Saturday, April 5

Journey for the new dog

Greetings again. Well, this is what happens when I go awhile without posting. This time though I have an announcement to you, the faithful blog reader, or perhaps to myself if I read this in the future. I'm going back to The Seeing Eye for my second guide dog. I had a dog guide before in 1995 and used him for 4 years before retiring him. Retirement wasn't because of anything the dog did or didn't do, but rather from the fact that at that time, I didn't want to deal with the daily responsibilities of using a dog guide. Now though, I've got a steady lifestyle, I know what I'm getting into, and what a dog will and won't do for me. Before, I was in college and had no idea what to expect. Now, I know what to expect and how a dog could fit my personality and lifestyle. Plus, its been over a year and a half since Tony died. Its been long enough; its time and I feel like I'm ready.

I haven't used a dog in 9 years so there's a fair amount of apprehension and wonderment of if I can make this work and if I can remember everything I'm supposed to do. I've given it his a lot of thought and have come up with the following reasons for getting a dog, in no particular order: enhanced mobility, safety when traveling and crossing streets, hoping the dog will pick up on the cars and things that I miss due to a slight hearing loss, and companionship. I'd like a dog that's reserved and is content to lay under a desk for awhile. Since I'm a teacher, there may be times when the dog does just this while I go to a classroom down the hall to teach. However, I also know that a dog needs activity and stimulation, so I've been thinking of places I can go while at work to keep the dog's interest; routes I can take through the training center.

With this in mind, I've asked for a German Shepherd. I love the idea of a Shepherd being a one person dog, reserved around people, and focused while working. Tony was a yellow Lab, and though there were times that he was focused, there were also times of distraction. I realize all dogs are prone to distraction and that any guiding breed will have a variety of traits in any dog. However, it seems, according to research I've done and people I've talked with, that Shepherds are more focused workers and aren't distracted by people or other dogs. If I do receive a Lab, then I'd like it not to be yellow, since Tony was a yellow Lab. A good friend of mine has already said that there will be times when I'll compare "new dog": to Tony. I can see how this would happen, and in some sense, its already started with a preference for a black or brown, rather than a yellow, Lab.

Anyway, these are things I've initially thought of. I've sent in my application and had the medical forms filled out by my doctor. The next step will be a personal visit by one of The Seeing Eye trainers. Since there's quite a gap since I last used a dog, they're sending a trainer to meet with me. I talked with him this morning, and the meeting is set for thursday morning of next week. He'll talk with me about my lifestyle and we'll go on a "Juno" walk, where he simulates the role of the dog. This will give him an opportunity to evaluate my orientation and mobility skills as well as my walking speed. I think I've slowed down a little since I walked with Tony 10+ years ago, :)

So there it is; a new chapter in my life. Actually, its probably more accurate to say that its a continuation of a chapter. Back in September of 2006 when Tony died, I didn't know if I wanted another dog. I even gave nearly all of Tony's things away, keeping only his leash and collar. Now though, after time to think about and greave over Tony, and to think about what a guide dog means and how one can enhance your life, I've come full circle. I'm not going to say that a guide dog is 100 percent better than a cane, or vice versa about the cane verses the dog. I view this as a personal preference. I know plenty of people that sware by dogs and would never even touch canes, and others who sware by the cane. Personally, they're all tools, the canes and dogs that is. Each has their place, and there are times when the dog would be better than the cane, and likewise with the cane. Truth be told, just because I'll have a dog doesn't mean that I'm going to toss my canes in the trash. Rather, I'll likely have one at work and one at home. Anyway, that's my story. I'll update you on the progress of this journey as time goes on. You might have noticed that I've created a new label, called Seeing Eye, which I can use to categorize all these steps in the journey. Lord willing, it would be great to update this blog when at The Seeing Eye in class. But, that remains to be seen, not because I can't. But because so much happens when in class on a daily basis. I'll do my best though.

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