Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Jaggers birthday

So as one can imagine it is a very hard day today           ! Jagger would have been 7 years old.  I sit back and look at where did the time go. I remember the 1st birthday we celebrated with him, he had that puzzled look  on his face and turning head left to right as to say what are you doing now, of course he did not understand the Sponge Bob Square Pants cake swimming in the pool it was to show how much Jagger loved being in the water. He also didn’t understand the birthday hats and why he had to have one on. Of course all our kids were there to celebrate with him as he was a member of the family. He did understand what the presents were. We opened his squeak toys and it was okay, but when he opened his orange treat ball for him that was the best present. It didn’t take much to please him scratch his tummy chase him up and down the hall, play hide and seek, but for him the best was his ball he knew that when we put kibble in the ball he had been good. It became a game he knew exactly where it was kept and if he pushed it under the bed or around a corner stuck under something, he would come and get us. It became such a routine that all we had to tell him was find your ball and he would show me where it was. That orange ball for Jagger was his birthday present and everyday was his birthday.   

He is missed very much.

Monday, 27 June 2011

First day of preperation.

Today was the first day in preparation for the new dog but also to get back into shape for a new semester in university. Part of my training program is to go out and practice mobility.  Now you are probably wondering why I would practice mobility with a cane if I have applied for a dog?
Well I remember when I first applied for a guide dog; I had to send a video that showed me walking on the street, crossing the road at a busy intersection traveling on the bus and metro, up escalators elevators basically showing my mobility skills. This time it was not required however getting back to the basics in mobility is the best way to have success as a handler for a guide dog. I need to keep my skills sharp and my wits about me.
The other reason is when you have a guide dog especially when you are a good team, you don’t need to focus on all the small things your dog helps you with that.
So my workout today was mowing the back yard and putting up the gazebo. Some people might not think this is a workout but imagine that you really can’t see what you are doing. Well it’s like this take a pair of glasses and put black tape on the left side in including the side of the glasses no peeking, and then take a pair of nylons and cut two pieces and cover the right eye. Take more black tape and leave a small opening in the middle of the glasses and now start to mow the lawn and put up your gazebo.
I forgot to mention that my grass has not been cut this year, today was the first time. The grass was almost up to my thigh. So if you think not a workout it’s like pumping iron in a weight room all day. Did I mention that it is 28 celcius outside which is 82.4 Fahrenheit so I think I sweated some pounds today.

My adventure today was during the mowing the lawn I was using the weed whacker and of course the line broke, this means going to the store and finding what I need and fixing the weed whacker. I won’t tell you what store I went to but it has some orange in the sign. I don’t know how you feel about asking a store person for help, but for me it’s a nightmare. My wife and I have figured out that if she stays in the car and I go in by myself I get better service but today was not that day.  
I went into the store and like most people on the floor they see me coming and run the other -way; they are scared that I might ask them a question. I had to go to the cash and get help, of course the cashier told me that this item that I was looking for was in the hose area, I stood there looking at her for a moment and then she said I will get someone to help you. Well this person came and the cashier said those dreaded words “ I think it is in the hose section” I thought she will take me to the hose section and not find it and tell me they don’t sell it.
I told her they do and she said she could not find it! She found someone that knew a little more about what I was looking for. I showed him the piece that I needed and said no problem and he was gone. Now I am standing there, I have no idea where he went or she went, did I mention I standing with a white cane? I start calling down the aisles and I find them about 5 aisles over, and around the corner. This is what I was talking about the small things a guide dog (Jag’s) would take care of. I would tell him to follow and he would. I didn’t worry if I was with my wife she would go her way and I would go mine and when I was finished shopping I would tell him to find mummy and he would. The floor person at the store tells me that they don’t have anymore! He then tells me that they have line for the weed whacker and it is really easy to fix. So I said great can you do it for me, and what do you think his answer was, no because the store does not allow us to repair things for clients. I don’t know about you it would seem to me that it would be in their best interest to help someone that needs help! It’s not because I don’t want to do it, but what would take 5 min to do for someone that can see usually takes me about 45 min for me, if I can get it done. Today was no exception to fix the weed whacker took 45mins.
These big stores just kill me, you go in there to buy and there is no customer service and when you ask for something it cost extra, and when you leave they charge you 5 cents for a bag they
give you the excuse that it’s for the environment but we know better. The thing that really aggravates me is that when you ask, the customer service on the floor of the store they tell you what aisle it is in so you end up reading the signs that are above the ailse to find what you want, so why can’t they do the same thing when they don’t know where something is. I would gladly find things for myself if I could and I would gladly assemble items on my own if I could these stores wonder why people avoid them like the plague.  

The biggest lesson I will be learning over the next few months is patient! I will need every lesson that I can get for my new dog. I will need to be patient with him or her, I will need all the understanding that it will take. It will time for the dog to learn my habits and style it will take time for the dog to know our routes and the things that I encounter through the day. The thing about guide dogs is that they always have patients for their handlers, so this means I will have to catch up to my dog.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Welcome to Adventures around the corner

June 24, 2011

As a lot of you know that my companion Jagger who was a 7 year old German Shepherd passed away on June 1 2011. This left me very devastated. In the 5 years we shared many funny and sticky situations. Like walking downtown during a bomb scare, or walking when students were protesting on St-Catherine Street.

The first few weeks of training were especially funny when the trainer and I were walking past the movie theater a young person was smoking  something  they should not have been.  Jagger brought me right to them. The young person threw the substance into the flower pot, he thought we were undercover police. The trainer told me what happened when we turned the corner.

He could only talk after he had stopped laughing.  It is these moments that people missed that I never got to share.

I hopefully will be getting a new dog soon! This time I will be blogging through training and of course the adventures we will encounter around the corners.