New Dog, New Eyes!

It has been a long time since I posted here. It feels like a life time. J is happy in his new home. He is a wonderful boy and I miss him.

Frankie and I met a few weeks before being invited to class for training with him. The trainers brought him and his brother to visit and test walk. We talked about speed, level of activity and compatibility. I was so fortunate to be able to have a match so fast. I am so thankful to have my new boy. He is a flat Coated Retriever. Feel free to look them up. I found him interesting to train with. It is a different experience than training with a lab.

First, Frankie is a smaller dog, but He is tall. Second, he walks faster. Thirdly he has the softest fir. He is also shiny. He has a long snout and long ears. I do love him. He is so sweet. He is not afraid of anything and seems to be like the energiser bunny.

I should back up and say a little about training at the Lions Foundation for Dog Guides. On the first day we arrived, we had room assignments and unpacking. For some, there was orientation. I actually needed it as the last time I was there would have been exactly 6 years ago. We then had dinner and relaxed, but not before signing many documents.

The next day was spent doing walks without the dogs. This was to get us used to commands and corrections. We also spent time softening our new leashes. New leather is painful on your hands. We were also very excited as the next day would be dog day! I think all of us did not sleep well. It was like Christmas. I was the only one who had met the dogs. I knew what breed they would be and who I would be getting. I should have used it a little to my advantage, but I was kind and said nothing. Keeping quiet was hard.

I think I should describe dog day. We got up and did the morning routine. After breakfast, we all went to our own rooms. We had to clear everything off the floor. The trainers then brought our dogs to us. We got a few minutes to meet them and let them sniff around. We then took them down to do some training. The first few walks are without harnesses. We did get our harnesses on the Friday. That day was very difficult for me. Here is where I noticed differences between labs and Flatties. A lab will go with anyone. Flats do not. He simply did not want to take orders from me. I thought that strange as he had worked for me like magic when he did the test walk. They’re more of a one person dog. We eventually sorted out our issues.

From then on, we did 2 – 4 walks per day. Some in a group and others were individual. For the first few days, my dog refused to poop. He was under a high amount of stress. Change does not come easily for them. But it turns out that he did not want to use the nice clean and indoor relieving area. He would stand there and cry. It was heartbreaking.

The next week and a half went by in a blur. I felt very exhausted. I just wanted sleep. Having a new dog is like having a new child in the house. More on that another day.

Our training took us on long and short walks, buses, trains, and street cars. We did escalators, elevators, stairs and construction areas. We crossed small and large streets. The trainers drove around in a car attempting to run us down. This was called traffic checking. The dogs normally love it. Flatties know the tricks. Frankie would stop when he heard the car. Yes he knew the car.

Training is a very busy and tiring exercise, but most definitely worth it. The safety of a dog to help find the way is priceless. Oh and big bonus, I can walk for hours again without getting too tired. To learn about the process, adopt a puppy, foster a puppy, or make a donation, visit: http://www.dogguides.com

Feel free to ask any questions. I am happy to share.

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I have often been asked how I am able to use my computers, IPhone, and so on. I try to have as many talking machines as possible. This is much to the dismay of my husband who claims they talk at night and wake him up.  For reading and using the computer, I have a Screen Reader. It is called JAWS. You may download a demo here. www.freedomscientific.com It is not perfect, but what a world of difference for me. I am able to navigate web sites, word documents, email, and almost everything else. The voices have even come a long way. They sound almost human. There are many accents, voices and even languages. I invite you to take a look. Download the demo and step into my shoes for a bit. To clear up a question that comes to me from every second person I meet, I do not speak to my computer, but for unmentionable things I hurl at it in frustration, it reads to me. I navigate with the keyboard and short cuts. I do not have the ability to use a mouse. Yes, try it sometime. You may find yourself frustrated. I love it when I ask for assistance from a Tech support person and they tell me to look at the right of the screen or that the link I want is half way down the page and to the left. When you are using this technology, be prepared to listen to every link that comes before the one you want.  I still feel extremely awed by the fact that I can do any of those things. I feel so fortunate to be able to use such amazing technologies. I do want to explain that there are many web sites that are not written with accessibility in mind. I wish the programmers would step into my shoes. I understand it is very simple to make your pages accessible. You just need to take the time to find out how. Before I sign off, I also want to say how much I love my IPhone! The voice over feature included in the IPhone and Mac Products is wonderful. Seary and I are not always getting along, but I hear that is common. Have an accessible day.