Category Archives: white cane

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. 😉

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

Doggy Diaries – Food switch Day 3 – Human taste test

Well I tried the kibble tonight as I told Torrie I would haha!!! First I tried the Science Diet. Imagine really really really stale Fritos. That’s what they felt like. I managed to crunch it and then spit it out. I think cardboard would be better. There was no taste. Actually if there was anything, it was almost chemical. Not like an obvious chemical taste, but I’d have to say it was along those lines.

The Blue Buffalo had the same texture but the taste was more pleasant, if you can call it that. There was a hint of fish and berries. At least it has flavor. I also just crunched and spit it out. So, curiosity satisfied. You may now call me a freak, I won’t mind. 😉

Jayden is just off today. I have no idea if it has anything to do with the food switch or if he’s having an off day like we all do occasionally. The morning route to the store was awful. He didn’t want to go down the road again and that hasn’t happened in forever. It was so bad I got my cane out and had him heel. He wouldn’t hardly move so I stopped, had him heel and sit and then we set off again and he kept a good heel while I caned it down the road. There was no way I was having him do the street crossing when he was being that sluggish, so I crossed that and then put the cane away. After that he worked like a champ. It’s just something about going down our road. He did fine in the store, following the clerk. He did fine getting us back home and navigating around a large work truck with a trailor. He showed me the truck and then the trailor.

I have no idea what’s up with that road, why all of the sudden he didn’t want to walk it again. There’s just no apparent reason for it. Ugh.

Then, Carol stopped by. Jayden was snoozing on the couch when she got here so he didn’t hear her coming up and therefore didn’t go all nuts when she came in. The rest of the day he was just blah. He even lost interest in the Kong Wobbler when there was still food inside. Until it was time for feeding. He got all excited. Also, when I gave him the frozen Kong after the walk he went nuts and actually ran around the house with it.

So, I don’t know. I’ll see how he is for our nightly play session that we always have before bed.

Is this a normal thing during a food switch, or is it just coincidence? He’s had days like this before. I’ve been energetic and cheerful today, so it’s not anything he’s picking up from me.

Thoughts?

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, Jayden, jayden quirks, num num food, silly girl, white cane, working dog

Carnival Post – My first meeting with a guide dog

The topic for my first ever blog carnival post is “firsts”. (I’ll post when the carnival is organized so you can check out other posts.) I thought about just sending in my dog day post, but decided on something original. So, here is the story of my first meeting with a guide dog.

It took me a good month or so to call Dana*. I just couldn’t bring myself to speak with another person who was blind, because I just couldn’t accept that I myself was blind. Somehow, calling another who suffered the same affliction as I meant that I would never see again.

It’s funny the thoughts that plague our minds when something unthinkable happens. Looking back on those first few months blind, I just can’t relate to the girl I was. Twenty nine, suddenly blind, hopeless, afraid, actually make that terrified. Life was over.

Now? Ha! I don’t resemble that girl in the slightest, nearly two and a half years later.

Let’s get back to Dana; I was able to talk with her easily. A mutual friend had given me her number and Dana was eager for me to call. She knew what it meant in the healing process to speak with another who understands. I was in awe of her. I thought she was remarkable. I could never be like her. Especially when she said she had a guide dog and went into details about going away to guide dog school for a month. She said it was amazing and the campus was beautiful and I just had to do it. She explained that I’d have to learn the white cane first, but I wasn’t paying attention; I had already shut down at the mention of going away for a month. There was no way on God’s green earth that I was going to fly away for thirty days and nights all alone. No way. Are you kidding me? Don’t you know I’m blind now? I can’t do that. You’re mad!

We talked on the phone every few weeks and I’d ask how her guide dog Scully* was and she’d tell me all the amazing things they did. I eventually started to learn orientation and mobility, or O & M. Basically, those are skills we learn to use with a white cane or a guide dog. Of course in my case it was the white cane.

After learning O & M skills and independent living skills from the blind center, life started looking up. I soon discovered that being blind was not the affliction I had once thought it was. A little over a year after losing my vision I went with a friend to a big celebration for a fellowship I’m a part of. Dana was also part of that fellowship and we had never met face to face. I couldn’t reach her before the event to see if she and Scully would be there, but I sure hoped they would be.

The event was insane. Loads of people sitting along long tables, packed in like sardines, eating, talking, laughing, lots of noise, incredibly overwhelming. Doing sighted guide was rather cumbersome, and I just sat in the chair pretty much the whole time so I wouldn’t have to deal with bumping into people while trying to communicate with my friend above all the noise. There was no way I was going to try and use my cane in that situation.

A friend came up to me about mid way through the event and asked if my friend who had the guide dog was named Dana. We all wore name tags at the event and it’s hard to miss a lady with a guide dog. I told her yes and my friend told me Dana was there. I was so excited! My friend told me to stay put (like I was gonna try moving) and she would go get Dana.

A few moments later, I heard her speak from across the table. We shook hands and she shouted she’d come to me, and was gone. My friend was still there, across the table. How was Dana getting to me without my friend’s help? I was sitting in the middle of the incredibly long table. She would have to walk up towards the stage and back down between the tables. I sat and waited and wondered.

Suddenly I heard Dana call my name and I responded so she could find me. She was there in an instant and I stood to embrace her. After we sat, she asked if I wanted to meet Scully. Boy, did I! Her guide dog had gotten her through that mess of people. Wow.

Dana said Scully was right there between us and I reached out and felt the thick soft blanket of fur that was her guide dog. Scully sat patiently between us, and leaned in to my touch. She was just so sweet! It was love at first touch. How could you not love a dog who sits there calmly, pressing her body into you comfortingly? It was as iff all the anxiety I was feeling being in the middle of all those people just melted into her silky coat.

I knew Scully was a yellow lab, and I had seen a guide dog in harness back in my sighted days, so I formed a mental image of her as I touched her. I was surprised when Dana took my hand to describe the harness to me. She showed me how the straps go around the chest and under the belly. She guided my hands to where the handle was, and she explained how you hold the leash when you’re working the dog. It was all terribly confusing, but so amazing to experience first hand how it all worked.

We only chatted briefly; it was incredibly hard to hold a conversation among the loud chatter of hundreds of people around us, however in that moment it felt like just Scully and me. I stroked her lush, soft fur until she decided to lay down at Dana’s feet.

That was my first meeting with a guide dog. It sparked a curiosity in me, though the fear of going away still won, however only for a short time.

Three months later I had applied to Guide Dogs for the Blind for my first guide. I was very saddened when I called Dana to tell her and she informed me that Scully had passed away. I had just met her three months earlier, how could this be? Scully had worked for eleven years. Now that’s a good long career for a guide dog! She worked up until the day she died. She just got tired, went to the vet, and passed.

Dana was going to take time before she went back for her next guide. Her first having just passed, she wasn’t yet ready to move on. I haven’t spoken with her since getting my first guide. I haven’t known if it would be too painful for her. As I finish writing this however, remembering how Scully affected me, I think it might just be time to check in, and tell Dana how much meeting her departed guide dog has changed my life. I know now that I can navigate a crowd of hundreds, just like Dana did with Scully that day. I can’t imagine life without Jayden by my side now. He is my companion and eyes today in part because of my first meeting with Dana’s guide dog at the celebration.

It goes to show that we never know how our assistance dog, whether he or she be a guide dog, hearing dog, seizure dog, diabetic dog, autism service dog, therapy dog, the list goes on, will affect another. These amazing dogs have such an impact on every life they touch. The next time you see one, look on fondly, from a distance, unless you have the courage to ask if you may pet, just don’t be upset if we say no. We’ve only got our own best interest to think about, or that of our dog, or the future person the dog is being trained and raised for.

Thanks be to assistance dogs! I hope they know how special they are!

*Names changed to protect privacy. Yes, I had to pay homage to the ‘X-Files’. 😉

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blog carnival, Doggy Diaries, fellowship, GDB, gratitude, Jayden, Orientation and Mobility, white cane, working dog

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 – I have the best guide dog ever

Ok my guide dog is the best and that’s all there is to it haha!

Dave and I have had to get a little creative in the route to the store because the initial way we tried things, what looked like the best way, just wasn’t the best way at all. Jayden hated it and I couldn’t figure out why until I did it with my cane. When you’re thinking about a route from a cane user’s perspective, there’s not as much space to consider. But when I did while heeling Jayden and thinking about the space on the left side of my body, I instantly knew it was a no go.

We had to make a right turn into a driveway. We had to shoreline a curb and unfortunately there was no way to not walk in the driveway. It’s a fairly narrow driveway, really only enough room for a car to leave or come in. I remember trying to go into the driveway when a car was coming out and it was a really tight fit. So right turners trying to go into that driveway are right on top of you if you’re walking it. To make matters worse, the roade there is huge with lots of traffic and when that light is green, the cars are going fast. You’ve got people avoiding backed up cars by squeezing into what will eventually be the right turn lane and people trying to drive in and out of that driveway there. It’s pretty crazy. So after I did it with the cane while heeling Jayden, there was no way I was going to risk him being on the left of me there. Sound is deafened as soon as you make the right and he can’t see behind us. Not gonna do it. Nope. Agreeing with Jayden on this one.

So Dave went and scoped it out and the only other good option was to cross that driveway and continue up to the intersection, making a moving right and coming in the other driveway on the other side of the store. It adds a good distance to the walk, but it’s much safer.

So we spent a lesson patterning it, just doing sighted guide while I heeled Jayden. As a sightie, Dave saw what he thought was the best way to tackle it from that direction, so we practiced that. What Dave saw was coming up a sidewalk then crossing the parking lot to a little island thing with a wheel chair ramp. It’s great for a wheelchair, but it’s a really narrow little path with about five inches on either side.

Today we did it and let Jayden work it. We drove down there and walked up the road back towards home then turned around. I was a little worried about this spot near the intersection that has some textured rock because when we patterned it, Jayden dragged on it. We set off and Jayden thought I’d want to make that right turn so he hesitated until he figured out I didn’t want to go that way and then he was like sweet! Haha! So we crossed the driveway and went towards the intersection. I wish I could describe this thing to do it justice. I’ll just say that when Don came from GDB he took one look at it and said, “I don’t want a guide dog in that intersection.” He was relieved when I told him it wasn’t a necessary crossing. So that might help you imagine how loud it is. If Don was like yeah no, there’s a good reason. The thing is huge and traffic moves incredibly fast. It’s LOUD.

So we get to that textured rock and Jayden did fine. He was hesitant until he knew that was what I wanted and we continued around the bend. It’s a really gradual right turn. We reached the second driveway and here there’s a sidewalk, so you’re not stuck making the right in the driveway. There’s a steep ramp after a hard right. Jayden remembered the spot from the patterning and made the right but he took it really fast and I kinda wobbled when my foot tried to fall off the sidewalk. So we reworked it after I showed him the spot and told him careful. We came up on it and he stopped and angled his body right, making sure I’d clear it. Wow.

We continued on and instead of going to that island Dave thought was a good idea, Jayden went to the upcurb and stopped. Dave said that was fine, but coming back might be tricky to get the right spot.

Walking on the side of the store, there’s poles and signs and such. Jayden stopped at every one to make sure I kenw it was there. Then we made the left and he took me right to the doors.

Words cannot describe how happy I was and the kind of praise he got along with the kibble lol. We went inside briefly and then made our way back.

Dave tried to get us to walk down the island but Jayden wouldn’t have it. He literally put his body in front of me. Dave had me take his arm so we could walk it and when you get to the end, you have to veer left instead of just the nice straight shot from the curb. I didn’t like it and I know Jayden didn’t. Dave came around, realizing that if Jayden or I make a mistake, I could fall off that island and break and ankle. So we went back to the door and worked on targeting the spot on the down curb that is a straight shot across the parking lot to our sidewalk. Then we went back to the doors and let Jayden see if he knew where to go.

He freakin nailed it! Now, there’s nothing there, no landmark, nothing for me to know this is where we need to cross the parking lot. I showed him once and when I felt him veer left and I stuck out my foot, we were on the down curb and Dave said it was the perfect spot.

Again we had a big celebration haha!

So we crossed the parking lot and did our zig to the sidewalk and back to the steep decline. When we come off that it’s a hard left but Jayden wanted to keep going. Um, no honey, that’s the road. So I halted and did a left and he took me back the way we came just perfectly.

I was so incredibly impressed with him today. It was only the second time he’d seen that route and only the first time he’d worked it and he did great. He is so smart, choosing the better way, the way that niether Dave nor I would have guessed. Jayden will do something and Dave’s like, yeah that makes more sense.

He is so freakin smart and we are just clicking more and more. Will I ever stop being amazed?

I need to figure out how to contact my instructers at school. They each played a part, but my main guy, Gary, is the one I owe the most credit too. He’s the one who worked with me most, he’s the one who taught me how to handle Jayden. Gary along with Pete and Ben. Thank you!! I think I’ve got a reader from GDB, so if you can let me know how to reach those guys, I’d really appreciate it.

Ok, I think that’s about it for now, just really had to brag on my boy. We’re handling the heat pretty well. We just have to do our walks pretty early so we don’t die.

Oh and the frozen Kong is so perfect to give him when we get home. He has to work on it, so it cools him off and keeps him from running to the water. All he wants is that frozen Kong when we get back, so he ignores the water for a bit so by the time he drinks, he’s not chugging it which is good.

Ok, really done now.

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, GDB, gratitude, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, white cane, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Jayden as a party date

Yesterday Jayden and I went to Georgie’s graduation party. I’ve been going to her parties for years now, but I haven’t been nearly as often since going blind. I wasn’t going to miss this one for the world. When I say party, I’m not talking about a crazy party with loud music and dancing haha. It’s more of a bbq, with people sitting around on the back patio or swimming. I used to always be the first to arrive and the last to leave. My how times have changed haha.

B dropped us off and we got in the house. I know the place well enough that I could direct Jayden to where I wanted to go. It was so nice to really be able to move about easily. The last time I was there was before I had Jayden and it was pretty simple to get around witht he cane, but when there were lots of people, it wasn’t as easy. I usually asked for help when I needed to go inside for something. Not now that I have Jayden though. He weaved me in and out of people and remembered where the restroom was after only being shown once.

There were a couple of times that Georgie and I went out front where there was a good relieving circle, so when Jayden and I were inside, he’d stop and I ould here him thinking, which door does she want?

He was a hit among the guests. They all said how beautiful he is, how smart he must be, etc. I had brought a thing for him to lay on outside and after he took in the excitement of the new place, he settle down nicely. When guests arrived, I’d here things like, oh hello doggy. A few people leaned over to pet him, but it wasn’t making him crazy so I didn’t put a stop to it.

Towards the end I took his harness off for Georgie’s parents to say hi To Jay and he greeted them calmly, tail wagging, but not going crazy. He was definitely a hit. He did so great and I felt so much more independent.

Now to me and large groups of people. I’m finding that it’s getting harder and harder for me to enjoy large gatherings. It’s so hard to hear individual people or jump into conversations because I don’t know when I can really jump in. It becomes so much for me to try and concentrate on and discern that it’s actually a little exhausting. It was so nice to have Jayden there at my side. When I felt a little uncomfortable, I just reached out and he was there to reassure me.

I was sooo exhausted when I got home haha! B was watching some metal music thing and someone with an electric guitar was playing the national anthem and I was like, make it stop! Hahaha! It’s like my nerves are frayed after a few hours of lots of noise. The same thing happens when I get home from Saavi after waiting in the lobby for my ride. It gets quite loud in there with lots of people talking loudly. All the noise is like nails on a chalkboard.

I never noticed this kind of thing being an issue until I went blind. It’s the weirdest thing. Is that normal?

But the whole point of all that is to say that Jayden did great and he was such a comfort to me.

Oh! And I can say what we got Georgie now. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the mall with Dave. Well, I ended up getting Georgie a Build-a-bear in graduation robes. The paw plays the graduation song. It was so fun making it and the girls at the store kept swooning all over Jayden haha!

So, we made our first bbq. Jayden gets an A+ and me, well I’ll know to expect exhaustion again next time haha!!

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, cool product, Doggy Diaries, fellowship, Jayden, spoons, white cane, 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

Doggy Diaries – Huh?

Man it’s easy to get out of the habit when I don’t tell myself to write every day. It hasn’t been that long; I think I just skipped yesterday. I’m a bit brain dead at the moment. Allergies are really killing me lately. Of course I don’t get normal symptoms. I get the ears being all funny, which makes me paranoid that it’s more than just allergies. But usually allergy pills makes them better, so I’m hoping that’s all it is.

I wonder if I’ll ever write a post that isn’t a doggy diaries post? Probably not for awhile. There’s not much to write about me that doesn’t include Jayden right now.

We’re getting back into the sort of routine I had before I went to school, so yesterday we took paratransite to Saavi so I could work out. When the van pulled up, we approached it and where Jayden stopped, I didn’t feel the doors. The driver got out and I asked where the doors where and he said, “Oh, they didn’t tell me you were visually impaired, just that you had a guide dog.” Uh. Ok. Yeah. I get on and told Jayden to find a chair, not knowing people were on the van. He took me to a person. Finally we squeezed into the very back seat and we on our way. The passengers were dropped off before me, and when they got off, the driver said, “He didn’t look good.” “Oh?” “Yeah, they’re going to {mental health agency} so he’s probably on meth.” Wow…I wonder if any more judgements will come out of this guy?

We continue on and he asks about Jayden and I say we’re new, etc. He says, “You know what I’ve noticed about all these guide dogs?” Here we go. I’m expecting the “too skinny” comment. He then says, “They’re all fat.” Huh? “Really? I’ve been told that people think our dogs are too skinny.” “No, I see them all the time and they seem fat. I want to tell these people their dogs aren’t going to live very long. And I don’t understand why people in wheelchairs have guide dogs when they can see.” Oh I’m getting it now, things are clicking. He thinks all service dogs are guide dog. “Oh, those aren’t guide dogs, they’re service dogs.” I say. “Oh, what do they do?” “They pick things up that people in wheelchairs drop, things like that.” He then goes on to talk about seizure alert dogs and stuff and I tell him about diabetic alert dogs and hearing dogs. Then he says, “You know what they are, right?” I ask what but don’t hear his reply so I ask again and he says, “They’re slaves.” I roll my eyes and say I’ve heard that argument before and he says they’re like ‘Planet of the Apes’ where the apes have to do all the hard work. I explain that I can’t speak for all guide dogs, but when mine isn’t working, he’s a dog, we play and stuff. And he gets excited when the harness comes out. He didn’t have anything to say to that.

When he drpped me off, we were behind another van so we weren’t right in front of the doors. He asked if I needed help but I just wanted away from him. I told Jayden forward but he tried to take me to other doors and then he ran me into a pole. Ugh. I heard the driver tell someone else, “he’s new”. Great. The judgemental guy is standing up for my dog.

The workout went ok but my abs were killing me after Monday. I cried out at my first attempt for a full sit up and Jayden got all worried lol.

After I got home I talked to Carol for a bit. Oh wait, I left out the annoyance of sitting in the lobby waiting for my ride. But that’s just complaining so I won’t bother.

That was pretty much yesterday. Today I had off, so I needed to do chores. I used my cane to take a load of laundry down and then decided to test Jayden with the cart to go switch the clothes to the dryer. He did fine both ways, so I took him to get the clothes once they were dry. Mistake. He walked past the door and I didn’t notice and we got turned around again. I had the cart behind me and couldn’t hear traffic. We must have been in a dead zone. I had no clue where we were and “find home” didn’t work. I had to call the apartment office and S, the maintence man, had to come find us in his golf cart. Blech. I got my clothes and came home. After that I did some cleaning. The kitchen needed a good scrub, and I cleaned up the toaster oven I’m giving Carol.

I straightened the living room and did some dusting and then did an online grocery order. I only do one about once a month, because you have to have a minimum of fity dollars and I just don’t need that much on a weekly basis. So my order should come tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow is supposed to be windy and bad for allergies. Joy.

I think I’m the opposite of most people. I’m really dreading summer. It’s already getting warm. Soon, we won’t be able to do much outside. Yuck.

Wow, this post sounds kinda negative. I’m really not feeling negative, just a little out of it.

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, guide dogs, Jayden, laundry, no no sightie, transitioning, weather, white cane, working dog, workouts

Doggy Diaries – Without Jayden

I had to use the dreaded stick today to do laundry. We have to take the same route as the mail to get to the laundry, and I just wasn’t confident enough on that rounded curb to try and direct Jayden while dragging my cart behind me. So I put him in the kennel where I felt he was most safe and then I felt horrible lol. I had two loads to do so rather than let him out and then put him back in, I just left him in the whole time. I kept talking to him and at one point when I got back with a load, he whined but a “quiet” stopped that.

Man, it sucked using the cane hahaha! It was so tedious heading down there. Anytime it got caught on anything I cursed it. It also didn’t keep me from running into the open mailboxes. The mail lady was there and I was walking towards the boxes with my cane and she said hello and I said hello and then ran into the door containing all the little mailbox doors. She felt so bad and I laughed because I had just made the UPS guy feel bad not minutes before.

He came to my door and said UPS and when I went to the door I could hear him walking away. I was like, is the package right here? Nothing. Truck starts. I come outside. Truck stops. UPS guy goes, oh man, I forgot, I was pointing, oh man, I’m so sorry. I’m laughing asking if it’s right there. He’s like, I’m coming, don’t move. He came up and handed me the box. He felt so silly and I was like it’s ok. I was getting shipments almost every day there for awhile but I haven’t in a bit so he forgot hahaha. I was just too happy to get my baseball shirts.

After I was all done with laundry, I harnessed Jay up to go get the mail, and we probably could have done the laundry together. He nailed it. No issues. So after I got the mail I decided to show him the laundry room. It’s a left turn around the building from the mail with a short curb to follow and then the door. He took me right to the door as if to say, see you didn’t have to leave me home. I would have found it. I took him inside and let him check it out and then we came home. It’s sooo much faster to have Jayden walk it, wow.

It’s already getting hot though. We were out about noon or so and it was feeling hot.

After that I groommed Jayden and man is he throwing his winter coat. Lots and lots of fur. I took off his collar to do a good groomming there and he lay down and just let me go to town in that area. Then I brushed his teeth and cleaned his ears. His summer coat is more coarse than the winter coat. He doesn’t feel quite so soft.

That’s pretty much it for today. I can’t wait to get back into my routine so he has more to do. Tomorrow we go out with Dave again and then I should be resuming workouts Monday. Yay!!

Oh yeah, before I went down to do laundry, I had the cart sitting in a stupid spot and forgot it was there. I had Jayden on leash, walking to the bedroom and he stopped. He kept me from running into the cart even though he would have cleared it just fine. And he wasn’t even working. Nice!

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, guide dogs, Jayden, laundry, no no sightie, silly girl, transitioning, treat for me, weather, white cane, working dog