Friday, 9 November 2012

Blog 33 November 9 2012 Service

Blog 33 November 9 2012
Service!
We get many opportunities to serve but very few rarely do, and those who do get little reconnection. As we come to this time of remembrances I reflect on those soldiers who gave their lives for us! With the end of world war two the second war that was to end all wars and of course all the other wars that followed those wars it seems it is a never ending war all for different reasons. As Canada officially closed it combat role in Afghanistan and the US out of Iraq and their mission coming to an end in Afghanistan the threat of veterans being forgotten is unlikely. Although as the veterans from world war two pass-away we have created a whole new generation to take their place.  The most amazing part of this is the lack of respect that is shown in schools, work places, and even homes. It is almost as if people believe that their freedom and safety is their right and not a gift that was paid for with lives and great sacrifice.  We remember the soldiers that served but we forget the sacrifices that families and friends pay when they loose that one they love. When we talk about service we are also talking about those families that gave so much for us.
I had a chance to speak this week at the University for a Class on diversity what it is like being student with a handy cap. It was a great talk since the other two people that were to speak with me could not make it. I was asked to speak for two hours (for those who know me that is easy part). I got to hear a lot of things that you would not get here in a 30min talk. I spoke about the sacrifice that the puppy raisers did so I could have great dogs. I spoke about how Lucky saved my life 2 times in 20mins from cars not paying attention. They asked about the training we did and the sacrifice my wife made for being home with our son for a month on her own! Having to trust that our son would close the front door when he left the house never mind locking it if he closed it we are happy. My close friends helping my wife out, and being there as well as driving her to visit me! I speak about my sisters, who visited me while I was there and making sure that I was ok and feeding me. I got to speak about Jagger and Lucky and my commitment to them and there’s to me. I got to speak about the dedication that my family and friends give me on non conditional bases.
At the of the talk of course the students were very happy and I had a lot of questions, the professor was very pleased and impressed that I could talk and keep their attention and answer all the questions she was very pleased. As I was packing up my things and getting ready to leave a young man probably in twenties came up and asked if he could shake my hand. As we shook hands he said thank you and thank you for talking about your military experiences. He further went on to say that he is in the reserves and will be heading to Afghanistan in a few weeks for a tour providing security.
I stop what I was doing and put my hand out and said “ I want to thank you for your sacrifice and your service” he was amazed that someone thanked him. I like to think that maybe somewhere down deep inside of him that he got some hope that if something happens to him that he could bounce back. There is a great line from the movie the Big Red one. During a patrol the section comes across a memorial dedicated to the Big Red One division! The soldier asks how they put this monument up so fast? The sergeant replies they didn’t! This monument is from world war 1.
The soldier replies “yah but all the names are the same” Yes said the sergeant the names are all the same but the dates is new”!         



Thursday, 11 October 2012

Blog 32 October 11 2012

Blog 32 October 11 2012

Being Thankful!

October is always a special time for me. It reminds me of special time of when my family was together; my mom and brother were still with us. My other brother was flown in from BC he was in the military. I can’t say it was a happy period that we got together but as a family we came together!
In October 1978 at the age of fifteen I received a bone marrow transplant from my older brother. At a time when bone-marrow where new and cutting edge technique. There were not many doctors doing these procedures. The doctor who did my transplant had literally just got off the plane a couple of weeks earlier and was in Montreal to setup a Bone-marrow transplant department.  In 1978 the guidelines were strict in regards to donors. Unlike today where donors only have to be a parciule match to be considered a donor back then you almost had to be an exact match.
I am remember sitting with the doctor with all my family in the room and he asked if we had anymore relatives to test because we would need a lot of family to find a good match.
(just like back then and today God gave me many blessings), after all the testing of the immediate-family the doctor came back and broke the news to us that we did not have one donor but we had two donors! The other donor that could have given me the transplant was my sister. So thought was if it did not work the first time, we could do it again since there were two donors.
The rest of the siblings were matches for other vital nutrients that I would need after in the way of transfusions.
It was a long road before to get to the transplant stage and it was a longer road to recovery! I thank God for my family every day and friends.
Today is no exception I thank God for my wife and kids.  I thank him for my sister and brothers, I thank him for my friends who are also to me my family.
This October I also got to celebrate my first year wedding anniversary to a wonderful woman who loves me and takes care of me.
As I look back over these 34 years and recount everything that has gone on in my life, I can’t say it was easy but nothing in my life! I am thankful that I had another opportunity be the father I wanted to be! To be the husband I wanted to be! To be a better friend!
To be the man God intended me to be!

I am very thankful and to celebrate I went and had my eye adjusted today and it feels great, and Lucky is doing fantastic!

Look for more Adventures around the corner!  

Lucky has been working really hard these last couple of day's. This photo was just after his supper.      

Monday, 1 October 2012

Blog 31 Oct 1 2012 End of September !

Blog   31 Oct 1 2012
End of September !
The end of summer and the beginning of fall is upon us and what I mean by that is! That I start back to school on September 6 , Chris has started back to school already!  The College students are already backing to class, and although Chris is only auditing classes he is still considered a part of the college. We are very glad that the strikes have not affected him.
As I look back over the summer and wonder where all the time went? I was sitting in my office and recounting all things I wanted to do over the summer. I had to ask myself did accomplish what I wanted to do or like always did I over book my schedule.
As I reviewed my list of things I realized that I did the important things!
The things I did not get done , were I did not blog as much as I wanted, I did not travel as much as I wanted and I did not write a paper for the course for the class I took at the Prespiterina college. I did not train as hard as I wanted too.
The big thing I realized was I need to get an air conditioner for my home office! The summer we had was horrific for the heat. I  think a lot of what I did do, I trained with Lucky! The training with Lucky was the most important part of the summer. We really have come together as a team. I got him to the campus we found our classes, we traveled on the bus and I have be bringing him on the metro. I have to say out of all the training we did over the summer the metro was for me was the scariest! The metro in Montreal scares sight people half the time so imagine being visually impaired!  It is chaos at its best.
People running to catch the metro and people trying to get off, sometimes the announcement on what stop we are coming to does not work! I then have to count from where we are to where we are getting off. It gets very confusing most of the time people on the metro do not want to talk to you.
Most of all I have to apologize to everyone for not staying in touch through my Blog or by e-mail or calling.
I have been going through a transition the last two months. I had to go through  a medication transition. Some of t he medication I have been taking was starting to cause me some discomfort, most of all I have been sleeping a lot. I seen my doctor at the end of July we did some adjustments however the adjustments took some time to work in the mean time I have just been resting when I can and going to school and working Lucky and that has been just enough. We have traveling 3 days a week into Montreal for class. Our day starts at 5am and we are home by 4pm, by the end of the day Lucky and I are ready to rest.
The other transition I have been doing is taking Jaws classes. JAWS, is a total speaking program that allows you to type or read documents without looking at the screen. This has been a big adjustment going from sighted computer work to non sighted and just listening to what being said were you are in the document and then doing corrections without seeing the words.  
The hardest part is when I leave my screen on when I work in Jaws I see the outline of the document but I cannot see what is being typed. This is frustrating since with the little sight I have in my one eye I end up trying to see where I am, I end up just turning off the screen so I can work.
The other hardest part of the transition to Jaws remembering all the commands! The hard part is there is no mouse to use all the commands are done either through the number key pad or the key board.
So with that said I waited to this blog until I could do it using JAWS that’s right I finished the word part of the training and now it is just practice, practice.
The other thing about using Jaws is I have to use head phones to work not because it is hard to hear, but my wife and I share an office.
Sometimes when we are working together she will type some of the words or letters that are being said or she will turn to me and say I got to tell you what I just read so there goes my concentration on what I was trying to write. Then sometimes out of the blue the computer will say something without me in the room she then thinks someone else is the office with me.
This year has been an exciting and hard year but the most important part is we celebrate our one year wedding anniversary today we look forward to many more.

I will attach a picture of Lucky and Addison at the office of my academic adviser who is also visually impaired who also just got his guide dog.

I hope to be blogging more now since I am doing a lot better.        

Lucky & Addison at Concordia University

Lucky -& Addison at Concordia University
Taken on Sep 10 2012 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Blog 30 Summer of Training!

Blog 30 July 20 2012

Summer of Training!

It is coming to the end of July and the training never ends I have had Lucky 3 months and it feels like we have been together for year!  I been working with Lucky for the past few months a lot of it has been street work and, we have graduated to the social aspect of the training along with traveling on the bus in our area to different locations not far from where we live and I have been working him back home. Being a guide dog and being in crowds is a normal everyday occurrence,. The thing that we must understand, is that guide dogs are just that dogs and through each part of his training he is introduced to crowds this is a normal part of training.  In each part of that training the dog is always with the same people and for most part the environment is somewhat regular. In training we are instructed it is not advisable to bring your dog  into big social  environments until they get use to their new surroundings . So we now have started introducing Lucky to different social environments.  small gatherings  (dinners),   coffee time after church, restaurants and other small events, and he has been doing great I have his puppy walkers to thank for that, they did a great job! However nothing could prepare Lucky for the social environment that he will encounter with me!  Last week our youngest son graduated so like good parents we went to the ceremonies. This is normally a very quiet affair, as most of you all know that our son is Autistic. The graduation was held at his school which is a special needs school, and since I am visually impaired they gave me a seat right in the front-row. So I will set the picture we have Lucky in a down stay there about 80 kids jumping around with music and streamers flying  all over the place and he did not move a muscle he got up to change positions for comfort but other than that he did not move nor was he scared by all the noise.
I brought Lucky to Church one Sunday and we stood at the door and greeted people once he got settled he was great he did not move and people were so happy to see us there.
I got my biggest surprise when I had to go into Montreal with all the construction and people, (no riots! Thank God!) Lucky was fantastic and that’s when I realized that he was a city dog! The traffic can get quite busy were we live but it’s nothing like Montreal with Taxi drivers trying to run people over, and people not watching were they are walking and other drivers just trying to get through the pedestrians. I must not forget the Mayor of Montreal putting up all those orange cones for an obstacle course, (I must write him a thank you letter) with all that going on Lucky was great he kept his head down moved around obstacles, people open doors construction sites like he had done it a hundred times before. It was hard to believe that it was our first time down town, and it was not a quick trip, we probably down town for about 5hrs we did take a break for a meeting but that is a long time for a guide dog that is just getting to the know the area.
He did fantastic! Since then we have been back and forth to the campus down town walked around and just started to get familiar with the campus.
Next week we start traveling to west end of the island to the other campus.

I think he will do great and I can’t say enough about how much more pleasant it is to walk with a good guide dog than with a cane, the freedom that I feel is still overwhelming sometimes. I just hope the weather stays cooler so traveling is not so difficult!

Photos of Lucky!




Lucky Knackered after a day of work Down Town.

Portrait of Lucky


University Certificate of Pastoral Ministry May 2012 .





          

Friday, 29 June 2012

Blog 29 Fond Memories

Blog 29 June 29 2012

Fond Memories

These last few weeks of June have been really difficult, in the way of many fond memories of Jagger.  Lucky has this uncanny way of doing silly things when he is up to mischief.  He reminds me so much of Jagger that over the last few days my wife has caught me calling Lucky by Jagger’s name.  The way Lucky looks at you when you to talk to him, and the way he drops his tail and goes under the table, when he knows he is in trouble is so uncanny.
I was thinking a lot about him lately, today Jagger would have been 8 years old, and we would have been a team for 6 years in September.  I was talking with my wife about his first birthday we had with him!  She stopped by the baker and got him a cake, with Sponge Bob-Square-Pants doing the back stroke in the lake, (that is because Jagger loved the water) over the years we had different parties for him and we would make sure all our kids came over to have cake.  One year we had a BBQ and we told people not to feed him, but sometimes they would slip him something when I was not looking! lol
I went downtown today with my son, and it was Lucky’s first trip downtown to the city core, I stopped at the park were Jagger and I would stop so I could relieve him, or give him water or just give him a break before or after a long bus ride.  I stood in his favorite place where he liked to sniff and roll around in the grass, after I spent so much time brushing him out in the mornings (I swear some people would tell me that my dog needs to be brushed, I would tell them he was, until he went to the park) as a smile came over my face remembering how silly and goofy he was.  I decided that I should start introducing Lucky to this place because this is where we will be stopping in the future.  I never was so reminded of Jagger as when I took off  Lucky’s harness today.  I gave him a long leash and gave him the busy command and then you know what he did? Yup, sniffed the ground, put the side of his nose on the ground and then proceeded to roll around in the grass, and the first thing I said to him was “what are you doing you nut, I just finished brushing you” I think it was the boy coming to say hi to me and let me know that he is still with us, as long as we hold him in our hearts and thoughts and prayers!  

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Blog 28 Where Is The Time Going?

Blog 28 June 13, 2012
Where Is The Time Going?
I cannot believe that we are already at the 13 of June!  It just seems that we got home from the school and now we are in the middle of June. It just seems that we had just got back from Ottawa and now we are in the middle of June. Things at home have been moving at a fast pace we had so much going on we have not had time to breath! I look at it as that every event we have is a training session for Lucky and I have to say he is getting better and better. It is hard for a new guide dog to be at social events and have to sit quietly and have everyone ignore you.
The end of May and the first week on of June, is when we finally finished training around our area and frankly I think Lucky and I are glad that is over with, especially the Lion part of it!lol
I guess it is time that I tell the story! When Lucky and I and the trainer were doing our practice routes we came across two statues outside of a restaurants. They were standing fully erect as we walked by Lucky must of thought they were two dogs or something because he started to get in a crouch position and growl at them (he wanted to show them he was boss, and he would not be scared) well the trainer and I thought this was so funny since it was the first time the trainer had ever seen this, for me it was the second time Jags did it as well. The funny thing is that I did not know how many statues of Lions were on the route that I walked. One night as my wife and I were driving around the area we counted 8 statues. The trainer suggested that one day when it was quite that I bring Lucky to meet the Lions. A couple of days later I did. I have to tell you it was a typical Retriever reaction. I took him out of harness as walked closer to the statue he crouched low to the grown and creped up on it not to scare it away and when he got close he started to growl. I started to touch the statue he stands up as if to say I knew it was not real I was testing you! With that said I thought well we will just go over to the other one and it will be ok! Wrong we went through the process all over again, it took a couple of times before he realized that they don’t move. I tell that story too many people and I always laugh when I tell it.
The month of May also found Lucky and I working on traffic, walking with a guide dog takes a certain amount of skill and a lot of practice. Guide dogs walk a very good line when they are facing traffic. This means the dog is on your left closes to the buildings and they walk you down the center of the sidewalk. Guide dogs walk different when the traffic is behind them, they walk in the center of the sidewalk and you are as far to the right closes to the buildings, this however creates a problem the handler is a little Huskier   than probably the normal handler. The dog does not like having traffic at it’s back, the other problem is that the handler will sometimes step on the back paws of the dog. The dog will correct its self by turning his front part of the body in front of the handler so in essence the dog is walking at a 45% angle this creates space for the handler to walk freely but changes the pace of the dog. I know it sounds complicated but think of it as both you and the dog are walking on a balance beam, one step to the right can walk you into a pole or hole or any object that may not be seen by the dog, one wrong step to the left you can step on the dog or worse trip over the dog and this creates a trust issue with the dog walking in tight spaces. I am happy to say that we have worked out those details of walking in tight spaces.
I have now moved on getting Lucky use to being in large functions. I brought him to a full church service last Sunday. I asked the minister if I could talk to the congregation, I asked them if could they could help me with the next part of Lecky’s training by ignoring him; this means when we go down stairs for coffee not to talk to him or try to pet him because I need him not to be distracted from his job and that is to guide me. The congregation was so happy that they could help in his training, they also want me to come back and great them at the door when they come in, and if Lucky is not sitting and being good they know that I will not come back and be the greater at the door. They want to be the church that has a blind guy and his dog as there greater.
Lucky and I were to start traveling downtown this week but, the Economic summit and all the other protesting going on in our fair city made me re-think that plan besides this week I was a little under the weather, I think it was the heat.

The following weeks are going to be interesting we are going to start some major route training on buses and walking down town, provided that the protesters behave. I have to get Lucky ready to travel by September, that’s when my next semester starts.

I will keep everyone posted.
        

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Memories! Blog 27 2012

Blog 27 June 2, 2012
Memories!

This past week has been a very emotional and moving time. It has been a time of remembrance and grieving of our loss this time last year.
On May 26, 2011 we lost our great nephew Eric in that tragic incident in that Ottawa school. That took him in a auto shop incident.
My wife and I and of course Lucky spent the weekend at the memorial service finally having our opportunity to say goodbye.
Although my wife and I were at the hospital the night Eric past away, we never got the chance to say good bye at his funeral.
At the same time we were at the hospital that night with Eric, my guide dog Jagger was on his last legs.
He was pronounced two months earlier with a very aggressive blood cancer. His last job was guiding me to the hospital to sit with my sister and niece and her family.
We got Jagger in the car that night and we knew it would not be long for him; he did not have the strength to carry on.
On May 31, 2011 he stayed in the garden and I sat with him we made him as comfortable on June 1, 2011 my best friend and I brought him to the vet we lied on the floor with him we talked to him told him how good he was and at 5:30pm he passed away.
It took months to even think about applying for a new guide dog. On the way to memorial service for my nephew, I was thinking how ironic it was that the same time last year I was doing this same trip but now I have Lucky and last year it was with Jagger. The funny thing is that people would say oh you had to move on. I never felt comfortable about moving on for me that meant it’s over now and something new took over or I could start to forget about him. I new in my heart that I could never forget him nor Eric because they are so intertwined. This last year when I spoke at the schools, spoke of Jagger and his last working job he did bringing me to see Eric and I spoke of Eric and how popular he was in school and how much he disliked bullying. These are two very messages for people to know. So how can you move on from that? At the memorial my great niece said something that was very profound she said “ I can never move on because Eric will be a part of me every day. I think about him all the time”. She also said “I can now start to move forward in my life but I will never forget him because we were friends and brother and sister”.  So I guess you could say I have not move on from Jagger but I am moving forward.
Jagger and I started a special Ministry at the hospitals when we were there. Jagger would get the attention of the patients opening the door so I could speak with them. Not about their spirituality but listens to their concerns’ and take that opportunity to hear their fears. More often than not we end up praying together.  Last Tuesday Lucky fell right into that roll of opening the door with a patient and his wife which allowed me to speak with this couple and help them to gain a better understanding and give them some hope and share some faith to help them move forward.  This action for some strange reason made me think of Jagger maybe it was the way Lucky acted like a big loveable goof y Just like Jagger was. Who loves to leave people fealing  better than when he met them.

John

Sorry

Sorry everyone for some reason I am having trouble posting.

John 

Blog 27 Memories!

Memories!

Blog 27 Memories!

Memories! Blog 27

Memories! Blog 27

Monday, 14 May 2012

Blog 26 May 13 2012

Blog 26 May 13, 2012
I Cannot Believe It Has Only Been Two Weeks!
The last two weeks have been quite eventful.  Lucky and I started walking our routes and of course that got old very quickly.  I am not sure for who exactly, me or Lucky, but it got old really quickly.  Considering that yesterday, Saturday May 12, 2012, we had only been home for two weeks, we probably logged over 45-50km of route time.
Lucky loves to work, and we know the best way to train is to just to go out and walk.  I do wish, however, that I was just as young as Lucky, because he still just wants to play after walking 6km, and I am ready for a nap.
In the last 2 weeks we have got see some more of his personality come out, and I have tell you he is one fun and goofy dog(in a good way and only when he is at play).  He reminds me so much of another dog!
Before I get into some of the goofy things, I will tell you about a couple of the routes we have been training on.
The two main routes I travel are on busy roads with a constant flow of traffic.  This is quite noisy and busy guide dogs are quite good at traveling on these types of roads as long as you are walking against the traffic.
So, as we are on the sidewalk, Lucky walks against the traffic on the sidewalk, so he can see any danger.
This is a normal way of traveling for a guide dog, however, sometimes it may be required to have the dog walking with the same flow of traffic.  Example: We are on the sidewalk and Lucky is closest to the street, this can be quite stressful for a new guide dog but, he is doing very well.  We have been practicing this a lot since being in Montreal, with all our cities construction activity we do not always have the choice as to which side of the street to travel on.
We start from my house and we walk to the mall, which is about 2km or so, give or take.  We travel the big traffic area first, which gives Lucky the chance to prepare himself for working in traffic, once we get to the mall, we take a break then we turn around to come back.
This is when we are walking with the traffic to our back, this is a little stressful, but everyday it gets better and he is more confident in me and I in him.
At the half way mark, I bring him down a side street, in a different direction, through a more residential area, which, once again, is a change of environment. The change is meant to represent different areas but also to practice his curbs.  The fun part of this, although it is quieter on the side-street, we do not have any change in traffic flow, the cars are still coming behind us, but we have now added kids, bikes, skate-boards and dogs.
These are all distractions that must be worked on before we start traveling in downtown Montreal.
Last Sunday, Lucky and I did our first bus trip.  It was more for me than for him.
I tried to work Lucky around the vicinity of my house but found it impossible since everyone knows me; it was hard to walk five steps without someone asking a question.
As one of my best friends said to me last night, it is time to get another T-shirt made with the standard answer to the same questions on it.
1)      NO! YOU CANNOT PET HIM HE IS WORKING!
2)      He is a Golden Retriever
3)      His name is Lucky
4)      He is 2yrs old
5)      He is a male
6)      He is a very smart dog
7)      Please don’t pet him he is working.
8)      Note: Number 7 is said multiple times, …exponentially even.  
Getting back to last week’s training, I found it hard, to work with him with so many people interrupting us, that we jumped on the bus and headed into the next town, not too far but in a different area, and we did very well.
We both found our positions of comfort, and off we went.  I worked with him for a bit, and we then went to church, since we were in the area.  We did not stay to say hello to anyone, because we would have been bombarded by people wanting to pet him.  That would not be fair to Lucky; he is still too new in training for all that yet.
This last week, we have just been putting on the KMs walking and working in stores, it has been so great being out with Lucky, it is such a joy to go for a walk when you have a purpose, to just head out together.
All this walking is really good for him, and it has been exceptional for me.
My wife can tell you, since it is she that sees my shrinking waistline, me I do not worry about it, because I do not see it! LOL J
The goofy fun side of Lucky!  Last Friday, I should say 2 Friday’s ago, our first week we were home.  
My wife had made a decision to bring his bed from our bedroom to the front room where he would be more comfortable to sit with us.
Well Lucky took this as a sign that he was losing his status of being allowed to sleep in our room, he took his bed from the living room and started carrying it back to our bedroom!
I called my wife into the hallway to see what he was doing, she could not believe it.  She picked his bed up and moved it back into our bedroom where he laid on the bed, showing us that he was ok using the carpet in the living room, the bed stays here!!!!!! LOL.  Lucky knows what he likes!
This is just one of his goofy attributes that he has.  We also know that when we see him running to his bed he’s got something that he is not supposed to have and it is usually from my son’s room(like a stuffed toy), or rolled up socks.
He also lets me know when he wants to go out by bringing me one shoe from beside the door, not both, just the one.

All I have to say is that it has only been two weeks, and it has been fun.  Who knows, if Lucky does not do anything else funny, like moving the bed back to his spot, I may tell you about the Lion statue story. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

It started today!

Blog 25   May 3 2012
It started today!

Today was the first day I took Lucky on a walk on my own! I have to tell you after a year and some change it was great not to have to walk with a cane.
I have not been home a week yet and things are really good. Lucky is settling nice and loves being with the boy and my wife. Every time they come into the house he goes bounding down the hallway to meet them. Of course being the hard people they are! lol. They pet him like crazy and play with him.
We bought his pet food yesterday and at the same time I bought him a Kong toy that has like frills on the end. Well you think I had given him the world he played with this Kong with my wife and boy for about an hour. I think it is great because he is now leaving my shorts alone, that is another blog maybe one day.   
All fun and games on the side the real training begins, yes I was with him for a month but now it is just him and I who have to do the work. When I got home I was not allowed to work Lucky until the trainer came and went over a couple of roots with us, Lucky did very well and I felt very confident with him on the street.
Today’s walk was for real! It was one of those roots that the instructor did with us. So what was the big deal you may ask? Today’s walk was without an instructor, that means nobody there to ask a question to! That means you had better be sure of what you are doing because Lucky will not have a whole lot of faith in me the next time we go out and that will be a big issue.
As I mentioned before in my last blog that working and building a good guide team is like walking on a sheet of ice, you have a good chance of falling but it is how cool you look doing it. It is the same when you mess up with your dog it is about building that trust before you mess up that will keep your team work solid.
Today’s route was so simple I could walk it blind folded! lol But for me it was the first time I walked it with Lucky and that is how you build trust and confidents with each other. You take your time and encourage each other and work through each obstacle one at a time.

I have no doubt that we are going to be a good team, I could tell by his street work today. He came right to the corners. He waited for traffic, and his next command. When a car came out of a drive way he stopped and would not move until the path was clear. I went to the store and as simple as that sounds for our first trip that was big. Lucky had to move me around obstacles (displays that I normally take out with my cane)in the store. He had to watch for other shoppers and make sure I was ok. When it was all said and done, I told him to find the cash and he did. I know some sighted people who could not do that.

Over the next month it will be just simple roots in the area and as we progress moving up to the next school semester in September Lucky and I will be well prepared for the task at hand.
A lot of people sight and visually impaired think that as soon as you get a guide dog, and are done all the training that you can just go anywhere and your dog is okay.
I can tell you that is the wrong approach! That is a sure way of stressing your dog out and maybe out of service. I have always said that training only begins after the instructor is gone and that is when the team building begins. A lot of people are very surprised when I tell them it takes a good solid year before a good guide team is made. Only after that first year can you really say that you know your dog and they know you.
Today’s walk was not about quantity but about quality. We did about a half of kilometer not a great distance but I can tell you the quality was definitely there big time.

If there is one thing I can speak about is quality in a guide dog! Trust me when I say Lucky has that quality, quantity will come in time but for now it is about quality and making sure Lucky and I keep building trust and team work.

Stay tuned you won’t want to miss this; Lucky has a big personality and no doubt that we are going to have a lot of!
Adventures around the corner!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Blog 24 The Time Has Come!

Blog 24: April 30, 2012
The Time Has Come.
The time has come that I will be changing my Blog Picture. This time last year we were weeping and preparing for the loss of Jagger.
As hard as it is to believe I have been away for a month training with a new guide dog.
Jags, was my first real guide dog and companion for almost 5 years and for some who may think that this was easy it was not.

I made the decision to apply for a new dog last year after traveling around with a cane. For some people a cane is just fine, for me however I am a dog person.
He is not a German Sheppard; he is a big goofy loving Golden Retriever name Lucky.
Does he work like Jags no? He works like Lucky the reason why I did not ask for another Sheppard is because no other Sheppard could compare to Jags.
I have to tell you that even if this school gave me a Sheppard it would not have been compared to Jags because this schools training make it different and therefore making it a different dog.
Lucky   street work is incredible and he loves to work! No unexpected noise shakes him, and no skateboards or kids on bikes makes him nervous, nor does crowded streets.
He is perfect for Montreal and our rioting students.
I have been away for a month training and everyone thinks going to a school is easier than training at home, I have done both and I have to say I think being away is harder.
Each training evolution gets harder. The first part is getting to meet your dog and start bonding together.
The next part is you and the dog start working together and here is the secret your dog already knows what to do, you don’t.
It is not impressing the instructor that you have to worry about, it’s impressing your dog! It is learning how to control your dog and give somewhat intelligible instruction so they have confidence in you.  
I kind of think of it like stepping on a piece of Ice! You know you are going to fall but how cool can you look while you do it!  
The other great thing is that the instructor is there to catch you.
The school kept me very busy. We had lectures and presentations plus dog training morning and afternoon, because the best way to learn about your dog is work with him.
We worked mornings and afternoon, we groomed and bonded every day from the moment we woke up until the moment they went to bed we were with them.  
There was no asking your spouse to take them out or feed them because you’re tired. There is nobody to pick up after them except for you.  
The hardest part is still ahead. I have 2 days of after training that’s done at home and then the hard part, I am on my own. I start working with Lucky without the trainer.
This is when the work really starts, all the tools they gave us while in training and the instructions that they helped you with, you had better of been listing because you are on your own.
Of course you can always call and ask questions or describe what has been going on and they will help.
However I do not think you can walk around with your cell phone to your ear all day asking what you were suppose to do in this situation.
In reality it takes a year for a team to really develop a lot of people met Jags and I after our first year and half we had gone through those growing pains.
Think of this as a new born baby it takes the first year for both of you to learn each others movements and noises before you are comfortable with each other.
At the same time you both wonder what you got yourselves into and if you want to know the answer to this question, you can either ask a puppy raiser or become a puppy raiser, I know nobody is excited to become a guide dog user but if you had to you would understand.

Look forward to some new Adventures Around The Cornner!   


Monday, 9 April 2012

Crazy

Blog 23 April 9, 2012
Crazy Three Weeks!

Wow it has been so crazy! I found out on March 15 that I was going into training for a new guide dog, when I hung the phone I did not realize how little time that was!
I woke the next morning (I really did not sleep much the night before), I looked at the calendar and realized that I did not have much time to get everything done.
I needed to speak with my Professors, about final papers! I needed to make arrangements for meds. I needed to see doctors before I left. In all that I also needed to remember that Easter was coming and to make time to partake in the services. I also had to pack clothes and make sure I have everything in regards to medication.
So here is how it broke down, first I could not think about a new dog because I would not focuses on my school work. In three weeks I did one final exam, three papers the last one finished on Saturday night. I went to three doctor’s appointments brought back library books.
Only after when my paper was submitted on Sunday night was I able to think about the new dog and I can tell you that I am really excited.
The last day before I leave I am washing clothes packing and going over my list again to ensure that I have everything I need.

In reality, I have been over this plan in my head probably about 1 billion times! No matter how hard I tried not to think about what kind of dog they will give me, or the name of the dog it was almost impossible!
I felt like a father waiting for their child to be born, loving that child before you have ever seen the child, but for me I won’t really see the dog but I love it anyways!  

The next month will be one of the biggest months. Although they have found a suitable match for me it will take a lot of love and work to bond and that forms the bases to making a good team.
On my partners side it will depend on how well the dog responds and bonds to me.   

If we make it through training! The second part is lots of love and more bonding and patients and hard work.

Then the rest comes with time and patients and more love.     

 As we use to say! IT’S GO TIME!
 The next blog will be from Training.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Blog 22

Blog 22 March 15 2012

Whirlwind!

It has been such a crazy time the first few months of 2012. A lot of big things have been happening since that stroke of midnight on December 31 2011, when I made that statement, that I will make 2012 my year!
Since then I found out that I was graduating at the end of this semester.
I sent in a new guide dog application and was called for my interview in January 2012.
In the beginning of February, I got called for my in-house interview.  On Feb 16, I did my Juno walk and all went well. Thanks S.
We thought that after the interview we were not sure when we would hear if I was accepted or not.
I studied hard for mid terms and did very well.
The hardest part is that recently we lost a good friend.
The next part was very shocking! One day after I heard about my friend passing away, I got a letter from the Canadian Guide Dog School informing me that I WAS ACCEPTED.
We both thought that it would be a few months before I heard anything about getting a new dog!

On March 15, 2012 about 2 hrs ago I got my phone call from the school that I will be heading for training on April 10 2012 and should be done by April 28.
If all goes well I will have A NEW DOG BY THE SUMMER!

I want to thank everyone for all your support.

Blessings to you All!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Blog 21 March 1 2012

Blog 21 March 1, 2012

Emotions

This week has been a very emotional week. On Tuesday evening I received a phone call from my lawyers  office! It was one of the lawyers that is a college of my good friend, Me S, Downs . I thought that he was calling me to give me a message from my friend who is usually in court or doing something!
He was calling me to give me sad news my friend had passed away on Saturday February 26 2012 of a sudden heart attack.
My wife and I were devastated he and his wife attend our wedding, in October and that was the last time we had spoke to him. I remember that I had not spoken or e-mailed him in a while and I was going to do that, but of course we get busy and you know the rest!   
He was a funny guy! He was about 6 foot 2 big strapping guy. He was one of guys that could disarm with his smile and had a hearty laugh.
We first met when I had security company and he took care of all the paper work and rest was history we became more that client lawyer became friends.
If any of you ever heard my wife say her job was to keep me alive and out of jail, well it because of him I stayed out Jail, (when you run a security company, you can get in trouble really quick)!
That is how we became good friends. When I started to lose my eyesight he called me and said if anyone bothers you, you call me and I will take that for you and he meant it.
He was like having a big brother when you are in trouble, and he would take care of it. I would call him with issues and he would just say “ Don’t worry about that I will take care of that for you, you just go and take care of your son and wife”  and I would thank him and leave the office feeling ok. A couple of days later he would call and tell me he took care of that issue, he would then tell me to take care and then he would hang up the phone, he would not wait for a thank you.
It is friends like that when they pass away is when we say I never got the chance to tell them how much their friendship meant to me.
I can honestly say that was not the case for me, I made a vow several years ago when I got sick that I would take every opportunity to tell my friends and family how much they mean to me every chance I got.
 At my wedding the first person I thank was Mr. Sylvain ,Downs because of him many bad things in my life did not happen. I remember my wife and I went to see him before I went into the hospital for my big surgery.
After we finished talking he said to my wife you call me and tell me how he is doing, and if you need anything or you have any problems you call me, and for a few months after the surgery he would call to see how I was doing and if I needed anything.
I will finish with this at our wedding we played a song for the bride and father dance or in our case our oldest son, by a group called Selah. The group is a contemporary worship group, the song was called
In my life/If we never meet again.
The lyrics go something like this; If we never meet again on this side of heaven, then we meat down by the shore!  
My best man and one of my best friends asked why did we choose that song, I simply put it that the words say it all.

So I will leave you with this, don’t leave anything on table! Life is too short tell the people who mean the most to you every day how special they are to you, tell your kids you love them every day, and your spouse,  smile more and dance like nobody watching.
Because if you never meet again on this side of heaven, then you have to wait until you meet by those beautiful shores!

This was in memory to one of my best friends Sylvain Downs, you will be sadly missed!

J&A and Family


  


Friday, 17 February 2012

Blog 21 February 17 2012

Blog 21 February 17 2012

Forward Moving! Part 2

Well it is over! The interview ended about an hour ago. The trainer left the house around 3pm, he arrived at 11am. I have to tell you we both had a lot of questions. He got to see how much we care about the dogs, Jags and how much love we had for him. He also got a good feeling that any guide dog that came to the house would have no doubt a caring and loving home. He was shocked at the amount of traveling and walking that I do and the different environments I am in. I told him how Jags and I would go out for a day to University, or to conferences, or go and talk at a school, he was surprised. At the end of all the talking we went for a walk.
I have say this that if it were not for one of my best friends taking the time with me to help me prepare for today I would probably not have been as successful as it was.
I explained every intersection in our area asked which one he would like me to cross at. He was surprised that I knew each one and how they worked. My friend and I spent  a couple of hours yesterday afternoon figuring out routes, my friend time all the lights at each intersection. We went over traffic flow at each intersection. If it was not to all that preparation the test walk would not have gone as well as it did. I could not have asked for a better test walk! The evaluator was happy with my line, he was happy with my traffic understanding and he was really happy with my handling skills.

All in all it went very well!  

Now we wait to hear from the school to see if I was accepted, and if I was, it will be just a matter of time to go for training and getting a new dog.

But for now it is time to put my feet up and have a coffee!