Doggy Diaries – Preparation – Neighborhood routes

I see Dave every friday for our O&M lessons. Since I’ve decided to get a guide dog, Dave said we’d be ramping up our lessons to make sure I can do all the things I need to show I can do to be approved at the school. So today I thought we’d be going back to the neighborhood where we did a lot of work before it got hot, because that is where I practice residential street crossings and different terrains and bushes and trees and such. But, no pretty neighborhood walk today, no ma’am.

Dave showed up a tad early and said, “So, one of the things you’ll have to show the school is neighborhood route travel in your area. So, lets do the dumpster, mail, office and pool.” We’ve done quite a bit of work on these routes in the past, but we’ve never done them all in one day. We started with the dumpster, Dave walking behind me and not giving me any cues. I made it there just fine and back and then it was off to the mailbox. At one point on the route, when I reach my cue, there is a parking space right next to a curb I want to follow. When we first began learning the route, Dave would tell me when there was this truck parked there. So today when I reached it, he went to tell me and I stopped him, practically yelling at him not to tell me haha! There was a truck there, so I made my way around it to the mailboxes. I’ve had some trouble there in the past, but not today. I made my way to the sidewalk that would take me to the office and again Dave followed me and we just chatted. When I could hear that I was near the office, I jokingly said, “Juno, take me to the door!” Hehehe like I would do with a doggy. He had a good laugh.

Next was the pool and I had a moment where I got a little lost, and I told Dave not to help me. I backtracked and found my way, and entered the pool area. I was able to find the pool and find the railing into the pool. Then I said I should practice getting to the gym too, because when I have a dog, I’ll be more likely to go to the gym. So I found the gym just fine, and then took us all the way back to my house!

Dave was very happy and impressed. He said he liked the way I recovered if I got a little off track, and he was happy that I silenced him. I thought we were done. No sir, not done…

Dave told me to get a drink of water, and then we’d start work on mapping the route to leave the complex and walk down the road to the store. Today? Really? Ok… 😉

We got down to the end of my walk, and he said, “From your visual memory, how do you think you would go?” I stood there and thought about it, trying to recall the memory. I had only lived here 2 months before going blind. I said, “I think I would walk down to the sidewalk, and then cross the way until I find the curb, and then follow that down and out.” I was right. I was so impressed with myself. This way takes me so that I’m walking facing traffic, which is better, because the cane is visible, and I won’t have cars coming up behind me. This is a residential street that I’ll be walking, so its not heavy traffic.

So we walked it. Its the first time I’ve done it blind. We didn’t walk the whole way, just got out of the complex and started down the road like I’d be going to get to the store. Then we crossed back and walked back up the road, so that I’m facing any cars coming out of the complex. The tricky spot, is about 40 feet or so of not being visible. There’s a blind spot to cars, where I’d just suddenly be there. He said when I hit that spot, I’m going to want to hustle. Normally I walk somewhat slow with the cane because I’m keeping track of my shoreline. In this case, I’ve got a nice curb to follow, so I hustled up the walk haha! I took him seriously when he said to take that 40 feet quickly lol!

Every time I heard a car, I paused. I wanted to make sure I knew where they were going. There was one hybrid car, which suck, because they’re silent. So I didn’t hear it approaching. I guess I have to hope that hybrid drivers are alert…

We made our way back to my apartment and he said he is very impressed with my spatial memory, my recovery skills, my stamina and especially that I won’t put myself in danger, meaning I won’t put a dog in danger. He said he will 100% recommend that I get a dog!

So we’ve got to continue learning the road to the store, and then the major intersection nearby, which I’m nervous about. After that, I’m pretty much good to go. He said that the AZ rep for GDB will be in the area for another client, so i might be able to meet him soon. He also said that a rep from a different school was here on Thursday, and was telling Dave that they have a special needs department, and specifically mentioned MS. So Dave said i might check them out too, but I’m so impressed with GDB that I don’t want to…maybe I’m being stubborn, maybe its contempt prior to investigation, but GDB is where I want to go…I’m trying to tell myself that it might not be until next fall. I need to go to the school and get back when the weather is decent, so that I can teach the dog the routes while the weather is cool. So if I’m not in by January or February, I’ll need to wait until next fall. So, it could be a few months, it could be a year from now. I need to be ok either way, so I’m trusting that I’ll go when God wants me to.

As for today though, I’m just reveling in being proud of myself. I can’t believe how much stronger my body is after only a week of workouts. Dave said its mental as well. Plus, having such a goal helps too.

I’m going to my women’s group tomorrow, and I can’t wait to tell them what’s going on. I haven’t seen any of them since the guide dog decision and the workouts began. Its always so nice to report good stuff. =D

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