My Fourth Guide Dog
Tuesday Day 18 

Yesterday was a pretty busy day. Our first trip was sort of odds and ends, depending on what the student needed to do. I worked on country routes again, just so I feel comfortable with it. Valiant did an excellent job and I don’t see us having any issues with that part of my routine. I also practiced targeting a bus stop with the clicker. Valiant did great at this, as always. He is a very quick learner and I think we’ll not have any problems targeting various items at home.

I don’t remember what breakfast was, but lunch was a pizza burger and fries. It was a beef pattie with pizza sauce on it. I forget what the rest of the meal was though. I did have the hot plate.

I played with Valiant and his toy some time during the day. He still wants to get up on the bed with his toy, but he’s getting better at not getting up there as much.

The afternoon trip was pretty fun and exerting. We went on a trail called Jockey Hollow Trail. Valiant did so well, I was really impressed. I was afraid he’d slow way down with all the things to navigate around. He didn’t though and he kept up a nice pace. There were logs to step up and over, large street roots covering half of the path that he had to go around and lots of different sized rocs and sticks. I think Brian was really impressed too. He said every time he saw something that might cause an issue, before he could say anything, Valiant was taking me around it. I think he was also surprised by how well I kept my footing and balance. I only almost went down once and that was when a huge limb caught the toe of my right shoe. I was actually trying to move it as I stepped when I realized it was tripping me up. It was a funny sight. Brian kept cracking up at the dilemmas I kept running into. We also crossed two small bridges. I’m not sure how long the trail was, but I’m thinking at least 2 miles, if not more.

I don’t remember much between then and dinner. That was a pork chop over gravy and a vegetable I can’t remember. I think it was zucchini or something like that, because I only had the pork chop. There was the usual salad plate, but again my mind draws a blank. The dessert was coconut blondie. It was like a brownie with coconut in the middle and the brownie was not chocolate though. I had the hot plate and dessert.

We had an evening lecture on dog attacks. They also gave us a packet to take home with varies things in it. I know it had a couple of the access info cards and a DVD of 3 of the videos we watched during class. The lecture just went over what to do if you ever encounter a dog attack. One of the things is to yell loudly and to carry a cell phone and call 911 on it. You can also carry a whistle or one of those pin alarm things that will make a loud shrilling noise when you pull the pin. They do not recommend you trying to separate the dogs. They also suggest carrying a disposal camera or use the camera on your phone to take pics of the dog. You also want to take your dog immediately to some sort of vet, whether it be emergency or your personal one.

After the last park, another student and I had our night trip. It went fairly well. Valiant was distracted by a dog only once and we encountered several. We also looked at the statue of Morris Frank and Buddy. Valiant had a very nice pace on this trip as well. I can honestly say I can see a much smoother walk than 2 weeks ago. I believe we’re finally getting insync with each other. I really love it. Some teams get insync right away and then others can take a while. For Valiant and I it was the latter.

I do go home tomorrow, so not sure when I can write on today’s events. I am having to do laundry since all the washers were broken. I also will need to pack at some point. We’re going to do odd and ends stuff soon and fit in last minute small things like revolving doors. Anyway, that’s an update of yesterday and I hope everyone is still enjoying the blog, even if it is getting smaller. LOL.

Monday Day 17 

Yesterday was really fun and busy. Another student and I went to Manhattan. I’ll get to that soon though. I was late going to bed last night and didn’t have time to write this entry then.

Breakfast was french toast and oatmeal. They also had the assorted cereals and yogurt with granola. I had just french toast.

My partner and I didn’t go out until second trip. I hung out with several other students in the Common lounge for a while after checking e-mail and everything. I wanted to do that before the house keeping came to clean. I went to the lounge when they began cleaning my hall. They didn’t take long and I was back in there after 9. I just grabbed my things and took Valiant out to park though.

Manhattan was pretty awesome! Valiant did a superb job guiding me around various people, strollers, luggage on wheels and scaffolding. He also was great with the street crossings and is learning that he doesn’t have to necessarily stop at the up curb. There were several high curbs and I just paid attention to what he was doing and picked my feet up. I think Leigh thought I was going to fall a couple times, because she touched my arm to make sure I didn’t loose my balance. Once she saw I was fine, she commented on how good I was at doing that. We also went into a huge Catholic Church that my partner wanted pictures of. My family isn’t Catholic, so I’d never been in a Catholic Church before. This one was really huge. Brian said it had about 200 rows or something like that. There were lots of tourists coming and going during the Mass. They also used a PA system so that everyone could hear them. We also had to navigate around homeless people lying on the edge of the sidewalk We also walked through part of Central Park. There were a couple of statues that they described to us. They were war statues. We also passed horses and on the main streets, there were horse drawn carages. They walked right in with the traffic. Leigh said she’d never seen one of them ever get spooked by the traffic. I thought the horse drawn carages in traffic was pretty cool. We had lunch at a restaurant in Manhattan. It was an Italian restaurant but I can’t remember the name of it. It wasn’t a familiar one like Olive Garden or anything like that though. My partner and I had personal pizzas and Brian and Leigh both had wraps. I had a Hawaiian pizza. It was a thin crispy crust and was cut into nice small pieces. I usually don’t like thin crust, but this was excellent. The last thing we did was stop into a gift shop. I wanted a few things. I got a t-shirt and shot glass for myself and a shot glass for my mom. I forgot to mention that we walked from a covered parking garage to the subway station. We went up and down several escalators and stairs in there. We then got on a subway and rode it a few blocks down. We weren’t on there for more than maybe 10 minutes. Valiant wasn’t bothered by the train pulling into the station at all. He also was pretty quick about getting me on before the doors closed. It felt a lot like the light rail at home though.

I parked Valiant when we got back and then my partner and I had our vet visits. Valiant is in good health, but there were some interesting things in his medical history. Apparently he had to have 2 teeth extracted due to fractures. I guess that means I will have to keep an eye on his teeth. They said he was fine and it wouldn’t interfere with his eating. It hadn’t so far, so I wasn’t concerned about that. LOL. He didn’t have any ear infections while in the kennels and that is good. Everything else was normal kennel stuff. They inserted his microchip and I asked them to weigh him again. He’s down to 62.7 lbs. I’ll have my vet make a record for him and see what their scale says as well. As everyone knows, each scale can vary in it’s results. They also are going to give me a braille copy of his medical history. They also gave me 3 months supply of Frontline Plus and TriHeart. They gave us 6 months last year, so that just shows what the economy is doing. They also aren’t doing free vet coverage for a year any longer. They are now doing a $250 cap. You can use up to that amount each year for vaccinations that you can’t cover. I usually don’t get them to cover anything, unless I’m in a pinch. They also will only help with surgeries on an approved basis. I really don’t know how that used to work, but apparently they used to help with those if someone was unable to pay for it themselves and the student paid the school back.

We got back not long before 4:30 feed and park. Then I relaxed until dinner. I wasn’t hungry yet, but I ate something. Dinner was shrimp over stir fried rice and vegies and a veggie eggroll. I can’t remember what the salad was. Dessert was apple turnover. i had one eggroll and half of the apple turnover. I was so full that I couldn’t finish the dessert. LOL.

The retrains had the going home lecture at 6:30. Jeff was the one who gave it and he was also the person who stayed over night. He’s our class supervisor. He covered what would happen when we went to the airport and how to handle the metal detectors and being wand. He also went over introducing the new dog to pets and guides at home. How long to keep the dog’s on leash and/or tie-down was also covered. There was a lot covered besides these things, but it was an hour and a half lecture so I can’t remember every little detail. It’s a nice reminder though.

We had the last park at 8 and then I made some phone calls. I also received a call from a good friend who was in class with me last year and he had sad news about his retired guide dog that he wanted to share with me. He had to have his dog put down due to old age. I was very saddened to hear it. I was glad he called and told me though. I’d not had a chance to look at my Facebook and see it for myself. His previous guide was 13, so she lived a good and long life for a lab. They know they did what was best for her and that’s all that matters. After that call, I did finally go to bed though. So, there’s all about my Manhattan trip and Valiant’s vet visit.

Saturday and Sunday Days 15 and 16

I’m going to be combining Saturday and Sunday’s blogs, since it is our free time on Sundays and we do no trips. There isn’t a lot to write about in that aspect.

Saturday we only did one route in the morning and it was with my entire group. We did a country route. I went first. Leigh suggested we wear reflective vests so people can see us better, so I got to wear the motorcycle style reflective vest. We walked through a very quiet neighborhood with a grass line curb. The dog’s are to stay as close to the left curb as possible. They will go out and around cars, piles of leaves, drains and other things, but should bring you back to the left. Even if they do, you are to suggest left to them in a calm reminding tone. Valiant had to go around several cars, a cone and a pile of sticks. He did really well getting me back to the left edge, but does it better when I’m reminding him. When you come to an intersection, the dog will round the corner and you go in about 2 or 3 feet. This is called indenting. If you want to cross that street, you tell the dog “right” and face the opposite curb. You then tell the dog “forward” and I usually re-enforce that with a “straight.” They have the dogs round the corners so you’re not blowing streets and could possibly get hurt if you didn’t hear a car coming. I was proud of Valiant’s country work. I will be using that a little bit to get from my house to the main road. I feel comfortable that he’ll do fine with it and not drift too much. He knew where the van was on the way back, but we wanted to work him past it to the t intersecting street. He was very head strong about going to that van. I really had to encourage him to go on past it. It was on the other side of the street. He soon got the hint though and we did the last crossing and he was more than happy to show me the van. We all waited in the van while each student had their trip. It was a nice day and we stayed pretty comfortable inside it. We could also hear the leaves falling onto the roof of the van. It was a nice reminder that it is fall.

I had another visit from Vicky on Saturday as well. We started out in the lobby, but moved to the Eustis lounge. I had Valiant on leash and she took Yuri’s harness off. They both did well, but Valiant did start to whine after 3. Vicky reminded me that I’d been relieving him before and after trips, so I asked him if he had to “park.” I also used “go outside.” He got up and then barked at me 3 times. LOL. I wasn’t expecting that at all. He did have to go though, so I really didn’t blame him. They stayed until a little after 4. I really enjoyed their visit though. I even got kisses from Yuri not long before they left.

The rest of the day I could do as I wished. I played with Valiant in my room. We played with the tug and I also gave him his sterilized bone. He really liked that thing. I also played with him with his stuffed toy. He does have the habit of getting up on the bed with his toys, so I’m working on breaking him of that. We can let them loose in the rooms a little at a time, but it needs to be after a park or late at night. I’ve not let him loose too much yet. We also can leave them alone for a minute or so and I did this while I took the feed bowls down to the sink in the Common Lounge. I tend to forget to do that right away.

We had pizza late Saturday night. Eric ordered it after last park. A lot of us had just the salad during dinner. I don’t remember the meals much from yesterday, but dinner was scallops in some sort of noodle and a steamed vegetable I forget the name of. Sorry I’ve gotten slack on the food. LOL.

Today has been a pretty lazy day. I slept a lot, but I was also afraid I might be getting sick. A couple student’s are already sick with a cold. I just got over one the week before I came in. I groomed Valiant and brushed his teeth. Another student and I groomed our dogs at the same time. I also did obedience with him. He’s doing really well with that I switch it up a bit, so he doesn’t know what I’m going to ask of him. I also played with him in the room. We tried the tug some more, but the slick floor leaves him with little traction. I feel like I’m pulling him across the room. I then tried the stuffed toy and he had a blast with that. He sort of knows “drop it.” He sometimes will do it quickly and then other times I have to encourage him. He eventually will drop it though. Now if I could only get him to not jump on the bed. LOL.

I’m going to confuse everyone now by mentioning the meals for today. Breakfast was scrambled eggs, bacon and a cinomyn roll. They also had yogurt with granola along with the cereals. I had the hot plate. lunch was a sandwich that I can’t quite remember the exact name for it, but it had mozzarella cheese grilled on toasted bread and then some sort of vegies were on top of it. They may have been grilled on as well, because they stayed on top without falling off. There was also a tomato salad. The salad was tuna and the dessert was pumpkin ice cream. We had that on Dog Day, but I was too nervous to get it. Not today though. I had the hot plate and dessert. Dinner was baked chicken, roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli. The salad was ham and dessert was terramasou. I can’t spell that and I doubt JAWS would say it correctly anyway. Hopefully you know what I meant. I had the hot plate and dessert. Again, sorry for the combo entries and I will do better this week.

Friday Day 14

Sorry again guys. I was again really tired and am just now writing my blog. I’ll make it short as possible. I can’t remember much of the meals except lunch and dinner.

My morning trip was to the court house. We had to walk a few blocks to get to it. We went through 2 metal detectors. We did a long leash and just held it undone in our left hand and had the person guide us through the metal detector. I then called Valiant through. This way the dog usually is the only one making the metal detector go off. There were lots of stairs and winding hall ways for Valiant to navigate through. We also went a way he’d never gone, to make sure we didn’t run into the other student with their dog. Valiant did very well with all of it. I knew he would though.

Lunch was cranberry chicken and sweet potato’s. The cold plate was roast beef salad I believe. I forget what dessert was though. I had the salad.

My second trip was to a pet store. All of everyone in my group went at the same time. We all spent most of our time in the toy isles. There were 2 really long isles of nothing but toys!! I think we had more fun than they did. LOL. We also worked them in the back past birds, mice and other small animals. Valiant could care less about them. I bought Valiant a sterilized bone, rubber tug toy and he picked out a stuffed animal. It sort of looks like a person, but no real arms and legs hardly. The face also had no features like eyes or nose. All of us also bought ID tags with our name and phone number on it. Leigh helped us with the engraving machine. I got Valiant a blue bone.

Dinner was steak, baked potato and green beans. I was so engrossed in the steak idea that I totally forgot the cold plate and dessert. I had the hot plate of course.

Valiant is doing much better now during the meals. I’m really proud of him. He’ll get up from time to time, but for the most part he lies quietly like he should.

I tried Valiant out with his tug toy after parking him yesterday afternoon. He absolutely loves it!! The slick floor makes it hard for him to tug properly, but he does his best. He also growls a little and it sounds sort of like those alligators you hear on TV. Now I have an outlet for his energy that I know he’ll enjoy.

The evening lecture was on dog massages. I did my best, but my carpal tunnel made it extremely hard. I found out I can use my feet instead though. I can’t do it as extensively as with my hands, but it’s better than nothing. So, there’s my short and sweet entry for that day.

Thursday Day 13 

We got up as usual and took care of the dogs. I then got ready for the day. Valiant is still doing well in his crate while I take a shower. We’ll be leaving them alone a little at a time now, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs and a slice of cheese on an onion roll and farina. They had the usual assorted cereals . Drinks were the same as well. i had the scrambled egg and cheese on the roll. In case anyone is interested, I also always have orange juice. LOL.

I was on the second trip in, so I put my clothes in the washer. I also did obedience with Valiant. I think I did it in the hall way this time though. I also took him downstairs and groomed him. I’m not getting too much hair, but I’ll be curious to see what the Furminator pulls out. I just had time to put my clothes in the dryer before I left for the lounge. I also parked him before we left.

Our morning trip was the city bus and commuter train. They drove us to where one of the busses would pick us up at. We got on and sat about midway down the isle. Most of the seats were sideways facing seats and had lots of cushioning. They were very comfy. We don’t see those in Charlotte much. We rode for a long time, which was much different from last year. This route was probably a 20 minute ride, maybe more. Valiant wasn’t bothered by any of it. We got off the bus not far from the commuter trains. We walked to the corner and crossed the street. We walked a little farther after that and soon were crossing the tracks. They felt like raised tracks, but it was hard to tell. We soon got to the platform. A train going the opposite direction went by and we got to see how the dog’s reacted. Valiant wasn’t bothered at all. It was a very loud squealing train too. Leigh then had us do something that no one should ever try to do without an instructor around. We had the dogs go forward and take us to the very edge of the platform and insist they go forward to see what they’d do. Valiant turned in front of me and pulled me away from the edge and along it’s side. We then had to suggest left or right, depending upon which side the edge was on. In my case, it was left. You insist like you don’t know there is an edge there. Valiant pulled me away from the edge again as if to say, “no, dumb ass there is a drop off there.” LOL. We then turned around and did it again, insisting to go right. Again, he pulled me away from the edge and kept going. Soon our train arrived and it was a huge gap between the platform and the steep stairs. The train reminded me of an Amtrak train, but it isn’t. Valiant did slip some when I told him forward, but he was ok. We then worked them into a car and sat down. Valiant laid his head on Leigh’s feet or the seat beside me. We only rode for about 10 or 15 minutes. Getting off the train, I held onto the hand rail and heeled him down. The gap wasn’t nearly as wide and Leigh helped me off. We then watched the train go by and then another one. We ended up back near where we caught the bus. Valiant kept me way away from that platform edge. The street crossing we did also had a dumpster on the corner and some other things. Valiant took me right around them smoothly. It was a nice trip and I feel that he’ll do fine on the busses at home.

I parked Valiant again once we got back. I also got my clothes out of the dryer. I used the middle one again and they were piping hot. I also took that time to write the blog for yesterday.

Lunch was white bean and lentil soup and BBQ burrito with rice and beans in it. They also had sour cream and another sauce mixture you could put on it. I can’t remember what the cold plate was though. Dessert was Pecan Pie. I had the hot plate. Valiant got up a few times and Leigh helped me to get him back down. I’m having to learn to be really firm with him. I have to bring the collar up high under his chin and behind his ears and tighten it while saying “Knock it off” or something along those lines. This is not a high collar though. It is to just get his attention. After I did that, he lay down quietly for the rest of the meal.

They no longer have the gift shop in the student lounge. It was there last year. Now they set it up in the Morris Frank room for a certain amount of time. They had it open after lunch, so I went in there. They have all sorts of things: shirts, hats, backpacks, fanny packs, keychains, magnets and so forth. I really liked the LL Bean backpacks and am in need of replacing the current one., so I bought it. I also bought a keychain, magnet, t-shirt and Christmas ornament. I had them write his name on the ornament. Since I spent as much as I did, I got a free tote bag as well. We also got a 20 percent discount.

After my shopping spree, it was time for the second trip. We were in the first group this time. I did forget to park him before we left and he did have to go while in route. I also put his booties on him and he wasn’t too keen on that too much. I’m using the alcohol on his pads to toughen them up, but booties are necessary until then. He was being very prissy in them. He still didn’t want to walk over the grates and he also didn’t want to walk through a puddle. Our trip was to a grocery and liquor store. We walked from the van to them and it was 2 or 3 blocks. I got some more Yoo Hoo’s and the others got wine at the liquor store. The wine is sold by a blind woman here with a Seeing Eye Dog. That’s as much as I know about that. Valiant also picked up his pace in places on this trip. He did really well on the last couple blocks back to the van. I was really happy for the faster pace and really encouraged him to keep it up.

I parked Valiant again once we were back at the school. I then lay down and took a nap until 4:30. Then it was feed and park time. He parked again as well. I then made a phone call until dinner.

Dinner was a fish with the word Swai in it and mixed vegetables. The cold plate was salad with roast beef. The drinks were the usual and dessert was a cappuccino cake or something. I had the salad plate and skipped the dessert again. Valiant tried getting up and down again, but this time it only took 2 of those tightening collar tricks and a “Pfui, knock it off.” He was a very good boy after that. I think I’ll stick to this and see how it goes. I did stop the leash under the chair thing though. I want to get him to listen to me without doing that. I won’t always have that option when I go out at home.

I relaxed in my room until the evening lecture. It was on various things, such as freedom in the rooms, free water, leaving your dog alone and never ever letting him off leash in an unfenced in area. They also read a letter a graduate wrote about them making the mistake of not keeping the dog on leash and it being hit by a car. It was a very sad story. The dog was also very young. They also had copies for you to give to relatives or whoever might try to convince you to do this. It really drives home the point about never letting them off leash unless it’s a fenced in area.

Last park was at 8 as usual. Valiant still has only did a 2 once today. He did the same thing yesterday. I thought I had his relieving pattern down, but he sure fooled me. LOL. It’s now time to spell check this and post it to the blog. Everyone with pups, give them a pet from me and Valiant sends licks and wags.

Wednesday Day 12

I was extremely tired last night and didn’t write the entry for yesterday until today. It was quite busy and the lecture last night was really long too. Now for the actual events.

We got up at our usual times and did the usual morning dog routine. I did some stretches in my morning routine. My back has been bothering me really badly and this was suggested to me. I’ve not noticed a difference yet, but I’ll keep working on it.

Breakfast was fried eggs, bacon and lemon poppy seed muffin. They had the usual drink and cold cereal options. No yogurt though. I had the hot plate without the eggs.

I was on the first morning trip, so I had to head to the lobby right after breakfast. I did park him beforehand though. I had to wait a little bit for my solo, but not long. I tried the Ace bandage around my hand, but didn’t really notice a difference. Valiant and I did really well. I had to ask a couple times what street I was at, but I didn’t get lost any or walk too many blocks this time. Valiant’s pace was a lot better in wide open portions of the route. he’s still cautious in other places, but he’s getting the hang of it and I kept encouraging him it was OK and I wasn’t going to fall or anything. One of the best moments though was when I was back at South Street and going to cross to go back down D Hart. The audible signal said I could go, so I told him “forward.” He curled around in front of me, not letting me step off the curb and then a car pulled up right in front of us. The car was right next to the curb and the instructors said that if I’d been taller, I’d have hit my head on the car. The driver had ran a red light. If I’d been using a cane, that car surely would have hit me. The car then pulled out of the cross walk after a few seconds, but I wasn’t sure if it was safe to go, so I waited through another long cycle. I was really ticked off at that driver, because I was also getting rained on and had to stand through the long cycle again. I just wanted to get to the lounge. LOL. I found out after I got to the lounge what exactly happened. All I knew at the moment was that the car wasn’t supposed to be there. LOL. So, I was definitely proud of my boy when he did what he did.

I immediately parked Valiant again once we got to the school. We then had a lecture in the Common Lounge on cleaning the dog’s ears, brushing their teeth, giving them pills and applying topical flea medication. The flea medication was an empty Frontline package. Rick showed me how to grab the fur between the shoulder blades in one hand and squirt the medicine with the other. I’d never seen it done that way before, so it was a neat trick.

Lunch was fish and chips. The cold plate was a salad with roast beef on top. Drinks were the usual and dessert was cherry cobbler. I had a salad. Valiant is getting better about staying down during meals. I did put the leash under the chair for lunch though..

From now on, our trips will be free lance. That is where you learn daily life things like escalators, busses, trains and so forth. I was in the first group going out, so had to park Valiant before we left and eat quickly and go. They took the other student out first, so I stayed at the lounge until they returned. There aren’t as many of us in the lounge now and I don’t remember many people being there then. My trip was to the Century 21 store. It’s a discount store. We worked on navigating in a store and finding elevators and escalators. Valiant did brilliantly at all this. He also road the escalators calmly and didn’t seemed too bothered by them. He was limping again and Leigh got some alcohol wipes to rub on his pads. Apparently it will help toughen a dog’s pads. His pads are very soft and not rough at all. One other dog in my group has this problem too. I also will be taking my boots with me until his pads are tougher. I don’t think the shuttles are running now or if so, not very often. Leigh told me I could ride back with Joy if she was done, but if not they’d be back and I’d go back with them. I got confused on this and after waiting in the lounge for an hour, called the school. Leigh and Brian came back not long after that though and we all headed back.

Once I was back, I gave him another chance to park. He did have an accident on the way back from the store, so we decided to reduce his water intake a bit. He’ll only get 1 cup at the first 2 parks, then 2 at dinner and the usual 1 at 8. He has done a 1 every time I’ve taken him out. He also did a 2 while on in route on my solo. I also gave him plenty of chances before the trip to do a 2. He only did the 2 that one time yesterday though.

I then got the heating pad from the nurse and an ice pack from the freezer. I lay on the ice pack until time to feed and park the dogs.

Dinner was veal and buttered noodles. I can’t remember if there was another side though. I also can’t remember the cold plate. Drinks were the usual and dessert was lemon meringue pie. I had the hot plate and dessert. Valiant did pretty well staying down. I didn’t put the leash under my chair this time. He got up about 3 times, but finally settled down. Maybe he’s getting the hint? LOL.

The evening lecture was with the school’s veterinarian. She went over the different types of flea and heart worm meds they use and a few that are available. She also discussed the different vaccinations they give and whether or not most vets do them. There is one vaccination called lepto that a lot of vets don’t do. I’ll have to find out if mine does it or not. She also discussed keeping your dog fit and what to expect when we had our vet visit before we leave.

We did our last park at 8 as usual. I decided to go to bed early and lie on the heating pad. I didn’t lie on it long though, maybe 15 minutes. I kept falling asleep and then it was really hot and I turned it off. Valiant did pretty well in his crate for the first night. He still moves a lot, but I didn’t notice it as much as before. I think he likes it a lot better. That’s the entry for that day and hopefully I’ll not be too tired to do tonight’s blog then.

Tuesday Day 11

We got up and did our usual morning feed, water and park. I then did my daily routine of getting ready. I know you guys are probably sick of hearing about my dog’s feeding and relieving habits, not to mention my daily routine. LOL.

Breakfast was fried eggs, hash brown potato’s and a lemon poppy muffin. Nothing else changed, so I’ll not elaborate on that. I had the hot plate without the fried eggs. Valiant did better about not doing his jack in the box stunt, but he also had on the GL. They had us put them on and also fasten one end to the collar and the other to the GL. It’s a very funny looking setup. I was just happy to enjoy my breakfast. I also had 2 of the lemon poppy muffins.

I went out on the first morning trip, so no relaxation time for me. We did practice solo routes today. I was single again. Valiant walked faster more often and his guiding was excellent as usual. I wasn’t really on a solo for this one though. I was basically getting it down in my head. It was a good trip though. I also relieved Valiant before we left. I didn’t want a repeat of yesterday. He did do a 2 on route though, but he didn’t act like he had to go the 2 times I gave him a chance. I also gave him another chance after we got back from that trip. He took advantage of both.

Lunch was roast beef sandwich with stillman cheese and pasta salad. Drinks were the usual and dessert was some sort of brownie or cookie of white chocolate with macadamia nuts. I had the hot plate, but only ate half of the sandwich. I didn’t like the cheese. It was a lot like Blue Cheese but it helped give the meat flavor, because it didn’t have much. Valiant also wanted to be Mr. Jack in the box. Kristin came up with a solution that I think may work. Since I can’t put my foot on the collar close to his head, we put the leash under one of the legs of my chair. My wait is like stepping on it and he corrects himself like he should. He tried that 3 times and finally gave up.

I went out again on the first afternoon trip. There was a puppy raiser couple as the volunteers at the lounge, so we got to talk to them some. They’ve raised 27 puppies so far and are now raising a German shepherd that is 10 months old. They seem to be some real pros at it. My trip was single again and it was the practice solo. Valiant could tell I was not sure of what I was doing and in turn was extremely cautious and slow. We had a couple traffic checks and he did the barricade excellently. I did screw that up though and had us go into the street when there was a car sitting right next to the curb. I pulled us back onto the curb and it took some coaxing to get him to go back into the street to go around the barricade. He didn’t fall for the trap barricade again and I was again dubiously proud of him. Once he did go into the street, he was quick getting us back onto the sidewalk. That’s definitely what I want though. Near the end of the route, I got him to perk up a bit, but I also knew where I was going and was confident of it. I did have issues with my hand and back again. I did see the nurse and am going to try an ace bandage wrapped around my hand for support. It’s not a brace, but hopefully it’ll help some. I also used some cream another student has for muscles on my hand. I’ll do stretches tomorrow for my back, but I really hope it doesn’t bother me again. I could barely bend down to pat Valiant’s side and encourage him to go. It also hurt to stand at the streets waiting for my turn to cross. I will try a soak in the tub and ice packs and heating pad tomorrow. I just didn’t have time tonight.

We fed, watered and parked the dogs around 4:30. I had to make 2 trips to the nurse, so by the time I was finished there, it was dinner time.

Dinner was chicken Parmesan and linguini with maranara sauce. The cold plate was sea food salad. Drinks were the usual. Dessert was Kee Lime pie. I had the hot plate. I had Kristin help me put the leash under the chair and after a couple times of trying to get up, he settled down. It was nice to finally be able to eat a meal in peace. It’s not the safest method, but we switch tables on Friday, so hopefully he’ll be better at the next table.

I found Joy after dinner and asked again about crates. Since it was past the first Saturday, she brought me a soft sided crate. Valiant ran right into it and I had to call him a couple times for the lecture. I’ll see how he sleeps tonight. Since it’s soft inside too, he shouldn’t make as much noise when he moves around and keep waking me up. I want him to have a nice settled night though.

The evening lecture was for people interested in the clicker and those retrains who were already doing it. Lucas went over the different ways to teach them to find the same type of object or an empty chair in an unfamiliar room. He also went over where zuke came from. I’ve been spelling it wrong, it should be “zook.” JAWS just says that so wrong though. LOL. People also asked questions about different things they might want to target in their home environment. It was very informative. I’d forgotten some of it, so it was a nice refresher.

We had our last park at 8. Then Joy met with those who wanted to go over the Elm Street route in the map room. We had a chance to see a wooden raised map with braille streets so we could get a visual of it. We also just went over the route verbally. I have it down for sure now. Some of it I was confused on before the review.

Last but not least, I had Joy take a pic of Valiant and I. I sat on one of the sofas in the Common Lounge and Valiant sat beside me on my right. It took a minute to get his attention though. Someone was getting ice from the freezer and he had his eyes set on it. He was so intent on it that he was drooling profusely. It was pretty gross. She finally got his attention and we got a nice pic. She tagged me on Facebook and then I made it my profile pic. I am so excited that I have us on Facebook now. So, that’s my events for the day. I should have been in bed at least an hour ago, but I needed the route refresher and I wanted that pic!

Monday Day 10 

The first 2 days of this week, we’ll do Elm Street and then we’ll do a solo on Wednesday on Elm Street. Elm Street is a really long route and is shaped like a pie. You end up circling around back to South Street. There are tons of cafes, people and many obstacles for the dogs to navigate around. It’s very stressful for the dogs and sometimes students too.

As usual, we got up around 5 or 5:30 and fed, watered and parked the pups. I still give Valiant water once I come back from parking him. He also still does well while I take my shower and get ready. It’ll be interesting to see how he acts when loose, although, I’ll put him on tie-down still while I shower. He already has shown an interest in things in the trash. I changed the paper towel roll this morning and he grabbed the cardboard tube from the trash can. He’d never actually gotten anything out of there until then.

Breakfast was pumpkin pancakes with syrup and sausage. The usual cold options and drink items were still the same. Valiant did a little better at breakfast with staying down. I think we also had to put the GL on them for that meal and that might have helped, but not sure.

After breakfast, 3 of us went on the first morning trip. I was paired with one of them and it was a pretty good trip. Valiant kept up a decent pace and was awesome with all the obstacles. I also had 2 driveway traffic checks, which he performed flawlessly. They were natural traffic checks as I understand.

I did obedience when I got back before lunch. I took Valiant in the Common Lounge to do it. There was a vacuum running and another student doing obedience in there as well. He wanted to just lie down at first, but coaxing got him up. He wanted to go directly to a “rest”, but a correction fixed that. He then performed the rest of the lesson flawlessly. I also groomed him afterwards. He tolerates it, but I’m not sure it’s his favorite thing. At least he doesn’t fight me on it. LOL.

Lunch was a turkey wrap with a spicy Mayo that I can’t spell or attempt to get JAWS to say correctly. LOL. The side was a sort of spicy salad. it had barley, corn and something spicy in it as well. There were green leafy things in it as well. The cold plate has slipped my mind though. Drinks were the same as usual and dessert was an orange cheesecake brownie. I had the hot plate and dessert. The dessert was different, but good. Valiant also didn’t lie down much during this meal. I had an instructor help me with him, but he never really settled down. I’d brought the GL with me, just in case and ended up trying that as well. He did wait until I was almost done eating though.

I was on the first trip out in the afternoon trip. I was again paired with the same student as earlier. It was much hotter this afternoon and the dogs did tend to go a little slower. I really had to encourage Valiant to speed up. We also have a barricade on this trip as well. I forgot to mention it. There was also one on Maple. The one on Elm is what they call a trap barricade. It’s like a box with one side open , so the dogs might go in and they have to figure out how to get you back out. Valiant was so smart!! On both trips today, he totally ignored the trap and took me right to the ramp next to it. I then had to work in the street for a couple feet and he got back up on the sidewalk and continued on the way. I was surprised he did this, but super proud. The second trip out, there are even more cafes, people and other obstacles to deal with. Valiant did awesome though! As I’ve mentioned before, his work is flawless. I did forget to mention that he had an accident right before leaving for the second trip. I was going down the stairs and Brian commented that I was already coming down and that surprised him I guess. I stopped on the stairs to chat a second and then I heard a splattering sound. I realized Valiant was peeing on the stairs!! I corrected him and took him to the park area as soon as he’d stopped piddling on the stairs. He still peed more though. Now I know to take him out before the second trip and I may even take him out before or after the first trip. Until his schedule is straightened out. He’s normally not a dog who does that sort of thing though.

I hung out in the Common Lounge with the student I was paired up with before dinner. We chatted some and then watched some TV. Then it was dinner time.

Dinner was meat loaf, buttered peas and mashed potato’s. The cold plate was cottage cheese. The dessert was something blueberry and drinks were the usual options. I had the hot plate, but was good and ignored the dessert. Valiant was up and down again. Leigh was sitting at our table and saw how he was reacting. I mentioned he’d just started doing this the day before during lunch and right after a dog at our table growled at him for being in his space. She said he looked worried and that explained maybe why. I’d thought he was just testing me. We’re going to try putting him in the corner near my chair away from the other dog. I’m close to the corner, so hopefully it will help.

I spent the time before the lecture checking e-mail and playing with Valiant. I held his Nylabone while he chewed it. He only does that for a few minutes still. He’s also like that with the Kong. I will try a treat in the Kong when I’m home and see how he does with that.

The evening lecture was on dog food and treats. Joan also covered Rawhide, pigs ears and cow hooves. We also found out what type of food and how many cups our dogs get. Valiant gets 1 cup of food twice a day. They feed Iams Chicken and rice, Eukanuba Chicken and Rice and some form of Proplan. i will keep him at the 1 cup twice a day, but I’m changing him to another food after I’ve been home a couple weeks. I personally don’t like the foods they use and it is totally my decision to change him. I also know not to change him over too quickly.

We had 25 minutes before park, so I hung out in my room. We parked the dogs at 8 and are free to do whatever we wish. I plan on going to bed as soon as I post this. Valiant is still moving around a lot and I think that is disturbing my sleep some. I’ll be really glad to have him in his crate and a nice padded bed at home where I won’t hear all that movement. Plus, he may even sleep better in a crate. I’ll get one for my room here, but the mat isn’t long enough for the crates and I don’t think it’ll muffle his movements if he’s still restless. I’m hoping he’ll start to feel more at home in there though. I love it that they have crates we can practice with while in class though. That’s my entry for the day.

Sunday Day 9

Sunday is a rest day for all of us. This goes for any school I’ve attended as well. We got to sleep in until 6:30 AM and that was nice. We fed, watered and parked our dogs as usual. Valiant was restless again, but he’s not slept through the night once yet. I’m hoping he’ll settle down soon.

Breakfast was after 8, so I took a quick nap until 7:30 AM. Valiant actually let me sleep too.

Breakfast was fried eggs, bacon and cinnamon roll. The cold options were the usual stuff. I had bacon, cereal and 2 cinnamon rolls.

I took another nap after breakfast and slept until a little after 11. Then I got up and was ready for the park call around 11:30. Then I wrote a blog entry for Friday. Then it was lunch time.

The hot plate was veggie lasagna and broccoli. I can’t remember the cold plate. Drinks were the usual and dessert has slipped my mind. Valiant was a real pain during lunch though. He was seeking attention and kept getting up. He even got in another’s dog’s space and I think it was the one that barked. I barely had time to eat my lasagna.

I had visitors around 2. Vicky, Rick and her friend Kristyn. Vicky has a German shepherd named Uri and Kristyn has a German shepherd named Jimmy. Rick is Vicky’s husband. We all relaxed and conversed for a couple hours. They had us in the Eustis Lounge. Vicky also brought some cookies, so we munched on those and drank coffee or water. Valiant was a gentlemen for most of the visit. He did roll over and begin scratching his back once, which turned into him trying to play with his leash. I had to stop that though. I enjoyed their visit, but unfortunately they had to leave at 4. They may come to visit again next week, but I’ll know more on that later.

We fed and parked the dogs again around 4:30. I then attempted laundry, but the washer on the end wouldn’t work, so I found a different washer and put my clothes in to wash. I then went upstairs and hung out in the Common Lounge until dinner.

Dinner was cornbread crusted chicken, sweet potato’s and string beans. The cold plate was cottage cheese. Dessert was ice cream with chocolate syrup. The drinks were the usual. I had the hot plate. I had forgotten about the sweet potato’s, but they weren’t too bad.

After dinner I went back to the Common Lounge and had another dessert. Jan Abbot made something called Caramel Crunch. I had 3 of those. They were watching a game of some sort on TV, but we all converse for a bit. Then I came back in here and wrote my blog on yesterday.

We took the dogs out for the last time at 8 and then I checked my laundry. I put it in the dryer at some point, I think before dinner. The dryer I chose didn’t dry them though, so I’ll have to check again later. Since it wasn’t done, I came back up here and wrote this entry. I’m glad to be caught up and will not make this same mistake again. LOL. Happy reading!

Saturday day 8

Yesterday wasn’t as busy as most of the days this week, but we did do a few things. I’ll try to remember what I can though. I know it probably sounds like a broken record by now.

We got up at the normal time and fed, watered and parked the dogs. I then took my shower and got ready for the day. I left Valiant on his tie-down and he did fine. I think him seeing what I was doing in there let him know I wasn’t leaving him. By the time I was finished getting ready, it was almost breakfast time.

The hot plate was something they called a McSausage sandwich and Farina. The cold options were the usual cereal and yogurt with granola. The usual breakfast juices were available. I had 2 of the McSausage.

We had solo’s yesterday and they took us all in at the same time. They paired 2 of my group together and the other student and I were singles. The wait wasn’t long though. Our solo went very very well. It was the best trip we’ve had so far. I used the padded and wider handle, but it made no difference with my Carpal Tunnel. I’m going to give it a couple more days and then see what we can do. I think Valiant has realized that I don’t have the same pull as Brian had. He picked up his pace a lot during our solo. It might have also helped that Leigh and Brian hung back quite a ways. I also did well keeping the tension and Valiant’s pull was smooth. I did walk one block too far, but realized it once I got to South Street and there was no audible pole there. I asked a person the name of the street behind me and discovered it was James. The person I asked was Brian doing an Indian accent not the Native American Indian either. I also had to ask about D Hart, but there were lots of people to ask there. I also pushed on the handle and encouraged us off the down curb there, but corrected and re-worked it. I also found out that someone was letting their pet dog sniff Valiant’s butt and try putting it’s head under his belly. I’m assuming we were walking down the side walk, but not totally sure on that. The person handling the dog was smiling like an idiot the whole time. So anyway, I was very happy with our solo. I’m trying to practice keeping the tension while working inside as well, hoping that will transfer over to street work. I don’t want to undo his training. Pushing on the handle like I do, can cause that to happen.

Lunch was sloppy joes and some veggie. I forget what the cold plate was, but as usual the drink options were the same. I can’t quite remember what the dessert was though.

I can’t remember what we did after lunch. I know it was pretty much in house stuff, like obedience and the clicker training. I do remember doing obedience with Valiant some time that day though. He does well with it. The obedience is unusual to any I’ve done so far. Of course, I learned it last year, but it’s still strange to me. You have the dog sit to your left and make a long leash. you put part of the long leash in your right hand. Next, you tell the dog to heel and you walk forward about 3 or 4 steps. Then you start taking 3 or 4 steps back and on the second or first step back, you tell the dog to come. you then do a circle motion with your left arm which brings the dog around by your side, but you also take a step forward as you’re doing that circle, so the dog has room to curve around properly. Then you tell the dog to sit. Then you tell the dog “down” and “rest.” After a couple seconds, you tap your thigh and tell the dog “Valiant sit” or just “sit.” The last part of the obedience is having the dog sit, make a long leash, hold your palm in front of the dog and tell it to “rest” and you repeat that until you are at the end of the long leash in front of the dog. You stand there another minute or you can even step to the right and left for added obedience. Then you tell the dog to “rest” and you follow the leash back to where the dog is sitting. You praise after the dog does each task you ask of it and at the end of the session, you really praise the dog up.

One of the meals yesterday was shrimp scampy with angel hair pasta and zucchini. I think it was dinner, but not quite sure. The cold plate was eggplant salad or sandwich. The dessert was fudggy pie. Everything else was the usual and I had a cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwich, chips and a pickle and the dessert.

I did my clicker training at either dinner or lunch. I believe it was dinner. We are now eating in the back part of the dining room. We targeted my new chair. We did a quick session, because the meal was about to be served. We associated Valiant with the target on the chair. Then we backed up a few feet and told him forward and the cue word. When he rang the bell, we clicked and treated. We also clicked and treated while associating him to the new target. Next, we walked back a few yards and worked him almost to where I turn to my chair. I told him “right right” and the cue word. He zipped right around the corner of the table, not even clipping me on it, which a lot of dogs can do and rang the bell like a champ. Again, I clicked and treated. Next, we went to the door way and I worked him to my table. I again gave him the command “right right” and the cue word when next to my table and he rang the bell again like a pro. I of course click and treated. We did that one more time and then took away the target and worked him to my table and clicked when he found the chair. I still gave the commands as before. Lastly, we took the clicker away and I worked him there and used the commands and gave tons and tons of praise when he found my chair. He is excellent with the clicker and I think he’ll catch on quickly at home.

The evening lecture was on going home. We watched the DVD they mail out to people for us and Rick read the letter they also mail out. I didn’t get any of those things, since I still have the ones from last year.

We parked the dogs at 8 as usual. I then called a guide dog conference call and told everyone what kind of dog I received. I ended up talking on there until my cell phone died. That was probably a couple hours.

There are also a couple funny stories I want to share with everyone. I forgot to mention the first one in the previous entry. It was after I had my milkshake and had come back in here. I had spilled milkshake on my pants and changed out of them into something else. I’d put my slip on shoes on the bed, planning on putting them on as soon as I plugged my cell phone in. I had Valiant on a long leash. All of a sudden, I hear a “thunk”. I go to look and found Valiant with one of my slip on shoes. I guess he preferred it over his Kong.

The other story happened yesterday, so is appropriate for this entry. It’s rather embarrassing, but I thought I’d share it anyway. I had taken Valiant out to park and right after I told him “park time” he starting going. I didn’t know my foot was under him, so he ended up peeing on my left shoe. I moved that foot and some how he ended up peeing on the right one too!! All the advice i got from Eric was to keep my feet out from under him. really? Is that all? So, now I listen to when he starts to pee and just don’t move until he’s done. I’m learning a lot having a male dog! I’m going to end this entry for now, but hopefully everyone got a chuckle out of my funny stories.