Doggy Diaries – That’s independence

Yesterday, Jayden and I got all ready to go to the gym. I always have a thirty minute window for my paratransit, so we’re ready by the start of the window. Jayden gets all harnessed up and ready and then we sit by the door and wait. As soon as he heres the van, he pops up and gets excited.

Yesterday was no exception. We heard the van so I got up to get my bag and we walked out and locked up. But silence met us. Where’d the van go? We walked down the path and I still couldn’t hear it. Hmmm, guess we both are hearing things. So we make our way back inside and then I hear the van’s back up beep. Sometimes the van’s get turned around and try to make their way to us in what looks like would be a clear path but it’s not, so they have to back up. So we locked up again and went down and waited in the shade of the covered parking.

The van finally got to us and when I heard it stop I told Jayden, “ok, find the bus.” He always takes me right to the door and puts his front paws on the first step. The driver didn’t even have to get out. As we made our way in, the driver said, “wow, that’s independence. Need help finding the seat?” I assured the driver Jayden would find it, and sure enough he took me right to the seat and we settled in for the ride.

Sometimes I forget how even those little simple things are so huge. Before Jayden, I’d wait for the driver to come get me and lead me to the van steps. I was able to find a chair with my cane, but then when the driver dropped me off, I’d need help to the door unless we were right in front of it. Now, I don’t need the driver’s help at all and it’s awesome. I often get asked if I need help to my door when they bring us home and I have to stop myself from laughing and saying, “that’s what my dog is for.” As soon as we step off, Jayden is running, well not literally running, but excitedly getting me to the parking curb, showing it to me, and then getting us to our door, where he knows he gets a jackpot kibble and a frozen Kong.

The independence is spreading to him, too. He’s getting so comfortable at home that he’s not always with me these days. This morning we woke up early. We have an early lesson with Dave on Tuesdays. So I fed him and took him out and normally in the mornings, he waits for a rub down and then joins me at the computer while I’m waking up.

Not this morning. It’s like he said, “I’m up too early; I’m going back to bed.” He had disappeared and sure enough, I found him curled up on his new favorite comforter, snoozing away haha!

Dave arrived and we went and walked the entire complex. Up until now, Jayden and I only walk on one side, because everything we need is on that one side. But I had mentioned to Dave last week that I wanted to start walking the whole thing. Jayden and I are quite limited right now with the weather, so I don’t want to get too far from home, in case I suddenly get sick from heat. Also, when the monsoon’s start, we’ll never know when one might pop up. The complex is sizeable and Dave agreed that it’s a good walk. He wanted to shadow us first, though. So we did that this morning.

I had forgotten how challenging the other side is. I used to live on that side years ago. It’s fabulous! There’s so much to challenge Jayden; so many obstacles to get around and not many clear paths. On our side, it’s a pretty clear path anywhere, but on the other side, there’s funky parking lots and sidewalks that quit. It was sooooo awesome to watch Jayden’s brain work. He’d never seen that area before and when I’d give a command, you could just hear the wheels turning. You could hear him thinking, ‘ok, what’s the safest way to do this?’ It was so cool to get even more evidence of how smart he is. Dave loves how cautious he is, too. He refuses to move when there’s even the slightest possibility of a moving vehicle, and he puts his body in front of me as if to say, “don’t bother giving a command, we’re not moving until I know what the vehicle is doing.” It’s the coolest thing. How GDB matched us so well, I’ll never know. They couldn’t have known that I’m overly cautious and always have been, even when I could see. Jayden’s caution might annoy other handlers, who knows. But for me, he’s perfect.

As we got closer to our apartment, we were on the other side. We ran out of sidewalk and Dave was explaining to me about the parking lot and the different options. We’d be heading back home in a completely different way than we ever had before. Dave asked if I wanted him to walk ahead and target the safe place and I told him to walk behind us. I wanted to see what Jayden would do.

I told him forward and he stepped forward slowly and I could feel his head moving from side to side. Then he must have liked his decision because he suddenly picked up speed and showed me a curb. I told him good boy and knew it would be a left, so I told him left and he took off. Dave told me Jayden had sighted in on a sidewalk, one we don’t normally take. We both wondered if Jayden would spot our path because it’s a hard right from that particular sidewalk, almost a u-turn. Jayden didn’t even pause. All of the sudden I felt us making the hard right, felt my landmark little dip and we were home. Jackpot kibble, lots of love!

I took the harness off and let Jayden romp with Dave a bit and then Dave and I stood talking awhile. Dave said it’s about a mile walk just around the complex, so it’s absolutely perfect. It was nice to have a relaxing walk too.

Jayden was then tugging me towards the door like, ‘come on, mom, I want my frozen Kong now please’ haha!

I wonder if he’ll ever cease to amaze me. I kinda doubt it. Everyone was right when, after we’d been home a few weeks and I said how amazing Jayden was, that I had no idea how amazed I would be in the coming months.

Independence? I never knew independence like this. Not even sighted. I can’t explain it, but I feel more independent and safe than I ever did as a sightie. I am never alone. Well, not until Jayden decides he wants to curl up on that darned comforter!

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