to get me around overhead obstacles and stuff hanging into the sidewalk, and he did great.

Next weekend he’ll be attending his first party as my date to Georgie’s graduation party. That’s gonna be so fun!

Jayden and I now play games of hide and seek, which Jayden loves. I can actually successfully hide from him and I silently giggle as I hear him walking around trying to fine me. It’s so fun! He also is so cute when it comes to getting a stuffed kong. He sits and before I have to say it, he lays down. It’s almost instant. Then I say ok and he jumps to a sit and then melts into a down again. It’s sooo cute, the puppy pushups. We showed kevin one day and also showed him hide and seek. Kevin said he sits there not moving until I call him and tell him come, then he takes off like a shot hehe! I’ve definitely found creative ways to play and do obedience since the heat is already here.

Laundry is not an issue at all anymore. He’s perfect and he knows when he sees the laundry cart, what we’re doing. He’s more careful since I’m dragging the cart behind us. I had a neighbor say hi on Friday, dragging the cart home and she said, ‘your dog is doing so awesome!” That made me happy, because when we first got home, the neighbors would be like, “he looks confused…” Haha yep, he knows his stuff around here now.

His most favorite place is Gamma’s, since now he get’s some banana there. Also, he’s figured out that ice comes out of the freezer door and he’ll watch when Gamma is getting ice, because once a cube dropped and he went nuts. So he gets banana and ice at Gamma’s and she just loves him.

He’s perfect on our walks, perfect doing laundry, perfect going to Gamma’s and Saavi, there’s just nothing else to say on his work.

He’s perfect around the house, never gets in to anything. He loves laying by the door and even puts up with Timmy whining to get out. He gets so excited about food and he loves to drop on the floor for a belly rub and romp. We do a lot of random playing throughout the day and a lot of cuddling. He’s so patient with me when I’m not feeling well.

The bonding is only getting more intense. He loves to nibble at my fingers and it’s soooo gentle. His tail is always wagging and he’s getting more vocal now. No barking, just sounds when he’s content or wants to play or is happy cuddling.

I don’t know what else to say about Jayden. His puppy raiser did an outstanding job. Seriously. I mean it just has to come down to the raising. I have no problems at all. He lets me touch him everywhere, which I do often to check for any problems and to check his body mass. I touch his paws and his ears and his mouth, and he never has a problem with it. I remember the raiser telling me they made sure he was cool with that. Thank you raiser!

Anyway, it had been awhile since a diaries post so I thought I’d better write one. I know there hasn’t been much about Jayden and me here with the series, so thought I’d better update. I might write one about me later, who knows. =D

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, Gamma, gratitude, Jayden, jayden quirks, laundry, num num food, puppy raisers, spoons, Timmy, transitioning, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Soap, treats and the hill, oh my!

This will be long, so fill your beverage and grab a snack haha!

I gotta start off by saying that I won a drawing on a blog! Here is the link to the post about me winning. Toby’s raiser makes soap from goat’s milk, and not just any goats, her very own goats. So I won two bars of goat’s milk soap, but not just any bars of soap, they’ve got carvings on them! I didn’t feel one of them yet, but the one I took out of it’s pretty wrapping has a dog laying down with a bone nearby and I can actually feel the texture of the hair on the dog’s body. Very cool! Toby’s raiser didn’t carve them herself, but she made the soap, and it’s so soft and silky with a really light pretty scent. She also included a bag of dog treats for Jayden, little paw shaped treats that are a little chewy. Jayden gobbled one last night and then wanted more haha! So that was so cool to win that and B read me the card that Toby’s raiser included, which was very sweet, with descriptions of the soap. I thought maybe the treats would come in handy for high value rewards.

If you’re not familiar with high value rewards, they are for use when a dog does a behavior you’re really pleased with. Either something new, or something you’ve had difficulty with. I had heard about jackpot rewards because the cds mentioned them before I went to school. Basically a jackpot is just more kibble or whatever you’re using. So like when Jayden targets a new thing, I give him a jackpot. I also give him a jackpot at the mail and at the front door, every time, so he’ll do anything to get me to those places.

A high value is some kind of really tasty different treat. At school when we did recalls, my instructor used broken up Iams biscuits. So these treats from Toby’s raiser were gonna be perfect. So, on to today.

Dave picked us up and asked where I wanted to go. I had an odd request, because I needed dog food. I’m not used to having dogs lol. Gotta get in the habit of planning ahead for food. I still had a few days worth, but really wanted to get it and I did not want to go to the pet store on a weekend. So we drove to Petco but they didn’t open until 10. So we went over to Petsmart. Luckily they’re close together, and they opened at 9. Sweet. Good thing I had my Gentle Leader haha! As soon as we got out of the car, Jayden was distracted by another dog and wouldn’t heel so I could get into guiding position. So he got the GL. It was definitely a great obedience lesson and Dave was impressed how just the sound of my voice snapped Jayden out of any distractions. He didn’t need any corrections, just vocal cues. Turns out the Petsmart has a clinic, one of those concierge type ones, can’t remember the name. But they have a scale you can use, so we went back so I could get Jayden’s weight. He’s right where he’s supposed to be yay! Then we went and checked out the food and Dave saw how confusing the Science Diet can be haha! It was on sale, bonus! So we went to check out and Jayden popped out of his sit twice, which earned a correction and then he sat the whole rest of the time I was checking out.

We came back home and dropped off the food and then went to tackle the hill. Don had told me to get out my cane the next time Jayden was hesitant to go down the road, so my plan was to use the cane and stop periodically and give a high value to try and make it more positive. I had my cane folded up in my pocket and we worked out to the spot. A car came and Jayden wouldn’t budge, good boy. We worked to the first curb then the second then walked down next to it and got to where he usually stops. And he didn’t stop. He kept walking. Holy crap. I’m saying YAY really loud and saying good boy and I thought about stopping to give a high value but I didn’t want to stop him so at the bottom of the hill we had a party! He got two high values and lots of love and praise. Then we crossed the road and went back up and when we got home, we had another party with more high values. Wow!! Dave and I were both shocked. Dave was wondering if maybe Jayden had gotten “warmed up” at Petsmart, but I think really what it might have been was all that obedience there. I was really firm with him there, so maybe it just reinforced that I’m the alpha? I have no idea. Thoughts?

So I was just so happy and I called Don and left him a message when I got home. Jayden proceeded to stretch out on the tile and pass out for awhile haha! It was already pretty warm by the time we got home.

My maintenence guy came over a little bit later because my sink had gotten clogged. Actually the disposal had gotten clogged, so when I ran water on that side, it backed up into the dishwasher and was leaking yesterday. So Jayden got all excited because he was actually able to say hi since he wasn’t in harness. I did put him on his leash though so he’d leave the maintenence guy alone while he worked haha. I had to run the dishwasher empty with some bleach in it because it smelled rotten, so now I’m finally running it full of dishes. I’ve been a slacker when it comes to my kitchen.

At Petsmart, I also picked up some more Kong cookies, liver flavor this time. So Jayden just enjoyed one of those. He gets that cookie out in like seven minutes, no matter how hard I cram it down in there. Now he’s curled up next to me on the couch, relaxing after a day’s hard and wonderful work!

Oh and the school had called to follow up on my experiences there, so that was really good to get that taken care of. It’s always so hard to talk negatively about anyone, but it’s so important that the person involved knows what’s up, so that things aren’t repeated. So I feel really good about that and it also just showed me even more how much GDB cares about their students, so that was another really positive thing that happened today. Now I’m tired, time for coffee 😉

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Filed under accomplishment, coffeeholic, Doggy Diaries, dogs, GDB, gratitude, guide dogs, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, num num food, plugs, traffic check, transitioning, weather, white cane, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Oops

I realized I haven’t written about Jayden in a fair little bit. I’m pleased to say that he’s perfectly back to himself now and everything is normal and solid again haha! So no more health worries for now. Yay!

Monday, my field rep from GDB came out to investigate Jayden’s hesitency to go down the road leaving the apartment complex. Dave and I had worked and worked and worked on that road and I had mentioned it here. It had been suggested to try walking it with the cane but when I had mentioned that to Don on the phone, he had said to try it sighted guide again, which we did with no change. So Monday I worked Jayden out to the spot and again, he wouldn’t budge. Don took the leash while I heald the harness handle and he pulled Jayden and still he didn’t want to go. Then told me to step off the road and he took Jayden, and I could hear him saying things like, “come on, you gotta do this, come on.” and I could hear some leash action and I cringed. As they walked back, Jayden pulled to me and I knelt down and he licked my face.

We did sighted guide to the end of the road and then I worked Jayden towards Walgreens and he did fine. Coming back he did fine. So Don had me get my cane and try walking down the other side with it, then walking down the bad side with it. Jayden dragged a little but then got into a nice heel position.

So we went back and Don admitted that he’s stumped. He was grasping at straws, trying to see why Jayden might be hesitant and bascialy, we’ll never know. There’s nothing obvious about it. He said he didn’t think it was transferrance from the country road at school, but the school was following up on that, so that’s good. He said Jayden’s work is wonderful in every other area. He’s not afraid of traffic, he stops everywhere he should, his tempermant is perfect. So, he said try working it with the cane a few times and then try it. The problem might correct itself and if it doesn’t, I’ll just have to cane it down the road and then work Jayden. Don said it woldn’t be the first time a dog refused to do one little thing. I was like, ok so he won’t be retired if he doesn’t get it? Don laughed and assured me they wouldn’t retire him for something so minor. I mean yeah, it’s kinda major since its our way out, but I can use the cane, something Dave and I just hadn’t even considered. I think both of us just thought it was dog all the time, or no dog hahaha!!

So things have gotten back to normal and I’m working him like usual. Except the weather has taken a turn and this week I really started noticing that I was in recovery mode again, physically. It’s like since all the vet stuff passed and then the home visit passed, my body was finally like ok enough, let me rest! Today I’m really noticing it as it’s suddenly cold out as a storm blows in.

I did work out yesterday though, and weighed in, and I’ve lost 15 pounds since September. At least that’s what shows on the scale. Gotta factor in muscle weight. I’m down to 162, which just floors me hehe!! The brown dress I wanted so badly to wear for Thanksgiving and did, though it was tight, is now fitting loosely. If I wear it in the next few weeks, I’ll get another outing in it, but soon it’ll be too big. Sweet!

I’m bummed about the weather though. I took Jayden to relieve a bit ago and I could feel my body try and freeze up. So, we won’t be working today and tomorrow is when the rain is really supposed to start. So I just keep having crazy romp sessions with Jayden until he gets tired. I think I might try hide and seek, if I can muster up some spoons. As the day wears on, I’m feeling worse and worse. Joy. Oh and that writing class is getting a little difficult and frustrating, so that’s taking up some of my internet time.

I think that’s about all to report about Jayden for now. He’s doing great!

K I know there’s typos but I just don’t feel like editing, it’s my blog, it can be flawed if I want it to hahaha!

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Filed under accomplishment, Doggy Diaries, GDB, guide dogs, Jayden, jayden quirks, silly girl, spoons, transitioning, weather, white cane, working dog, workouts