Day 3 – Valentines Day

Alamo Sitting On Mikes Lap

Alamo Sitting On Mikes Lap

Before telling you about our Valentines day I want to update yesterday. I had not yet bought Karen anything for Valentines day. I know, a typical man, but not really. It also happens to be Karen’s birthday on February 14. Anyway, I decided yesterday to send her a bunch of flowers. I called 1-800-flowers.com to place an order. Unfortunately, I did not get any helpful information from the staff there concerning possible arrangements to order. No surprise, but I thought it worth trying so I could then go to the next step and tell you about it.

Since I didn’t get anything out of 800-flowers I called Aira and spoke with agent Ryan. He went to the 800flowers.com web site and began describing arrangements to me. We settled on one and ordered it on the spot. This is one of the tremendous services offered by Aira and one of those services I really can’t get easily in any other way. Ryan was great! With that in mind now onto today, Valentines day and Karen’s birthday.

We got up at the usual 5:30 time and did all our usual morning ablutions. Mr. Puppy Dog again was unwilling to relieve so off to breakfast we went. This morning the GDB chefs made home-made bagels. Pretty good they were.

At 8:15, relieved, yes, he did, and everything we headed off to the fireplace room for some lectures on additional guide work as well as on more street crossing issues.

Then, at about 9:15 we traveled to the GDB Gresham lounge to do our daily routes. We traveled the same rout as we did both times yesterday and the same route we will be working for the rest of the week. The reason for using the same route is to give the dogs confidence in working with us on familiar ground and to give us the opportunity to gain confidence working the dogs in what became a more relaxing environment as the days pass. On our morning trip Puppy and I took a side trip to Eye Candy, a wonderful candy store near the lounge. I purchased a pound of chocolate nut clusters for the group. If you get to Gresham I recommend the store. This also gave my pup an opportunity to do a bit of in-door work.

We had a bit of snow during Tuesday night, but by Wednesday afternoon the weather was clearer, and the snow was gone. Even so, we did have some good inclement weather for training. Puppy did fine.

After returning to campus at around 4PM we practiced some “moving turns” inside the dorm. A moving turn occurs when a guide dog user, while walking, needs to turn such as while walking down an aisle in a store. Instead of having to do a formal stop and then turn, assuming we stop at the right place, we can tell the dog to turn as we approach the end of an aisle or corridor. Again, body positioning is important to make the process work well. The procedure can be a bit confusing for someone who has not done it before, but it usually isn’t long before even the most novice among us got the process down.

After dinner there was an optional yoga class. I missed it as I needed to get some work done on michaelhingson.com. Also, through Joy, a student in our class, I was able to contact my dog’s puppy raisers. I had a chance to speak with one of them who lives in Colorado Springs. She got to see her charge now a full-grown guide dog in class. We all had a great time.

I have been asked by the GDB staff not to release my dog’s name. Apparently, there has been much discussion on social media about our class and the fact that some have found out about some of the dogs we have received. Some raisers and others apparently are quite upset that word is getting out. Is it right for people to be upset that some find out about dog identities sooner than others? I can argue both sides of this coin. Instead what I will say is that we all have much bigger issues to face rather than being upset if our dogs get identified to the world before others or if we do not learn that our dog is in class while others learn that their puppies are identified. We all need to stop attempting to take ownership of every little thing and let Nature take its course. In fact, GDB does its best to make sure that every puppy raiser learns quickly that his or her dog is in class. Of course, the problem with identifying that a dog is with a student can be made difficult if the match does not work out and a dog must be replaced. In such a case it is not necessarily that a dog is bad, poorly trained or has any defect. Matches simply do not always work. People and their dogs may simply have personality clashes. There can be any number of factors that lead to a team not working out. Students, trainers and raisers alike all need to recognize that such things happen and that a mismatch is not a bad reflection on anyone. So, get over it if you don’t hear that, as a raiser, your dog is in class directly from the school if someone else spills the beans. Celebrate the potential team, reach out and enjoy the time. We all hope that every team works. Positive thoughts can only help.

Now that I am done preaching let me tell you about something I forgot to mention earlier. On Tuesday I met Jenny, my dog’s actual trainer. She told me that my new colleague is quite the cuddler and quite a loving creature. This morning I decided to sit down on the floor to get up close and personal with my new dog. The next thing I knew he had climbed up into my lap with all four paws and sat on me accepting all the love and pats I could give him. I am attaching to this article a photo of the event. The picture was taken later at the GDB lounge. I told Nancy about Dog’s cuddling and then decided to show her by dropping to the floor and immediately having Puppy climb on me. I got lots of kisses and Nancy got a great shot. Enjoy it.

By the way, at the end of the night I heard from Karen that her flowers arrived around 9PM and that she loved them. That for me was the best valentines present she could give me.

4 thoughts on “Day 3 – Valentines Day

  1. My 9 year old son and I are reading Thunder Dog together. He is learning a lot about the blind. We are both fascinated with the guide dog/handler relationship.
    My dad lost a leg some years ago and my son had always known grandpa with a prosthesis. In fact, he wants to work in prosthetics as an adult. I am proud that my boy has a very natural relationship with handicaps, although he has no direct experience with the blind.
    You are visiting our area in April, and I hope we get a chance to meet you.
    INF

    • Thank you for reading Thunder Dog with your son. What a special time that must be between the two of you. It is a special connection between my dog and me, which still fascinates me too. I hope to meet you too.

  2. Hi mike, I don’t know why I didn’t order or ready Thunder Dog before now, but I read the audio book and love it. It is a page turner. I live in Calgary, Canada and working my 4th guid from gDB. She’s a black lab named Shelby. I have been working dogs since 1987. I can’t believe its been so long. Thanks for writing the book and articulating how I feel about team work and blindness.

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