Archives for June 2009

Just the Facts, Please

The desire I have to rant and rave about this is greater than the heat of a thousand burning suns. And it is because of this that instead I will merely relay the facts, further pontificating on the subject may come later. But it’s also just as likely that I’ll cool off and cease caring. Time will only tell.

Today, like any other, I took the bus home from work. Having done this routine more times than can possibly be counted, Yara has her own method when it comes too taking a seat. While I position my rear on an available seat, she stops about two steps behind me so that she can move in the moment I am seated to position herself out of the way. When she did this today, she was standing in front of another passenger on the bus, who swatted her several times on the rear end. I witnessed this shocking event with mouth agape. No one on the bus said a thing, but I did screech “excuse me” to the swatter. She ignored me.

Words? At the moment, I have none.

Required: Constant Good Mood

I don’t mention it often, but I’ve been in the midst of writing a book, well several, for years now. The one in particular that I hope to finish before my life expires is basically a memoir focusing on my life as a guide dog user. Much like maintaining this blog, writing the book brings to mind a great many things that I wasn’t aware of before obtaining my first guide dog. For instance, the astounding amount of time one will spend talking to complete strangers about everything remotely related to your dog. These conversations could be as basic as your dog’s name and as complicated as why you’ve chosen to work with a service.

This blog may seem to prove otherwise, but I actually am not comfortable constantly talking to complete strangers. There are some ocassions where I can chatter on even more than I ramble here, but for the most part I am far from comfortable engaging in constant conversation. I think living alone has contributed to this moreso than my own social awkwardness, I have become quite comfortable in silence. Regardless, I don’t have any specific issue with talking about my dogs or my blindness. I’m not easily offended and so far as the dogs are concerned I readily admit I’m five times more interested in them than any stranger who may run across me.

There is a downside to this, of course. People seem to expect that a handler is always going to want to stop their lives and chat about whatever curiousness they have. It doesn’t matter how wrapped up you clearly may be. You could be engaged in a conversation with other people, at an intersection preparing to cross, with your free hand loaded down with bags and that curious stranger will still bombard you with questions. What’s more, if you don’t take the time to answer them or in any way try to dissuade them, no matter how politely, they will immediately classify you as a rude bitch. (This is perversly amusing to me because there are times that I’ve been literally hostile with people in situations where such a distracted excuse wasn’t even applicable.)

Now, rationally speaking I understand their point of view. They don’t know anything about me, and have no idea that I’ve probably had the same set of questions asked of me several times that very day. They’re only seeing the fact that a handler and her guide dog are there in front of them and ignoring any other factors. And they’re so wrapped up in their own eager curiosity that anything but a lengthy discussion is just plain unacceptable. It’s also expected that you want to talk with a person and answer their probing questions. An example, on the bus this morning a man across from me noticed Yara’s new Fidelco tag. He asked if her name was “Fidelco.” I replied that it was not. And when I didn’t supply any further information, I heard him mutter under his breath that I was a snob for not telling him my dog’s name. You could argue that he was right, and I won’t disagree especially since I was half asleep at the time, but (a.) he didn’t ask me what my dog’s name was and (b.) her name is, frankly, none of his buisness.

In my years working with guide dogs, I’ve learned to basically suck it up and accept this for what it is. There are times that I just can’t stop and answer every question a person might have. And there are times I’m just too distracted by my own life to care. Rationality aside, though, I am petty enough to find that it’s unfair.

Going back to what I said above, though, there was and is a lot that I didn’t know before getting my first dog. And this entire thing could be summed up thusly: “when you work a service animal, you become a walking encyclopedia of all service animals to any person you come across.” It manifests itself in even more ways than I’ve outlined here, too. I have to admit, I don’t really know if it would have been better to have been told this beforehand. On the one hand it’s sort of obvious, I guess, so I can understand how no one would think to mention it. But I don’t know if it would have been an assett to have this information anyway. For one, I was a teenager when I was first applying for a dog — as such, of course, I knew everything — and would have probably ignored this information. Second, I am nearly positive I’d have taken any such warning as a complete exaggeration and promptly thought it unimportant.

Suffice it to say, I’d have been wrong on both counts.

Names

It’s no secret that it takes a lot to get me really angry, it’s a long, slow process. It’s even less of a secret that a small grievance I have will surface a brief lash of my temper, though it’s generally short lived and quickly forgotten. So, it’s probably not surprising that I don’t really have a list of “pet peeves.” Save one.

I absolutely detest when people argue with me about my name. I’m very rarely called Cynthia. My parents don’t even use that name — partially, I’m sure, because it wasn’t supposed to be my name. To be honest, I can’t even recall a time when they have ever verbalized my “real” given name. I know my father’s written it down on legal documents and forms. But it’s not like it was even pulled out in those times when I was being reprimanded. (Those times were when my middle name suddenly became quite prominent, though.) I’ve always been Cyndy. I learned to write that as my name before I could even spell Cynthia. And other than formal obligations where it’s required, such as with school or a doctor’s office, you’ll never hear me reference myself as anything but Cyndy. And at least half of the time in those “formal” situations I still manage to call myself Cyndy unless specifically thinking about the necessity of not doing so.

So, of course, I’m constantly dealing with people that insist on calling me whatever they please and then being astounded when I don’t respond right away and/or correct them. Take, for instance, fellow colleagues of mine. Everyone at work has been introduced to me as Cyndy. It’s how I’m listed in our email account and on the office phone list. In fact, the only people in the entire Department of Education that know me as anything beyond that are those people who saw my résumé when I was applying for the job and Human Resources because of specific paperwork requiring my given name. Yet, at least once a week someone in my office will refer to me as Cynthia — and half the time I inadvertently ignore them because of reasons I’ve mentioned above. If I haven’t managed to accidentally insult them with that unconscious act, I end up specifically offending them when I politely explain that I’m Cyndy. And I always end up with the same response: “Well, I was close!”

No. No, you weren’t. There is no close. There is my name. Or there is something that is not my name.

Ugh.

Briefly . . .

Talked with Dad about Dolly on Friday. She is doing pretty much the same. She’s still ravenous all the time and hasn’t regained any interest in anything beyond that, including her toys. I have my own opinion on all that, but Dad seems pleased that her energy level is back so I don’t bother arguing the issue.

That funky skin thing has left her with a huge bald spot on her back. Her vet has no idea what it’s from, but upped her thyroid meds. My father sounded rather unconvinced of how effective this would be when I questioned whether this has anything to do with her thyroid.

More Portraits!

Headshot of Yara in harness on a white background

Have an awful headache today. Probably from wandering around in the blazing sun for Art on Lark. But complaints aside this is not a completely useless post, I present to you some more photos from Jean. No, I didn’t get another set of portraits taken, these are just more of the ones she took back in May. Also, some bonus photos that Cindy took back in April. Enjoy!