October 5th, 2013
This is a somewhat pointless post, whose purpose is only to find out if this...well...posts. I see VO accessibility of this app has sadly been compromised since I last used it. Nice! ...Except not so much.
//end semi-pointless post
June 2nd, 2013
How many entries in this journal start with some derivative of "I have no idea when it was that I last wrote - let's fix that!"? I don't know, and really, I'm not all sure that it matters. Nevertheless, that really isn't the point of this entry, and it's probably best that I not belabor the issue. (The state of coherentness [that probably isn't even a word, but we're going with it, anyway]is currently leaning more towards being overrated, for which I do apologize - this after a pot of coffee, too, *AND* food!).
As it happens, the last form of a real update happened sometime in July of last year, and way too much has happened then to capture every detail (not to mention I'm fairly sure my readership would decline quite spectacularly were I to attempt that(, but I shall at least mention the highlights or parts worthy of writing about. Since July, I have passed the ACVREP CVRT exam, been home to visit family and friends in December for the holidays, (wherein the temperature was finally at a level that I could safely consider "cold", I got to visit Wawa [a store similar to 7-Eleven, but in some ways better, in my opinion], and I SAW SNOW!). Oh, yes, and I also visited with said family and friends - the most important part of all that, although the snow comes in at a very, very close second. For the chronologically-obsessed, those events actually happened in the reverse order than which they were written about, the passing of said CVRT exam happening in February - on the 12th, to be exact. No doubt other things happened in that time frame as well, but my brain isn't cooperating enough at present to recall anything else. Actually, that's not entirely correct; the first part of this year saw me entering into a new relationship, which has been exciting, even with the current issue of distance, but I am hoping that will not be the case for too much longer.
Just when things can seem to feel somewhat stable, the universe has a way of sometimes informing you that it has other ideas and turning things slightly upside down. Actually, no, I take that back; the ideas are usually yours to begin with, at least in some state of formulation, but how they play out may not be how you envision them doing so. By that, I mean that as of June 23rd, I will find myself leaving Atlanta - thanks to a crazy ridiculous money situation with Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation (I will spare you the details, all of which I am not even completely sure I understand myself) I no longer have a job here, May 15th being my last day. I had wanted to eventually relocate back to the Northeast, closer to family and friends as it was, I just had no idea that I would be doing so under these specific circumstances. Everything happens for a reason, even if it may be hard to pinpoint what the reason is at the time. While there is an element of sadness about my departure, I can with 100% certainty say that my not having a job came from nothing I did or did not do, I am leaving Atlanta having burned no bridges or made no enemies (I'm fairly sure, anyway), and with new friends and I am sure a good job reference. I have learned a lot by being here and have no regrets whatsoever. I have no idea where I will end up next, (not counting my temporary move back home until I can secure my next job) but it will be somewhere in the Northeast area if I have anything to say about it. I am not willing to make another temporary move again unless it is a last - and I do mean LAST - resort.
Before I leave Atlanta, I will be taking a trip with the braille club I am a mentor for to Louisville, Kentucky to tour the American Printing House facility. I am very much looking forward to this. Said trip will take place June 13-14. I have also started the process of packing, which is huge for me as I am not one to find that activity all that exciting. It is at this point that I am failing to think of anything else of significance to write about and so think I will end it here. My dog and I are off with some friends later this afternoon to the dog park. It may be his last time there before I leave, unless I can figure out how to squeeze in a trip between that of today and then. We will both miss the park greatly. I need to come back here at some point, anyway, because I have yet to visit the pandas at the zoo, I want to visit the World of Coke museum (I had visited it when I was here for a music competition festival in high school but it has since been renovated), and I haven't been to Grant Park to see the circular painting thing that is on display there. I also wouldn't mind visiting the art museum again. I think I went there in March with a friend and really enjoyed it. Wait, let me clarify: I *know* I went there, the 'I think' part is for whether or not I went in March. Phew! Now that that's clarified... I'm not going to end this with the fact that it's good to be writing in here again and I should really do it more often (...except I guess I just did. Ah well...). More later.
January 21st, 2013
I am slacking in terms of last year's numbers, and also, this should have been posted in the beginning of the month, but here is my book list for 2012.
Books Read in 2012
1. La's Orchestra Saves the World, Alexander McCall Smith
2. Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story, Wally Lamb
3. The Professor & the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity & the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, Simon Winchester
4. Eyes to See (Jeremiah Hunt, #1), Joseph Nassise
5. The Dragon Sorcerer, John Gregory Betancourt
6. Unsaid: A Novel, Neil Abramson
7. Before I go to sleep. S.J. Watson
8. Blood Bound (Unbound, #1), Rachel Vincent
9. Draw the Dark, Ilsa J. Bick
10. Angel Time (The Songs of the Seraphim, #1), Anne Rice
11. Of Love and Evil (Songs of the Seraphim, #2), Anne Rice
12. Terminal Mind, David Walton
13. Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1), E.L. James
14. Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2), E.L. James
15. The Tale of Halcyon Crane, Wendy Webb
16. Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3), E.L. James
17. The Running Dream, Wendelin Van Draanen,
18. The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Recipes for the Health and Happiness of Your Canine Companion, Donna Twichell Roberts
19. Through Wolf's Eyes (Firekeeper Saga, #1), Jane Lindskold
20. Blossoms and Shadows, Lian Hearn
21. The Man from Beijing, Henning Mankell
22. Holiday Confessions, Anne Marie Winston
23. Defending Jacob, William Landay
24. Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, Chaz Bono
25. The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh
26. The Language of Secrets, Dianne Dixon
27. The Dry Grass of August, Anna Jean Mayhew
28. Home again, Kristin Hannah
It is my hope that I will improve on number read and variety of genres read in 2013.
August 15th, 2012
Hello everyone, Let me fir
Let me first thank you for taking the time to read this. As you may or may not know, I currently serve as a member of the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Graduate Council. As a Council member, I talk to current and perspective students about what life is like with a guide dog. I very much value the opportunity I have been given to give back to the school in this way, and am glad to have had the opportunity to meet people who I would otherwise probably not get to know. It has been the custom for Guiding Eyes to fly the Council members into the school to meet in person one time a year. During these difficult economic times, some things are harder to be able to do than others. This is where you, the reader, come in.
I am asking you to please consider supporting my leadership and opportunity to continue to support the graduates of Guiding Eyes for the Blind by making a monetary donation by September 15, 2012. TO do this, simply visit
Enter your gift amount.
Under “Special Gift Opportunities” – select “Graduate Council.”
Under “Memorial and Tribute Gift Information”
1-Select “Yes” this is a memorial or tribute gift
2- Under “Honor Gift Type” select In Honor of
3-Enter Graduate Council Member name under Honoree Name
4-Under “Is this gift in memory/honor of a Guiding Eyes Graduate” check yes
Thank you. Your gift will help me to do more work for a mission I care so very passionately about.
Take care, and thank you again for reading. Please share as you are able.
-Liz (and Dalton - Guide, January 2011 class)
July 31st, 2012
It has been some time since I've written in here. Not too much of interest has been going on aside from the usual routine of work. Atlanta still has yet to feel like a stable place of residence, but I am thinking that will come in time.
Last weekend some friends and I took my dog to the dog park for his (and my) first time at such a place. At least I don't think he had ever been to a dog park before. He absolutely loved it! This past weekend the same friends and I went to the same park, but we didn't really have any intentions of going to the dog park part of it, choosing instead to walk around a different part of the park before grooming my dog as we had also done last weekend. Dalton, (my dog), is super cooperative with anything and everything 99.99% of the time, but he was being very fidgety - yet still cooperative - and focusing on the other dogs who would pass by us. I didn't really know what was going on, until it occurred to me that this sequence of events was different from that of the previous week, and maybe that's what he was trying to get across in a firm but polite way. "Um, excuse me - This is not how things went last week. I like grooming, but if it's all the same to you, I would really like to play first and *then* be groomed." As it was, we went with Plan B - put grooming on hold, walked to the dog park where Dalton was let off leash and commenced to run around the fenced-in area and have what looked like a very good time. He even laid in mud - although he tried to play it off like he was thirsty. After he had enough playtime, we rinsed him off and finished the grooming session, for which he was 100% cooperative this time. What can I say - my dog knows what he wants and he knows how to get it! :-) It was also suuuuuuper cute to watch . Unfortunately for Dalton, a trip to the dog park will not be able to happen this weekend, but we may be able to go next weekend. Speaking of next weekend, I believe there is a goalball practice scheduled for Saturday the 11th which I plan to go to.
I think that's about all for now. I will write when something else of interest occurs. Until then...
June 20th, 2012
:Playing catch-up since my last entry is nearly impossible, so there is no sense in pretending that I can achieve that. That said...
My last update was in January or around that time, I do believe. Since January, I have completed my blind rehab teaching internship in Connecticut, moved from CT temporarily to Delaware, (by 'temporarily' I really do mean temporarily - I was in Delaware for maybe a whole 24 hours within a week's time, and that may even be pushing it), graduated from Northern Illinois University, (which entailed a trip back to IL to attend the ceremony) and then moved to Atlanta, Georgia to start my new job as an assistive technology specialist for the Center of the Visually Impaired - www.cviga.org. All of those events occured in about a week's time - internship ended 5/4, I moved out 5/5, flew out to Illinois 5/6, graduated on 5/11, flew back to Philly/Delaware on 5/12 and then flew to Atlanta on 5/13.
I am all moved into my new apartment and am getting adjusted to my new home, surroundings and new routine slowly but surely. I am also very much enjoying my job. My mom and one of my sisters came to visit me this past weekend, which was nice. It's hard to be so away from family, friends and familiarity sometimes. Atlanta will hopefully become familiar to me in not too long of a time, though.
When I haven't been working, I have tried to get involved with some activities on the weekends. I attended a goalball practice in the hopes of forming a women's team. I practiced with the guy's team, but I think the chance of a women's team happening is more than just a thought as it looks now. If so, that would be great. I was very pleased that I didn't manage to lose all of my skill in the two or so years it had been since I'd been out on a goalball court. I even scored a goal! I have also looked into the possibility of getting into tandem biking, but nothing has come through on that front as of yet. It's important for me to keep active and get exercise. I also need to get the ball rolling on taking my rehab teaching certification exam. My bank account will not be at all happy about that, but it's necessary, so...
Dalton is doing well. He has adjusted to the new routine very nicely. I think it will take awhile for both of us to get used to the change in weather, (it's HOT here!), but we're doing our best. Air condition is definitely appreciated that's for sure. Electricity is also included in what I pay for rent, which helps. I really like my new apartment. When my family was here over the weekend, we worked on sprucing it up a little, which makes it feel all the more like a nice place to live.
That covers everything - or at least what I can remember I had wanted to include in this update. I hope that everyone is doing well.
January 21st, 2012
It is about time I write in this journal again. I haven't done so since August. Shame shame...
The end of August found the Fall 2011 semester starting. I did all independent study classes last semester in various areas of assistive technology. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. I took twelve hours and came out of it with seven good-sized papers to show for myself. I also, as said in an earlier entry, helped out with the braille course leading the reading sessions for one of the sections (there were two classes this semester instead of the usual one due to the greater number of students). I was glad to be able to help out with that again as it really is fun.
I spent the holidays in Delaware with my family, which was very enjoyable. My Christmas and New Year's were quiet and spent with family and friends. My goal for next New Year's, though, is to spend it in TIme Square. It's just oe of those things that I want to do at least once, even if the experience is horrible and I don't end up liking it. I want to figure that out for myself by actually going there. Call me crazy if you want, it's perfectly okay!
Last Saturday found me packing a few things, leaving Delaware and heading to West Haven, Connecticut to complete my last semester of grad school in the form of an internship at the VA hospital here. I have survived my first week, which is a good thing. I am an intern in the blind rehab department. There is another intern who started the same time I did, and it is nice that I am not the only one in that same boat. She is really nice and I'm glad to have the chance to get to know her more. She is an O&M intern while I am doing VRT.
I like what I know of this area so far, and the house where I am staying is very nice. The woman from who I am renting has two dogs and two cats of her own, and all animals get along, which helps. I do miss Illinois, but I will be back for graduation. Flight prices are kind of high, (I looked just for the heck of it today), but I will be there, believe me, in some way or other. I will not miss graduation that is for sure!
Today has been a very lazy Saturday, and I am perfectly okay with that. Laundry is getting done as I write, though. Tomorrow shall consist of groceries being delivered, (yay Peapod!), football and a conference call. Monday it's back to work. I am excited for that, though. I am slowly but surely learning the route to work and my way around the building. I must thank my dog for his help in all of that. He seems to like the new routine, too. (He is currently on the floor chewing a bone, no doubt glad to rest. Maybe it's a lazy Saturday for him, too!).
I hink that is all I have to update on. I can't think of anything else to add at the moment. I will be back with more as it happens. It really is good to write in here again.
August 10th, 2011
Current Music: Crickets outside
I am not going to even pretend I remember when the last time was that I wrote in this journal, because, honestly, I do not. I actually just went and looked, and it was back in May, after the end of the spring semester. I am not as neglectful of this as I first thought. This is a good thing.
Things in my corner of the world are going well. I am currently home in Delaware visiting family, where I have been for the past two-and-a-half weeks or so. I return to DeKalb on Sunday, and then the semester starts on Monday, August 22nd. It has been really good to see family as I have missed them being so far away. That is really hard sometimes, but it's only one more semester in Illinois and then I will do my internship in Connecticut, and so I will be closer to them. Last Wednesday until Sunday I was at my grandparents' trailer/the beach, and I enjoyed myself there, too. Our family has also acquired a new puppy, a 13(ish)-week old chocolate Lab who was named Reese. She is a super cute puppy, although full of energy that's for sure. Reese and Dalton get along, although she will sometimes bite my dog's jowls, which he will usually tolerate and then let her know when he had has had enough, although perhaps not as often as he could. As time has gone by, they are getting more comfortable with each other and I think things have evened out now. Reese is growing quite a lot and has definitely done so since I have been here. It's really cute to see. I can only imagine how big she will be when I come back here for Christmas.
Dalton is very much liked by the family, which I wasn't at all surprised about. While at the beach, I was able to meet up with his puppy raisers, Jim and Linda, which was truly fantastic. They are truly a wonderful couple and I am glad to have met and keep in touch with them. I do believe that Dalton recognized them, and so it was a happy reunion for all. I for sure want to meet up with them again sometime in the future. They did a super job with him and their dedication and love for this dog and what they do definitely showed upon meeting them. Dalton was their first dog and they are now on their second, who will be going back for his IFT in September. I will be keeping fingers (and Dalton paws) crossed that all goes well! Dalton will actually cross his paws sometimes, anyway, so it shouldn't be hard for him! I was given a book of Dalton puppy pictures from my raisers which are suuuuper cute that my mom had wanted to scan, and so if that happens, I will upload them to Facebook, and perhaps also to LJ. I am usually more apt to upload pictures to Facebook, though, I will say.
In terms of school, I have one more semester in Illinois, as previously mentioned, and then my internship semester in Connecticut, and then I am done - yay graduation! (I will most certainly be returning to DeKalb to walk in the ceremony). This semester will be all Independent Study classes covering various topics in assistive technology. I am excited about this. I will also be putting in Graduate Assistant hours helpng out with the braille course as I did last fall. It's crazy to think that it has been a year since I started... I have successfully applied to and been confirmed an intern slot at the Veterans Administration in West Haven, CT, pending hire approval, (passing both a physical and background check). I do not foresee any issues here, so I should be good. I should be contacted as far as intern arrangements sometime in October. I just have to be patient until then. The three months between then and January, when I would start, seems like a very short time to figure out relocation, find housing, etc, but it will be okay. I am starting to figure out as much as I can early on so that when October comes, I will be all that more prepared. When I do get the final go-ahead, I intend to fly out to CT to get a look at different places to live and perhaps also the facility at which I will be interning. I can't just decide on an apartment solely looking it online; that does not work for me at all. I have to actually walk through the potential place and get a feel for it to decide whether or not it will work. It will all be fine and work out, though, I am sure. Patience is a virtue.
I think that is all I can think to update on. A congratulations goes out to mektastic
, who is receiving her new guide dog today at Guiding Eyes - so exciting! You'll do great! The rest of the day shall consist of some errands, a visit with my aunt and then I am not realy sure what. Either way, I plan to enjoy whatever occurs. Thanks for reding, and more when and as it happens.
May 17th, 2011
It has been forever and a day since I have written in here. I shall now attempt to fix that.
I still do exist, as does my little corner of the world. Things have been going fine enough. When last I wrote, it was spring break. I am now here to report that Spring semester 2011 is officially over as of this past Friday. I survived the semester with straight A's. I was honestly a little shocked at this. I am very pleased, though, for sure.
I have this week off and then class starts next Tuesday, I believe. Summer session officially starts on June 13th, but a class that I am taking is meeting for a few days prior to that start time. After next week and the one after, I again have a week off and then summer session starts. I am first taking a Home Ec class, and Advanced Assistive Technology will be the class I will take during the regular summer session. Add to that my Practicum hours - observation and direct teaching - and it's no rest for the weary over here, or something.
Dalton is doing well, he and I growing more as a team each day. I have been to the vet with him three or so times this month alone, which is a little crazy. The first time was to get a weight, the second for an exam, and the third for another exam as a precaution after some idiot decided that it would be great fun to run into my dog while riding his bike last Wednesday evehing. Isn't that such a good idea? I'm thinking not! No apology out of the guy, either; only an "It's good." Again, how about not! DDog is fine, though, receiving a clean bill of health, and so that is a good thing. I am in need of a new vet as this one I have gone to in the past I did not have good experiences with; that, and their prices are on the high side. ($20 for a *nail trim*!). I'm sure I will figure it out.
I have no idea when next I will be back East to visit family and friends, which makes me sad to think about, so I try not to. Classes end July 7th, and so I want to be done everything by then or close to it - including my Practicum hours - and then go home for a few weeks before the fall semester starts on August 23rd. I miss my family, and want to show off my new boy! I am most positive they will approve of him - I definitely do!
It's nice to have some time to breathe after running around like crazy these past few weeks. I am in the middle of getting my Practicum placement figured out - slight miscommunications do not really help in doing that, but I think everything is cleared up now. The lack of transportation in DeKalb and $60 or so in cab fair alone, (with I am sure multiple train fares on top of it) to get to the nearest town that has a train station also frustrates this process a little more than it otherwise would. (I definitely cannot afford that the multiple times per week that I would need to, let alone once!). The only real feasible way of getting to the agencies to put in hours, (in Chicago), is to get a ride with another one of my classmates who is also doing hours. That is I'm almost positive doable, which is good, I just can't help feeling stuck sometimes. I would love to be able to get to places on my own and maybe even get to more than one agency to do hours, but it doesn't look like that can happen. As it looks now, I think I will be doing direct teaching hours at the Lighthouse. I don't like this stuck feeling, I really don't. It cannot be helped, a fact that all involved are aware of, I do believe, but it still doesn't make it any easier.
I took a nice walk with my dog to the grocery store earlier and it felt good to get out and work with him. He did very well with no major errors to speak of. Dale (my friend and one roommate) also went with me with his dog, and I did some follow work with Dalton in the store. His 'follow' work was fantastic! I was carrying one of those store baskets, too, and it wasn't a big deal. It was more of a deal trying to position the dang thing in a comfortable enough way so that I could hold it and still work my dog! ALl in all, the trip was a success and ended well. I do think I will end this, post it, go downstairs and get a small eat/drink, take out the dog and read for awhile before bed. I have been able to put more time into reading than I previously could, and I really am grateful for that. It's the little things, really it is.
Take care all, more when it happens.
May 6th, 2011
Calling all IOS device users:
I have been asked to make a list of the most commonly-used and recommended apps on the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch by blind people. If you have suggestions, I would love to hear them!
I do realize I have not made a post in this journal for ages. Blame my crazy busy schedule, and also I have been getting random spam comments on my journal as of late, which I think I may have mentioned before, which is a little annoying. Not posting publicly would most likely fix that, but it's still not appreciated all the same. That kind of thing never used to happen.
Take care, and I do hope all are well.
March 16th, 2011
So much for updating regularly... It was a nice thought, anyway.
Things have been going fine in my corner of the world. The Illinois AER conference that I mentioned in my last entry was good. Dalton did very well navigating around the hotel, the keynote speeches and breakout sessions were informative and interesting, (some more than others), and it was really fun to be able to spend some time with many of my classmates just hanging out.
School continues to go well. I had a midterm last Wednesday, which I think went relatively well. I can think of one part that I messed up on, but my philosophy is that you are allowed one total mess-up on a test. It shouldn't kill me, in any event. I think that I have another test next week, (this week is spring break), but I need to check on that to be sure. I am in the midst of applying to the center in Connecticut where I hope to do my internship next spring. There was a bit of a fiasco with that, but I think it has all been sorted as of now.
Speaking of spring break, I just got back to DeKalb yesterday evening after being in Chicago since Friday afternoon. I had a seminar to attend that was put on by the Illinois NFB on Saturday, and then afterwords, I went and visited some of my cousins who are in the area. It was so nice to be able to spend the past few days with them. I had a lot of fun, majorly enjoyed myself, and their kids are adorable! As for the rest of break, I'm not entirely positive what is in the cards. I do have some work that needs to get done, but as part of spring break is the word "break", I should probably take some time for myself. I don't do that nearly often enough.
I'm not entirely sure what else to update on, so I think I will end this and post. I do notice that I have been getting a lot of spam comments on my entries lately. Has anyone else experienced this? I am not a fan! I also apologize for not keeping up with Friends' page lately. If there is anything important that I should be aware of, feel free to comment or contact me and let me know. Regardless, I still do care. Life has this habbit of getting in the way. I'm sure many if not all of you can understand.
Take care all, more when it happens.
February 16th, 2011
I wanted to come in and report that all is more or less well in my little corner of the world. Classes continue to go well, Dalton and I continue to learn about each other and grow as a team each day, and a long story short, (although it really isn't a long story; I just needed a way to end this sentence), I really can't complain about anything.
Aside from school, not too much has been going on. I did go see a play two weekends or so ago on campus put on by the theater department with a friend, and I really enjoyed it. It was the first play I have seen while here, and I am interested in seeing more of them. After class tonight, I, and many of my classmates, are headed to a two-day conference for professionals and consumers in the blindness field. It's put on by the AER organization. braillereader
has informed me that she will also be in attendance, and so we will meet up. I'm looking forward to doing so. I'm also looking forward to the conference. The agenda has all kinds of interesting sessions, and I'm interested to learn what I can, network and see what there is to see. Working a dog in a new environment is also part of the fun, at least in my opinion. There is a mall near the hotel where the conference is held, and I have been informed that there is a Lush store in said mall, and so that will have to be paid a special visit. Last but not least, all work and no play makes for no fun at all!
I'm blanking on anything else to add, and so I shall end this, finish packing and get ready to head to school sometime later. I hope all are doing well. More soon.
February 7th, 2011
It has been some time since I updated last, s I thought I would fix that. Things in my little corner of the world have been fine enough. Aside from a massive blizzard which swept through this part of the country this past Tuesday, life has been slowly and surely taking on the routine of the new semester. Dalton is settling in nicely, which is a good thing. musicman3315
came home from Guiding Eyes on Friday, and so The Dog House now has all of its members back living inside it. It's a nice feeling for sure. I spent much of this past week home by myself as both roommates weren't there, but then I guess that's obvious given the first part of this sentence. Oh well... Friday was really the first day that I had gotten out of the house since Monday, due to the storm, and even if it was only for a quick bite to eat at McDonalds and a trip to school, it worked. I was half afraid that Dalton would forget how to work in the few days of not doing so. Okay, so I overexagerate, but still. We're a very new team all things considered. He showed his true colors on Friday, though, so those few days of not doing much didn't create a problem. It was also really really fun to work doubles! I did the obedience routine and played with him each day that we were snowed in, and so that helped in the activity department.
I didn't have classes at all this past week, and so I will be glad to get back at them tomorrow. The time off from school has allowed me to get a good bit of work done, though, and I look at that as a positive thing. I am actually writing this entry from school as I came in today to help someone with the VoiceNote, which is part of the Assistive Technology class that I am taking this semester.
I'm not too sure what else to update on in all honesty. This morning was the first morning of starting Dalton on a new food, that being Blue Buffalo Whitefish and Sweet Potato. He ate it with no problems as it was mixed in with some of the Iams, and so I'm not anticipating any issues at all. I have noticed that I seem to get really tired earlier in the evenings as of late. It may have to do with getting up around 6:00 in the morning, which I really don't mind doing and actually prefer over getting up later, and so by six or seven in the evening, I'm ready to start winding down. I'm not too sure how that will end up working out as far as classes being done at twenty to nine, but I'll manage, because it's what I do. It may also just be that for the past month or so, I've been on-the-go pretty much constantly, and continue to be so since I have come back to school. It could be that I'm dealing with the effects from that. It is what it is, in any event.
I think I'm going to end this here, because I'm blanking on anything else to add, and I don't want to ramble more than I already have. Take care, thanks for reading, and more soon.
January 29th, 2011
I was too tired to post an entry yesterday, and so this entry pertains to the events of Friday, January 28. I tried to figure out how to backdate this from within the client, but it doesn't seem like it wants to cooperate. I can always try from the website if it's that crucial, which I'm not all that sure it is.
Yesterday was a very good day, and an excellent end to training. All routes were awesome. I worked Dalton in his booties to see if he would be more willing to go through the slush and puddles and the like, and those made all the difference in the world. I'll have to remember that from now on when it's not so nice outside. We orked the route from hom eto school, and he did fine with that. We then worked to the student union, (I had to go the bank, anyway, to deposit a check), and he did fine with that, too. At one point in the wide, open area, to signify a needed turn, I noticed that Dalton flicked his head in the direction really quick before proceeding forward, and so I need to be more intune with that as that is apparently his way of giving me heads up. We came back and grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant that was within walking distance. I had never been to it before, and so the only orientation to the route Dalton and I had was in going there. On the way back, though, Dalton showed his true colors in that he reversed the route with no problem and was all proud of himself whe we reached the building where my classes are in. It was a fantastic feeling, really it was! From there, we worked home, which also went without incident.
Last evening, the field rep and I gave a presentation on guide dogs to the Advanced O&M class, and I think it went very well. Everyone seemed receptive to it, and I enjoyed doing it, too. Speaking of dog guide or guide dog, that's one thing I'm really trying to figure out as people say both. Is there a real difference, and if so, is it really that crucial? I have heard that guide dog is a term for dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind, and if that's correct, then I guess the more generic term *would* be dog guide. I've been saying "guide dog" for years, though. It's a hard habbit to break. As I said countless times in class: They don't call us retrains for nothing. Haha!
The rest of my day will include doing some more schoolwork, (I spent the morning reading), a conference call and hanging out with a friend. My energy level isn't at its highest today, but I guess you have that coming off of about a straight month of being busy. Relaxing is also a good plan, I think, and luckily the weekend affords me the opportunity to do some of that. This is officially the end of my training updates, but I hope to update more frequently than I have in recent history. I appreciate all who have taken the time to read and/or comment. It means a lot. More soon.
January 27th, 2011
I actually almost forgot to write a blog entry for today. It's hard to believe, I know, but there it is.
Today was so-so. There were good parts and not-so-good/stressful parts, but it all ended well, which is what counts. The weather today was ridiculous, snowy and cold. Working in said weather wasn't too fun. I could tell that for some of the routes that we did today, Dalton wasn't as on-task as he could have been. He was on task when I needed him to be most of the time, though, including getting me through two traffic checks all within the span of five seconds or so. In the first one, the people in the car admitted to me that they were in the way. Well...if you know that you're in the way, then get out of it! Jut sayin'. Crazy weather brings out crazy drivers, or something. Both traffic checks weren't even in the street, but rather in driveways.
All in all, though, Dalton's work was fine. I mention Prince Dalton, because he had a strong aversion to the slush and puddles that were on the ground. He even went so far as to jump some of them. I'm going to work him in booties tomorrow to see if that does anything. I really can't have him jumping things like that, especially at down curbs, which did happen once. All of the mounds of snow that were on the ground made for interesting travel, too. Is it Springtime yet? I say that, and then I really don't mind the winter too too much.
We again visited the pet store, and he did fine there. I am in the midst of deciding whether or not to switch his food or keep him on the Iams which is fed at the school. I'd like to get a better quality food, but a lot of them are pretty expensive, and he does do fine on Iams. The other issue is if he is switched to a different food, what if it isn't available when I travel? I might have to pack a whole suitcase just with food! Things to think about...
Class tonight went fine enough. I'm still trying to get everything sorted for this semester, but it's slowly and surely coming together. I had a meeting with my advisor today, and that left me with some relief on things as some were straightened out and/or clarified. I have no classes tomorrow, which I am very appreciative of. This weekend will be devoted to I hope relaxing as well as doing work. Both are of crucial importance. I really feel like I have been running nonstop for the past month, and in a way, I guess it's true. It's all good, though. I can't think of anything else to add, so I will end this. My brain is tired, and I need sleep. Take care, thanks for reading and more tomorrow.
January 26th, 2011
Tired but pleased
With each day, I don't think that I can get any more tired, but lately that seems to be the theme here. This is nuts...
Today was a very good day, both in training and also as far as class was concerned. Training included working the route from my house to school, (which went very, very wel and actually left me in shock when we reached the class building, because it meant that I had crossed CrazyIntersection and was still alive to tell the tale; okay, so maybe I'm exagerating a bit, but still, it was big for me!), trips to two pet stores, a walk downtown and practice lying quietly in a restaurant. We also worked the route to the student union and practiced turnstiles again. Dalton is still a little hesitant on them, but I'm thinking with practice, say in a subway station and such, (when there is reason to use them and a destination on the other side), he will be fine. I definitely wouldn't blame him; I would be a little skiddish, too, if I went through one of those and got caught on it. Poor boy! The route to the student union is very wide open, though, and it's still not my favorite, but with practice, I think it will be fine. At least the route to class is set up nicely, and we have that, which is the most crucial thing of all, in my opinion.
The trips to the pet stores were fine. Dalton behaved himself very wel. I even included some obedience into the deal, and he was fine with that, too. In Petsmart was when we came across this really weird salesclerk guy. He first said something about his grandmother being "that way", (in reference to my eye condition; I didn't know I was any particular "way" - To All Blind People: We Are "That Way!" Didn't you know?). He later referred to my dog as a "seeing blind eye dog" or something. That's definitely a new one in my book! People never cease to amaze me. Just when I think I've seen it all...
Class went well, as I said. Dalton laid quietly at my side, being a good boy. I think of all of my classes, Low Vision will be the hardest, at least in terms of conceptual things. I shall try my best, though, which is all one can ask. I understood everything that we went over tonight, so that's a good start.
I don't know that I have anything else to add, so I'll end it here and post more tomorrow. Take care, and thanks for reading.
January 25th, 2011
Today has been exhausting, both mentally and physically, although in a good way. Not only did I put in a few hours of training with Dalton, but I also had classes to attend to. All of that combined makes for a very long day.
Training went very, very wel today, all things considered. Dalton seems to already have down the route from my house to the building where my classes are, the classes themselves, and the route home. He was much more controllable today as far as pace went, save for one time when he was just being silly. I thought he had to park, and so stopped and took the harness off, but he then just proceeded to play in the snow. Crazy dog! I worked him some of the time with his booties on, because of the salt that was put down on the paths and such. After doing the route to school, we then went over to the student union. He did well with this route, too. A good part of the route is in wide, open space, and Dalton will take the initiative in picking out which way to go. I really don't like to depend fully on him like that, but sometimes it can't be helped. To me, I feel like I'm in the middle of nowhere. I am getting an idea for distance in relation to the various turns and such, which does help. Inside the student union, in the bookstore, there is a turnstile to get into it. There was an unfortunate incident the first time he and I went through, in that the turnstile came back and caught on Dalton's harness. He was then a little shy of it, but some counterconditioning made him less so. We plan to go back to the bookstore tomorrow to try and reinforce positive associations with that.
Classes themselves went fine and without incident, unless you count for whatever reason Dalton deciding to pick up a classmate's braille eraser that had dropped to the floor in his mouth. Can we say awkward and slightly embarrassing? While apologizing profusely, I was able to extract the eraser and all was well. I have no idea why that happened; maybe it was a sign of stress? Who knows. Dogs... My first class was Activities of Daily Living, and then I had Assistive Technology. Both seem like they will be fun. I started to target one specific chair in the classroom that I nine times out of ten sit in, (there is one classroom for 99% of my classes - it's a small department), and he picked up on that quickly. It really is amazing to me how quickly he picks up on things. When I was doing the route from school to home for the first time today, he was fantastic at knowing just what to do and when.
I'm honestly at a loss of what else to write about. Oh yes: we did some practice with the 'follow' command in various places, and Dalton did a good job with that, too. He also had no problem settling in while classes were happening or while I was getting coffee prior to said classes.
I think I'm going to call this an entry and do I'm not sure what. I'm utterly exhausted, and so the better idea for me would probably be to sleep, but I do have some reading to finish for tomorrow - the same from the other day. The other side of that, though, is if I read now, how much of it wil I retain? I may be making more work for myself by trying to read now versus later when I'm in a better, more awake frame of mine. I shouldn't be this tired! Alas...
The plan for tomorrow is to do more work with my dog in the morning and then eventually end up at the pet store. I need a few things, and what a great place to practice dog distractions! I have Low Vision class at 6:00, which ends at twenty to nine. Hopefully I'll be more rested and can get through that class more alert than I did tonight. It's a nice thought, anyway. Right, I'm rambling; more tomorrow.
January 24th, 2011
The rest of the day after I last wrote has been...I'm not even sure. I'm feeling incredibly exhausted, which might have something to do with it. The field rep did finally call, and so we got some work in today, which was awesome. It went amazingly, too. Dalton and I worked up to the class building, which included crossing CrazyIntersection, and al went splendedly. Dalton picked up all of the curbs and the island that comprised the intersection like a pro. It was really reassuring and awesome at the same time. Upon arriving at the class building, (yay for targeting, which proved helpful in pointing out the building), and worked inside, showing Dalton the rooms that I will be needing to go to in there. He was spot on with everything. The only thing I can say that needs to be worked on is steadying him down, although I think some of that has to do with not working in two days or so. We'll see what happens tomorrow when we go over things again. He was definitely proud of himself, that's for sure. I could tell by his work. We reversed the route, and he actually took me to the correct house door, this without showing it to him or targeting it at all first. I expected that I would have to do it on the way back, but no. He found it for me right on. It will be interesting to see if he does it again tomorrow. All in all, I am very pleased with how the first day of home training went. We start again at 9:00 tomorrow morning. I also have two classes tomorrow, one from 1:30-4:00 and another from 6:00-8:40. To be honest, it hasn't really sunk in that another semester is starting. Perhaps that will change tomorrow once I have attended classes.
I'm exhausted, (I really really hope that this time change thing evens out soon, because otherwise class will be interesting), and so I think I wil end this here and go wind down. I should eat dinner and maybe try for sleep early. The thought is at least nice. More tomorrow.
To sum up yesterday in one word: surreal. A little bit of stress was mixxed in there, to, but it happens. A good night's sleep has helped with some of that and improved my state of being for now. I hope it continues to hold.
As yesterday was the first full day back at school, away from the sanctuary and routine that is Guiding Eyes, that took a little bit of getting used to. Breakfast was...oh wait, I didn't end up eating breakfast. I was waiting for someone to come take my order for what I wanted. Kidding! That can spoil a person, it really can! Things were kept pretty low-key, the highlights being a trip to Walmart by myself, (I left Dalton at home as I didn't want to work him in the store, it was a quick trip, and it's easier having more hands than fewer for carrying items) and a conference call. I had meant to unpack, but the fact that my suitcase is stil where I left it should tell you where I stand with that. The plan really is to get to that today as more times than not, I end up tripping over it when I go into my room. You'd think I would remember where it is, and I guess I do, but that apparently doesn't make a difference.
As far as Dalton goes, the only real structured thing he and I did yesterday was the obedience routine, which he did fine with. Said routine was repeated this morning, and he tried to cheat on his heels/recalls in not coming all the way behind me to sit, instead choosing to just sit where he was supposed to in coming when I told him to heel. Does that make sense? I'm not so sure it does... The field rep out here gave me a call earlier and said that due to his not feeling well, training would be postponed most likely until this afternoon. I definitely hope he feels better, and health comes before training, regardless of the fact that DDog and I are both really anxious to go out. I actually just took some time away from this entry, (after watering and parking him - it's just after 11:00) and put the harness on him and worked him a little bit around the house - practicing stairs and the "to the door" command, using both the front door and door to my room. I could tell that he was very appreciative of this in the enthusiasm with which he greeted the task. I worked him down the stairs, through the first floor and to the front door first, and then worked him back through the house, up the stairs and to my bedroom door. When I said "too the door" upon reaching the top of the stairs, he went for it and targeted the doorknob with his nose with such vigor that it was really amusing and awesome all at the same time. Granted, it wasn't much work, but it was at least something, and something is better than nothing, is it not?
The trip to Walmart yesterday went fine. I was a little nervus before going, (I'm not one for shopping, especially by myself), but I really needed a few things. I got to the store and found help and all was well. I was also a little anxious in leaving Dalton alone so soon after being home in what is a new environment to him, but he was in his crate, and seemed fine upon my return. It had to be done, and I really didn't have much choice. *insert random comment: I despise squeaking trains! it really gives me the creeps! There are train tracks right outside of my house.
I have yet to figure out why nighttime can bring about the most stress, (perhaps it's because nothing is going on then, and so you have time to think), but I experienced some of that last night. It wasn't too fun, but as I said earlier, sleep has helped. It's amazing the restorative powers sleep has, it really is.
I have spent the morning making various phone calls and such. I have a call into Social Security, and I even called a local vet here and got the fax number so that I can fax Dalton's records over to them. He doesn't eed an appointment as he just had one at GEB, but the woman I spoke to on the phone said that I could fax his records over and they would create a file for him that they would have for when he does need to come in for a checkup. I like that approach, instead of dealing with the paperwork when I need to go there the first time.
I mentioned doing some reading yesterday, but that, too, has yet to be done. I did read on the plane, (granted, it was only three or so pages, but it's something! - it was too loud on the plane and hard to concentrate. I actually slept some, too, which surprised me as I don't usually do that. I guess I was just that exhausted), but just need to finish what's left for this week's class. I have put e-mails into all of my professors and am slowly but surely getting the preliminary things for this semester in order. If I just continue with the "one thing/day at a time" approach, I should be good. No sense in taking too much on at once and stressing myself out unnecessarily. It will all be okay and work itself out.
I think that's all for this entry. I'm off to do...something. I should get lunch. The three-meals-a-day thing is really a good thing. A busy semester isn't exactly always conducive to such, but it is what it is. More soon.
January 23rd, 2011
I, (and Dalton - of course!), am, as of time of writing, safely back in my house at school. The trip yesterday turned out well. I had actually packed most of my things on Friday night, after doing laundry, and so the last-minute Saturday morning packing job took no time at all. Breakfast was a rather sad affair as it was my last with the class. I was very touched in that the class sang Happy Birthday to Dalton as his Birthday is today and I wouldn't be in class to celebrate it. I said the necessary goodbyes to instructors and classmates and then was off to LeGuardia.
Miranda from the Special Needs department drove me, and I enjoyed getting to know her as I don't think I had before. We arrived at the airport and started to check in, only to realize that there are two Delta terminals and we were at the wrong one. We then had to take a shuttle from that terminal to the correct one. Even before getting to the shuttle, Dalton encountered an escolator and a revolving door. How's that for your first day on the job, and not even being on the plane yet? He handled everything like a champ, though. When we arrived at the shuttle, the driver first asked if my dog could fit in the trunk. Uh...how about no, not at all? Who puts a living thing in a trunk! Seriously! Once we arrived at the correct terminal, I completed check-in and went through security. The only thing I was asked is whether I could take my dog's leash off. Again...how about no? People sometimes!
Dalton and I waited at the gate to board, and he did very well. Once on the plane, he was excellent and didn't have any problem at all with it. I was expecting slight hesitation, but none of that at all. The plane ride was fine, and then a friend met me at O'Hare. Major props and much roommate love to c_for_chaos
in finding me a ride straight back from the airport! It's totally appreciated! I think it helped that Dalton and my roommate's guide dog met at the airport, in that it was neutral territory. Dalton let out one single bark, but after that was fine. I wasn't worried about it. After all, it was a new place, and I'm sure he was somewhat stressed.
I came back to the house yesterday and just relaxed. I looked through the mail that had accumulated while I was gone, and there were a surprising number of communications from Social Security. There is a slight issue as far as that is concerned, but at least I don't owe them money, which is the most positive thing ever. It would be ten trillion times more stressful if that were the case. I will call the local office tomorrow and hopefully get things straightened out.
My roommate came back in the evening from a day in Chicago. She and I sat and talked for awhile and introduced our dogs. The dogs did fine, and the catch-up time was very crucial. We decided to order food from a local restaurant for dinner. I'm not sure how her meal turned out, but I ordered a grilled cheese, and what I got was the saddest "grilled cheese" in the universe, if it can even be called that. I don't even think it was grilled! The bread was still soft! It was more like warmed bread with cheese in the middle of it. It wasn't even melted all the say. Sad sad times for sure! I miss the grilled cheese at Guiding Eyes. They know how to make it right!It's funny, the kitchen staff had wanted to know if I wanted them to make me anything to take with me yesterday, but as I was getting on an airplane, I didn't get anything. If not, though, I definitely would have! On top of the sad grilled cheese, we had made French fries in the oven, and the smoke alarm started going off! No clue... It wasn't like anything was really smoking. I'm going to take the racks out of the oven and clean them. Welcome home, I guess.
Dalton seems to be adjusting well to the new environment. One of the first things he found when he came in the house yesterday was the toy box. I was amused. I will use this day to relax, and then will start working him tomorrow. The field rep who will work with me this week is coming tomorrow morning, so that helps, too. I may make a Walmart run later as I could use some groceries and things. Reading for class should happen today, too. I also have a conference call to attend, but that isn't until 6:00. Speaking of time: I am still on Eastern time, and it's driving me slightly crazy. Going out East isn't a problem, but coming back is, for whatever reason, and it never fails. I was up around 5:00 this morning, I assume thinking it was 6:00. Oh well. I hope I can adjust soon. It usually takes a week or so. Classes this week should be interesting. They end around twenty to nine, and if I think that it's twenty to ten... One last thing: today is Dalton's second Birthday. I parked/fed/watered him when I got up this morning, and then came back upstairs, and he proceeded to go back into his crate. He's allowed to be lazy on his Birthday if he wants. Speaking of crates: I think I am going to have to get a new one as the one I have here seems a little small for him. He goes in regardless, though.
That's all I can think of for this entry. More later, tomorrow for sure.
January 21st, 2011
Today was full of activity from the moment of 6:00 AM park/feed/water/park until current time of writing. It snowed some here, and so we class stayed at the Yorktown campus for daily activities. Obedience and distraction practice this morning went well. Said distraction was actually two dogs which the instructors enticed into playing in Alumni Hall. After breakfast, (more on food later), we had a free-for-all in terms of all of the dogs getting to free play in Alumni Hall together. We practiced off-leash recalls, and Dalton did really well with that. He also did very well in having fun playing with the other dogs, which included lots of running around. At one point, I think he was even leading the pack. After doggie playtime, we practiced targeting with the Clicker, which was also a fun exercise for him. Shortly after that, we three ACTION students headed to the Jefferson Valley mall with Graham to do some indoor work. When we got back to the school, lunch was had, and then photos. As ACTION students, we normally wouldn't be in the class picture, but since our departures were put off for another day, (I have a flight out of Le Guardia tomorrow that lands into O'Hare around 12:30 or so Central time), we were able to make that happen. I actually do remember getting a class picture from last time and not seeing me in it, which would explain why. I'm not sure if I knew at the time that I wouldn't be in it, although I must have, because you think I would remember it if I was. Fried brain, anyone?
After the class photos, we took individual photos of ourselves and our dogs and then any other special photos we might want. The environment was, I think, somewhat stressful for the dogs for whatever reason, but Dalton did great. Getting him to sit still for the pictures was somewhat of a challenge, (he kept moving back when we wanted him more in the front of things), but he did finally cooperate, photos were taken and all ended well. I got two special photos, one of myself, Dalton and the ACTION instructor, and another of all three ACTION students, dogs and instructor. I hope they turn out well.
After photos, we had the vet lecture. The rest of the class also had vet physicals for their dogs during the time people were getting photos. That lecture went well, with the customary information being provided and some questions being asked. Dinner was then had, and then lecture, except that ACTION students weren't required to go, as the lecture was on country travel and we had done that already, (last night, in fact). I must tell you that it did seem weird not having to go to lecture.
Food for today was a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast, (with coffee), lunch was supposed to be some kind of sandwich, (ask anyone and they will tell you that lunch was the most confusing meal as far as finding out what it was), except it didn't turn out to be a sandwich; something about the bread order not coming in? No clue... I was served some kind of pasta dish thing, which I didn't eat, because...well, I just didn't eat it. Dinner was gumbo with velvet cake and tiramisu. I chose the tiramisu.
I am now doing laundry, (it's in the dryer), and am about to go take my dog to play for awhile. Tomorrow will be a day of travel. I wasn't able to land a ride straight from the airport, and I'm not exactly sure when I'll get home, but the fact that I will is all that matters. It was funny: I wanted to practice revolving doors with my dog, just because of his length; I knew how to do it. One of the instructors, Karen, helped me with it, and it was fine. He had no problems. When we were leaving the Campbell Lounge--I mean Alumni Hall--I told him "to the door", and he took me to both corners of the room with toy baskets before we got to the door. Silly boy! I guess that is his way of saying, "I want to play, Mom!" I shall go oblige him. Oh yes, I got my take-home packet today, and I assume information for the puppy raisers is in there, so I will figure out what that is and be in touch soon. As tomorrow is a travel day, I might not post an entry, or I may post just to say that I made it home, if anything at all. Entries will resume on perhaps Sunday, but definitely Monday, as I will meet with the field rep then for the next week. Take care all, more soon.
Again, I am so glad that people have gotten what they have from this blog. I can assure you that I have enjoyed writing it as much as you have enjoyed reading. I also enjoy the fact that you read, too.
Oh yes, one last thing: answers to questions. I think the only one I had was about chips and snacks being in the coffee room. They are still there, only they're on a table and not the refrigerator. The candy machine is still there, (much to my delight), but I haven't tried to use it. I think that covers everything.
January 20th, 2011
Today was a very good day of training. Obedience and distraction practice this morning went fine, (the distraction in question was a dog, which was very tempting, but Dalton did a good job with it). Morning and afternoon routes went well. We went to White Plains again. The route in the morning was outdoors, and that in the afternoon was a combination of outdoor and indoor. I had the same doubles partner for both. As I said, things went well. I remember in the morning slipping a bit on some ice, and when I came across another patch of ice, Dalton did a fantastic job in slowing down and making me aware of the ice patch before proceeding forward. I do believe that I also slipped on that same first patch of ice in the afternoon, too. Crossings were good, as was his indoor work. I wish I could expound more on the routes, but I'm currently blanking on anything to really expound on. My dog and I continue to learn and bond as a team, which is important.
Food for the day was eggs and toast for breakfast, a Cuban sandwich and lentel soup for lunch, (I wasn't crazy about the santwich), and it was roasted chicken with rice and beans, I think, for dinner, but I opted for a grilled cheese instead. To drink I had coffee with breakfast and dinner and an iced tea with lunch.
After dinner, the three ACTION students went on a country travel (sidewalkless) route. All three dogs did very well and were excited to be out and doing something different. We took turns taking lead as you would in doubles, except we were obviously in a tripple. It's interesting, because the lighting conditions are different, as are the scents in the air. There was one dog distraction, but things were fine with that. The dogs worked hard, and mine is currently asleep. I need to wake him up to water/park him, though. Speaking of sleep, that sounds like an awesome plan. I'm exhausted... I really need to do laundry, but need to figure out the machines. If I don't get it done tonight, that will be on tomorrow's list of things to do. I'm not really even sure what we will be doing tomorrow due to the impending snow. That about wraps up this entry. It's shorter than some, perhaps, but you have that sometimes. Take care, and more tomorrow.
January 19th, 2011
Pathetic subject, I know, but it is what it is. Today went very well. It was hard getting up after having a much-needed and long-overdue conversation with a good friend that lasted until late, (my definition of 'late' has changed dramatically over the past six months or so; in truth, we probably got done around 11:30PM or so Eastern), but coffee soon fixed my 'not-awake' state. Full class obedience was fine and there were no incidents of not being obedient. It's funny: at dinner, one of the classmates at my table mentioned that his dog had finally started 'obediating'. It had apparently been a rough few days for him in that regard. I thought that word was fantastic and deserved mention in the blog. Consider it mentioned, then.
The morning route I went out on as a single. Said route consisted of a multitude of different kinds of intersections, some long stretches where we could just fly, and obstacles in the form of snow mounds and puddles. Dalton was a champ throughout all of it. There were a few minor things, said things being so minor that I can't really think of what they were now. He handled the one intersection, )two turning lanes to the left, a straight crossing and two turning lanes to the right, I think, all bundled into one intersection - three for the price of one, I guess?) like it wasn't anything at all. I'm serious. I told him 'forward', and the next thing I knew, I was across the street, no problem. This gives me hope that CrazyIntersection at school will, indeed, be surmountable. I do believe that there were also a few traffic checks, which also posed no problem for us. There were puddles on the ground due to the crazy weather we have been having, and he treated them like obstacles, slowing down considerably to go through or past them. Snow mounds were also seen as obstacles. There were even some either in the streets or on the curbs, and so he would at times have to pull me around a mound and then take initiative to get us back on course. It really was amazing to see.
The afternoon route was a double, and it, too, went well. More of the same things were experienced on this route as in the morning, and again, no major problems. His pace picked up somewhat in the afternoon from what I can remember in comparison to the morning. We, (the three ACTION students), returned to the school around 3:00, and so had some chill time before 4:00 feed/water/park. Dalton spent some of that time having fun running around with his bone. He would come to me and drop it at my feet, wanting me to throw it, which I would do. This occurred for several repetitions.
Food today was eggs and toast for breakfast with coffee, a ham, salami and cheese sandwich for lunch with coffee, and tortelini for dinner with no drink at all for whatever reason.
There was no lecture tonight, as puppy class is taking place in Alumni Hall. I actually went in and observed for a little while. It was interesting and very valuable to see what the puppies go through on their way to becoming guide dog canidates. There were stations set up with hula hoops and toys, and the puppies would have to practice different kinds of stays - sit stay, down stay, sdanding still - with the toys being thrown and hoops being put over them and around them and such. When I left, the puppies were doing an exercise with the booties. The raisers first touched the booties to different parts of the puppies bodies. After that, the booties were touched to the puppies toes and then put halfway on their paws. As I said, I really enjoyed it. The older puppy class was first, (there were Labs and Shepards both), and then a class of younger puppies will be happening later on. I will go back in a little while to see if I can't observe that one also.
My trip back to DeKalb has been delayed a day, and so I will leave here on Saturday instead. I am not sure of the exact time that my flight lands, but it is a direct flight into O'Hare. I will be sure and find out times and such tomorrow. One cool thing about staying the extra day is that we get more training, and also get to be in the class photo that will be taken which would not have happened otherwise. Once again, the universe provides.
Oh, one more thing, and I only mention it to mention it: a second dog switch took place in our class. The handler is seeming to do well with a new dog, though, which is all that counts. As I think I mentioned previously, this could have happened to any one of us. If I didn't mention it, I feel that I would be leaving out a detail that does sometimes happen, and I want people to get as full an experience from my blog as possible.
I also forgot to mention regarding yesterday's entry abut the vet visit: didn't get to see Dr. Sandler while there, but Dr. Brown did the examination, and I really like her. She was very nice, thorough and kind and willing to explain anything and answer any question I had. I believe she is a new vet, unless I am wrong, which I could be.
Answers to some questions that people asked me: GEB is currently feeding IAMS food, and my field rep will be John Dettloff. He called me today, and we are all set to begin training in DeKalb on Monday.
That brings me to the end of this entry. I'm off to relax and wind down. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are making themselves very well known as of late. It will take some adjustment, (both mentally and physically), in returning to school and figuring out a routine with Dalton, but I'll get through it. I have learned that that's just one of the side effects of class. It's all good, though. These things take time, and patience and perseverance will pay off in the end. At least I would like to think so. An interesting side note: writing daily in my blog has gotten me in the frame of mind to do it more often. It is my hope that I will continue to write more frequently, even after training is over. Grad school will not get in the way of that. Thanks for reading, and more tomorrow.
January 18th, 2011
Due to the weather, we spent most of today inside at Yorktown. Before I forget: breakfast was scrambled eggs, toast and Cheereios with coffee, lunch was a turky rubin sandwich and garlic soup with iced tea, and dinner was actually the turkey rubin which I was too full from the soup to eat at lunch and so saved it for dinner. I forget if I had a drink or not. I actually have half of the sandwich in my fridge. I don't know why, but I wasn't very hungry at dinner.
We did group obedience this morning, and that went well. I forgot to mention yesterday about distraction practice, but if not, there was a toy that was used, and Dalton did fine. Today's distraction was a squirrel on a fishing pole, and he was curious and got up a few times to look at it, but all in all, he did well. He was responsive to my asking him to sit and then treating him for doing so and paying attention to me/being good instead of being distracted by the squirrel. Tomorrow starts full class obedience; I'm looking forward to it.
This morning, instead of doing a route, we were inside and went over how to use the booties we are issued, the Clicker/targeting and the Haltie. Dalton did well with everything. He was a little unsure of the booties at first, but with practice, it should be okay. We practiced heeling them up and down the halls this morning. He isn't totally resistant to them, which is a good thing. I had them on him a little while ago again, and heeled him and also worked him some in them, and he did fine. The booties will definitely help with ice/snow/salt/hot temperatures. They are also very well made, too. The clicker/targeting was awesome! He picks up on that fast, and I'm looking forward to using it when I get to school. To explain: when you want the dog to show you something, the clicker is a good way to help the dog learn that. You first practice with the 'touch' command, having the dog touch your hand and clicking and treating each time this is done. The most important rule of all: if you click, you treat, even if the click is on accident. 'Touch' is then replaced by whatever word you want - chair, elevator, door, curb, etc. If that explanation is still a little confusing, let me know, and I can try to clarify.
The haltie, while I'm not sure I will use it much, is a good tool to have. It replaces the Gentle Leader, which used to be issued. The haltie is similar, except that it has a few more straps and connecters. I'm not even sure I know how to do a good job explaining its physical make-up. The idea of the haltie is that you have more control over the dog's head. You have more command of the dog as opposed to doing the snap-correction. The slip collar is a training tool, whereas the haltie is not. Again, if that explanation didn't make sense, let me know, and I'll see about fixing it. Other people can feel free to chime in and correct anything that may be...well...incorrect.
After lunch, the three ACTION students went and worked our dogs in a KMart that was close by. We worked them outside through an icey, slushy parking lot that wasn't all that fun to navigate, but we did make it, which is all that matters. It was fun working in the store, going around the perimeter and through aisles. All ended well, and there were no injuries or broken merchandise.
There was no lecture tonight, and so I haven't been up to too too much. I am really tired, and so may go to bed early. With the possible snowstorm that may hit New York on Friday, I may end up leaving on Saturday instead of Friday as was the plan originally. I'm not totally sure. I need to figure out when I will be arriving in Chicago and then a plan back to DeKalb. I'm not so sure that I want to brave public transit by myself so soon with a new dog. If I have to, fine, but I want to see if I have any other options first.
I'm blanking on anything else that I may have wanted to add, and so this is where I will end it. Oh, wait..no, I almost forgot: Dalton had his vet physical today. He weighs 81 pounds, and his second Birthday is on Sunday, January 23. How cool is that! He did fantastic at the vet, being a very good boy and not putting up a fuss whatsoever, even when blood had to be drawn. The draw was just as a precaussion, just to make sure that nothing was wrong. His target weight was listed at 86, and so he's a little under. I'm sure things are fine, though. I think that's all of the pertenant information regarding that.
I really think that that is everything. If not, whatever it is can wait until tomorrow's entry. Take care, and thanks for reading.
January 17th, 2011
Today was another good day all around. I did figure out that during obedience, if I don't at least finish my first cup of coffee, (there's the C word again!), my dog is with it and performs better than I do! Sad, but true. Routes both in the morning and afternoon were fantastic. I went doubles with the other ACTION student, the one who had gone in a single up to this point. Our dogs enjoyed working with each other, passing one another and even steadying down and walking one behind the other. I really love how Dalton will go full-out pace-wise when it is a wide, open area and then slow down considerably when in a narrow place or when encountering obstacles so as to avoid them. There was one crossing that I had to rework, but I think I identified what the issue was, and there was no reoccurance of said issue, so I think all is good. Our pace when first crossing was a little fast, causing veerage, and slowing down seemed to solve that. It was funny, at the end of one of the trips - I can't remember which one - the handler of the other team asked if I was preparing for a 10-K race. Something like that, anyway. I said that no, I was not. I walk fast; what can I say? At least I won't be late for class!
Speaking of class, I was talking to a friend from school, and it came up that one of our class sessions possibly meets on Tuesdays *and* Saturdays. Not 24 hours after I get home, I get to be in class. How's that for a test! Oh grad school...how I miss you! :-) I have already made the executive decision not to cross CrazyIntersection that soon, though. I want to do it with the field rep a few times first, until I feel comfortable. It may even be that Dalton and I would be fine, I'd just rather not test that theory right off the bat, either way.
One of the students here made dinner for our class tonight - Tuscan shrimp - and it was fabulous! So was the wine that was bought to go with it. After the usual evening lecture and before 7:30 park, I played with Dalton in Alumni Hall, (I think I still like 'Campbell Lounge' better - just sayin'!), and he enjoyed it a lot. He ran around with toys and would retrieve them when I threw them, sometimes with me not having to even call him back. I'm going to have to figure out a place at school where I can take him to play.
I'm trying to think of other things of note to write about, and am drawing a blank. The weather forecast is uncertain for tonight and tomorrow, and so the morning may consist of staying inside and working with booties, halties and Clicker. I'm hoping the weather isn't too too bad, though, because I would like to get out also, even if it's inside work. I think that's really all I have for an entry tonight. Pictures have been taken of my dog and I, and I will figure out how to post them when I get them.
Oh yes, I completely forgot: last night I spent a few hours up in the old living room, just relaxing. That has to be my most favorite place in this whole building. The energy in there is so much different from any other place; it's hard to explain, but anyone who has been inside of that room should have an idea of what I'm talking about. It can really relax and mellow a person out, or at least that's been my experience. It's also very quiet up there, which also helps. I may go up there again after I've posted this as I could use some more chil time. Things are fine, it's just these long days can sometimes be hard on one. More tomorrow.
PS: I completely forgot to mention what the food options were; well no, I did mention dinner. Breakfast was eggs, toast, yogurt with granola and coffee. Lunch was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, carrot ginger soup and coffee. (The main dish was a chicken and vegetable rice dish). Dinner was, as mentioned above, Tuscan shrimp. I had more coffee with dinner, but also a glass of wine. I think it was a Yellow Tail marlot (SP?). It was very tasty. There was another type of wine, (I forget which), that I did try, and that, too, was good.
Now that I have made a point to include the food for today, (it wouldn't be an entry if I left that out!), I do believe that I have covered everything. I was actually putting my netbook away, on which I wrote this entry originally, when I remembered that I failed to mention food, and so took a trip upstairs to the computer lab to add this postscript. I do apologize for any typos that may be apparent. More tomorrow, for real this time!
January 16th, 2011
Today, being Sunday, has been very, very chill here at Guiding Eyes. *insert news bulletin* I have just been informed that two pounds of Duncan Donuts Duncan Dark coffee have been purchased and will be put into the coffee machine in the coffee room on the first floor. The only real word I have for that at the moment is fantastic! Life is good! Speaking of coffee and donuts, I currently have a Boston cream donut and a cup of coffee next to me as I write this. Well okay, so it's atop the fridge, and I am here at the desk, but enough with technicalities!
Moving forward (no pun intended): as I said, today has been very low-key. Part of me is glad about that, and another part isn't really okay with the time off. Yeah...don't ask! We had individual long-line play with our dogs today, where we went into Alumni Hall A.K.A the Campbell Lounge and had our dog on a 40-foot line to play. I kidded some classmates earlier in that I hoped I wouldn't be my dog's playtoy, because he is a rather big dog and I am a rather small person. He had a super fun time with long-line play, and chose to play with other toys and not with me (ha ha!). I had a Wubba that was Olivia's toy, but she has six or seven toys as it is, and so I don't think she misses one. Even if so, Liv, it's called sharing, which I know you know how to do. You'll get to see Dalton sometime and I hope you'll like him. Dalton loved the Wubba. I had it in my hand on the way down to the lounge, (they don't call us retrains for nothing, I guess), and he was fascinated with it all the while, bopping it with his nose. I had to put it away, because when we came back into the room after play, I put it on the bed and he proceeded to take it off of the bed, (yes, he is that tall that he can manage that!), and bring it into his crate with him. His recall is awesome! It took a few times for him to realize that he should come back to me with the toy when called, but it could also be that it was his first time playing in awhile, and he needed to get his squirrley-whirley's out, which he definitely did by running around and playing with toys. He had a fun time nosing around in the milk crate of toys and taking out different toys and having me throw them. There was one toy that wasn't in the crate, (it was somewhere in the room - I have no idea where), that he took the liberty to find on his own and bring back to me. It was a long, flecey toy of some sort with squeakers in it. He didn't try to squeak the Wubba, but mabe he will at another time. He just liked to run with it in his mouth, carrying it by the string-line things on the ends of it. It got to the point during play where I would throw a toy, or he would find one, and come back to me, dropping it at my feet to throw again. I treated him each time he came back when called. I'm not even sure that he was that motivated by the treats; I think he just loved to run around and play. Either way, it works.
While looking through the comments to my blog entries, I noticed that I received one from Dalton's puppy raisers, Jim and Linda. I'm not too sure how you found my blog, (enquiring minds and all that), but I'm super excited you did! (I have no way of contacting you directly, which is why I'm writing this here. I hope you read my blog again and find this). Anyway, I do think that GEB will give me your contact information if nothing else. I'm not positive if they will arrange a phone call between us, but I will definitely ask. I would love that! Regardless, I am all for exchanging information and keeping in touch. I'm sorry a visit can't happen while I'm here, but I would love it if something could be arranged later on. Okay, so this is a little longer than intended, especially on a blog. The long and short of it is thank you so so so so much for contacting me, Dalton is a fantastic dog, and I would love to stay in touch!
Obedience happened prior to breakfast, and we went in groups of three. Dalton did fine with it. Speaking of food: breakfast was a sesame seed bagel with cream cheese and coffee, (I was contemplating wearing my pajamas to breakfast - it's just been that kind of day - and I actually did do it!), lunch was a salami, ham and cheese sandwich with baked Doritos and iced tea, and dinner will be lasagna. After breakfast, I took an hour or so and managed to read a chapter of school reading, so I feel a little better and not like I'm slacking. True, school hasn't even started yet, but I do want to stay on top of things. I'm not done the first week's reading assignment, but I started it, and considering life's circumstances at the moment, I think the three chapters that I have read should definitely count for something. Lecture I believe will take place tonight after dinner, although on what I have no idea. I hope I'm awake enough for that. The chill atmosphere around here is very conducive to my brain being sluggish. If not, there's always coffee! Wow, I have mentioned coffee way too many times in my last few entries. I really am not an addict, and it's not as much of a problem as it may seem from the outside, I swear! Actually, depending on which of my classmates you ask, they may beg to differ, but if you consider the source...
In sports news: last I knew, the Bears were beating the pants off of the Seahawks 28-0 or something like that. The Jets/Patriets game should be interesting, too.
I'm not really sure what else I can update on. I think I have covered everything. Thank you again to all who have been reading and/or commenting. It means a lot that you do so, and I am glad that my blog is enjoyed. More soon.
January 15th, 2011
Today was just one of those days when I knew it was going to take copious amounts of coffee to keep me going from the moment I woke up, (at 5:55 or so - I guess that's what I get for going to bed so late). It was to the point where my first cup of coffee happened even before breakfast, (where I again had some coffee - two cups, I think). In the midst of park/feed/water/park, while Dalton was eating and on tie-down, I took that opportunity to quickly run to the coffee room and give a good morning greeting to the wonderful coffee machine in exchange for a fantastic, nice hot cup of caffeinated beverage. Priorities... I took care of my dog first, so there shouldn't be any issue here, I wouldn't think.
The routes in the morning and afternoon went without incident. There were people opstacles in the form of joggers, and DMan did just fine guiding me around them. One of the intersections we crossed had an island in the middle of it, and in the morning when we crossed it, he took me around it, but in the afternoon, he took me right through it, after seeing the dog of the team with whom I was doing doubles at the time go through it, and so I guess he figured if they could go through it, he and I could, too. We flew through it, (this guy means business as far as pace goes, let me tell you!), and it really did feel like I was skiing. We both managed to get across without falling, which does count.
I briefly mention this next point because it does sometimes happen in class: one of the students had a dog switch. Said student happened to be an AQCTION one, and the first dog that he had did not work out. All that matters is that he has a dog now that is doing fantastically for him It really could have happened to any one of us, truth be told.
Food for today: breakfast was eggs, toast and coffee. Lunch was grilled cheese, tomato soup and...more coffee. (I actually wanted iced tea, but they didn't have any, so coffee was the substitute). Dinner was pizza and...you guessed it...more coffee. Perhaps surprisingly, I'm feeling pretty exhausted for all the cups of java I have had today. I think the count is at least five or six. It was funny: one of the ACTION students wished me good luck on my route in the morning, and I said "thanks, same to you", and he had already gone out on his route. In my defense, it was early, and I wasn't all that awake yet. I really do think Starbucks needs to happen sometime this next week...
Lecture was after dinner, where we went over our schedule tomorrow and grooming. The dogs will do individual long-line play. I can't wait to see how it goes. I groomed my dog, (we were issued a comb and brush), and he seemed to like it. He moved around some, but it wasn't anything too major. When I brought out the comb, he first sniffed it before I used it. He did the same thing with the brush.
I honestly don't know what else to write about, and I think I've covered everything as it is. I did talk to a friend who was in class with me last time earlier this evening, and it was really nice to catch up with him. I can't believe a week of training is over! This time next week, I will be back in DeKalb. I really don't want to think about that, because I'm not at all prepared to leave. It has taken a huge amount of energy as it is to mentally prepare me for retiring LivDog, coming back into class and then working with a new guide. The concept of having to leave so soon just isn't on my radar yet. I do still have a week, so I shouldn't be stressing about it. Said conversation helped me put all of that into perspective, of which I am eternally thankful. It will be okay, though, I'm sure. It feels way later than it is. I think an early bedtime may be in order tonight. Dalton is already there. I tried to coax him out of his crate, but upon coming out, he went in again shortly after, both times that I tried this. Take care, thanks for reading, and more tomorrow.
January 14th, 2011
Is it really day five? Wow, time does fly. I'm working with something like half a brain at present, (I am very soon to take a page out of Dalton's book and go to bed, after I take him out one last time, of course), so please bear with me as I recap the day's events.
First off, answers to questions I have received. If I miss anything, please feel free to comment again with whatever question you have so that I can answer it. Juno work is when the instructor simulates what the dog would do. Yes, crates are provided in the rooms, as well as tie-downs. The dogs are crate trained as pups, and most love them. Dalton is one such pup. The rooms also have televisions and fridges in them. There is no wireless Internet at the Yorktown HQ, but they have Ethernet connections in each room. Wireless does exist at White Plains, though. It used to exist here, but it was having issues. One of the tech people said he hoped to have it up and running again sometime later this year. I think he said possibly by next month or so. A traffic check is when a car comes in front of your path in the street and the dog is responsible to keep you out of harms way.
Now, onto my day. Parking, feeding and watering this morning went without incident, as did obedience. I need to be sure to remember not to switch the leash into the right hand when I want to reposition him, because then he thinks that he needs to be on my right if the leash is in the right hand. We're both learning, and I'm sure it will be okay in time.
Breakfast, too, went fine. I ad a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. While we're on food: for lunch, the main dish was a sausage and pepper sandwich. I'm onestly not completely positive what I ate for lunch, (we [the people at the table where I was sitting at dinner] were talking about it, and I honestly couldn't come up with it - I guess my brain is just *that* fried), although I seem to think that maybe it was peanut butter and jelly, although I know I ate that another day previously. Not that it's hugely important... Dinner was fish, but I had a ham and cheese sandwich instead. For breakfast, the drink was coffee, lunch was more coffee, and dinner was water.
Speaking of coffee: I headed into the coffee room this morning to get another cup of said beverage prior to loading up in the van with the other two ACTION students, (we rode separately into White Plains this morning), only to discover that there were no cups left by the coffee machine. Horror of horrors! This is a true crime, I tell you! I don't know who did it, but it wasn't cool at all. Haha! Coffee is extremely necessary in the morning! Graham saved the day by bringing me a cup when he came out to start the van. Crisis averted with much gratitude!
The morning route I worked a double with one of the other ACTION students. It went really well. I was about to say I can't remember anything that really happened en route, but that wouldn't be true at all. See, my brain really is fried! Oh man... The morning route was complete with an unexpected traffic check which had me slightly shaken up and I didn't even realize was a traffic check until after the fact when Graham mentioned it. When I first stepped off the down curb, I slightly tripped over a snow mound, and recovered from that, only to be met with the traffic check. I didn't even know that the car was there! Dalton was a fantastic boy, though, and handled it nicely. Other than that, I can't remember anything of any significance on our route. His pace and pull are so wonderful, and it's so fun working him.
The afternoon route was where things began to shine. I did a single, and Dalton and I really seemed to start to mesh as a team. I was able to really read him and know how he moves and approaches obstacles and handles certain situations. In narrow places or places where there are obstacles, he will tend to slow down and be extra caucious of his surroundings to make sure that I am okay. I think the traffic check earlier in the day may have had something to do with it, too. When the area opens up or is less full of potential obstacles, he will take the initiative and pull out/speed up the pace again. I honestly really like how he handles that. His turns were textbook, and his clearances were spot on. I can tell he has fun doing his job. Perhaps I can get some pictures of the two of us working en route sometime. As I was able to read him, I think he, to, is starting to be able to read me and know how I work. This afternoon's route was for sure the start of something truly amazing that will only get better in time. He is still definitely attached to his trainer, but my thought is that in time, that attachment will shift over to me. I look forward to the day when that happens. I am starting to work him in the Yorktown building, and again, it's really fun. They now train the dogs to place their two front paws on the first step of stairs going up, and it's really funny, because he's so tall that when he does this, I think he's actually up more of the staircase than he actually is! I need to make a conscious effort to reach down and feel his position until I get used to what it feels like naturally. That way, I can praise him accordingly instead of correcting for something that doesn't need correction. I'm just not used to such a large beast is all. I also worked on targeting with him as far as my room door goes, and he seems to be getting it. We shall put him to the test tomorrow when I work him too and from breakfast.
Lecture tonight was on working the dogs inside versus outside, targeting and leaving the dogs alone for short periods of time. I may or may not have forgotten something, I'm not entirely positive. Oh yes, we were also issued half-check collars. I left Dalton in the room alone for fifteen or so minutes in his crate, and he did fine. I actually put my Victor Stream on record to see what he do, and the only thing he did was let out a slight groan shortly after the door closed when I left, but that was it; no other peep out of him at all. While in lecture, he did decide to be a little escape artist and somehow wriggle out of his collar. I have no idea how he did it, but the next thing I know, empty harness. I was of course still holding onto his leash, and so I was able to put it back on him. Crazy dog!
7:30 park time happened shortly after lecture, and then I have been hanging out ever since. I chilled in the coffee room for a time as people were in there. I made a point to look and see the status of the cups for the coffee machine, and everyone, (especially those on Facebook, where I put out a status about the potential crisis), will be glad to know that they have been re-stocked. Hahaha! This is a good thing for all involved, really it is!
Olivia's puppy raisers called me awhile ago to let me know that LivDog is safely with them. It seems that she is settling down nicely, after apparently having some words with Bryn, another dog who they have also. If I remember correctly, Bryn is a release dog from GEB, from one of the litters of a puppy the family raised who is, or was, a brood (SP?). It's a relief to know that she's finally home. I hope it doesn't take her too long to actually feel at home. She is pretty adaptable, though, so I'm not really all that worried.
I honestly can't think of anything else that I wanted to write about, so this is where I end this, post, go take out Dalton, brush my teeth and then go to bed. Again, many thanks go out to those who read and comment about my training, whether it be via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or on the actual journal. Thanks, also, for the questions that some of you have had. Feel free to send more. More tomorrow.
January 13th, 2011
Another day, the end of which is leaving me feeling very exhausted and drained, yet satisfied at the same time. Wake-up, park/feed/water and park, obedience and human breakfast this morning all went without any real incident to speak of. I was prepared for some resistance in obedience, Dalton not knowing me from anyone at this point and the two of us being together for such short a time, but he did amazingly well. There were a few times I had to correct, I think, but nothing major at all. The ride in the van to White Plains was also very smooth, Dalton first sitting and then lying down quietly on the floor at my feet. I'm finding myself having to get used to his extra length as far as certain things are concerned, (placement, room for him, etc), but it will all come easier with time.
I had to wait a bit for my first walk with Dalton as I was the last of the three ACTION students to go out. That reminds me: I had wanted to mention previously that there are three ACTION students. When I went through the program the first time, there were only two, and apparently three only happens occasionally. Onto my first walk: it was really awesome! I had forgotten how fast I usually walk with LivDog slowing down. (I still love you, LivDog, don't worry!). I will say that wearing very high snow boots is not conducive to fast walking, even though my feet are warm. I am going to try wearing my sneakers tomorrow and putting yak tracks on the bottom of them if it turns out I need that. Very few corrections were needed on the walk, and he responded well to me, (I thought, anyway), even with the trainer's support leash still on him. Oh, another tidbit about this morning: I was sitting in the lobby with Dalton under my chair, waiting to load up into the vans, when I noticed he made a mad dash out from under where he was nicely positioned and into the aisleway. Only then did I realize Graham had come into the picture. After I got him repositioned, which took some effort, he then proceeded to start whining pretty emphatically. It turns out Dalton is hugely attached to his trainer, apparently.
Back to my first walk: Dalton's gait is more similar to a prance. He apparently does lift his feet up high and also holds his head up, like a pony. (My instructor mentioned that at first, not me!). That description isn't really all that far off, though, the more I think about it. Pony..dog...same difference! He is very tall and does have length on him. Said height is very conducive to finding doorknobs, as I found out on my second walk later in the afternoon. That walk, too, went well. The support leash came off during that one, and Dalton's response was still very similar. There were again a few errors, although sometimes I think it was more to do with me than with him. (I'm used to saying "straight" when in the street, but that has now been eliminated, and "to the curb" is used instead. There are other little things that have changed both in harness work and out that I am having to get used to). We're both learning each other, though, so it's naturally to be expected. It was on that walk that, as I said, Dalton's height played into finding doorknobs. We were back at the lounge, and I praised and treated Dalton for taking me up to the door. He had put his head near the doorknob at first, and, seeing that he got a treat when it was done the first time, continued to bop the doorknob with his nose at least one or two more times on his own, with no initiative from me. Silly dog! Smart, though, definitely! All in all, I really love to work him and have fun doing it, which is why all dog users are in this, is it not?
Upon coming back to Yorktown, we fed/watered/parked the dogs again, which went without incident. Dinner was next, which didn't go as smoothly. Dalton was very restless and would continualy get up as soon as I had him down many times. I was persistent about the behavior that I wanted, (or at least tried to be), and again, I know things will smooth out in time. Given that this was the first full day together, we're doing fine. He seems a little stressed, though, and so I'm trying to be as positive as I can be for him to make it easier and to associate me with good things. Perhaps playtime on Sunday will help in this regard. He likes his crate, so that's at least something that will help in the meantime. We were also given Nylabones after lecture, which took place after dinner, and he did chew on his for awhile in his crate. While I was in the shower and he in his crate, I was originally going to put Animal Planet on for him, but when I switched it on, I couldn't really tell what it was, (rats were mentioned, but I don't know if they were talking about domesticated or non; I don't want him to watch something that might not be nice!), and so I chose to leave him with classical music instead, which he seemed to like. We also had cuddle time on the floor earlier. I really hope that I can have contact with his puppy raisers and get tips from them. Not only that, I just like having contact with the raisers in general. They are an instrumental part of the whole process.
Both evening park times were fine. That brings me to now, sitting here writing this. I am pretty exhausted, and so want to get to bed sooner rather than later. A continued thank-you to everyone who has read and commented, either on the actual journal or on Facebook. I know I haven't commented back, but do know that it's more than appreciated. I definitely read everything, regardless! If anyone has any questions or would like more details about one thing or another that I either write about or don't, please do not hesitate to ask/tell me that. I'm happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability. I posted a picture of Dalton on Facebook; I should figure out how to upload it to LJ. I'm not sure if I'm forgetting anything that I wanted to put in, but if I think of something I forgot, I'll add it in tomorrow. Apologies for any typos or anything. Until then...
PS: I forgot to mention the food menu and so had to come back and post. Breakfast was eggs and toast and cereal, the last of which I ended up taking back to my room as I was too full. To drink I had coffee. I believe that the main choice was French toast. Lunch was BLT's and mushroom barley soup. I opted for a ham and cheese sandwich, chips and iced tea, but ended up with grape juice instead as there was no iced tea. Dinner was roast beef, mashed potatoes and broccoli. I had everything, save the broccoli, which I swapped for string beans. (I would have eaten the broccoli if it didn't have flower parts on it; I actually said I would eat it if it weren't for that - I don't really like those!). I had iced tea to drink again. For breakfast tomorrow is a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, which I did choose to eat. Alright, I think that covers everything... So much to remember! I'm off to bed now. So tired...
January 12th, 2011
Today has been long and exhausting, both mentaly and physically. It was everyone's favorite part of class: Dog Day! I don't remember when I ended up falling asleep last night, but I was awake around 5:00 this morning, way before the official wake-up time. Juno obedience went well for a second time. I was surprised I ate everything at breakfast as I don't usually tend to eat a lot on Dog Day, or at least haven't in the past. I don't know if I mentioned: the main breakfast choice was an omlet, but I opted for eggs and toast instead. While we're on food: lunch was chicken, tuna or some other kind of salad, and I chose peanut butter and jelly. I ate all of that, too, again surprising. Dinner was burgers and potato wedges, which I did choose and again eat all of. Lunch was actually very busy in terms of a lot of people talking and such. In past classes, I don't remember it being as such. Dinner, too, was mostly low-key.
Now for the part you all have been waiting for: my dog. All throughout the morning and into the afternoon, when we were receiving our dogs' names, I was very nervous and emotions were running high. When I was told that my dog was a yellow Lab male named Dalton, I didn't know what to think at first. When all of the dogs had been paired to people, everyone left and I just sat in Alumni Hall, not really knowing what to do or how to feel. A male? I had never worked a male before. I wasn't so much concerned for the sake of my dog as I was for myself. Could I do this? I actually broke out in tears. I think all of the emotions of LivDog's retirement and my receiving my new guide hit me all at once right then. Another thank-you goes out to the instructors and Becky, (and Flyer!), for helping me through my mini melt-down. I truly appreciate it. When the knock came on my door and Graham brought Dalton into me, one second and I realized I was worried for nothing. He is a very sweet dog and I have all the confidence in the world that we will do fine. He has been obedient to me, even for only having him such a short time. He's actually getting anxious, so I'm going to end this, post it, and give him some attention. I did want to write an update all the same. I do apologize for its abruptness. A huge thank-you goes out to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my last few entries, especially to Olivia's puppy raisers, Jane and family. You guys are really fantastic! Tomorrow I hit the ground running, literally. We were given our harnesses tonight, and I had Dalton in a standing position to fit him with it. I brought it down close to his head and he walked right into it. I can't wait to work him for the first time tomorrow!
January 11th, 2011
Today has been exhausting, at least mentally. I ended up getting to sleep somewhat late last night and then was up by 4-something this morning. Juno obedience went well, (Alumni Hall is huuuuuuuuuuuuge, not to mention FREEEEEEEEEEEEZING!!!!), as did breakfast, which consisted of eggs, toast and bacon. We then loaded up into the vans to head to White Plains to do Juno walks. I was scheduled the last group in the afternoon and so had the whole first part of the day to relax. The Juno walk went well, I think. I was actually glad to get outside. For the record, it is amaaaaaazingly cold in the White Plains lounge! Being outside for that short a time made coming back inside seem warm. It felt way too weird not having a dog at the other end of the harness, though, even though I was full aware it was a Juno walk.
Lecture was held after everyone was done route, at the lounge instead of back at the school. We went over the four basic obedience commands--sit, down, stay and heel, (this last actually being a new one for me, I'm used to 'come)--and then got a preview of how the rest of the day/night/start of tomorrow would go. We then loaded back into the vans for the journey back to Yorktown. We had some time until it was shortly before five, when we headed up to the dining room for a quick schpeel from the volunteer coordinator and I think another person. Becky also told us how to work voicemail - Thanks, Becky! Oh yeah, I forgot: lunch was burritos and black bean soup, but I opted for a ham and cheese sandwich. My drink of choice was coffee. Dinner was sesame chicken, but I wanted mine grilled. I also had string beans and iced tea to drink. Dessert was ice cream sandwiches, but I declined.
After dinner there was the usual pre-dog-day retrain session, which I did attend. I do think it has helped me put some things into perspective. It was also nice to be around people who have been through it before, to share good times and not-so-good times. Yay for moral support! I know we'll all be fine. We just have to be patient with our dogs and, perhaps most of all, ourselves. It will all be okay. Really, it will!
After the retrain meeting, I went and hung out in the coffee room for awhile, before coming back here. I went and figured out voicemail, and I want to thank both Britt and Leslie for the calls. Yes, Leslie, I was in the retrain session when you called. I appreciate the message all the same. I also appreciate everyone who is reading and commenting. I was unsure as to whether or not I would get an entry done tonight, but persistance prevails, I guess. I have not looked at e-mail at all today, and really don't know that I want to at present, (I'm too mentaly drained at this point; yeah yeah, "...but it's only day two!"), so if someone could take the liberty of posting a link to this entry to the Juno list, it would be greatly appreciated. If not, I will see about getting around to it perhaps tomorrow, but definitely as soon as possible. This entry is also scattered, but it still works, so we'll go with it.
In other news, New York is expecting a crapton of snow to be dumped on us later tonight and into tomorrow. As far as timing goes, it's pretty fantastic, seeing as we're on grounds all day tomorrow what with it being dog day. (Thank gosh for my new warm, insolated winter boots is all I'm sayin'!). Speaking of dog day, I am finding that very hard to believe. I think I'm more nervous than anything else. It's really surreal. I know I'll get through it, but it's actually figuring out how that I'm struggling with. I think of tonight in a similar way that I think of Christmas Eve, except instead of Santa Clause, the trainers are spreading the cheer, if you will. Regardless, due to nervous and emotions being on high alert, I am finding it hard to settle. I really cant decide if it's easier to be a first-time handler or a retrain. The jury keeps wavering back and forth on this verdict.
Wake-up tomorrow is at 6:00, followed by Juno obedience, breakfast, lecture/practice, lunch, the Sorting Ceremony, (when we find out which dog we will be getting), and then the Christening of the Leashes, (when the instructors come to our rooms with our dogs and attach them to our leashes). After that, the fun begins! The afternoon will be spent bonding, and then...drum roll...DINNER! I.E. the first meal with our dogs. I'm not sure what will happen after that, and that may not even be exactly as it will go, but I think it's a pretty safe guess.
With that, I will end this and attempt to try and wind down. Oh yeah, this morning I had a rather interesting incident with my shower in that I couldn't figure out how the heck to turn the shower part of it on. With the help of another classmate, though, I got it. Liz 1, Shower 0! Take care all, more soon.
January 10th, 2011
The rest of today has gone well enough. I'm currently somewhat tired, but not tired enough yet that I think I could sleep. It probably doesn't help that I drank a cup of coffee earlier, either. I had wanted tea, but apparently wasn't fast enough with the coffee machine, (that coffee machine, by the way, is amaaaaaaazing!), and the machine spit out a cup of coffee instead. Ah well...it happens. In the meantime, I can write another update!
The meet-and-greet went fine. Most of the class is comprised of retrains, I think only four of the twelve being rookies, or those receiving their first guides. The East Coast is the geographic region most represented. The West Coast has no representation, the Midwest has some, (there are four people who are in Illinois - I count myself among those as I reside there at present), and we even have a student from Vienna, Austria. Said student came with an interpreter to help if necessary, but his English is very good as far as I am concerned. The majority of the class are older people, but January isn't really a common month for younger students, I don't think. The ratio of retrains probably isn't all that uncommon, either, given the month.
Before I go any further, I'll just get it out of the way: food. Lunch was butternut squash soup and a coldcut sandwich. I opted for both. Dinner was chicken parm over spaghetti with garlic bread, in which I also partook. I opted for water as my drink for lunch and iced tea as the drink of choice for dinner. I think the main breakfast food for tomorrow will be eggs and bacon, at least according to the menu that I found laying on the table in the coffee room.
After dinner, we had our first lecture. We went over equipment and were issued our leashes. We will be given the rest of it at a later date. the announced firedrill happened after that, and then we had chill time. I explored the building to become more familiar with it, (upstairs and down - I like the new upstairs with the game room and exercise room, and the tech lab is awesome! I love what they did with it!), even making a stop in what is known as the old living room. That room really is fantastic as far as the energy and furniture go. There is a nice, very comfortable couch in there! It's perhaps a bit too comfortable... During last class, that was my hiding spot. There were quite a few nights when I could be found up there, relaxing after lecture. It's quiet, which works. Of course I just put all of that out in a public entry, so maybe I need to go find a new hiding spot now? Suggestions? Ah well... I'm feeling confident about how things are laid out, which can only be viewed as a good thing.
A few of us ended up in the coffee room and hung out for awhile, before we split up and now I'm back here, in my room, writing this. Wake-up comes at 6:00AM tomorrow. Obedience is between then and 7:15, at which point breakfast happens. We then load up in the vans and head to White Plains for Juno walks and such. I'm not too sure what all else happens, but dinner and lecture are in there somewhere I'm sure. I'll update as things happen. If anyone has questions or comments, feel free to leave them. I really appreciate those of you taking the time to read. I hope that this is informative and helpful in getting an inside look at what guide dog training is like. This is only one person's perspective, though, .
I'm going to go try and wind down and sleep. I'm not really sure what I'm feeling as far as emotions or mood are concerned now, although I'm thinking that my emotions have yet to catch up with what is happening. It will all be okay, though, of that I am positive. It's just hard not to think of LivDog sometimes, even though I know she's fine. I think it has to do with caring for her for the past seven years, and not having that responsibility anymore, but still thinking that you have it and wanting to be sure things are okay. It will be a major relief on Friday when I get the call/e-mail informing me that she is safely with her puppy raisers. Have I mentioned that this school and the people here are fantastic? More tomorrow.
I just wanted to come in and report that I have made it safely to Guiding Eyes. The drive up yesterday went as expected, and I enjoyed last night spent with the family who drove me up here. We went to Applebee's for dinner as Liv's last work as a guide, and my mom remembers that we went to the same restaurant when she picked me up at the airport in Ithaca when I got Liv in the first place. I had forgotten that fact. Talk about full-circle!
I have been at the school since around 10:30 or so, after an entirely over-priced, not-so-good breakfast at the hotel. Ah well. The food here will make up for it 100-fold, so it works out. I 100% stand by my affirmation that this school and the people who work here are fantastic. The class instructors are Karen and Kat, with Melinda as the class supervisor. Graham is doing ACTION, as heard from Dale when we met up a short time ago. I guess it pays to be driven to the school by staff members, you get first-hand knowledge. No matter, though, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I am super appreciative of the fact that my family drove me up here, I really am.
I turned Olivia over to the instructors not so long ago, and it feels really strange at this time not having a dog. I honestly think that moment is one of the hardest moments a person can go through ever. I was able to keep her leash, and unlike last time, I'm not going to use it for any other dog. That leash is hers. I miss that dog already, even though I am positive I will be able to see her again once she is settled in her new home. LivDog, I love you. You be a good dog and remember all of the rules, okay? I know you're probably a little confused now, but you will be in your new home on Friday, with the amazing family who raised you to be the good dog that you are, and there won't be any more moving around here and there and everywhere. This isn't 'goodbye,' it's only 'see you later'.
I'm free until around four, when we will have the meet-and-greet in the Camble Lounge -- I mean Alumni Hall, (It's going to be a day or so until that one sinks in, I do believe), with everyone in the class. Students are trickleing in little by little. Those I have met thus far seem very nice. I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone in the class and seeing what the dynamic will be.
The renovations that were done to the school are amazing! I am in room 4, which is in the older wing of rooms. The number to my room, should anyone want to call, is (914) 930-3374. I don't remember how to check messages yet, but if I don't answer, feel free to leave one, and I will definitely appreciate it and call back when I can.
I think that's about all for now. I can't think of anything else, at any rate. I will write more soon. Take care, and thanks for reading.
January 8th, 2011
I wanted to come in and put an appearance in the journal. I am still home with family until tomorrow and have enjoyed my time here very much. New Year's was spent with family and friends and I had a really fun time. Thanks to everyone who made New ear's what it was. My Birthday was on Wednesday, and I greatly appreciated all of the "Happy Birthday" wishes and the dinner I had out with family to cap off the day.
It is my last night home most likely until the summer, (I realized today that I have a month between the end of Spring semester and the beginning of Summer, and so I'm thinking of coming back around that time), and it's hard to believe that two weeks have gone by. I will miss my friends and family that I have spent time with here, but I'm glad to have had this time with them. My year has gotten off to a tremendous start. It's just what I needed to recharge and hit the books when I go back.
Seven years ago today, I met LivDog for the first time. Time really does fly. Her puppy raisers e-mailed me yesterday and let me know that she will be arriving in Maine on this coming Friday. I really cannot stress enough how wonderfully amazing they are as people. Things could not have worked out any better way if they had tried, I honestly do believe that. Excitement and nerves are in a battle for who will win out right now in terms of going back into class. I know I'll be fine, it's just getting to that point that I need to get through. I received my room information for when I will be at the school via a phone call yesterday. This really is happening, crazy! I will update hopefully daily in the journal as to my training progress and such.
I think that's about all from here, at least from what I can remember. I leave here sometime around mid-morning and head to New York, where I will stay in a hotel close to the school tomorrow night and then drive over in the morning, at which time the fun begins. Well, okay, I won't drive, someone else will! I almost forgot: I went over to the agency for the blind on Thursday, (where I used to volunteer teaching braille), and saw my old teacher of the visually impaired, among other people. Not having seen him in years, it was really great to do so. I'm pretty tired for whatever reason, and so think I will wind down and then try to sleep. I think everything's packed, but that's what tomorrow morning is for, to put the last few touches on packing. Take care, I hope all are well, more soon.
January 2nd, 2011
I thought I would share my 2010 reads with my readers. ( Here are the books that I read in 2010.Collapse )
I also like to collect quotations, although I was pretty lax about that this past year. I should do better about that for this year. Feel free to comment with your own book, quote or even movie recommendations. I'm open to anything.
December 30th, 2010
Last I put an appearance in this thing was prior to Christmas. Christmas was a very nice affair. Christmas Eve found me spending time with a friend and her family for some hours during the evening. Christmas Day was spent very low-key, but that was okay with me.
The day afterwards I finished packing for my trip out on Monday. The East Coast got slammed with a snowstorm on or around Sunday into Monday, and so I spent much of Sunday monitoring my flight status. The two flights prior to mine were canceled, but mine still showed up as being on-time. I landed in Philadelphia after only a slight delay and no major problems, (we did start to board once, and were told to de-plane, taking our carry-ons, and then boarded a second time and actually left). . A good many of the flights after mine were delayed. I had spent the whole week or so before my trip putting out into the universe that I would land safely with no complications, and it happened.
Several interesting incidents happened in the airport or on the plane. When I boarded the plane the second time, a passenger who sat next to me remarked, "I had one of those," (referring to my dog guide, Olivia), "but it ran away." Awkward moment much? I mean, really, what am I supposed to say? I think I just did one of those "Oh" accompanied with a shoulder shrug things. Upon landing in Philadelphia, while waiting for my baggage, a random man came up and told me that he used to have a lab, but it passed away from diabetes and that it had also been 140 pounds. Hmm, well gee, that explains a lot! Poor dog...
I have been ome with my family since Monday, and I am very much enjoying my time here. The family waited to do gift exchange until I could be with them, and I really appreciated the thought that was put into the gifts that I received. I'm not going to go into full details, as that really isn't the point, anyway, but one gift I did think was really neat was a coffee mug with a picture of LivDog on it. It was taken shortly after I moved to Illinois. She is in harness. My hand is the only part of me that you can see in the picture. Even so, I really will treasure that mug. Perhaps I will get a picture of it to put up. The gifts that I gave people were also well-received.
In addition to seeing family, it has also been good to see friends. My one sister, a few friends and I are getting together for New Year's. Family and friends are getting together at a bar beforehand, and then the celebration will continue with myself, my sister and friends at my sister's apartment. It should be fun.
I intended to go boot shopping today for some nice, warm winter boots, but no boots were to be found. An order was placed online for some, and so it will be exciting when they get here and I can see what they look like. I will enjoy my last week or so here, and then it's off to Guiding Eyes for NewDog, after which the Spring semester will then hit me in full swing. Fun times for sure! I plan on doing some reading ahead so that I'm on top of things. True, I'm only missing a week, but it can't hurt to be ahead, I'm thinking.
I think that's about all from here. I hope everyone is doing well. More soon.
December 22nd, 2010
It just occurred to me earlier today that two weeks from today will be my Birthday, and three weeks from today will be dog day. Craziness! What else is craziness is the fact that Christmas is in three--yes, count them, *three*--days! I'm...not ready for it!
A very Happy Birthday goes out to samari76
! More soon. I think I'm off to bed. My sleep schedule has been thrown off pretty fantastically ever since the semester started.
December 19th, 2010
I had this dream a few nights ago, I can't really remember which at this point. I wanted to write it down, because it was just that odd.
I dreamt that I received my new guide dog, but it wasn't in the usual style; oh no, not at all! Said dog came as a package in the mail with no other instructions or supporting documentation (ha ha!). The dog was a male, I'm not sure what the breed was. I do know that his name was one of the nine reindeer from the "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" song. As if that wasn't enough, ReindeerDog was huge! I awoke to my dream self calling Guiding Eyes and requesting immediate dispatch of an instructor, because I honestly didn't know how I was going to handle dealing with that dog on my own. Yes, I am a retrain, I get that, but there's a retrain and there's a retrain... I wasn't aware that meant sending a dog in the mail and having the handler just "figure it out". Hahahaha! Either way, I was highly amused.
Upon analyzing the dream later, I came to the conclusion that A., it stemmed from my excitement and also anxiety that usually crops up pre-class, and B., it is close to Christmastime, and that fact apparently had to surface in my dream. What makes this all the more interesting is that in terms of dog preference, my gut feeling says that I really do want a female dog, and anyone who knows LivDog knows she's on the smaller side of dog, and that's what I want. Of course, the instructors know best, and so I leave the match decision in their capable hands.
I just wanted to share that. Hopefully you are as amused as I was! More when and as it happens.
December 15th, 2010
Current Music: XM 77
I have been wondering something for some time, and perhaps readers of my journal can enlighten me. I have, and am a huge fan of, the iPhone. Enter: the iPad. I honestly am not really sure what all of the hype is about. Is it a visual thing? I really don't get it, but it's not for any lack of trying. I'm wondering what appealed to those blind users who use one. Is it more than just a visual thing, more than "I have an iPhone, and iPod and an iMac, I need an iPad"? I really do want to understand this. It's frustrating that I don't. Any explanation here is appreciated.
Current Music: XM 77
I do believe that the last time I made an appearance in this journal was around Thanksgiving. Totally not cool, but there it is. Perhaps one of my New Year's resolutions should be to write in here more often. I could try writing in it daily again as I did some years ago. It was hard sometimes, and sometimes it really felt like I was talking about absolutely nothing, (as I am now, perhaps), but it did challenge me, either way.
Things in my corner of the planet are fine. The semester has ended as of December 9. The fruits of my labor turned out to be 6 A's and a B. (The B was in braille, I was amused. I actually tested out of that class in the summer and so didn't have to go to class, but it was on my transcript for this semester). Pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. Semester One of grad school is now officially in the books! For the first few days of break, I found myself in shock more than anything else and not quite sure what to do with myself. I've managed to finish one book and read another from start to finish. More reading is in my foreseeable future. I have a good chunk of next semester's textbooks already, too. I'm actually looking forward to next semester, and yes, I am well aware that it hasn't even been too terribly long since the last one ended. Call me crazy, a nerd, both...I don't know.
I am very much looking forward to going home to family on the 27th of this month. I miss them all, and it will be really good to see them. The tenth of January is coming ever closer, and with it, Guiding Eyes and dog guide class. A month from this past Sunday will be dog day, which is definitely a little hard to take in. I'm at the point now where I'm getting excited about it, although sadness is mixed in. I seem to remember writing something like that in one of my last journal entries. If so, I'm really not a fan of repeating myself.
The plan to get to GEB was that I would take Amtrak, but that has now changed, and my mom and a family friend will be driving me up instead. I'm really appreciative of this. I'm not too sure what else to report. I'm off to run errands later today and do I have no idea what else. The weather has been crazy ridiculous for the past few days, (snow which is now ice, and bitter, bitter cold temperatures), but it is finally in the double digits, which will make going out more pleasant. I hope everyone is doing well, and I'll be back when there is something else interesting to report.
November 28th, 2010
I wanted to share something that happened on Thanksgiving that really touched me and was one of those one-of-a-kind events. . I had intended to go out with a friend to celebrate, but it turned out that none of the restaurants were open. Shortly after we got back to the house, Olivia, my guide dog, was over near the back sliding glass door whining pretty incessantly. Figuring she had to go outside, I leashed her up and opened the door, preparing to step outside. Upon opening the door, however, I noticed that something had come into the house. I had no idea what it was, and so I'll admit, I did scream. It was pretty frightening, not knowing what it was, the possibilities of what could have come in were quite a few: a fox, a rabbit, a bear. Well, okay...so maybe the bear is a bit of an exageration. Whatever it was I could tell was small, though. My screams of panic brought my friend over to the door. It turned out that what had come inside was a little dog on a leash. There was no human in sight; he was all by himself. I thought, and still do think, that it's really odd that a dog would be on leash like that with no one with him. He was a very nice, well-mannered dog with the most huge floppy ears I've ever seen on an animal! We ended up calling the police and someone came and picked him up. Hopefully someone called about him, or he at least found a home. I'm just glad that we were home at the time, or who knows how long he would be out in the cold? Who knows how long he was out in the cold to begin with? I really felt sad that he was all on his own with no one. I wonder how he got to be there? Did someone not want him and just put him out of the house? I sincerely hope not and do not want to think about that. Major props go to LivDog for alerting us to his being outside so that we could take the proper steps in getting him someplace warm. What made it all the more special for me was that it was on Thanksgiving that this took place. I thought that was a really cool thing and was glad to be able to be of help in that situation. Wherever that dog is now, I hope he's somewhere where he is happy.
November 25th, 2010
I'm not sure why one day out of the year has to be singled out to give thanks - personally, I think people should be thankful all of the other 364.something days of the year as well. You get back what you put out, and so if you put out good things, good things will come back to you.
I am very thankful for family, near and far. I am thankful for my family in Chicago, and the fact that I was able to visit when them recently while other family from Delaware was in town. I am also thankful for the family who will be picking me up at the airport on December 27. I am thankful for good friends, near and far, as well. I have met so many nice people while here at grad school. Speaking of grad school, I am thankful for the chance to have gotten to where I am today, in an awesome grad program with an equally awesome house with awesome roommates. I honestly couldn't have asked for better. I am also thankful for the fact that while family isn't near today, I am spending the day with a good friend and we will go out and have a meal to celebrate. I did get to talk to my family on the phone earlier today, and I am also thankful for that. I am thankful for the pumpkin pie which is in my refrigerator at this moment, waiting to be eaten later tonight.
The words "thank you" cannot do justice to the gratitude I feel when it comes to the family who raised my guide dog. Knowing that they are more than happy and eagerly, excitedly awaiting the return of Olivia into their household to spend her retirement is enough to bring me to tears. While yes, it is sad that I am unable to keep her, I know that she will be in a place where she will be just as loved and cared for and appreciated. She will be happy, and she will allow me the chance to be partnered with another guide who I will come to love and trust. This new dog will never replace her, but it will claim another place in my heart.
I could go on and on, but I think I'll leave it at this. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and start of the holiday season.
November 23rd, 2010
I haven't written in here in I have no idea how long. Blame grad school. I'm serious!
All has been and continues to go well. School ends in two weeks, if I'm counting correctly. I believe that I am done with all school obligations on Thursday, December 9. I have a few more assignments and some finals to get through yet, but I don't think it's going to be anything that I can't handle. The weekend of November 13, I traveled into Chicago to visit my cousins who live there. My grandmother and one aunt also came to visit, and so I got to see them, too. It was amazingly good to see family as I hadn't seen anyone since August. I'm leaving DeKalb on December 27th and flying into Philadelphia, where I will be met by my family and will then be in Delaware for the next two weeks. I can't wait! On January 10, I make the train journey up to Guiding Eyes, where I will be in class until the 21st or so training with my new dog. I am then back in DeKalb, just in time for the start of the second week of Spring semester 2011, and a week with a GEB instructor in this area to finish out my ACTION (accelerated) training program. It differs from the 26/21-day program, (the case for first-timers and retrains respectively), in that I spend ten days at the school in the regular class environment, wherein I receive a faster pace of instruction, separate from the regular class, (at least after the first two days or so), and then receive five days in my home environment - currently DeKalb, Illinois, home to NIU. I'm unsure as of yet when Olivia will be going to her raisers, but I hope to know something about that soon. She is doing well and is the typical LivDog. Speaking of GEB, I want to congratulate mektastic
on her new guide dog, Vince. She is currently training at GEB and doing an amazing job, I might add.
I am finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that two days from now is Thanksgiving. I was originally going to cook the usual meal, but then decided against it as there will only be two of us here, and that's a lot of work for that few people. I think the plan now is to go to IHOP, (assuming it's open), or some other similar restaurant. I'm definitely going to enjoy the few days I have free of classes. I think it is just the break I need that will give me enough energy to make it through these next few weeks. At least I hope that's the case. I have relaxation, reading and schoolwork plans, the combination of which should make things doable. I think that's about all I can think of to update on. I may go read for awhile as I'm feeling somewhat like I need a break from assignments, which I was working on earlier. All work and no play/relaxation is no fun, in my opinion. The plan for tonight is to go to Walmart to get a few items that I neglected to obtain on my last trip and also to return a vacuum that wasn't the one I had thought I picked up. Ah well, it happens.
Take care all, I hope everyone is well, and more later.
October 25th, 2010
Midterms are over, and I feel like I can breathe again. Well okay, so that's a slight exageration...
Speaking of, midterms went well, the lowest grade I received being a 91. I'm very pleased with how things turned out. The haunted corn maze I mentioned in my last entry didn't end up happening, but I did go to the haunted house this past Friday with a group from my program, and that experience was spectacular. The people with whom I went definitely helped make it what it was. I very much enjoyed how all of the senses except touch were catered to; there were wierd smells, interesting materials in doorways that you had to walk through and in one part, there was a low cieling so I had to get down and crawl on my knees. Right after the low cieling, there were stairs going down. It was such that I had my cane out in front of me as I was crawling to alert me to the path in front of me. It was really fun!
I received my acceptance letter on Friday to guide dog class in January. There are two forms I need to sign and send in, and that will get done by tomorrow, or at least that's the plan. I'm looking forward to going back for a new dog, but saying goodbye to Olivia will not be easy as I've mentioned in prior entries.
School continues to go well, work getting completed, things being learned and fun being had. I really think that everyone in my program is fantastic and we have a lot of fun together. This weekend on campus, some unfortunate events took place regarding a student who had been reported missing, which has me feeling slightly unnerved. Apparently you can't even walk in broad daylight without something happening to you. I don't get it, nor do I get why people feel the need to be cruel. I want campus to feel like a safe place where I don't have to worry about such things.
I'm blanking on anything else I wanted to write here, so I'll just end it here and write when something more interesting happens. I hope all are doing well.
Take care, and more soon.
October 12th, 2010
Hi, remember me? Yes, I used to post here once upon a time ago. Let's try this updating thing again.
A lot has happened since I wrote last. First off, how is it already October. A professor told us yesterday that we were halfway through the semester, which, for me, is very hard to believe. It doesn't feel like it at all, and yet I'm glad for it.
I had my second of three midterms today, and it went well. I hope that the one I took last week, (O&M), went well also. Today's exam was for Anatomy of the Eye. Thursday I have my last midterm, that being for my Intro to Blindness and Visual Impairment class. I'm going to study some for that tonight and for sure more tomorrow. I also need to start writing my introduction for a research paper on braille instruction. We need to have at least two pages written by Thursday's class to bring in and peer edit. My research question deals with which is the better method of braille instruction, introducing uncontracted braille or contracted braille first? There is actually a gap, from what I've found, in the research supporting this question - in fact, there was only one study that I came across which dealt wpecifically with this question. For my paper, then, the plan is to do an overview of the work that has been done related to braille instruction, and then end with talking about the one study that is related to my question and about how, because only one study thus far addressed the question, a conclusion either way cannot be drawn, hence the gap in the supporting literature. I just hope the writing of it turns out okay. We shall see.
With the first of October brought Olivia's ninth Birthday. I can't believe so much time has passed. I got word from Guiding Eyes that I'll most likely be returning her to her puppy raisers before January, giving me some time in between dogs to grieve and also to transition from one dog to another. It would be hard to return her and then get another dog not twenty-four hours later. I totally understand this, but it doesn't make things any more easier to deal with. I was also hoping to be able to bring her home with me when I visit family so they'll get to see her, but that most likely won't happen now. I also worry what the change will be like for her, what she'll think when whoever comes and takes her with them back to the school, away from her usual, familiar environment. I just hope she'll be happy. Perhaps I'm worrying about nothing, but that's besides the point. Regardless, I'm going to miss her hardcore that's for sure. I...kind of don't want to think about it now. It's too sad. *tear*
This past weekend was the Illinois state NFB convention, which I did attend. It was really great finally being able to meet those people with whom I had only talked either online or on the phone prior to then. I met a lot of nice people, and very much enjoyed myself. At the convention, I was also elected to serve as President of the Illinois Association of Blind Students, (IABS), which is really exciting. I'm looking forward to working with my fellow board members and making things happen. The experience I will gain from doing this is also invaluable.
This weekend coming up I think I'm going to go to a haunted corn maze, (the same maze I went to a few weeks ago), with a few of my classmates. It promises to be fun. We also want to go to a haunted house that is around here, but I think that doesn't open up until the weekend after this one. The plan, I do believe, is to go to both.
I think that about covers everything that has gone on as of late. I really do hope I will write sooner than later. I hope all of you are doing well.
September 22nd, 2010
I realize it's been ages since I came in here and updated. A proper update will come soon, but I did want to stop in and let everyone know that things are going more or less well, classes and work are keeping me busy, and, in between all that, I still find time for pleasure reading and also hanging out with friends I have met here. Last weekend a group of us went to a local orchard to go through a corn maze and pick apples. It was super fun!
The Illinois state NFB convention is the weekend of October 8-10, and I'm looking forward to attending. National NFB scholarship applications just came out, and I plan to apply. Time to scout out recommendation letters and such. I have to be out of here in an hour and a half or so for work and class later. Tonight is my Basics of Orientation and Mobility course. That is at 6:00, and I lead two reading sessions for the braille course before then, one before and another after the actual braille class. I really should go do research in between those with the time that I have free, from 3:00-4:45. I hope everyone is doing well. Take care all, and more soon.
August 31st, 2010
Just a quick note to let everyone know that all is well here. My first week of graduate school went well, and I'm now into my second. My program is on the small side, which I like better than bigger programs. I feel like we will all get to know one another on a closer level because there are so few of us. My first day of leading the reading sessions for the Braille course was yesterday, and that, too, went off without any trouble to speak of. I really do enjoy when students who might be hesitant or have trouble at first finally get it and it clicks and it shows! That was something that kept me coming back to help out with Braille at the agency back in Delaware.
Last weekend I hung out with one of my classmates and that was fun. Some of her friends are apparently coming into town this weekend, and I think the plan is to hang out again. There are a few other visually impaired people in the program, and it's been nice to get to know them and swap stories. Other than that, not a lot to report, at least not that I can remember. I had a meeting with the professor for my Eye Anatomy course this morning, and I now understand more of the material, which is a good thing. I think what will further help me is diagrams or actual models of the eye. I met with another professor on Friday and we went over the eye using plastic models, and that was of a great help. It's interesting, because with all of the courses that I'm taking being in the same field, we're bound to overlap in some concepts at certain times. It helps having that overlap and reinforcement, though.
I think that's all from here. I think I'll finish reading a book needed for class before I actually *have* class later tonight at 6:00. After class, there will be a meet-and-greet for all Northern blind/visually impaired students for which I'm hoping there will be a turnout. I already know of three people who will be there, myself included, but I do think there are others around campus who could possibly come. I hope all of you are well. I haven't read the Friends' list as of late, for which I do apologize greatly, and so if I've missed something major, comment and let me know. I should also reup the paid time on my journal as it will expire soon if it hasn't already, but watch, as soon as I do that they'll have another permanent sale. Oh well... Take care all, more soon.
August 22nd, 2010
It's been some time since I last wrote in here, and so I figured I would fix that. (Yes yes, I am fully aware I need more interesting openers for this thing. I can't think of any, so if you can, feel free to comment and I'll see about incorporating whatever suggestions I get).
Things as of late have been going well. I'm offficially all unpacked and settled into my new house and getting more familiar with the area by the day. I met with a Mobility instructor this past week and we went over some things, so I have a better idea of certain parts of campus. Even if I do get turned around or am unsure, that's why asking for help was invented. This weekend has been very very chill, and as the last weekend before classes start, that's a very good thing. I've finished up some reading, (my books are up on Goodreads for any of you who are a member and want to add me), and spent time relaxing. Groceries were obtained yesterday thanks to the Paratransit-like service available to NIU students with disabilities. Unlike paratransit, they were on time and it was a very positive experience. (Well, okay, not all Paratransit experiences are negative, but still…).
I got a call from Guiding Eyes last week informing me that I was approved for and accepted into the January Action class to train with my next dog. Assuming that they have a dog for me at that time, I would train for ten days at the school and for five additional days in my home environment with an instructor. I will be journaling my experiences while in class, (through this journal - I see no reason to make a separate one), just so I can keep people updated. I also want to journal to help prospective guide dog users have something to look at when considering going into training. I journaled my experience getting Olivia, but unfortunately, due to a computer crash, I lost it. It wasn't backed up online, unfortunately. Ah well. I'm still unsure if I'll be able to keep Liv and return her when I go into class, but I should find out this week. The plan is to work her for little things up until I go in again, and return her then, as I may have mentioned before, I can't remember.
Yesterday consisted of my booking a flight home to see my family in December. I will be leaving on December 27. If all goes well and I get into class, I would leave from home to go to Guiding Eyes and then end up back here afterwords. I just wanted to book my ticket and have that done and out of the way. That, and it's one less thing to worry about once the semester starts. I'm just glad that I'll be able to go and visit as it would be very strange not to do so during the holidays.
Speaking of, CLASSES START TOMORROW! My class schedule looks something like this: GA work and Collaboration on Mondays, Anatomy of the Eye on Tuesdays, GA work and Mobility on Wednesdays, Research Methods and Intro to Blindness Education on Thursdays, and, on some Saturdays, intro to Rehab. My GA work doesn't actually start until next week, however. Not having classes on Fridays is pretty nice. My earliest class is Research Methods at 1:00 on Thursday afternoons, if you don't count Rehab from 8:00AM-2:00 on the Saturdays I have that. The rest of my classes are night classes. I think that I have everything lined up as far as textbooks on flash drives and SD cards and class folders and such. I do have to get one textbook situation hopefully straightened out, but that shouldn't present a problem. I've also looked over some of the texts beforehand, so I have a head start. Call me crazy, maybe, but it is what it is.
I think that's about all from here. I always think I'm forgetting something when I come to the end of my entries - what's up with that? I haven't a clue. This weekend has, as I said, been very chill. I've gone to some of the welcome events here on campus and met some people, (friends of c_for_chaos
), and it's just been really nice. I went to a talent show last night which was...well...definitely interesting and at some points talent was definitely expressed, while at others it was questionable, at least in my opinion. I guess that happens sometimes. The Oreo milkshake I had at a diner that is near my townhouse after I left the show made up for it.
With that, I end this. I hope all are doing well. Take care, more as it happens.
August 10th, 2010
This journal, (and those reading it), could use a little catch-up as to what I have been up to the past while. I shall attempt to do that in this entry. Here goes...
I have officially resided in Illinois a week as of yesterday. Move-in day into the townhouse was on Wednesday, which went over without incident. The location is prime, within walking distance to lots of restaurants, (a 24/7 IHOP being one), and a grocery store if you care to walk a ways. It's also a very short distance to the buildings where I will have all of my classes for this coming semester. I have most of my classes in one building with only one in the second, but that building is attached to the first, so it works.
I met with a field rep from Guiding Eyes for the past few days, and have gotten familiar with some of the area around here. I started doing the work with Liv, but once it got to be a bit much, the decision to retire her, (which I mentioned in a prior entry), was decided and today, the last day I worked with him, we did it strictly with my cane. I have already started the reapplication process for my successor dog. The application and release form are already into the school, and the medical forms have been faxed to the respective doctors. My home interview and video was completed today when I met with the rep. I do believe that everything on my end of things is complete. I may call my doctors tomorrow if I don't hear anything by midday, just to make sure the forms were, indeed, faxed to the school and there isn't any hold-up. My plan is to hopefully get into the Action class in January. I'm just putting it out there that it happens, and if it's meant to, the universe will take care of it, as it has everything else I've left to its disgression. I will of course keep the journal posted as to when I get a class date.
I called the school and left a message asking about what the procedure is for retiring a guide. It didn't really help that the voice on the answering service was that of Jeff Dunn, one of the two GEB staff members who have passed away this year. Actually, in a way it did help, because it was comforting, but in a way, it didn't, because it brought back the fact that he isn't here anymore. Speaking of Guiding Eyes, I would like to congratulate all who have gotten or are getting guides recently. I wish you all success as your teams build. Trust me, it can be hard, but persistance pays off, and you will be rewarded, even though some days it might not seem like it. It takes time, but personally, I wouldn't trade any of the 6.5 years I had with Olivia for anything. I learned so much from her about how to be a better handler--what to do and what not to do--and we learned so much together, as a team.
I have gotten a lot of support from many of the GEB family, and I really am appreciative of that. I want to thank all who have written me emails both on the Juno list and off about my decision and your words of support. It really does mean a lot. It helps to know that I am not alone in this and that it's an inevital part of having a guide, (which I did know, obviously), and that others are there to offer advice and just be willing to listen. The Guiding Eyes family is definitely one of a kind.
In non-dog related news, my family was here for the later part of last week. They were amazing in that they drove all of the stuff I couldn't take on the plane out here and helped me move in. I was glad they could do that, because now they know what my house is like and the area, too. We had many laughs and a few tears, but I'll see them in December, (I'm flying out on December 26), and so I have that to look forward to. Unpacking is almost done. I find that if I do things a little at a time, it's more manageable.
School starts on August 23, and I'm also excited about that. It will be good to get into a routine of work and classes and whatnot. Aside from that, I'm not all too sure. I think that covers everything. These next few weeks will be spent just getting more familiar with the area, which is a good thing before classes start. I meet with a Mobility instructor on the 16th to go over things as well. I'm really not worried, and besides, the more I practice and once classes start and I use the routes daily, it will be fine. It really is only one route to my classes, which is better than undergrad, when I was spread out all over the campus. Well, okay, not better, but refreshingly dooable. Something like that. Anyway, I'm rambling. I'm going to end this now, I think. I have an Illinois Association of Blind Students (IABS) call at 8:00 that I want to make sure and attend. How are all of you doing? I'm sorry I haven't read Friends' page recently, things have been pretty crazy. I think they're finally beginning to even out, though. Oh yes, and before I forget, a welcome goes out to those of you who recently stumbled upon my journal. I hope you enjoy it here. I'm definitely glad to have you aboard.
Take care all, more soon.
I just wanted to come in and let everyone know that Olivia's puppy raisers are thrilled with welcoming her back into their family. I'm ever-so appreciative of this. It makes this that much easier.
Meanwhile, I've started the reapplication process. A more substantial update to come later today, but I thought I'd share. I meet with the field rep again at 9:00. I'm off to feed Miss O and then myself. Thanks to all who commented on my last entry. More soon.
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