Aries and I: July 24

Just in case you are wondering, Aries and I took Saturday off as well as Thursday which was the first trashday since coming home. It just seemed like too much of a challenge to deal with all those obstacles right away. But Friday when we went out, some thoughtful neighbor had left his trash can out as a bit of a test for us, and Aries did a great job. She stopped, let me check the reason, then masterfully took me around the barrier.

Today was the first Coaching trip without the gentle leader. My golden gal started out rather wildly, but toned it down to a bounce when told to steady. She did walk past a curb, and led me to a driveway once when crossing. These mistakes were reworked and the outcome was good.

And oh what a love-fest we had upon our return home!

As I write this update, Aries is now having a wonderful chew on the mighty bone.

Each day is certainly a sweet surprise with this lively canine partner of mine.

Aries And I: July 21

Since returning home last Thursday, Aries and I have been getting to know the neighborhood a little better each day. Walking sighted guide, she has followed my command to sit at curb-cuts while I heaped on the praise. We traced the route a few times heading left out the driveway, then a few more heading right.

Well yesterday, we advanced to the second stage, coaching. With Aries in harness, we walked the route together, a human coach behind my right shoulder so as not to distract my working dog. His job was merely to point out our errors, like an overstepped curb-cut or the reason for unauthorized sniffing.

Aries was a masterful guide!

She missed a couple of curb-cuts, but once we reworked these she sailed on like a pro.

And oh the feeling of freedom!

When we reached our front door at last, you can believe there was a whole lot of whooping and wagging!

We’ve only been home a week, and I can’t imagine walking anywhere without her.

*4 doggy pawprints beside 2 human footprints*

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

Some things are better left unsaid

And some are best unheard

Rocks rattling inside my head

Could likely stone some bird

A faulty syllable left unchecked

Unweighed before delivery

Can never make itself erect

Or make a claim at chivalry

Love’s hand may seek to soothe the place

Where barbs have ripped assunder

My beloved’s gentle face

But my heart breaks at the blunder

Home At Last

Home at last. And all that Aries and I have learned separately and together is now in our hands/paws to put into action.

Just as at The Seeing Eye, everything we do is a lesson. At least for a while. Meals and grooming and daily walks and interactions with new people and animals, playing and resting–everything. There are new ways of thinking: we are three now, not just Jeff and me, and not just Aries and me. There are new schedules and the need to somehow accommodate favorite activities. Scrabble and tug and homemade pizza and bone chewing and taking care of everyone’s needs and emotions. Because we are three now. Two very special partnerships overlapping and intermixing, with specific roles and responsibilities and commitments.

Yes, Aries and I are home at last. And loving every challenging moment!

The Final Stretch

We’re in the final stretch here at The Seeing Eye. Aries and I have learned routes around Morristown, had our picture taken beside the statue of Morris Frank and Buddy his guide, explored the courthouse and neighborhoods without sidewalks, ventured up and down the halls of the main building here using stairs and the elevator. We have sat quietly during lectures and meals, gotten lost over and over, and expressed opposing opinions about sitting and lying down and resting. We have growled at one another while playing tug and bouncing the ball. And we have made lots of new friends, canine and human!

Mostly we have started something truly wondrous–a relationship based in trust and love, a relationship which will keep both of us happily moving.

And when we arrive back home on Thursday, there is just one direction to go. Forward.

Wishing you sweetness always!

Independence Day

July 4

With only 10 days to go before returning home to Oregon, the idea of independence looms large for me. I came to The Seeing Eye with the aim of creating a new team for walking to and from the synagogue, around my neighborhood etc. Already I feel the bond of love and trust between my new canine partner and me. Already I feel the possibilities for continued progress in all things.

My new guide is a 2 year old golden retriever named Aries. She is playful and lively, yet patient and sweet. We have worked our way around cafe tables and sidewalk planters, across lighted and unlighted intersections, through the park and all about the building. We have practiced new modes of learning to find elevators, discovered the importance of daily behavior drills and had a lot of fun bouncing and retrieving her oddly shaped ball and tugging on her bone. Mostly we have begun to listen and respond to one another’s needs.

Independence is an amazing concept. And while it definitely assures the right to express one’s true self, it most certainly requires the responsible response to the needs of others. Real independence then is all about relationship. Maybe the word of the day is actually interdependence.

Wishing you Love and Sweetness

DogDaze: 5 and counting

June 15

Five days

I can count the days on one hand now.

Five and then I fly.

First into the sky, the land of New Jersey, Morristown, The Seeing Eye.

Then back into the world of independent travel, trusting and caring for a canine teammate.

And once home I’ll still be flying, with my head in the clouds, my feet on surer ground.

So excited and grateful.

DogDaze: Counting Down

Here I am. Finally.

And while the road to this point has been difficult and long, the path ahead won’t be easy either.

You see, on Wednesday the call came.

“Are you willing to come June 20 to the Seeing Eye for training?”

“Yes!” my breath escaping.

“And are you willing to be paired with a female Golden?”

“Oh yes!!” my heart pounding.

And here we are. Getting ready.

I have told just about every person on earth that matters to me.

And I still must proclaim it to the heavens.

Gratitude and excitement and relief that I will soon have another teammate.

An incredible, canine teammate.

A sweet little girl dog to walk with.

To travel through the neighborhood.

To travel into and around the synagogue.

So very, very grateful.

So in love with Love.