One Week

Uschi’s been eating all of her meals in the kitchen for an entire week.

It’s significant enough to mention because it’s been literally years since she’s routinely eaten in the kitchen.

I haven’t referenced it because frankly it was embarrassing. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was and honestly I still don’t quite understand what her problem was.

According to Jason, the instructor we trained with, she definitely preferred to eat in her crate. It’s quite likely she was raised eating all of her meals that way and just associated it as a comfortable place to dine. I wasn’t particular fond of this concept since I like to have blankets and other bedding in the crate.1 At first Uschi was reluctant to eat her meals in the kitchen, but then we had the crazy incident with the cat at the bookstore.

I don’t know what happened. She stopped eating her food if I left it in the kitchen. In fact, she basically avoided the kitchen entirely. If I called her in, she would reluctantly obey and flee the moment she was released from any commands. Her entire behavior in the kitchen screamed how stressed and scared she was.

Initially it was more important to deal with the more active issues from the aftermath of the bookstore drama. I needed her to be solid in harness and so long as I wasn’t pressing the kitchen thing she was totally fine.

Slowly, oh so slowly, over the years she’s become more comfortable with the kitchen. First I couldn’t even convince her to take a drink from her bowl. She’d just stand there, glancing back at me from her elevated diner with white-rimmed eyes. I made sure to add extra water to her meals to make sure she was getting enough each day. At some point she started to sneak her water. I really can’t explain the logic of it since she’s always had free water, but the only way she’d voluntarily drink seemed to require her feeling totally secure that I wouldn’t be in there. Every time I’d go to the bathroom, for instance, she’d make a beeline for the kitchen and drink like she might never have water again. Sometimes the momentum from her eager running caused the bathroom door to open causing her to either run back the way she came or poke her head into the bathroom like she was really intending to visit me. Eventually I was able to use those times to get her to accompany me into the kitchen. I’d casually try to get her to drink and at first she would literally just dip her tongue in the water.

The whole process was a high-wire act. She was so tentative and inexplicably fearful that I never wanted to press her, but no matter how friendly and enticing I tried to make the kitchen I just couldn’t get her interested. If I tried to feed her a treat, she’d ignore me like she didn’t really want it or snatch it from me and bolt away. If I tossed a toy in the direction of the kitchen or one randomly rolled too close, she considered it lost and wouldn’t go near it. I was content, however, when she finally started to drink of her own accord. It was excruciatingly slow progress, but at least she wasn’t acting like her water was a protected resource that she had to steal. I figured it was as good as it would ever get and so the years have passed.

And then one day earlier this year I was cooking dinner and tripped over her. She was just lying there behind me like it was the most natural thing ever. She ran off like I’d beat her and I thought I’d broken all the progress we’d made. But then she was back another day batting a tennis ball around. Another night, I looked over to find her sitting demurely by the stove and watching me intently. Some time after that she tried to counter-surf while I was dicing up chicken. I gave her a soft “nuh uh” and bopped her gently on the nose. I expected her to dart off, but instead she sunk to the ground at my feet.

She didn’t join me every time I cooked something, but I noticed if I spent any great length of time in the kitchen she’d eventually come and investigate. Sometimes she’d bring a toy as a peace offering, dropping it at my feet and glancing over at whatever food was being cooked. At some point I started to randomly give her a treats when she visited me, trying to entice her to eat them in the kitchen. The first few times she ran off, leaving the treat on the floor until I let her take it away.

After a few tries I finally got her to stick around, but I still wasn’t convinced I’d ever get her to eat a meal in the kitchen. Then one morning I set her food in her crate and called her over. Rather than crawl into her crate with her food, she just stuck her head through the kennel door and ate. She did the same thing the next day, too. I didn’t make a big deal out of it. Honestly, I didn’t give it much thought at all.

Except a few weeks later when she flatly refused to eat at all. Brooke had spent the night here, before heading back to Canada and Uschi was too distracted by what Canyon and Rogue might be doing than bother with her breakfast. By dinner she was appropriately famished and she was so interested in her food that I just set her bowl on the floor. She ate ravenously and I was flummoxed.

Curiosity compelled me to see if she’d be as willing to eat in the kitchen the next morning. And, well, as you can probably guess she was and has been every day since.

I don’t know if she’ll continue to take her meals in the kitchen without issue since I still don’t know what the actual problem was. The trigger seems to have been the stress from that encounter with the horrible cat, but how it related to my kitchen is baffling.

  1. I’m sure it’s more comfortable, but it also helps keep the crate cleaner because the dirt and oils aren’t deposited primarily along the sides and bottom of the crate.

Play More Dragon Quest!

“Are you still planning to play through the Dragon Quest games?”

Yes, I fully intend to continue the playthrough and I apologize for not being more forthcoming with why I stopped posting.

If you were following along you probably gathered that all the grinding in DQII was really a drag. Coupled with the ridiculously tedious task of organizing each post, I was more than a bit burnt out. I had intended to spend the majority of my dog-sitting time playing some catch up, but I ended up being a lot busier at Dad’s than I expected.

The main reason the project’s been on hiatus, though, is because the Tech-pocalypse1 has struck yet again and this time it seems focused on various game consoles. This is not only a huge money sink for me, but really sad and frustrating. Every time I’d shift my focus on to a different game to bide my time until a console was fixed and/or replaced, I’d end up with another randomly broken console. Rinse, repeat. I literally spent an entire month where I didn’t play anything because it was just that depressing for me.

Anyway, barring any unforeseen financial woes, I expect to finish the console replacement by the end of this month. I’m honestly really looking forward to getting back into this project; I’ve been itching for some DQ fun times.

Do you have a question for me? Comment below, email me, or utilize any of the social links to the right.

  1. The semi-annual thing where random electronics of mine all start inexplicably dying.

Little Things

A few minutes ago I took Uschi out for a quick constitutional. As I was about to clip her leash on her collar, she shook herself off leaving me with a momentary need to relocate the ring with my fingers.

Before I could do that, she nudged her head forward and just tapped the inside of my wrist with her nose. Uschi knows to target and she’ll often do this of her own accord to let me know she’s there and paying attention. This little gesture was basically her saying she was all set after her big shake and she wouldn’t move until her leash was clipped on. I’d like to think it was also partially an “I’m sorry.”

To me, it’s these small, little things that I often forget to mention that really show how deep a bond a guide dog team share. That intimate knowledge that a team has of each other is honestly my favorite thing about being a handler.

Playing Blind

Since I’ve been behind in my MCU watching I’ve done a fabulous job of ignoring the internet in my endeavor to avoid spoilers. So, I’m only now catching a lot of the chatter about things, including a lot of Daredevil and blindness stuff. Among that was this image of Charlie Cox on my Tumblr dashboard; I very nearly fell out of my chair when I saw it.

Why? Because he’s not just walking with a white cane, he is utilizing almost perfect cane technique! Right down to the position of his index finger.

I chose not to go on in ridiculously nitpicky detail how very impressed I am with Cox’s performance as Matt Murdock from a blindness perspective. I don’t want to define his worth as an actor by that any more than I define my own existence purely as a blind person. Plus, my issues are so terribly miniscule that I don’t feel they’re worth putting into text.

Then I saw the above photo and I just had to take a moment to commend the incredible attention to detail that he’s brought to this part. It’s not often that I can say someone playing at being blind is done respectfully because the very essence of the statement sounds like a contradiction. Honestly, the most unrealistic thing about the photo is that the majority of real-life cane users themselves aren’t being as spot on with their technique as he’s showcasing here. And that’s exactly what differentiates this from the cane usage of others on film: being sloppy and/or lazy when walking with a cane and not actually using it properly. If you’re doing it right, it should be as natural as swinging your arms as you walk. What is often seen in movies and television is better described as random flailing about. There’s no effort to walk in stride with the cane and almost no one even holds it correctly! The simple fact that there are multiple schools of thought on proper cane technique only emphasizes how terribly out of place it appears on screen.

Maybe I’m the only person in all the world that even gives a damn about it and that’s fine, though, I rather doubt that’s true. Really, it’s just nice to see someone actually get it right regardless of how inconsequential it might be in the big picture of the show.

“The United States of America was founded in the midst of chaos.”

Happy Independence Day!