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Jottings from Julia and her Mom
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Below are the 50 most recent journal entries recorded in alexisdog's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
8:42 am
Two Year Tribute
The rest of the world would think that September 3 is just another average day, but September 3 is a very special day in my life. I received my beautiful Seeing Eye dog, Julia, on this date in 2007. It was a Monday so the rest of America was celebrating Labor Day by grilling hamburgers or having other Labor Day celebrations. In my life, Monday, September 3, 2007 should have been renamed Independence Day.

I remember September 3, 2007 like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my room at The Seeing Eye when my instructor invited me down to the women's lounge to meet my new furry companion. He told me her name, Julia, and her breed, lab-golden cross. From the moment I first touched her, I knew we would have many wonderful adventures together.

Training wasn't always easy. I had everything to learn about working with and caring for this new creature. Julia needed to learn that the person she loved best was her "forever person," not her trainer, Shannon. The month in New Jersey flew by, and before I knew it, it was Thursday, September 27. We were headed home to Anderson and our new life together.

In the 2 years since September 3, 2007, we have been on many adventures together. We went to Chicago in July, 2008 for a big international conference in the vision field. Julia was a wonderful ambassador for The Seeing Eye because of her exemplary behavior during the conference. My trust in her was reaffirmed yet again when she guided me perfectly throughout the very large hotel and on the very crowded streets of Chicago. It was then that I realized that partnering with a dog guide would be my preferred mode of travel for just as long as I am physically able.

In August of this year, we attended yet another large conference in Indianapolis. This was at a very large convention center. Julia did such good work throughout the entire day we were there even though there were people in wheelchairs, other dogs, and lots of people walking around. She never was phased once by anything at the conference.

During our time in Michigan, we went to many new and different places, but the places that were constants in Julia's life were my class building, my dorm, and the veterinary clinic. Julia had many UTI's during our time in Michigan, but a cause was never determined. I suspect there was something in the environment in Kalamazoo that caused her to exhibit such frequent symptoms. No one ever confirmed or refuted my suspicions, but when we moved away from Kalamazoo, the frequency of her UTI symptoms significantly decreased.

My time with Julia has not been all work and worry about her health. She has shown that she has a quirky sense of what is dangerous and what is safe. Sometime last summer or fall, I was walking with someone on campus when Julia swerved to avoid something. Having been trained in what to do when Julia swerves, I instinctively followed her lead. I glanced back only to discover that what she had avoided was a shadow cast by a very large object my friend was carrying. We both cracked up laughing because this was the first time Julia had performed this type of clearance check. From then on, if shadows looked dangerous, she would guide me around them. Never mind if the shadow was a small post or something else that is safe in the real world. In Julia's well trained brain, something about the shadows must have looked dangerous so she felt it her duty to protect her mistress from undue harm.

In late April, we moved from the dorm in Kalamazoo to a hotel room in Indianapolis so that I could complete my internship in vision rehabilitation therapy. Julia did such good work during the entire time we were in Indianapolis, even if other students wanted to cross the very busy intersection near the hotel. 10 lanes of cars never phased her once, and my trust in her was affirmed each and every time we made it safely across the very busy intersection.

Julia was also a great representative of the independence a dog guide provides. I had one student during the summer who is very interested in applying for and training with a dog guide in the very near future. We were in the hotel together so he was able to learn a great deal about the day to day care of a dog guide. I was very pleased that I could give this student such information from personal experience rather than from websites or other people's experiences.

Julia and I are now in North Dakota for an indefinite amount of time. The next big adventure will be moving to another place when I get hired somewhere. At this point, I don't know where this will be, but I have confidence that Julia will take any new challenge in stride.

Thank you, Julia, for all the adventures we have been on in the past 2 years of partnership. May we have many more years of partnership together. I love you.

Current Mood: thankful
Friday, April 24th, 2009
3:20 pm
What will my dog dream up next?
Yesterday when Julia and I went to CHHS to pick something up, she was exhibitting very strange behavior. She wasn't distracted by anything so the behavior was nothing that needed to be corrected.

After crossing the little streets by Spindler, we were on the long stretch of sidewalk, which is when the odd behavior took place. This is the sidewalk that is leading up to CHHS.

She was veering to the right at different points on this very straight sidewalk. We never went off the sidewalk, but the path she took me on certainly wasn't straight. After a couple of these times when she veered to the right, I determined why she was veering to the right.

It was bright and sunny yesterday so there were a number of shadows that were cast from poles and other objects along the way. These shadows were cast on the sidewalk and ultimately in our path. Julia, for whatever reason, determined in her brain that these long dark shadows were dangerous obstacles that needed to be avoided at all costs. I'm unsure why she made that decision yesterday when we have walked the route many times on sunny days.

There has only been one other time in which she has made this decision. Sometime last summer, a friend and I were walking to the post office so we could mail things. My friend had a very large kite that cast a very long shadow. She was walking on my right side so the shadow was cast somewhere in front of me. Julia felt that this was an obstacle so guided me around it. I was laughing really hard because what can a shadow do to me? Nothing! Apparently, in her little brain, she thought it was a dangerous situation.

This dog never ceases to amuse me with the choices she makes both in and out of harness.

Current Mood: amused
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
8:16 am
Julia's amazing traffic check
Julia did something totally amazing and brilliant last night.

I went to dinner with Peter, his wife, and some other people at a local Italian restaurant last night as sort of a good bye dinner before I move to Indy. Julia was sniffy and distracted on the way to the restaurant, but a good firm correction got her mind back on the job.

When we left the restaurant, I let her park in a grassy area there so I wouldn't have to mess with it when I returned to my dorm. After she did her business, Peter directed us to a trash can so I could dispose of the bag. On the way to Peter's car, something truly amazing happened.

We were walking in the parking lot when all of a sudden a car came out of nowhere. Julia literally ran me to a space between two parked cars. Peter didn't have a clue what was going on, but I knew she was doing a super duper traffic check. Peter told me that the spot she took me was a dead end and that his car wasn't either one of the cars next to us. I knew this but also knew why Julia chose to take me there instead of somewhere else. There was enough space for both of us between those parked cars, and the distance between us and the speeding car was safe enough so that neither of us would get hit.

When the speeding car disappeared, Julia and I went to Peter's car, and I explained to him what had just happened. He was amazed, and to be honest, so was I. I knew Julia had been trained to avoid traffic, but we hadn't had a traffic check in quite awhile so I was concerned that her traffic skills might be deteriorating. Last night's traffic check has laid that concern to rest forever.

Current Mood: proud of my girl
Saturday, April 18th, 2009
9:39 pm
My day
I was out for most of the day today and had a very good experience with Julia. We went to the Grand Rapids zoo and had some very interesting experiences there.

Preliminary decisionCollapse )

Zoo experienceCollapse )

Lunch and afterwardsCollapse )

Current Mood: happy
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
9:06 am
Happy birthday, Julia
Dear Julia,

Today is your 4th birthday, and our bond is unbreakable. I love having you by my side, whether we're walking to class or meeting a new client or just walking for the fun of it. Making the choice to partner with a dog guide was the best decision I have ever made. The match that TSE staff chose for me was, for all practical purposes, perfect.

I can honestly look back between your third birthday and today and see improvements in our team work and relationship. Your confidence is also much greater between April 15, 2008 and today. The trips we took over the summer did much to strengthen our bond and your guide work. Going to Chicago was good for both of us because it taught me that I could rely on you to get us safely around in any situation. It also taught me much about asking for help when necessary and generally helped me become a much more confident traveler. With you by my side, Chicago wasn't as scary as it might have been had I only been using my cane.

Having gone to Chicago with you, I have the confidence to face internship in Indianapolis in a few weeks. I know that we will conquer Indianapolis. Your strong and steady presence in my life will help me through any possible rough times that I might encounter while on internship.

This year also brought many trips to the vet. I know you can't help developing UTI's. If, in the future, some medical reason for the multiple UTI's is discovered, I will be by your side for whatever treatment they need to administer. If surgery is necessary, I will do whatever I can to make the recovery as smooth as possible.

May you have many more happy birthdays.


Current Mood: happy
Monday, March 16th, 2009
7:06 pm
A nice walk with Julia
Julia and I had a really good walk tonight. Michelle was planning to go on a short walk and asked if I wanted to go with. I agreed because the weather is so lovely outside. I figured it would also be good for Julia since we didn't do much today besides grooming outdoors and the normal relieving.

Julia's work on this walk was really good. We walked the normal route to class but instead of going to the CHHS building, we walked along Oakland up to the next intersection. There were people and dog distractions along the way, but Julia ignored each distraction like a pro. I was so proud of her because sometimes she will want attention from people. A slight correction will get her mind back on the task at hand, but today, she didn't require any corrections when people and dogs were present. I needed only to say "Leave it" in a quiet voice, and she focussed on the task at hand.

It's walks like this that remind me why I chose to partner with a dog guide. Even though we've had our struggles over the past 18 months, it's all worth it when it all comes together in a nice walk like tonight. All that hard work and vet expense is worth it when we're perfectly in sync with one another and there is a symbiotic relationship that is easily observed by someone else.

Michelle says that she always enjoys watching Julia and me work together as a team because she has had the experience of walking with a dog guide. She went to TSE with her classmates last fall and had the opportunity to walk with sevaral different dogs. She understands better than most sighted people the time and effort that goes into training these dogs both at TSE and the continual work that the handler must put in after coming home from class. I appreciate having a friend who has that understanding.

Current Mood: happy
Thursday, January 29th, 2009
8:25 pm
Happy 80th Anniversary to The Seeing Eye
Today marks the 80th anniversary of the incorporation of The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ. without the dedication of two hard working individuals, Dorothy Harrison Eustice and Morris Frank, The Seeing Eye would not be the flagship dog guide training facility it is.

Every time I pick up Julia's harness, I am reminded of the sacrifice, work, and strength that Eustice, Frank, and many other individuals put forth to develop such a fine program.

May The Seeing Eye be around for many more years to come.

Current Mood: happy
Friday, November 28th, 2008
10:03 pm
Update on Julia's health
For those who are following this blog, here's the latest on Julia's health.

I took Julia back to the vet this afternoon for them to collect the third and final urine sample. They got their sample, and we left for lunch and other errands that I had to run.

While we were in the store, I got a call from Dr. Childress. He said that she had rods, red, and white blood cells in her urine, which he said meant she had another infection. For those who are not of the scientific persuasion, rods are one shape of bacteria. I didn't know this until the vet explained it to me. When he first said rods, I thought of the rods and cones in the eyes. He was concerned that the Baytral that I gave her for 10 days at the beginning of the month was ineffective at killing all of the bacteria. He proposed performing another urinalysis under sterile conditions. They would send this sample to the lab in order for them to more thoroughly analyze the type of bacteria that was growing in the urine. This would indicate to the vet how to better treat the infection. Originally, I had told him that I wanted to do another course of Baytral, which he was fine with at the time.

When we arrived at the vet's to pick up the Baytral, the vet and I talked more in depth. He explained the benefits of having this urine culture run over simply continuing to treat with Baytral. I agreed with him so opted to have them run the urine culture. They took her back and got the necessary amount of urine for the test.

After the test, he and I talked more, and he gave me a chart outlining how effective each antibiotic is in killing certain types of bacteria. The chart for rods and baytral is outlined below.



  • Proteus greater than or equal to 95%

  • Klebsiella greater than or equal to 95%

  • Pseudomonas 90%

I will give her Baytral for 7 days as he felt this would be more effective than not treating it and letting it get out of control. When he gets information about the bacteria and treatment options from the lab, he will call me in order to discuss further treatment. He is hesitant to perform radiographs at this point because he wanted to see if it was a simple bacteria that was causing the infection to reoccur. He mentioned the possibility that a urine stone might be preventing full and complete healing, but he doesn't want to perform those tests at this point. I appreciate that because I imagine urine stones would be costly and difficult to treat.

Current Mood: worried
Thursday, November 27th, 2008
12:55 pm
My first dog guide presentation
I finally had the time to upload the file of my presentation to people living in Grandma's condo when I was visitting in August.

Click here to download the presentation.

Current Mood: happy
Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
9:23 pm
A dog's bedtime prayer
I read this on someone's blog as well as several dog guide lists.

A Dog's Bedtime Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep,
The queen-size bed is soft and deep.
I sleep right in the center groove,
My human being can hardly move.

I've trapped her legs,
she's tucked in tight,
and here is where I pass the night.
No one disturbs me or dares intrude,
Til morning comes and I want food.

I sneak up slowly and it begins,
My nibbles on my human's chin.
she wakes up slowly and smiles and shouts, "You darling beast! Just
cut it out!"
But morning's here and its time to play,
I always seem to get my way.

So thank you Lord, for giving me,
this human person that I see
The one who holds me tight
and shares her bed with me at night!

Current Mood: happy
Monday, November 24th, 2008
9:26 pm
The gentle leader is wonderful

Important Tip for Newbies

When a dog guide handler has shoulder pain of any magnitude, the gentle leader is his or her best friend until complete healing has occured. Using the gentle leader allows the individual to continue working his or her dog with minimal pain until either the pain goes away or the handler has been seen by a doctor.

How I Came to Realize This

Friday was an uneventful day until late in the afternoon. Some friends and I went to a local coffee shop to study for a few hours early in the day. When it started to get dark, we packed up and headed back to Spindler. The walk was uneventful until some point near the dorm.

At that point, there was a significant crack in the sidewalk. Julia did not stop for this crack, and my foot hit it at just the right angle to cause a nasty fall. I landed flat on my face, arms, and legs. Luckily, there were people with me so one of them grabbed Julia until I was able to stand up and take the leash back again. Instinct was to correct her for blowing that crack, but I wasn't listening to my instincts at that point. I just wanted to get home so we left the scene of the accident without reworking the error.

I was feeling fine that night so went to a movie with friends later. We got home around midnight at which point I fed and parked Julia whom I had left behind. I did this because I never know what to expect in movie theaters in terms of how messy the place is.

I woke up Saturday morning to an incredibly painful sensation in my shoulder. Both shoulders were hurting, but my left shoulder was more painful than my right one. I made the decision to attempt to work Julia on my right side when taking her out to park in order to give my left shoulder a chance to rest. This did not go according to plan because she was very confused. I gave up the idea of having her walk on the right side after a few moments of arguing with her.

The next day when we went to lunch with friends, I decided to put the gentle leader on her to minimize pulling and sniffing behavior. This is when I realized the true benefits of the GL. She was incredibly well behaved the entire time we were out, and my shoulder didn't hurt as much as it had the previous day. I determined then that I will use the GL until my shoulder is definitely healed.

I put it on her this morning before leaving for class, and she was incredibly well behaved on the walk to CHHS. If she was distracted, I needed only to give her a quiet verbal reminder, and she quickly regained her focus. During the times we were walking outdoors, she performed phenomenal guide work. As the day progressed, the weather became nasty. It snowed to the point where there was slush on the ground, which caused there to be slippery spots in places. I felt her veering left or right at various points along the route home from class. I figured something was distracting her, but Devon reported that she was taking me around snow piles or puddles. I was very proud of her because this meant my shoes and socks didn't get soaking wet. I can only imagine that having the GL on was one of the reasons why she performed such phenomenal work today.

I opted to leave it on her the entire day except the few moments when she was relieving between FCS and braille class. She was so eager to get it off that she would cling to me and rub her nose against my legs. She even went in between my legs and rubbed in that area to try to remove the GL. One of my friends took some very cute photos of her rolling around on the floor of the BLS department. I will post those photos as soon as I receive them.

I plan to put the GL on her again tomorrow for the entire day. My shoulder should be completely healed by next week so I can stop the continual use of the GL on December 1. I may not though given how impressed I was with her behavior and guide work while wearing it.

Current Mood: happy
Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
6:56 pm
More Julia brag
I swear I have the most amazing dog on the planet!

After I posted the entry this morning, we left for class. I thought the walk would be uneventful, but knowing that it had snowed heavily yesterday, I packed my cane to use as support if we encountered ice. It was a good thing I packed it because close to CHHS, we did encounter ice. I stopped and unfolded my cane before walking on the ice. Julia didn't seem the least bit phased when I used my cane in addition to her guiding me. In fact, she seemed to ignore the cane and accepted it as another part of me.

Prior to using the cane, we had an interesting experience. I saw something shiny on the sidewalk, but I attributed it to the sun reflecting off a pool of water. Based on Julia's actions though, I wonder if it was a big patch of ice. At one point on the sidewalk, she veered left and took me on the grass. At first, I thought she was being distracted, but when I looked on the sidewalk, I saw that big patch of sniny cement. When we passed that and got back on the sidewalk, I gave her lots of praise. She is such a smart dog.

Current Mood: happy
8:38 am
Proud of my girl
It had been snowing off and on all day yesterday and then froze last night. Therefore, there was ice in spots when I took Julia out to park this morning. As friends, both in the real world and those who have known me for awhile online know, I loathe, detest, despise, can't stand winter and all the issues surrounding it. I especially despise slippery ice because, more often than not, I will end up on the ground, whether I have a dog or not.

Last year, I took a nasty fall on the ice while taking her out to park one day. On the way back, Julia took me a completely different route, avoiding the icy conditions that had caused me to lose my balance. I was incredibly proud of my girl as we had only been a team for 4 months at the time of this incident. After that, she was incredibly careful on the ice, sometimes even taking me off the sidewalk entirely to avoid the icey spots.

I wasn't thinking about last year when I took her out to park this morning, but it quickly came back to mind when I stepped out and felt the ice underfoot in the parking lot and sidewalk. We arrived safely at her relieving area, and she did her business quickly. On the way back, she took me a different route, avoiding the icy conditions entirely. She got lots of praise for that when we reached the dorm. I had no idea that she would remember an incident from almost a year in the past and initiate the same behavior that she had initiated last year. In fact, the icy conditions were something I was dreading like always. Winter and I do not get along.

If I ever had thoughts about not getting another dog after Julia retires, I must have succumb to the stress of the semester and let that stress dictate events years in the future. This morning's event showed me that travelling with a dog is a much safer means of travel for me.

Current Mood: proud
Sunday, November 16th, 2008
8:01 am
An update on Julia
It's been a long time since I updated this blog so what's been happening in the life of Julia and her mom?

The semester has been busy with papers and projects. Christmas break can't come soon enough. These next 3 weeks will fly by and then it's off to North Dakota for some much needed R&R. I'm very much looking forward to this trip. Unfortunately, Julia won't see my brother, who was her favorite person last time we were in North Dakota. Pete is tugger supreme and plays hard with her the way I should but physically can't.

Julia's health has been good except for a UTI that was diagnosed on November 6. I woke up to the sound of what I thought was vomitting but didn't think anything of it since I wasn't fully awake. I went back to sleep, but Julia's behavior was very odd. She jumped back on the bed and was panting for what seemed like hours. This didn't seem right so when the vet opened, I called and asked about the symptoms. The receptionist thought I should bring her in so I made arrangements to get a ride for our 10:30 appointment. The doctor was concerned about her lack of interest in food that morning and ordered blood tests. As soon as they took her back to the lab area, she had an accident, which afforded them a perfect opportunity to run a urinalysis. That's how they diagnosed the UTI. She was on Baytral for 10 days, ending yesterday morning.

I will be taking her in tomorrow after braille class for them to collect another urine sample. I'm hopeful that the infection is gone because if it is not, the vet spoke of putting her on Hills CD prescription diet. This food apparently has a higher acid content and is more appropriate for dogs with urinary tract disease. I wouldn't go so far as to say Julia has urinary tract disease since she has only had 3 UTI's in the time she has been with me. I guess we'll wait and see what happens tomorrow.

Julia's work has been up and down. Yesterday, she did decent work except when there was a piece of food in her line of sight. She was very interested in that piece of food. When we came back from shopping, Julia saw a roll in the gutter in front of my dorm and was very interested in retrieving it. I was holding on with all my might, but I wasn't strong enough to restrain her. I was almost at the point of losing my balance so decided to sit on the ground rather than be pulled on the ground. Peter said that I looked like a character from a Franz Kafka novel. The last time he saw me, I was standing upright, and the next moment, I was on the ground. Julia never got that piece of food because when I was at her level, I was better able to control her. This might be indicative of problems so I will start the food refusal exercises in earnest once again.

Something similar happened when a friend brought her 17 month old nephew by to meet us. Julia was so excited to see this child that she was pulling me off balance. As with the food incident, I felt safer when I was on the floor and didn't have far to go if Julia decided to tug extremely hard. As above, I was able to better control her when I was at her level. She was not working at the time we were introduced to the child. I didn't know when they were coming by so had her on tie down from the point my friend called to say they were on their way until 15 minutes later when I hadn't seen her yet. Not knowing when she was coming by, I decided to take Julia off tie down. That was probably not a wise idea because Julia would have probably been better behaved on tie down. I did, however, put her in harness at one point during the meeting, and she was much calmer then. Although the harness might not always be a fool proof solution either given that she was in harness when she wanted that piece of food.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Tuesday, October 28th, 2008
5:43 pm
Julia's traffic work
Julia did amazing work today.

We didn't go anywhere different, but on our way to class, she really showed her stuff.

Last week, I was concerned about her traffic work at a particular intersection that we routinely cross. I was concerned that she wasn't paying attention to the environment because we would cross and a car sometimes would be a few feet in front of us. We never got hit, but last Wednesday, I was concerned enough to phone the school. I spoke with a training supervisor who assured me that her traffic work was fine. She said that as Julia has gotten more comfortable with me, she hasn't executed the same traffic check behaviors that were drilled into her during her training.

This intersection was unusually busy for the time of day I was crossing so I waited until I thought it was safe to cross. I didn't hear or see any vehicles coming so gave Julia the forward command. She refused to move forward. A moment after I gave her the forward command, a car zoomed around the corner and through the intersection. After the car was gone, I gave Julia the forward command again, and we crossed the street with no issues.

Once we reached the other side, I gave her lots of praise because I was so proud of her traffic work. I know I have had her for over a year and this should be routine, but after last week's concern, I thought it would be a good idea to praise this. She was super excited by the praise and hug that her tail started wagging a mile a minute. She always gets so excited when I praise her and even more excited when I bend down to hug her after she does something good.

Current Mood: happy
Saturday, October 18th, 2008
11:57 am
A note from Julia
Today's grooming session was fun!

Mom took me outside and brushed me with the FURminator. At the end, I decided to play tug with the leash. Then I got away from Mom and found a big branch that must have fallen from a tree. I thought this was great fun! Mom tried to get me to drop the branch, but I was having too much fun. Mom says she was worried that it wasn't safe. Oh Mom, why do you worry about such things? Branches and sticks are so fun! I finally dropped the branch, and Mom threw it to one side. More fun!! I ran and brought it back to her, and the fun started all over again.

We finally came in, but I wish I could have brought that branch in with me. Mom's living area is way too small for a big dog like me. I can't wait until we go to Bismarck for Christmas and then somewhere else for internship. Grandma's apartment is huge, and I love it! Lots of space to run around and play.

Current Mood: happy
Thursday, October 16th, 2008
10:26 am
Julia's midmorning snack
I think my dog guide has turned into a tooth wipe eating machine!


The tooth wipes I use everyday have turned into dog food.

I was brushing Julia's teeth like normal when her tongue flicked out and took the wipe off my finger. I thought I could retrieve it like I have in the past, but that wasn't to be. It went down the hatch in less than a second!

That's the last wipe I have until my package from Petco comes.....

Julia, what am I going to do with you?

Current Mood: amused
Monday, October 13th, 2008
10:30 am
Julia tells about grooming this morning
Julia decided to steal the keyboard and tell what fun she had while being groomed.

Mom loves to take me outside to groom me, and I think it's great fun. I especially like it when Mom can't control me while she's sitting so has to lay on the ground to control me. I saw someone who is in most of Mom's classes this morning and got very excited. Leah has never seen me off harness so I thought it was a great chance to get some pets and playtime in before we went to braille later.

Mom was holding my leash like normal, but as soon as I saw Leah, I got excited and started pulling towards her. Mom immediately went flat on the ground. She says she does this so she doesn't get pulled off balance. I think it's funny to see her laying flat on the ground as I'm all excited at seeing someone. Leah petted and played with me for a few minutes before Mom got hold of me and started to groom me again.

I wish I could go to all of Mom's classes like this and have lots of people pet and play with me. It's much more fun than sitting under a table or worst yet, being tied to a table, while Mom is listening to someone lecturing or while she's working with someone else in another part of the room.

Current Mood: amused
Sunday, October 12th, 2008
5:14 pm
Julia's antics while grooming
Today's grooming session was one of amusement and frustration all rolled into one.

I was groomingJulia outside as the weather is lovely, and I want to take advantage of as many nice days that we have left before the winter sets in. Grooming Julia outside is much easier than grooming her in my tiny dorm room.

Normally when I groom Julia outside, she is calm and easy to handle. I can set the FURminator cover right next to me and easily keep track of where it is if I have to move around to reach all sides of Julia during the grooming process. Today was the one exception to the normal grooming process.

After I groomed Julia for awhile, she decided that she had had enough and wanted to play. She thought it would be extremely fun to use her leash as a tug toy. When I tried to remove it from her mouth, she growled like when we play tug with the rope. She thought it was great fun to run around the front yard and not give me the leash back. In the process, she kicked the FURminator cover somewhere in the front yard.

I had had enough of this leash tug game so got her ready to bring inside. In the process, I tried to get her to find the cover that she kicked. She refused to listen to my command of "Where is it?" I think she knew that she was the source of some confusion so decided not to help.

I tried to find the cover myself but was unsuccessful. I came in and asked one of my friends to help me locate it. I told her where I had been grooming Julia, and she was able to find the cover very quickly.

Julia is always making me laugh at her silliness.

Current Mood: amused
Sunday, October 5th, 2008
9:27 pm
An amusing Julia story
Julia is an ever present source of amusement for me.

I was talking to a friend online who attends Northern Illinois University. She sent me NIU's fight song and then subsequently sent me WMU's song, both of which she found on Youtube.

I posted an entry in my personal blog comparing the two songs. When I clicked the links to make sure I correctly identified each Youtube video, Julia showed her traitor side.

She was laying on the floor ignoring me when the Western fight song was playing. As soon as NIU's song came on, she was up and close to me and showing her excitement. What a traitor! If she's showing any school spirit, it should be for Western, not NIU!

Here are the links for your enjoyment.

Northern Illinois University's fight song

Western Michigan University's fight song

Current Mood: amused
Thursday, September 25th, 2008
7:55 pm
Julia is psychic
Julia amazed me today on our way to class.

Before I left for class, I needed to refill a prescription that I needed by lunchtime today. I called the pharmacy as soon as it opened at 9:00 this morning and told the pharmacist what I needed. She said it would be ready in a few minutes. As soon as I got off the phone, I grabbed my stuff, harnessed Julia, and left.

We took the normal route to class as the pharmacy is on that route. When we were at the sidewalk leading into the pharmacy, I didn't even give a command. She knew that we needed to go there before class. I don't think I even looked in that direction because I was purposefully looking straight ahead. It amazes me how in tune with me she has gotten over the past year we have been a team.

Current Mood: amazed
Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
8:20 pm
Julia tells about the past few weeks
Mom is letting me steal the keyboard and tell about the past few weeks. She's been so busy that she hasn't updated the blog in over 2 weeks. I figured that since she was taking a study break, I could steal the keyboard.

We have had a busy few weeks. Mom's classes are keeping her busy, which doesn't leave much time left for her to play with me. She needs to hurry up and finish this semester so we can play more. She's only groomed me twice since school started, which I don't like. I like being groomed more than twice in a month. Mom says that she might groom me tomorrow. I sure hope she does. Otherwise, I will have to do something to her to make her groom me.

Mom uses some really weird contraptions for her braille class. One of them is a little computer with only 9 keys on it. She calls it a Braille Note, but since she won't let me check it out, it could be anything for all I know. It has a weird voice that repeats everything she is typing. She doesn't type normally on it either. She uses contractions to save space. Humans and their need to always save space. What's with them?

She's also used a huge machine that she calls a brailler. It's this big gray thing that looks like it's from way before I was even born. Mom has even been crazy enough to think that I will actually carry the thing for her. Who does she think she is? Some lazy grad student who wants her dog to do everything? I won't touch that machine because the teacher might get mad if he finds dog hair and slobber all over it. Besides, it's way too heavy for me to lift. It's about my weight. She sits at a table and pounds on the machine for hours. It produces weird dots that don't mean anything to me, but Mom says they are sentences and words. Maybe it's a secret code between Mom and her prof where she tells the prof everything good about me leading up to the time when she will let him pet me. She has never let him pet me, and I think it's a shame. Such a nice man. I want Shig to pet me, especially since he has a dog guide of his own. He would know all the best places to pet me. Someone, please tell Mom that she needs to have Shig pet me. He even came to the dorm last weekend to help Devon with her Braille Note, and Mom didn't even let him pet me then. What a shame!

She's also started using this other weird contraption that's some sort of writing thing. I don't understand how she can write by poking holes in paper, but she says it produces braille. Humans in the BLS department have some strange ideas. She's working on brailling a deck of playing cards for her class. Why she would spend time brailling a deck of cards when she should be petting, grooming, and playing with me is beyond me. She says it's a good way to practice the alphabet. Strange ideas, but I'm not in control of what she does here. I wish I was.

One of Mom's friends gave me treats on Monday, and boy are they good! They are her dog's favorite kind of treat. I love it! I wish more people would bring me treats. They're nice and soft and yummy. She even gave me one before class Monday night, and I sure enjoyed it.

Mom has also decided to switch my food from Blue Buffalo to California Natural Chicken and Rice. She says she saves more with this food. The new food tastes good, but she hasn't given me alot of it yet. She's slowly weaning me off Blue Buffalo.

Oh one more thing before I give the keyboard back to Mom. She was so mean to me today before we went to cooking class. We walked over to CHHS where we catch the bus over to the cooking building. On the last part of the route, there were so many people. I wanted pets, but instead got a correction because Mom brushed a pillar. She says I should watch out for those things, but when there are people around who might pet me, it's more fun to find those people. She gave me a leash correction, and I supposed I better shape up. Darn it anyway.

Oh, something else, and then I promise I'm done. I'm such a smart doggie! Mom has 2 different bags that she carries on different days. On the cooking days, she carries this big beach bag that she calls a "vision bag." She says it's red and white stripes like what Phyllis had. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she carries a backpack. When she carries the vision bag, we go a different route because we have to catch the bus, but when she carries the backpack, we go the normal route.

Last week, she carried the vision bag. I was no dummy. I started out on the different route even before a command was out of her mouth. Now she has decided to trick me by carrying the vision bag and going the other route to the bus stop. She says the route to the bus stop near where we live isn't safe so she prefers to catch the bus at CHHS. What a way to confuse me! Just when I had her little system all figured out, she has to go and change it. Mom, didn't they tell you in class that we like our routines? Don't go messing it up!

I promise I'm really done now.

Current Mood: happy
Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
10:19 pm
Julia decides to be a brat in class
I decided to steal Mom's keyboard and tell about what I did today that made Mom so mad. Hehehehehehehe!

Mom has this class that the humans call FCS 6360, Teaching for Independent Living. I think the class should be called Furry Canine Socializing 6360, Teaching for Dog Petting. She says this class will teach her how to teach blind people how to be more independent in the kitchen and other places in their homes. That's all great if a dog isn't in the room, but if a dog is in the room, the class should focus on the dog not listening to a lady lecture for a long time.

As the teacher was lecturing, I decided to have some fun with Mom by not lying quietly under the table. I would sit up and put my head on her knee. She told me in a whisper to lie down and pushed me into a down position. But but but, I wanted to play! Mom wasn't doing anything while the teacher was lecturing. She says that the lecture was important, but I think playtime with humans is more important than humans sitting at tables listening to someone lecture.

I finally got the idea that I should lie quietly, and Mom says she was relieved. She was worried that the teacher and other students saw her trying to discipline me, but someone said it wasn't noticeable to them. After Mom got me to lie quietly, the teacher finished lecturing. Then Mom tied me to the table leg and went off with someone else guiding her. That made me unhappy, and I whined to let her know I wasn't pleased. She had this big black thing on her face that humans call a blindfold. I don't understand why she would need a blindfold in this class. Humans are so strange!

Current Mood: wondering why humans are so strange
Sunday, September 7th, 2008
12:12 pm
Starting the new semester
Julia is the calmest dog I know. Last night, we went to part of the WMU-NIU football game. There were fireworks above our heads at various points, and Julia could have cared less. Later on, there was a very loud cannon blast. The people that we were with freaked out, but Julia merely looked over to the source of the sound and continued walking. The cannon was shot off 2 or 3 more times in the time we were at the stadium and walking home. She ignored the sound even though the rest of us jumped out of our skin. We weren't expecting the cannon to be shot off when it was. I don't plan to subject Julia to fireworks and cannons being shot off on a regular basis, but it's nice to know that if I'm ever in a situation where this happens unexpectedly, she will be able to handle it with no problems.

My semester is going to be a crazy semester with lots of classes and plenty of opportunity ofr Julia to work. One of my classes is all the way across campus so we have to take a bus either from outside my residence or outside the CHHS building. I do't think the bus drops us off right at our class building so there's a bit of walking involved to arrive at the building. Once Devon and I are sure of the route from the bus stop to the class building, I asked her if she would lay it out for me on the Picture Maker. She said that would be a good review for her as well so that will probably be a project for later tomorrow or Tuesday.

My other classes are in CHHS so the route to and from that building is a familiar one. Julia is doing excellent work this semester. It's almost like she knows the campus better than I do because she has such an air of confidence about her when we work. I"m very impressed with this dog.

Current Mood: happy
Friday, September 5th, 2008
9:10 pm
Park time frustrations
Read at your own risk.

Doggie TMI aheadCollapse )

Current Mood: frustrated
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
6:47 pm
Julia's follow up vet appointment
Julia had a follow up vet appointment this afternoon. I really like this vet because he is so incredibly thorough and doesn't discount my questions and concerns. He is also quite skilled at explaining something with enough description that anyone, whether the person is sighted or visually impaired, would be able to complete the task. For instance, I asked him if I could learn to express her anal glands. He said, without hesitation, that I could learn this task. Then he proceeded to explain the process. Rather than simply explaining it and pointing to the areas, he had me kneeling on the floor and physically showed me what he was doing. He said the next time she needs to have this done, he will have me do it with his guidance.

In addition, he took a sample of the gunk in her ear and ran a cytology. He also took a sample of her blood to test her kidney functioning after the episode this weekend. He didn't think it was a problem to run either of these tests. He called me about 5:30 tonight and told me everything came out normal so there are no lasting effects from her adventure with currents this weekend. He also told me the cytology showed nothing remarkable so I can discontinue treatment. I still have to clean her ears once a week, but that's not a big deal. I can use the wipes I bought at PetSmart. I also will continue to brush her teeth daily, which is something she can handle.

Current Mood: relieved
6:36 am
One Year Tribute
As Julia and I walk along the route to class today, my mind floats back to where I was on this day one year ago. So much has changed for me in that time frame. Join me as I jump aboard the time machine and relive those first 12 months. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. No hands or feet sticking out of the vestal. Ready? Let’s go!

”RideCollapse )

I have learned so much over the past 12 months, everything from how to put a harness on a dog to how to play interactively with Julia. Playing with Julia is a wonderful way to unwind at the end of a busy and stressful school day. She loves to play with her bones and even interactively with me once I learned how to play with her.

Applying for and training with a Seeing Eye dog was the best decision I have ever made. I feel much more confident navigating my world than I ever felt with a cane. With that increased confidence comes a willingness to explore new areas, a willingness that was never present when I used a cane. I have done more walking with Julia than I ever have done before. It feels so good to be outside enjoying the sunshine with Julia.

Working with a Seeing Eye dog has also done wonders for my balance. I feel much more steady on my feat with another body on my left side. Near the end of my time using a cane, I was falling more frequently than in the past. I have not fallen nearly as often with Julia by my side. Winter was one of those times of year when falling was inevitable because of he ice, but even those falls were less traumatic than in the past because I had 53 pounds of goldador supporting me as I landed on the ground or regained my footing before landing on the ground.

Julia’s ability to either alert to my impending ankle pain or slow her pace if the pain is already present has also been a huge blessing. Before Julia, I never had an indication that pain was coming until it hit full force. If Julia alerts to pain, I can take precautions before it hits although her alert behavior has not happened for a very long time.

There are a number of ingredients that have blended together to make my experience with Julia a positive experience.

  • An orthopedic doctor who was willing to try a new brace before I left for training

  • A supplement, Triflex, that is a pain preventative.

  • People, both on and off line, who supported me when times with Julia got rough

  • Increased self-confidence that this would work out even when times got rough

  • Supportive vets who assisted me in learning how to administer medications or ointments and who understood that I would not be able to see their demonstrations

  • The knowledge that there is always a solution to an issue and the ability to research until the solution is found

I could not end this post without thanking a number of very special people who have been part of this journey over the past 12 months and beyond.

First of all, I want to thank my mother, Diana Read, and my grandmother, Lou Hapip, for being there every step of the way from infancy to adulthood. Without you, I would not be where I am today. I have learned so much from both of you, lessons that have helped me succeed, not just in training and living with a Seeing Eye dog, but lessons that have helped me succeed in other areas of life too.

Thanks also go out to Phyllis LeDosquet, Sarah Blake, and Rex Teeple for writing reference letters when I initially applied in 2006. Without those letters, I would not have this wonderful creature by my side. Thank you to all of you for being friends, mentors, as well as references on my application. I have learned so much from all of you.

Thanks go out to everyone at The Seeing Eye from the president Dr. James Kutsch to the members of the housekeeping staff. Each of you made my experience at The Seeing Eye a pleasant experience, one I will remember and treasure for a lifetime. Thanks also to my instructors, Kevin Mundy and Jeff McMullen for training me with Julia. Last but certainly not least, thanks go out to Shannon Ciccarelli for training this wonderful dog.

I’d also like to thank Annette Skellenger for her patience in teaching me the route from my dorm to class. In addition, I’d like to thank her for all the time she spent working with me on basic orientation concepts, concepts that have made traveling as a person who is visually impaired much easier.

In addition, I’d like to thank Peter Blickle, a new friend in Kalamazoo. With Peter by my side, I have learned that walking long distances isn’t as scary as I once thought it to be. I have also learned that veterinary emergencies aren’t the end of the world. Having someone with me at the emergency hospital made the experience far less stressful than it would have been if I would have done it alone.

Finally, I want to thank Julia, without whom none of this would have been possible. Thank you for being there when things got rough and always counting on me to make things right in your world. Thank you for bringing me out of my shell and helping me learn that exploring my world and playing with dogs is not as scary as I once thought. May we have many more years of partnership together.

Current Mood: accomplished
Sunday, August 31st, 2008
6:24 pm
Julia tells all about the emergency vet trip
Mom was so mean last night. After our nice swim and grooming session, she decided that I needed to see a vet about the currents I ate. I don't know why she wanted me to see a vet, but I went along with her anyway.

She called the vet first to see what she should do, and they told her to call a poison hotline, whatever that is. She called the poison hotline, and they told her to make me throw up. Gross! Why would anyone want to make me throw up? I do enough of that when she doesn't feed me on time.

She called the vet again because she didn't want to make me throw up. The vet told her that it wouldn't work because it had been too long since I had eaten the yummy food. She had to call the poison control people again, and they said she needed to take me in. Darn.

After that, it was a frenzy to try and find a ride to the hospital. She finally was able to reach Peter who took us there. I thought he was nicer than that. He took us to fun places earlier in the day.

Mom was so worried that she didn't even put on her braces but ran out the door in an old pair of boots. She didn't even stop long enough to get my paperwork but grabbed her whole file box.

Once we got to the hospital, there were more forms to fill out. I eventually saw the people who call themselves technicians but who really are mean and want to take me away from Mom. They wanted to take me to another room to poke and prod, but I wasn't having any of it. Finally, Mom and Peter came with me.

They took my vitals, ouch, and then we waited for the vet. He came in and examined me after talking to Mom. What a mean doctor! At least he didn't have to poke my butt like last week. He decided to put me in the hospital overnight with an IV in me. Ouch!

Mom and Peter left after they made that decision, and I was alone with the doctor and techs. They inserted the IV in my leg after taking some blood. Ouch! I had to sleep in a kennel with this horrible collar on my head. All I wanted to do was take the IV out, but Jackie didn't want that. She had to put that horrible collar on my head to prevent me from biting the IV. It would have been nice if I would have gotten the IV out. I could have gotten to see Mom alot sooner.

Mom and Peter came this morning to pick me up, and boy was I glad to leave the hospital. They took me to a part of campus so I could walk before it was time for them to remove the bandage. It sure was nice to be back in harness and not have a tube stuck in me for the whole night.

I have to go back to my regular vet this week so they can take more blood and see if my kidney values are normal. They should know that I'm healthy because I'm working perfectly fine. Mom says that she wants to do this to make absolutely sure.

Current Mood: glad to be back with Mom
Saturday, August 30th, 2008
5:03 pm
Julia's swimming adventure
Julia and I had a fun afternoon with Peter. Today was definitely a special day because we didn't go to a regular place but to a LAKE for Julia to swim. Before the swimming adventure, we had lunch at a local hospital cafeteria and then met Peter's dog Molly who is a German shephard. Molly is about the same size as Julia although her hair is a bit longer.

Julia and Molly had fun running around the fenced in yeard. That run time was definitely good for Julia because it let her burn off some of that excess energy she always seems to have. After some run time, we had muffins on the porch. Peter's wife had recently made the muffins so wanted to know how they tasted. If Julia could talk, I bet she would say they tasted yummy because she snitched a whole muffin and the rest of mine. I had only managed to get one bite of my muffin before Julia inahled it moments after inhaling an entire muffin from the plate. Now Peter has seen the whole spectrum of Julia's behavior -- from the good behavior in harness to the wild behavior off harness. Julia seems to be doing OK from the muffin episode even though there were raisin currents in the muffins.

After we left, we went to a lake where Julia had MORE fun. I was hoping to get a picture, but she was more interested in pulling me into the water than letting me take a picture. I had brought the flexi leash, but even before I got the harness off, she wanted to get into the water. I managed to get the harness off and the flexi leash clipped to her collar before she went splashing around in the lake. I was standing on the bank holding the leash when she pulled so hard that I nearly went toppling into the lake. Peter grabbed the leash from me so that I wouldn't go all the way in. Now we know that Julia loves swimming. Swimming will definitely only be a very special treat for her because of how excited she gets.

Current Mood: happy
Thursday, August 28th, 2008
4:37 pm
Brushing Julia's teeth, a success
The teeth wipes that I ordered from Petco arrived today. That's the fastest I've ever received anything that I've ordered online as I just ordered them on Tuesday afternoon.

Once I figured out how to open the container and get the roll of wipes started, I took one out and had a short brushing session with Julia. She was such a good girl, sitting still through the entire session. I made sure and got all surfaces of her teeth especially the mollers, which I had heard can build up tarter more than the other teeth. I kept petting and praising Julia through the entire process, and when I was done, I gave her a yummy treat for being such a good girl. I think teeth brushing won't be an issue. It will just be another part of the daily routine.

I'm grateful that Julia was much more cooperative for this process now than she was in class. In class, she didn't sit still, but I don't think any of the dogs did. I think it was harder for the dogs to remain still for this process because we were new to each other so they didn't know what to expect. I think being together for almost a year helped Julia be more tolerant of the process. She's used to me cleaning out her ears now with no fuss so adding another component of dog care isn't anything new.

Current Mood: accomplished
Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
11:42 am
Cuteness supreme!
Miss Julia was mighty comfortable on my bed when, uh-oh! Mom brings warm sheets up from the dryer. She better move off the bed, otherwise......

Look what happens when Mom brings warm sheetsCollapse )

Miss Julia still doesn't move so the plot thickens!

Uh-oh! She's thinking seriously about how to get out of this messCollapse )

Miss Julia is thinking......

I suppose I'll curl up and take a nap under the tentCollapse )

You can see her thinking......

How am I going to get out of here?Collapse )

The frustration was mounting so I undid the sheet. She jumped off the bed and will probably not be on the bed in the future when I bring warm sheets. Although, who knows with Julia. She might have enjoyed the warmth underneath the makeshift tent.

Current Mood: amused
Monday, August 25th, 2008
4:58 pm
Julia's annual vet appointment
Julia had her anual vet appointment today, and things are looking good. The vet was great to work with even if Julia didn't like the things that he did to her.

He said she still has the ear infection so I need to continue to treat the ear the same as before. I thought I was running out of the treatment I received last week in North Dakota so I started giving her Otomax this morning. I took both bottles with me to the appointment to show the vet what she was taking and what I had started. Miracles of miracles, the Otomax that I had left over from Anderson is the exact same medication they gave me in North Dakota. I was absolutely amazed when he told me that everything about the two bottles was exactly the same except the company that makes them. I think he might have said the steroid in the ointment might be different, but I don't remember for sure now.

The only concern he found on the physical exam was a bit of tarter and calcium build up on her teeth. There is a bit more on the molars than the canine teeth so he advised that I start brushing her teeth. He also recommended a dental exam under anesthetic, but I'm not sure if I want to go that far. I wonder how important this part of dog care is.

He also looked at her anal glands and had to express them. I'm confused because when I had the vet in North Dakota look at them, she said they were fine and didn't need expressing. When this vet looked at them, he said they were full with one being fuller than the other. He couldn't believe the other vet would tell me they were fine when clearly they were full. He said that some of the stuff that came out of the glands was grandular and that if this continued, there could be problems with infections and the stuff becoming impacted. I'm not sure if I should be thinking about a food change or even that procedure where they numb the area and inject antibiotics into the glands. What I don't want to have happen is for Julia to need surgery to remove the glands.

I have to go back in about 3 weeks for a recheck of the ear. He also wants to do a cytology and make sure the infection is completely gone. I hope the test comes back negative and the infection is gone by that time. I don't want to go back to the vet every 2 or 3 weeks like what I did last year, especially when the fall semester starts. I will have enough to deal with when classes start and I start having projects and regular assignments. I do not need a sick dog on top of a busy semester.

She is current on all of her vaccines, which is good. No more vaccines until next August. She also had her heartworm test today, and while I was waiting for my ride, someone called my cell phone and told me that the blood test came back negative for heartworms. I can continue to give the preventative as normal. That's a relief to me.

Current Mood: relieved
Saturday, August 23rd, 2008
6:09 pm
Julia tells all about the trip to North Dakota
Mom is letting me take over her computer and tell about the fun we had in North Dakota.

Trip to North DakotaCollapse )

We flew into Kalamazoo on Wednesday night, and Peter met us at the airport. I love Peter! He is a German professor here that Mom met while we were in Lansing in May. Another person to pet me when the harness comes off.

Mom left me this morning while she went to participate in some crazy research study with one of her professors. She is forever participating in these strange studies that I don't understand. She says this one had something to do with hybrid vehicles and whether a person who is blind could detect them in the traffic. I don't understand why humans have to study this stuff because if Mom is walking with me, I will pull her out of the way of traffic if she doesn't hear a car. All these researchers need to know is that us doggies are trained to protect our humans, and everything will be perfect.

When Mom came back from the study, she called Peter as they had made arrangements on Wednesday night to go shopping this weekend. We went to the cafeteria at a hospital, and ooooh the smells! I wanted to sniff but knew that if I did, Mom would put the gentle leader on me. I had had enough of that in North Dakota at all the restaurants we went to. I didn't want that so was a good girl. When we were at the store, Peter told Mom he was so impressed with my work. He even calls me the Queen. I like that!

I better post this now as Mom says she wants her computer back.

Current Mood: happy
Friday, August 8th, 2008
2:27 pm
First real access challenge
I went to lunch with a good friend today and had my first real access challenge at the restaurant.

When we arrived and were waiting to be seated, the server wanted to put us on the patio, presumably because of the dog. He said that he had never handled this before and would have to consult his manager. I had my TSE ID card with me (I always carry it in my wallet) and quickly pulled it out to show him. He looked at it and was satisfied. He didn't call the manager but sat us in the restaurant with other customers.

When my friend was filling out the survey after our meal, she made a comment about the staff needing to have training in service dog ettiquit. I hope this particular restaurant does give their staff training because the food was very good.

I'm not sure if I handled the situation right by showing the man my ID, but that was the first thing that came to mind. Since I had run off without packing my book of access laws, the ID was all I had to use in my defense.

Current Mood: happy
Sunday, July 27th, 2008
5:58 pm
Julia's first professional conference
Julia did so well at a professional conference in Chicago, from navigating me around people on the street to working through the crowds in the exhibit hall.

The only time that she struggled was when we went down an escalator to get from 7th to 5th floor. We did fine going up the escalator from 5th to 7th, but coming down later was another story. She appeared very anxious and turned around while the escalator was moving. I tried to get her in the correct position. She eventually did turn back around, but it was a scary few moments on the escalator. I will avoid escalators if at all possible and take elevators or stairs. I was with someone so that was a good thing had Julia gotten a paw caught in the escalator. That also didn't happen, which I was grateful about, but it was enough to give me a few moments of panic and racing heart.

Julia was so well behaved through the majority of the conference. Very rarely did I have to correct her for distractions or sniffing. Only once did I have to correct a clearance error. We reworked the error, and she did beautifully. She never ran me into that object again even though we walked by it many times after the clearance error.

In comparison, I saw some dogs that were not so well behaved. One dog was sniffing Julia and doing other things as his or her owner continued to talk with me and ignore his dog. I wanted to say something, but I decided that it was best not to. The owner is an employee at another dog guide school that shall remain nameless. What kind of impression is that giving to prospective applicants or professionals who might be considering this school for their O&M students? If I was a professional working for a dog guide school and was at a conference like this, I would make sure my dog was as well behaved as possible so that I was giving a good impression of the school and the training I received with my dog. Maybe that's just me.

I did get some advice on an issue I was having that was causing a callus to form between my pinky and ring fingers. I talked with 3kitties on Thursday night and was describing this to her. She thought I needed to see a doctor so was intending to call Monday morning to make an appointment for this week. She did suggest that I talk with someone at TSE's booth to see what their opinion was. I was able to talk with Jay, and he showed me how to hold the handle differently so as not to put pressure on that spot. He said I was holding it too far to the left and needed to be more centerred. He showed me what he meant, and then when I changed positions, I made sure I was doing it correctly. He said I was, and I went on my way. This is the fast I have been able to have a dog related question answered by an instructor or staff person from TSE. At first, I was a bit intimidated by him because of all of his years of experience, but when I started talking with him, I found him to be very kind and personable.

I was quite impressed with the relieving area at the conference hotel. I was not, however, impressed with the arrangements at the hotel where we were staying. The hotel didn't have a designated relieving area so Julia had to pee and poop at the curb. It was incredibly dangerous with cars and other vehicles whizzing by at top speed. One wrong move on Julia's part, and I think I would have been dogless. The relieving area at the hotel was boxes of sod or grass up on the 9th floor. It was nice and well kept up.

I had not been shown where this area was until my arranged meeting time with Paul, my childhood O&M instructor, on Thursday. I asked him to show me where it was so she could park. All I knew was that it was on the 9th floor. We went up there together and found it. After that, each time I took Julia up there to relieve, she knew exactly where the area was and always pulled in the correct direction. I told Paul this on Friday when I saw him, and he was very impressed. I think seeing me with Julia was a good experience for him because he saw how far I have come in the years since he worked with me.

The only scary thing that happened was yesterday morning at the first park time of the day. Julia peed like a good girl and then took her sweet time pooping. She was really distracted by whatever was in the area or on the poles we were near. I was pulling her away from distractions and urging her to park when this lady came out of nowhere and said, "I'm with the Canine Police. The next time you jerk your dog, she will be taken away. Anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to remain silent." Needless to say, I was freaked beyond belief. Thankfully, my roommate was with me and tried to reason with the woman. I don't know what she was saying to her because I was busy with my dog. Nancy told me later that it was a good thing I ignored the woman and continued about my business.

Initially, I really did think there was Canine Police, but some bit of rationality tugged at that thought. Wh would a Canine Police person tell me that she would take my dog away? And why wasn't she showing a badge? Nancy told me later that the woman had a bag full of stuff with her and appeared crazy. My anxiety level was on overload all day yesterday and even when I came back here last night and parked Julia in the normal area. I wondered if perhaps I was yanking too hard, but I wasn't hurting Julia. All I was doing was getting her mind back on the task at hand.

When I first arrived in Chicago, I didn't know how I would be able to navigate the area between the two hotels. One of the people who travelled with me is preparing to be an O&M specialist so worked with me on the route. She said it was good practice for her. I eventually did learn the route, but I don't think I would ever feel comfortable walking alone in a big city. I say this not because of the routes themselves being difficult but being in the presence of so many people, some of whose intentions I have no idea of. Having that experience with the lady yesterday morning made me realize that I don't think I could live in a big city alone and navigate without someone familiar with me.

Navigating in the hotel became easier as the days progressed to the point where I could ask for directions from someone. At first, I had no idea where anything was and was worried about not finding anything. Eventually though, I became comfortable with wandering and asking directions to where I needed to go. Going to this conference did wonders for my O&M confidence and even my bond with Julia. I'm so glad I went.

Current Mood: happy
Thursday, July 17th, 2008
4:00 pm
Julia tells about her week
This week has been crazy! Mom has really made me work hard and then she said she had lots of pain later.

Monday, we got to see Bethany! I love it when I get to see Bethany! We went to the campus center for lunch, and it was a long walk over there. Mom said it was a good work out for me. On the way back, this crazy driver drove very close to me on the sidewalk. I jumped away from the golf cart, but Mom thought that I was misbehaving. I was only trying to protect both of us! She corrected me because she couldn't see what the driver was doing. Neither one of us got hit, which is a good thing.

Tuesday, we went to the doctor. Didn't we just go there last week? Mom sure loves her doctor. Or if she doesn't love the doctor, she's not very healthy! I haven't seen my doctor since March. Mom said her ear was plugged so she couldn't hear very well. They put some water and peroxide in her ear and flushed it. Ha ha ha ha Mom! Now you know what torture you inflict on me every week! She probably won't stop cleaning my ears even though she knows how it feels. The doctor said that the nurse would irrigate the ear. That sounds worse than flushing, but the way they did it looked about the same.

After the doctor visit, we went to CHHS where Mom was going to meet with a student who wants to come here. I hope she does come because Mom said she was a nice person. She and some other students talked to the prospective student. They are always throwing around words that I don't have a clue what they mean. Internship? Practicum? Mom says she will have to do this soon so I suppose it's part of her program. The sad thing was that no one petted me. I wanted pets, but they were too busy with their conversation about the programs to even acknowledge my presence.

Later in the day, we went back to CHHS for what Mom called a self-defense seminar. They were beating up on each other, and I couldn't even jump in there to protect anybody. Mom had tied me to a post as far away from the action as possible. I thought I was supposed to be your protector, but the lady teaching the class gave them a bunch of techniques to use if someone attacked them or their students.

After the self-defense seminar, we went on a walk with some other people from the program. We went to Dairy Queen where Mom ordered a blizzard. She said it was yummy. I wish she would have ordered me a blizzard, but all I got was water. Mom never gives me anything fun. I smell that chocolate and want it so much! She says it's bad for dogs.

On the way home, Mom said her ankle was really hurting. I thought the plastic thing she wears is supposed to stop pain. What good is it if it can't prevent the pain from coming? I sure would give the guy who makes these things a piece of my mind if I could talk. How dare they make things that hurt Mom! She was in pain for a good part of yesterday, but she says she's better now. I wish Mom didn't hurt so much.

Yesterday was a pretty stress free day. We went to lunch with Jeannie, and that was fun. We went to this place that gave Mom a huge cheeseburger. She said it was very good, but she couldn't finish it. After lunch, we went to CHHS where Mom did some work in the cool area before class. Nothing exciting happened in class as all they were doing was listening to someone talk about old people.

Today was an eventful day. Mom had class in the morning as usual, but the class was very different. We sat outside the room while Mom gave instructions to people for the lighting study she is doing. I thought studying was when someone learned how to be a vet or what Mom will do when we are done here. Mom says this study is supposed to tell her what type of lighting is best for people with low vision. In my world, all lights are the same. Humans have a way of making everything so darn complicated!

This afternoon was the craziest adventure yet! We went to a medical place where Mom met with a guy who makes things he calls orthotics. Would someone please tell me what an orthotic is? All I know is Mom has these weird contraptions in her shoes. The person was writing a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper and also bending Mom's feet into strange positions. He said that Mom could only bend 5 degrees.

Then he did something absolutely crazy. He had her take her shoes and socks off. He had a bucket of some strange liquid where he was dipping some strips or something. He wrapped the wet strips around Mom's foot almost up to her knee. It smelled so strange! They kept telling me to leave it, but I wanted to make sure that he wasn't hurting Mom. He said he has been doing this for 30 years. Once the strips were dry, he cut it off and there was a mold of her foot. I wonder if that would be a good dog treat. It would remind me of Mom so maybe it would taste good. Hm, I'll have to try that next time she has this done.

Mom doesn't have anything else for the rest of the day except to work on her research paper for that lighting project. Tomorrow, she is meeting with Bethany about something and then we are going to a class. She said she gets to make tactile graphics. Boy, they use some strange terms in this program!

The Chicago trip is coming up next week, and Mom is very excited. Yay! I don't have to sit in classes, but she said that there are presentations that she will listen to. More sitting! I want to move and walk. She is excited though because she gets to see Paul. She says Paul is the person who was her first O&M teacher. I wonder what he will think of me. He teaches people to swing that dangerous stick around so I don't know what I will think of him. Maybe Mom will let me write from Chicago.

Current Mood: happy
Friday, July 11th, 2008
9:28 pm
Julia tells all about her day with Jeannie
Mom went to prison today, and she said the tour was interesting and informative. I wish I could have gone with her, but she said that it was better that I stay with Jeannie. My day was fun.

Jeannie took me outside a couple of times, and I was a good girl for her. Mom had done a big long obedience routine with me before we left for CHHS, which she said helped. I would always be a good girl for anyone who watched me.

We even walked around CHHS, but the second time, someone told Jeannie that dogs weren't allowed in the building. She said that I had to wear my harness to be legit, whatever that means. So Jeannie put me in harness, but she didn't do it right. The leash was stuck. She finally figured out how to fix it. I didn't want to work because it wasn't Mom at the other end of the leash. We did the stuff Jeannie had to do and went back up to the BLS department.

Mom had packed a bag of my toys, bone, and treats. I didn't really play much with the nyla bone, but Jeannie and I did play with the egg toy. I love that egg toy. Mom is worried that it won't last much longer so she will have to find another toy like it. But, it won't be the same!

Mom came back around 3:00, but she was holding someone's arm. I thought she had a stick she used when I wasn't guiding. She showed Jeannie the stick, and it was broekn! Boy Mom, you sure are hard on those sticks! I'm glad I don't break as easily. If blind people are going to use sticks like that, the sticks need to be made better. Mom thinks she can get it fixed, but I don't understand why she would need to get it fixed. I'm her guide so she doesn't need the stick.

I'm glad to be back with Mom. I hope next time she goes to a prison, she takes me with her.

Current Mood: glad to be back with Mom
Saturday, July 5th, 2008
2:55 pm
Julia's first 4th of July
Yesterday was Julia's first 4th of July, and she did so well. Early in the day, I took her outdoors to groom. Someone set off a rather large firecracker somewhere in the distance. She didn't even react to the big explosion. She sat still and let me continue to groom her even as the explosion was happening somewhere in the distance.

I didn't want to take chances when a group of students set off fireworks in front of the dorm last night. After the dinner in the community room, I brought Julia back up to my room to protect her. I fed her, closed the windows so she wouldn't hear all the booms, and left.

When I came back a few hours later to take her out to park, fireworks were still going off all around us. She was incredibly calm throughout the whole thing. We went to the park area, and she did her business even though there were booms in the distance.

What a good dog!

Current Mood: happy
Saturday, June 28th, 2008
12:55 pm
My adventure with Mom
Mom posted the muman side of this adventure yesterday in another blog, but I want to tell my side of the story.

Mom was talking to another TSE grad on Thursday night, and this grad was telling her that she should go exploring. She said that what Mom's mobility teacher was saying about not bringing me on the route was a bad idea. I'm so glad someone else agrees with me!

Mom decided that yesterday was our day for exploring so after my morning park time, we set off to find the Commission. She says she will be doing her practicum there in the spring. Everyone around here is always talking about a practicum, but I don't know what that is. Everyone seems to think it's important. The only thing that's important is for people to pet me! If students could be taught how to pet me and get paid to do so, I would be happy.

When we saw Annette on Monday, Mom was asking her about the route to the Commission. She says that she was asking because she wanted to get more info before Annette and the practicum, there's that word again, student worked with her on it. Annette gave her some info, but I thought Mom would just save it until we started O&M.

We had to walk past the class building, but I wanted to go there. I've never gone past there. I finally agreed to take Mom on after she said that we would go somewhere nice. We walked and walked and walked until we came to a corner. Mom's vision played tricks on her because she thought there was a red light. I think it was just sun, but she claims she has to ask Annette.

We crossed and continued walking....and walking..... and walking..... and walking. Eventually we came to another intersection that beeped. Humans have come up with some awfully strange contraptions. And then when Mom pressed the button, there was a voice that said "Wait." Eventually, he said "Oakland, walk." Weird. Mom says she loves that type of intersection.

We crossed and then turned left and walked more. Boy this route is sure a long one! Eventually, we made it to the Commission. Mom introduced us to the lady behind the desk and said we would be coming in the spring for practicum. I hope that lady will pet me while Mom is there. The more people I can get to pet me, the better my world will be.

When we left, Mom wasn't sure how to reverse the route. She said, "Julia, go home" and I was so smart. I took her on the correct path, but Mom stopped me and turned around going back to the Commission. We went off in another direction that I knew wasn't right. Mom, you need to trust me!

This nice man came up to Mom and introduced himself and said he was a mobility teacher. Wow, I didn't know there were men doing what Annette does. I wonder what he's like. He even told Mom that I was a nice cat. He must be blinder than Mom if he thinks I'm a cat! Can't he see the harness? And besides, cats are too small to guide humans. In addition, cats aren't as smart as us doggies. They love birds and don't know how to leave it.

He and his student helped us get back to the intersection, and it turns out I was right all along. Mom, Mom, Mom. What am I going to do with you! We crossed when the voice told us to cross and went on to CHHS.

Mom thought Sue would be there, but we ended up talking to Annette. She told Annette what we had done. She thought Annette would be mad, but she was more surprised than not. Annette asked her if she still needed her help learning the route, and she said that she needs help with the reversal. She told Annette what I had done, and Annette said it was a good thing Mom made me go back to the main doors. What! But, I thought Mom was supposed to trust me! Annette said that if Mom had let me go on, she would have been fooled into thinking she had learned the route. Human mobility teachers. Why are they so strange?

We eventually left CHHS and came back here. We were both exhausted after the long route, and Mom thinks she will have to see an orthopedic doctor, whatever that person is. She says she will probably have to get another orthotic, whatever that thing is, made because her right ankle was hurting like in 2006 before she got that big plastic thing that sits on the floor. It's sure weird.

Ah the things we doggies do to please our human moms and dads.
Wednesday, June 25th, 2008
9:51 am
Julia's frustrations with humans
Mom found out that her department is taking a field trip to a braille transcribing unit at a maximum security prison. I was so excited, thinking that we would have another wild and crazy adventure together.

Mom talked to people in the department and was told that I wouldn't be able to go into the prison. I don't understand why that is because everyone loves me. I'm a loveable doggie and wouldn't do anything mean or bad to the prisoners. Mom claims it's not me they are worried about but it's the prisoners.

She talked to someone who works at this place, and he told her that in the past when prisoners have been searched by a drug dog, they have done things to terrorize the dog. He would worry that prisoners would do something similar to me. No one has ever terrorized me, and if someone did, I could handle it.

At first, Mom thought that she could talk to the right people and get permission to bring me into the braille unit. Unfortunately, she hasn't heard back from the individual she talked to last week. She has decided to leave me behind while she goes and enjoys herself and learns lots. *sniffle sniffle* No one consulted me on this decision. I wanted to go and help her stay safe.

Bethany can't dog sit me because she and her family are going somewhere that day. So Mom asked Jeannie if she was still able to dog sit. She hasn't heard a definite answer, but she's pretty sure Jeannie will be able to do it.

Mom is sure making awful plans for me this summer. Annette is going to teach her a new route starting next week, and she told Mom that they would leave me behind. She said that would be better. Mom could learn the route and not worry about what I was doing. Boy, some people sure don't want a dog on an O&M lesson.

Mom wants her keyboard back so I will send this for now.

A very unhappy Julia

Current Mood: Julia is frustrated
Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
12:08 pm
Julia's behavior around children
Julia made me proud this morning.

When I took her out for her mid morning park time, we walked past a vehicle that had 2 or more children in it. When the children caught sight of Julia, they said "Doggie!" and started to bark at her. I said "leave it" in a quiet tone and kept right on going. Julia ignored the taunting children as if she walked past this situation every day.

After she did her business, we walked back to the dorm, passing the same vehicle along the way. The children engaged in the same behavior, but Julia ignored them without any intervention on my part. What a good girl!

Had this happened when we first were matched, Julia would have wanted to go over to the vehicle. It would have been difficult to get her back on track, but now, she ignores children like a pro. There are many children in the doctor's office we frequent, all of whom want to ped interact with Julia. If a child walks towards her, Julia ignores him or her like a pro, and we reach our destination with no corrections on my part.

Current Mood: proud
Thursday, June 5th, 2008
6:57 pm
An experience on my way to class
I had an experience on my way to class today that I never had while using a cane.

While I was walking to class, someone came up to me and asked if I knew if a certain street was closed because of all the construction that's going on in this area of campus. I unfortunately couldn't help the lady and hope that she found the information she was seeking.

When we parted ways, I realized that this is not the first time someone has asked me what I would consider a "normal" question. When I used a cane, people never asked me those types of questions, but walking with Julia it must appear that I know more than I do about the construction in this area of campus.

Current Mood: hot and sweaty
Saturday, May 31st, 2008
7:56 pm
The adventurous week
Julia stole the keyboard and wrote about our adventures this past week.

My week with MomCollapse )

Current Mood: tired
Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
9:28 am
Amusing guide work story
Yesterday, something very amusing happened while Julia and I were out.

A friend had agreed to drive us to the place we needed to go. We both needed to mail packages so she was carrying her big package, and I had my little package. Before I go on, I need to explain something about guide work.

Dog guides are trained to guide their handler around any obstacle that is in the handler's path. This can be anything from a puddle of water to a branch that is blocking the path. The dog makes a decision as to how to safely avoid the obstacle, and the handler follows the dog's lead in these situations. If the dog stops somewhere on the sidewalk, the handler is supposed to reach out a hand or foot to determine why the dog has stopped. Once the handler makes that determination, he or she encourages the dog on, letting the dog decide the safest course of action.

When we were walking towards the post office, Julia started to walk very strangely. She was weaving in and out almost as if she was avoiding many obstacles. I couldn't see anything on the sidewalk, nor were there overhanging obstacles, which the dog is also trained to avoid. Eventually, I realized why Julia was doing this.

My friend was carrying a very large kite that cast a long shadow on the right side of Julia. She is trained to watch for obstacles on both sides. All I can guess from her behavior is she thought the shadow was an obstacle to be avoided so she was guiding, or trying to, me around the shadow. She has never done that. I told my friend what she was doing, and we both had a good laugh.

My dog is definitely a smart cookie!

Current Mood: amused
Monday, May 19th, 2008
8:28 am
Adventures in milk buying
Saturday morning proved adventurous for Julia and me. I thought I would be so independent and walk to a place I had never learned the route to. What should have been a short walk turned into an hour's adventure because I didn't know how to reverse the route.

When I learned the route to the bus stop in February, Annette pointed out the gas station not far from the bus stop. She said that someone would teach me the route because it would be useful to know. That never happened because the semester got busy.

I ran out of milk on Saturday so I thought that I could be oh so independent and go to the gas station myself. Julia and I got there with no problems because I remembered the route from working with Annette. I remembered that one of the sidewalks was very long so didn't freak out when we didn't get to a street crossing for a long time. I consider that progress because the last time I walked the route with Annette, I was worried that I was going the wrong way due to the length of the sidewalk. She told me that the sidewalk feels like it goes on forever so when I walked the route , I kept that in the back of my mind.

Once we reached the corner, I had to really guess as to what the next part of the route was. This was the part that I never got instruction on so was completely on my own. I scanned the area visually and located the gas station. Once I located it visually, I made the correct decision as to how to get there. I got there, got my milk, and left. This is when the adventure started.

Route reversals have always been my weakness, and this time proved no different. I had to stand at the gas station for a few minutes to make a game plan of how to get home. As I was thinking, I heard Annette's voice in my head telling me not to hold the harness while I was problem solving. I think that was one thing that made the adventure easier on both Julia and me. Each time I stopped and scanned the environment or stopped and just thought about what to do, I remembered to put the harness down so she knew she wasn't working.

I finally made a decision, which ended up to be an incorrect decision. I got to a set of steps that I didn't remember encounterring when I came into the gas station. These steps weren't your typical steps so what do you know, I took a tumble. The milk went flying out of my hand, but there was a nice gentleman who brought it back to me. I immediately knew that I had made an error so attempted to go on.

Julia and I were out for at least an hour trying to reverse what should have been a simple route. We went numerous different directions, none of which looked right to me. I also wasn't feeling a hill, which is an important landmark on this route. I eventually had to stop somewhere and call a classmate for assistance. She gave me simple instructions, but trying to follow them turned out to add more time to the adventure. I ended up not where I was supposed to but in front of a store or something. I was able to read the sign so called her back and told her where I ended up. She helped me get on the right path, and we eventually made it home in one piece.

When we got on the block where Spindler is located, I praised Julia because I knew this had probably been just as hard on her as it was on me. I knew it wasn't Julia's fault, in fact, she was very well behaved for the majority of the trip. I think she just enjoyed going somewhere different, never mind that Mom was lost. When we got near Spindler, I petted and praised her, and boy was she excited. She jumped around me and wagged furiously. You would have thought she won an award or something by how excited she was.

I will probably talk to the classmate who helped me out of the situation and see if she might be able to teach me the route so this doesn't happen again. Having a cell phone is such a blessing in these situations because there were very few pedestrians out . Those that were out had no clue what I was asking when I asked how to get to Oliver Street.

After I got home, I didn't do much for the rest of the day. I ordered a pizza later in the afternoon and relaxed. My childhood O&M teacher would have been so proud because he was forever telling me to "go explore." I was always afraid of getting lost so never did go explore. I guess it took milk to make me go explore.

Current Mood: content
Friday, May 16th, 2008
9:50 pm
Julia is so smart
I was grooming Julia outside today because it was such a lovely day. I absolutely love grooming outdoors when the weather is lovely and the sun is shining on both Julia and me. Julia is a gem to groom outdoors because she is so much more relaxed than indoors.
Don't get me wrong, she lets me groom her indoors, it's just she seems much more relaxed outdoors.

After we were done with the grooming session, I looked around for the FURminator cover. I had put it down right next to me, but I must have moved just enough to lose track of the cover.

When I stood up, I said "Where is it?" and Julia pointed right to the cover. This is the second time she has done this, and it is not a behavior I trained. I love how intuitive she is, knowing that "Where is it?" means she must point to an object even if she has no idea what she is pointing to.

Both times I asked her where something was, I had tried to locate it myself so she saw me groping on the ground. I wonder what would happen the next time if I simply said "Where is it?" and didn't grope first.

Current Mood: happy
Monday, May 12th, 2008
1:27 pm
Grooming outside
Julia and I had some great bonding time today. I decided to groom her outside rather than on my cold tile floor and throwing what the FURminator collects into the trash can.

I love grooming outside. It is so peaceful with the sun shining down upon us and a gentle breeze blowing the loose hair away. Sitting on the ground with my girl, I can reflect on what is good in life and be thankful for this wonderful creature that The Seeing Eye gave me last year. If only there wasn't loud construction noise to ruin the peaceful mood, today's grooming session would have been perfect.

Julia loves grooming, whether it's inside or outside. I think she likes it better though when I groom her outside because she is much more relaxed than when I groom inside. I think she picks up on my feelings of contentment and peacefulness and relaxes to match my mood.

Spring is a beautiful time to have a dog and be thankful for all that is good in the world.

Current Mood: peaceful
Sunday, May 11th, 2008
3:51 pm
Julia's week at Sports Camp
Mom is letting me have the keyboard so I can tell about the week we had. It was one long, crazy, busy week.

We spent all of our time over at something the humans call Sports Camp. It's a camp for kids who are blind or visually impaired from Michigan. The humans had alot of fun, but I spent alot of time tied to things so that I wouldn't get in the way. I wish Mom would have let me participate more, but she said that would have been bad for me. I was working so couldn't do the things that she helped out with.

Sunday was a boring day because Mom sat in this meeting for volunteers. They talked about alot of stuff I didn't understand, but she said it was important for her to know while she was helpng out during the week. Once the kids started to come, things to busy and exciting. They had sports stuff Sunday night, but Mom didn't help out then.

Monday was when the real fun began. We were at sports camp from early in the morning until late at night. In the morning, the kids jumped around and got into weird positions that the humans called "ready positions," whatever that means. Mom says she doesn't even know what it all means. Crazy humans!

After a break for snack, we moved out to the track. Mom was helping out at the kicking station. The kids learned how to kick a ball, and Mom ran around the field retrieving the ball. I wish she would have let me do it, but she decided to be mean and tie me to something. Mean Mom! I was whining so much because I saw Mom running around out there grabbing the ball and throwing it back to the group. I could retrieve the ball, but Mom never let me do it.

In the afternoon, we moved inside to this big area. It's in the building where Mom and I spend all our time so I know the building well. The kids played with this big ball with a bell in it, but Mom was mean and left me outside the room. She said it was for my own good so that kids wouldn't hit me with the ball as it was rolling around. I'd sure like to play goalball and other sports, but Mom says it's not good for me. She says it's too dangerous.

That night, we went to dinner with all the kids at the cafeteria. Before dinner, Mom took my harness off and let all the kids pet me. I was so happy! One of the kids asked about the harness so that's when Mom took it off. She let the kids feel it. I don't see what the big deal is about letting the kids feel the harness. It's just part of me. Besides, when Mom and I are walking, people can see it. She sure does some crazy stuff.

After dinner, we went bowling. More balls! What is it about humans and their obsession with balls? Mom even participated in this event and tied me to a chair. Mom, what am I going to do with you? You never let me have any fun! People petted me though while she was bowling so that was nice. I wanted Mom to sit with me though instead of throwing balls down a lane.

The rest of the week was more goalball. I don't understand Mom's desire to be so involved with goalball! She stood at a corner and retrieved balls if they rolled off the court. We were in that gym all day thursday and Friday morning. Friday afternoon was the worst because Mom tied me to a set of bleachers and left me for 2 hours. The person running this sports camp had her playing goalball in the other gym. I wish she would have been in the same room with me, but I can't control the whims and desires of crazy humans. I wish I could.

When Mom came to the other gym after 2 hours, she was exhausted. All she was doing was passing to another athlete and blocking the ball. She wasn't even throwing the ball, but she still was tired.

After she had dinner at the cafeteria, she went to the Student Recreation Center to watch judo and wressling, whatever those sports are. Luckily, we got a ride with nice people whose son was participating in sports camp. Mom told them all about me and how good my work is. Luckly, they didn't see me snitch half a sandwich at lunchtime that day. Yum, that sandwich was sure good though. I wish Mom would feed me more turkey and bread.

Earlier in the week, I got to play with other dogs when Jeannie took Mom and me to her house. Jeannie's female dog had given birth to 9 puppies earlier in the week, and Mom was holding them. Traitor! You're supposed to pet me, not hold little puppies that pee everywhere and make your shirt dirty. I would never do that to you. I got to run in the yard with the big dogs though, and that was lots of fun. Jeannie's yard is huge! We will probably go back there sometime soon.

I'm glad the busy week is done. Mom starts class on Tuesday, but I think we will be going to her building tomorrow. She has to read some stuff before class so she has to get her books so her computer can read them to her. I sure wish I could read. I have perfectly good vision, but she never lets me do anything to help her with school. All I get to help her with is taking her places.

Friday, April 25th, 2008
10:15 am
A simple errand can increase one's confidence so much
Julia never ceases to amaze me!

Today we went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription like normal. I also needed to make an appointment with my new primary care doc to get refills. I got directions to her office from the pharmacist, and we set off into the unknown.

The office is in the same building as the pharmacy just one floor above. I directed Julia to the elevator on the first floor using the word "elevator." She took me right to the elevator, and we got to the second floor perfectly. I talked to the receptionist and took care of what I needed to take care of.

Upon leaving the doctor's office, I wasn't sure where the elevator was so said the word "elevator." With no other prompting, Julia took me straight to that bank of elevators. I wasn't really even able to see where the elevators were so couldn't give her clear directions based on any visual indication. In addition, the waiting room is an obstacle course filled with chairs and other items. Julia avoided all of that and took me straight to the elevator with extreme confidence.

The other neat thing about today's excursion was the conversation I had with the pharmacist. I asked her where this doctor's office was. She gave me only what info she knew, that it was on the second floor. She offered to take us there, but I told her we could find it. I normally don't tell people that I can find something when it's on a completely different floor, especially in a building I have never been to before. The only part of this big health complex I have been to on a regular basis is the pharmacy.

What a great way to start a day that promises to be busy with clothes and grocery shopping.

Current Mood: accomplished
Thursday, April 17th, 2008
10:11 am
Voice Post: Playing with my dog
I am playing with Julia. We play interactive games in which I bring my hands down towards her face, and she jumps and mouths me. In addition, I breathe very quickly, and she licks my face while I'm breathing in front of her. Enjoy!

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