Archive for May, 2009

The Cold War is BacK! On my blog.

May 24, 2009

I am now getting spammed by comments in Russian. I guess they didn’t like my comment about Interleague play and comparing it to supporting the Communist Party, Good to see that you guys are still alive and kicking, but sorry, I don’t read Russian. It has been a few comments, so not sure what that is all about, but maybe I should head to the bunker in my studio apartment just in case.

Nash and I had a fun play time this morning, as I gave him a toy that his Grandma got for him, and yes, that is still weird calling a person a relative of a dog, even if it to Nash. This toy did not get broken, but in under thirty seconds, Nash misplaced it underneath the bed. He kept walking over to where it was, and I had to go in underneath the bed and fight off the monsters that were hiding there to retrieve the toy. It is a kong that you can put stuff in, but as every toy, Nash turned it into a game of tug. He needs to be careful not to take a finger off, as he always wants to play tug, and likes to win . I have to get him when he does not have a firm grip on the toy.

Nash is now napping, and no, I did not put any ambien in the Kong.

I hate interleague play

May 24, 2009

I did not have a good Nash subject line, so with interleague play going on in baseball, I thought it would be a good time to chime in. Why does being a fan of interleague play seem like supporting the Communist Party. It’s just not right.

Got up at 8 today, and actually think Nash was still asleep. We went for a long route walk in the afternoon, similar to the route we practiced on in White Plains. It was a total of ten blocks, we went from 52nd street, up Broadway, across 57th street, and back down 8th Ave. It was a very smooth walk, although Nash did take it a little slower than I would have liked. He is probably still just getting used to the city, as he was sniffing a lot. I am now using a prong collar, which does not hurt the dog, it just gives a leash correction, a little more authority. I think if he did not like the collar, he would run away when I would go to put it on him. We headed into Duane Reade again, as I needed a few things, and as I was trying to find Natural’s Miracle, a product that I was told cleans up doggie accidents in the apartment, I realized we had a very good trip around the store, I also realized that I had forgotten my wallet, so I guess the trip wasn’t as successful as I had thought. Ends up the don’t carry the product. Of course, after my experience yesterday, they probably do, it was just the excellent Duane Reade customer service, and their efficiency. Maybe if Duane Reade didn’t carry every product on the planet, their employees would actually know what they do and don’t carry. Will go back tomorrow.

Went for our afternoon park run, and as Nash was in the street doing his thing, someone came up to me, and said, “You know your dog is in the street? Do you need help?” I told him, no that is where he does his thing. He then said, “Oh, I only offered to help because you were wearing a Yanks cap.” Good thing I am not a Red Sox’s fan, or I may have ended up in the street.

Went into the diner downstairs to pick up some dinner, and the waitress’es were all admiring Nash. They thought he was so cute, and well behaved. It seems like most people do realize that they cannot pet him, but they still ask anyway. I have shot them all down politely, and may have to come up with some clever lines.

Well, I am finally getting around to getting through all of the Lost episodes I tivoed while I was gone. It is my favorite show of all time that is not a sitcom, and I am bummed that there will only be one more season. I am looking forward to seeing how this season ends. I may head over to the Broadway Comedy Club which is around the corner. I am not performing, but do want to see how Nash is around a crowd. Still not sure if I am going to go, as it is getting late, and I do want to watch the season finale of Lost.

You mean there are morons in NYC too?

May 23, 2009

Today was Nash any my first day on our own. No instructor’s following me around and no one around who I could ask a quick question to. I can email or call the good people at Guiding Eyes, but I was not going to do that unless there was an emergency. Afterall, I did not want to set any records for fast student call after leaving. We woke up at 7, which was later than planned, but hey, there was no intercom system telling me, it’s 6am time to park, water, feed, and park. I took Nash for his walk to the original park area we picked out but further down the street so cars turning would be able to see us. It went well, and I do not believe there is ever parking allowed on that side of the street, so it should always be open.

I decided to go get coffee at Starbucks. Not to go off on a tangent, but if there are any Yankee fans out there, Michael Kay is a really terrible announcer. I think he is a good interviewer, but absolutely terrible play by play guy. I have never heard someone get so excited that a ball is going to be a home run or hit, and it ends up it is a routine flyball, he must be related to the Steinbrenner’s to have kept his job that long. Hey, aren’t we in a recession, why can’t he be laid off! So, I go into Starbucks, and I walk up to the counter, order my coffee, and ask the employee if she could put skim milk in it. I am standing there with Nash in harness and dark sunglasses on, and she says, “The milk is over there.” and I can tell she is pointing. I’m like, “ah, I’m blind.” She’s like “oh, well I guess I can put it in.” They really do ask those Starbuck employees to do an awful lot. I am sure she will be a terrific actress.

This afternoon, Nash and I went for a short walk. We are supposed to ease our dogs into their new life/routine. As I was standing on a corner, I overheard some people saying, “Oh, he is blind.”  I just kept biting my tongues, and figured I would get to vent here in my blog. I wanted to say, “Congratulations, you can tell the folks back in Iowa you got to see a real live blind guy on your trip to NYC. Better yet, get a picture, so they will believe you.” Of course, with my luck, the people would have been from here, so my entire diatribe would have been lost on them.

Nash handled a block that was under construction very well. The sidewalk was closed, and he did exactly as he did in class. I was definitely able to tell that i was nervous walking through there, as it was really sunny, and I could not see a thing. Will probably avoid that block in the future, but it was good to see that Nash could handle it. I then went into Duane Reada where I ran into my third moron of the young day. I always buy Ocuvite for my eyes there, and have been doing so for two years, but with my vision getting worse, I now have to ask for assistance in finding it. So, I go to the pharmacy, yes, no line, I will actually get out of here quickly. The woman working there comes out, and she can’t find it. Of course, I had to spell it for her three times. I know, I was expecting to much for a Duane Reade employee who works in the pharmacy to know what Ocuvite is, or to know how to spell it. Why do I set my expectations so high? She tells me that she will get someone else to find it, but of course instead of doing that, she starts helping other customer’s. After helping four or five customer’s she decided to ask someone to help me. This employee told me they do not carry Acuvite, and I had to keep telling them, no, Ocuvite. Eventually the person found it. Then the fun began, navigating to the front of the store to pay. I do not know why Duane Reade feels they need to cover every possible floor space with some crappy product that no one really needs. It was a very tight squeeze, and I can’t really blame Nash for anything, as I did feel him working real hard to get to the front. Also, they told us to shop with a backpack, because you need to give your dog hand commands. I am not sure how that would really work, as I am pretty sure that if I start putting the things I am buying into a backpack, that would probably be consider stealing. I will have to call tech support for Nash to figure something out on that one.

The rest of the day was mixed with resting and a little light play time. I think Nash is still getting used to the apartment, but I have not had to keep him on tie down, as I am in the same room, and Nash goes from laying in his bed to laying by me on the couch to sitting behind me at the computer, to now sitting next to me, and on my foot by the computer. I think he might be afraid of my desk chair, as it is on wheels.

Well, did not do much today, and it was still interesting. Still have to park him tonight, and get his grooming in. Tomorrow we will go for a little longer walk.

Nash Belongs to the City

May 21, 2009

I think Nash must have been excited about heading to his new home in NYC, as he decided to lick my face at 5 in the morning. I had to say, “No Nashee, sleepy, go to sleep.” It was the first morning that he has done that. Miranda and I headed into the city this morning. Nash laid in his bed in the van for the entrie ride. When we got to the apartment, Nash sniffed around a little, as we were supposed to keep our dogs on the leash or tie down for the first week while home. I went into my tiny little bathroom, Nash had his harness on, and when I went to leave, I thought Nash was being his curious bathroom self, as he would not move. Ends up the bunny ears of the harness got caught on the cabinet door in the bathroom, so he could not leave. I think he was a little shaken, but he recovered very quickly, and we took the harness off and let him stroll around a bit. Nash of course ended up sitting down on my feet.

We went out for Nash’s first park time in the city. Ends up the perfect park spot is not the perfect park spot, as cars turn in to quickly and closely to the spot, so we found a new spot which unfortunately is further away. We then took my most frequent subway route. We landmarked the subway, and the turnstile. Eventually I will be able to say subway when I get close, and Nash should head to the stairs, and the same when I get downstairs, and close to the turnstile. Miranda and I had a very nice lunch, and then came back to the apartment. She was very kind as she swept up the dust bunnies in my apartment. We then found the new park spot and landmarked it. We headed back to my apartment, talked for a little bit, and then, it was just Nash and me.

I took a nap for a little, and so did Nash, he settled in his new bed which is right next to mine. He seems very comfortable in the apartment. I gave Nash his water and food, and then we went out first our first unsupervised park. A lot of people were talking to me, saying it is good to cross, and other stuff, but I was fairly overwhelmed, and just trying to concentrate, and not stress too much. Ends up the new park spot might not be the best either, as a cab was waiting for someone, and then when I went to pick up, a truck pulled up to unload a bunch of stuff. I think it was a loading zone. The city would be great if it wasn’t for these damn cars.

Got back to the apartment, and let Nash off the leash, and he sat on my feet which made it a little difficult to unpack. I did unpack my computer bag, and Nash laid right by the couch. He did eventually get up and mosey over to his bed. Well, it is getting to be that time to walk him again. Hopefully this one will get better, as I am sure each day will get more comfortable, and easier.

Thank you everyone who left comments during my time at Guiding Eyes, Now that I have a little more time, I plan to see how I can respond to comments left on the blog. I am sure it is fairly simple, but of course, when you are visually impaired, nothing is simple.

The Final Countdown

May 21, 2009

Heading back to NYC tomorrow morning. It will be a working day, as I am heading back with one of the trainer’s Miranda, and we will work some common routes to me. We started today by going to Starbucks, and doing a route that we had never done before. Nash handled the route very well, and it was nice to do something for the first time, and have it go so smoothly. It was really sunny out today, so I was not able to see much, so Nash was doing all the work, and I played follow the Nash.

In the afternoon, we went to Petsmart, and as Miranda put it, “walking into a pet store for a dog, is like a person walking into a Vegas casino, plenty of distractions!” This was a great test to see how Nash handled all of the distractions. He was a little difficult to control, and we had to do some puppy pushup’s to help Nash keep his focus, but overall I was very pleased with how Nash behaved, and he did lead me around the store ver well. Miranda and I went to the bed aisle, and took three of the beds down. This was a very scientifix approach by me, as I wanted to see if Nash went to one of the beds. Of course, being my dog, Nash put his butt on one bed, and then his head on another. I had to tell him, “No Nash, we are not getting you two beds.” He did settle on the leass expensive, and it is not the prettiest looking thing. He seemed to really like it, as he laid on it for about ten minutes while I talked to my classmate Mike. He also did drool on it, so I guess I had to buy it. We also got Nash a food bin and squeaky toy, as he really seems to like the squeaky toy at the school. We just won’t play with it while the Yankees game is on. Although tonight, Nash did seem to be watching the Yankees game, so maybe he will out grow that Met that is in him.

Had a review of the going home lecture tonight, and I did seem to remember everything. Overall, a very positive experience, and can’t thank the trainer’s and staff at Guiding Eyes enough. Guiding Eyes for the Blind is a completely publicly funded not for profit, they are paying for all of the training, food, and stay that brought Nash and me together. You can view their website at guidingeyes.org. I plan to stay involved with them, and help out in anyway that I can.

Next blog will be coming at you from home in NYC. I can’t wait to get home, but will miss all of the trainer’s and people at Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I just hope that I do not have to call their hotline for help two minutes after I home with Nash. I wonder what the record is?

So Long White Plains

May 20, 2009

We had our final training in White Plains today. I partnered again with Mike for our morning route, and Nash and I had a real nice walk. Nash stopped me from walking into a pole, and that thrilled me because it really would have sucked. I told him forward, and he would not move forward, and I reached out, and sure enough there was a poe right in front of me. Than a few blocks later, Nash cut it a little close, and I bumped a pole, but I gave him the proper quick leash correction, and we reworked. Unfortunately, even with a dog leading you, it is not a perfect science, or like having sight. Mike, Mirada, our instructor, and I then stopped at a starbucks. I hate starbucks coffee, as it does suck, and it is always too hot, but being out in public with Nash was great. He was on his best behavior.

In the afternoon, I worked with Mike and we did a relay for a few blocks as they parked our vans a few blocks away. A relay is just basically alternating who is in the lead every other block.

Damn it, Nash made me miss Arod’s homer as I took him out for a walk, and Arod homered to give the Yanks the lead. Nash is definitely not a Yanks fan, I mean come on Nash, at least wait until the bottom of the order is up!

Had another real bizzare experience with Nash last night, as a bunch of us were sitting in the lobby, and instead of kicking me where it counts, he decided to lick me where it counts. We are definitely going to have to work on that, as that was not enjoyable. Nash is definitely a very friendly dog. I should get a sign that says, Careful, he licks.

I am not sure what is on for tomorrow, but it will be my last day at Guide Dog School. Yippee, getting paroled a day early. Kidding, besides the 6 am wake up, and some very bizarre personalities, this has been a very educational and enjoyable experience. As long as Guiding Eyes still wants to have anything to do with me, as I have cracked an awful lot of jokes, I plan to stay involved with them. The entire staff is phenomenal, and the trainers I have worked with are some of the most hard working, dedicated, and patient professionals I have ever worked with. Well, Nash wants to play, so I am off. Going home Thursday, but it will be a working day with Nash back in the city.

Catch my on BlogTalk Radio 3/19 9pm

May 19, 2009

I will be back on BlogTalk Radio with Dr. Blogstein tomorrow night 3/19 at 9pm for about ten minutes, live from Guide Dog Training School. You can listen to the show by going here

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/DrBlogstein/2009/05/20/Charlaine-Harris-interview

We were back to work today up in White Plains. It was nice to be out and about again. We had a nice long walk in the morning where I partnered with my buddy Mike, and his dog Garth. In the afternoon, I got to fly solo with Nash, and I thought we did a really nice job. We did brush up against a few people, but hey, that is going to happen a lot in NYC, as I do believe the city is crowded. I hear even those sighted folk do bump into people. Also, most people are so damn busty talking or texting on their phone, that they do not pay attention to where they are going. It’s amazing more people do not get hit by a car. I did get a bluetooth headset, as I did hear that is illegal to be led by a guide dog, and talk on the phone, because you have to by hands free in NYC. We actually even give our dogs what I like to call “Bluetooth commands”, which is when I am not holding the leash, and I give Nash a command, and he complies.

This evening, I crashed after dinner. Amazing how tiring boot camp, I mean Guide Dog School is. Nash was also sleeping, and when I woke up, he was resting, so I decide to tease him a little. I started to roll him up in his bed mat, and he seemed to like it. I did it twice, very gently, playing around. Well, he is smarter than me, because he got up, and extended his whole body on the mat so I could not role it up anymore. We than went for playtime, and happy to say that the Toyminator did not break any of the school’s toys. Good to see that he only breaks his own toys, because his dog distraction is toys. So if you are around Nash, and you have a toy, be prepared to have it taken away. I have tried telling him that he needs to share, but he does not seem to like that. We played with a big rubber bone, as Nash loves to play tug, and he had such a strong grip on it that he almost ripped my are out of its socket a few times. Nash does not like to lose at tug, but it was still a lot of fun.

Meet the Toyminator!

May 17, 2009

So I gave Nash his second toy today, as he destroyed his first ball. This one was a kong tug toy from his Grandparents. Well, this was which was very sturdy lasted about ten minutes. Nash broke some of the pieces off, so I am changing his name to the Toyminator! He does have a large rubber ball that he has been putting in his mouth, and he has yet to break. The only problem is he wants to play tug with the ball, and he expects me tostick my hand in his mouth and play tug with him as he is chomping on it, and that is not going to happen. Nash’s bite is definitely worse than his bark.

Today was an off day, so we had lots of play time. My Mom and Dad came bye, and they got to visit with Nash again. It is the folks anniversary, and we went out for a nice lunch. We then came back, and they got to visit with Nash some more. Mom even got to sit in on Nash’s grooming session. Nash seems to think grooming is play time, but he does seem to like it. I had Nash sitting next to me as I was saying goodbye to my parents, and my Mom said to my Dad, “ok, lets go,” and Nash popped up to leave. It was pretty funny, and I guess I will have to work on Nash just listening to what I say.

We had a very funny moment last night, as a bunch of us were sitting around chatting, and Nash started playing around. I was trying to get Nash to sit, and he would not listen, and it just slipped out, “Nash knock it the fuck off!” Nash stopped dead in his tracks and sat down. Everyone was laughing, and said, funny, we did not learn that command. I do not believe that is one they teach at Guiding Eyes, but we still have a week to go, so I will have to get back to you on it.

This afternoon, Nash and I were napping as we watched the Yanks game. It was the first time I was sleeping, and I left him off the leash and off the tie down, and the great thing, he did not get into any trouble. Every time I woke up, Nash was sleeping right next to the bed. I thought I was having a nightmare, but than I got woke up for our 4pm feeding of the dogs, and then take them out to the bathroom. As soon as I get outside, I hear, well, we just got hit by another tornado in Oklahoma. I don’t understand how someone can complain about the weather here in the Northeast, and than talk about all of the floods and tornadoes that keeping hitting where they live, and talk about how the weather keeps causing them to be evacuated. I am sorry, but I have never had to be evacuated from a little rain and cold weather. Maybe I am crazy, but I will take the cold and rain anytime over tornadoes and floods. Then I start to hear, “well my kids want a nintendo, and I was like I ain’t paying no six hundred dollars for a game. The state of Oklahoma only requires me to give my kids a bed, and they’re lucky to get that.” Finally, I just couldn’t help myself, and I said, “Yeah, I just hate it when kids have fun!” I guess the midwest lifestyle is just a lot different than the way I grew up.

Graduation Day – Can I put this on my resume?

May 17, 2009

Today was graduation day, but us rookie Guide Dog Handler’s still have another week to go. I guess I get to go to Summer School. Today started with a slide show of the past few weeks. Kind of funny to show a slide show to a bunch of blind people. It was descriptive, and no family and friends, please do not start compiling descriptive slide shows of your vacations. I never understood how people got so much enjoument out of seeing pictures of other people’s vacations. I guess with modern technology, saying that you’re blind so you do not need to show me pictures of your vacation isn’t going to be an accuse for not looking at pictures for much longer.

Nash had a ton of family supporting him at graduation, his Grandmom Barnara, Grandpa Nick, Aunt Tracey, Uncle Pete, Cousin Siena who was the only thing cuter than than all the dogs, Aunt Lona, Uncle Donny, and his Puppy Raisers Lorraine and Richard. I gave a speech at graduation that was very well received. Than again, you really don’t get a lot of people telling you, I thought your speech kind of sucked. They said there were over 90 people at graduation, and it was standing room only. I guess Guide School graduation is packing them in better than the new Yankee Stadium. It was great having so much family getting to meet Nash. Nash was very excited to see Lorraine and Richard. He seemed to be running around the room and making sure that he sniffed everyone that he knew. I was a little concerned that it was a little overwhelming for Nash, as he did not seem to listen to me, but than I found out later that is the normal behavior for the dogs at Graduation. Good to see that today did not break all of his training. We went for a little walk to make sure he still responded to mycommands, and he did. It was great to finally meet Nash’s puppy raisers in person, and they are very lovelt people. Nash is the first puppy they have raised for Guiding Eyes, so hopefully we will do them proud. They are currently raising a second puppy for Guiding Eyes, and we look forward to Nash having a cousin. Nash’s, Grandma and Grandpa, yes, my parents, and yes, I still find it really weird calling people relatives to dog’s, got Nash some really nice toys for graduation. How come I didn’t get any toys? I guess it is all about Nash from here on out, which is the way he likes it. They got him a very nice tig toy which will be a lot nicer on my hands than his nila bone. They also got him a kong to play with, which I could put peanut butter in, and keep him busy. Not sure I want him licking me after he plays with the peanut butter. Granddad who is really allergic to dogs let Nash lick his face, so hopefully he will still be with us tomorrow. Especially since tomorrow is the folks anniversary. Nash’s Aunt Lona and Uncle Donny also got Nash a nice ball to play with. This one seems to be a lot stronger than the last one, so hopefully it will last longer than four minutes.

Had a nice dinner with the entire family, except Nash could not go. That was kind of weird, having a graduation for Nash, and then he had to stay behind at the school. I guess they want to make sure that you come back for the final week, which I can understand. One thing that I have realized about hacing dinner with people, and being blind, you never have to reach for the check. That is not a joke, that is serious.

Got back to the school, and a bunch of us were sitting around, and laughing about a lot of what has happened over the past few weeks. We were laughing so much and so loud, that a lot of people who were in their rooms ended up coming out to hang out and see what they were missing. If laughter is the best medicine, I may be invincible.

Well, I am wiped, been a long day, so I leave you wondering what I am, can I put this school on my resume, and if so, what category does it fall under, master’s, or Ph’d? I hear Guiding Eyes for the Blind is the Harvard of Guide Dog School’s! With the expertise that the instructors have, it is no surprise why!

Careful Nash, those aren’t pillows!

May 16, 2009

One more day to graduation, but then we still have another week of class, and no, I am not being left behind, it is just the way things are done, as the newbies get another week, and returning guide dog handlers have the option of going home.

We went back to the mall today, and got to walk around on our own with our dogs. I am not a mall person, and rarely go to them, but it was good practice to get to walk around with Nash, and see how he handled things. I guess it would be kind of like test driving a new car. We also got to practice getting on and off the escalator again. I believe with some of these things, you can never have to much practice, and someone told me, that guide dogs are always in training. Even when I leave Guiding Eyes, Nash will continually be training, and they say it takes six months to a year for you and your dog to fully be in sync.

In the afternoon, we walked our dogs around an obstacle course. Nash did pretty good, but we did have to do the course a few times to get it close to perfection. There were curbs, winding pathways, barriers, and dog distractions through out the course.

Going back to the mall, I went into Radio Shack to get a talking watch, as I can no longer read what time it is on my phone, and got tired of asking what time is it. The clerk at Radio Shack said “what a well behaved dog.” It was nice to get a compliment.

Had an interesting evening, as they brought in a dog masseuse. It is real important to regularly massage your dog, as we put them through lots of stressful situations. Things started out ok, but I think the masseuse thought we had better control of our dogs than we do, as you cannot give the dog a leash coreection while in class, as this is a relaxing time for them. Nash actually got up and kicked me in the balls. Then he walked off out of the room while I was hunched over, and I think the masseuse thought we were joking around, as a bunch of us were laughing. Also, there were some things, that we just couldn’t help making a joke about. I thought the session would be like 15 or 20 minutes, well, it lasted over an hour, and a couple of us got a little too giddy. And though we weren’t asked to leave, I think we were politely told you leave, or I will, so we left. At least we got the basic’s, and hey, it was Nash’s fault. Not sure how a dog maseusse can’t have a little sense of humor. At least she is very thourough, and good at her job.

Nash will meet the family tomorrow. Should be an intersting day.