Assistance Dog Blog Carnival #15: Freedom

[Note: My deepest apologies for the extreme delay in getting this posted. Much gratitude and thanks to Brooke of Ruled by Paws for compiling the submissions and writing up this edition of the #ADBC.]

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival (#ADBC)Our friends Cyndy and Uschi have been dealing with ongoing computer problems, so they have asked me, the Rogue Hurricane, to take care of sharing the many great entries that were submitted for the 15th round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival.

This will be the very first time I have been given this amazing honour, so hopefully I do okay.

First up, we have our friends, Karyn and Thane, from the blog Through A Guide’s Eyes. Karyn writes about the wonderful changes she has experienced over the past six months, both with her personal health and in her partnership with thane while taking part in a program centered in the science of neuroplasticity. Please take a moment to read about the journey in their post titled “Now this is Freedom.”

Now let’s go visit Flo over at the blog, A Mutt and His Pack. In an entry called “Freedom,” Flo writes about the things a service dog handler must consider before going out each day with their canine companion, and about how to her, it’s all worth it.

I totally agree, I think I’m totally worth the constant worry and public annoyances, don’t you?

Next, we’ll go visit our Swedish friends, Nadja and Hera, over at the blog, Leye-Shprintse Oberg. In a post titled: “Freedom,” Nadja talks about the freedom of choice. She writes about her feelings of not being ‘normal’ wile using a white cane and how choosing to work with Hera has changed the way others think of her.

Mommy says she can really relate to this post because when she lost her sight at 13 and had to learn to use a white cane, she hated it and hated the way people thought of her. She told me that when she got her first dog guide, Gryphon, in 1997, she put her cane on the shelf and has never looked back. Now people see her as the “woman with the dogs”, and stare at us instead of at “the “blind woman”.

Here’s our fellow Canadians, Carin and Tansy, of the blog, Vomit Comet. In her entry, “The Freedom I find in a Guide Dog,” Carin writes about how her dogs have made life a lot easier, but if needed, she would still be able to survive without them.

Mommy says she can also relate to this post, but in my canine opinion, I think they’re both wrong…how could they ever survive without a cute, four-legged friend, like me, to watch over them?

Now it’s time to get a little more serious with our friends, L-Squared and Jack, who have written about the issue of irresponsible dog owners and the differing levels of prosecution from state to state if a service dog were to be injured. In their post, “Freedom Comes With Responsibilities,” L-Squared shares some frightening experiences her and jack have had with off leash dogs and irresponsible owners.

BIG SHIVER I am SO glad I wasn’t there. Mommy has encountered scary dogs and bad owners with both Phoenix and Cessna, but thankfully it hasn’t happened to me.

Next, we have Sharon Wachsler who has some wonderful news to share with us all… In her entry titled: “Freedom! I’ve Recovered My Health!” Sharon writes about the amazing changes her health has undergone through a program that involves a behavioural neuroplasticity brain retraining program. Please take a moment to read about her spectacular journey towards recovery.

Now let’s take a moment to welcome Natalie of the blog, Still I Can’t Be Silent. This is Natalie’s first time participating in the Carnival, so please take some extra time to leave a comment on her post. In her entry titled: “Freedom,” Natalie writes about the different ways in which service dogs provide their human companions with a sense of freedom.

Here’s another new carnival participant, please try and take some extra time to leave a comment for Joe. In a post titled: “Gaynor,” Joe tells us about his daughter Siobhan’s service dog. He writes about the first time Siobhan meets gaynor and about their partnership, as well as, about having to find her a retirement home and about her recent passing.

Awe, this entry had me teary, I am only 3 and don’t like reading about dogs passing away…in my short life, I have already had to say goodbye to my friends Phoenix and Aspen.

Guess who’s next…?

It’s our turn!!

Come check out our blog, ruled by paws. In a post titled: “Rogue is Freedom,” Mommy writes about yours truly!! She talks about what a difference I have made in her life and how even before I arrived, I was forcing her to go outside of her comfort zone and take back her independence.

Not sure how many of you know this, but Mommy and I went on a trip alone to Wyoming on an airplane in May. Mommy was a bit nervous about the trip, but I took charge and showed Mommy how amazing I am. I even passed the dreaded public access test with flying colours!!

So, that’s it. there are no more posts for me to read and write about. thank you Cyndy and Uschi for allowing me to take over your blog for a bit and help you out, it was fun learning about everyone.

OH!! Just one more thing to tell everyone. From now on, the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival will be organized by Cyndy and Mommy, so keep an eye on our blogs to see when and where the next Assistance Dog Blog Carnival will take place. We hope to see you all at the next one.

Things and Such

First, let me assure all of you that I will be posting the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival soon. I expect this weekend, if not before. And, yes, you’re still welcome to participate if you so desire.

I deeply apologize that it’s about a month late in getting up. I had mono through a good chunk of last month, which thankfully wasn’t as awful as the last time I had it back in October. However, I think I dragged it out a bit more this time because I didn’t rest as much as I probably should have. I was busy with job interviews and the weather finally started to act like Spring and then it was my birthday and, well, you get the idea.

Of course, right about the time I was finally able to sit at the computer with most of my brain functioning, I ended up putting myself nearly entirely out of commission by taking a tumble down my basement steps. I bruised myself up pretty terribly, ripped a healthy chunk out of my left elbow, and jarred my (bad) left knee a bit. Oh, and I broke my tailbone.1 So, mostly I’ve spent the better part of the last week or so lounging about the house and griping about how I can’t find a perfectly comfy position where I’m not in pain.

This has left me with lots of time to play Final Fantasy X HD and Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, which I got for my birthday. FFX is one of my favorite in the series and the HD remaster is just breathtaking. It really makes me pine for a similar treatment for FFVII and/or FFIX. And I’m really surprised by Ni no Kuni, which was described to me as a JRPG that was basically Dragon Quest meets Pokemon and I was admittedly leery of the latter,2 but it really has proven to be a wonderful game. Not to mention the cel-shaded graphics are so well done they literally make me feel like I’m playing around in a living cartoon.

I also got some nifty Firefly swag for my birthday. Along with socks. And new stoneware cupcake pans!3

As for Uschi, she had her annual last month and aside from her nasty seasonal allergies is doing quite well. She does have a growth on her leg that needs to be removed and biopsied, but we’re pretty sure it’s just plaque. But thanks to finding an ointment that actually helps, the wound by her eye is nearly completely healed up. She’s on a waiting list for some new allergy medicine that I’m hoping will help clear up the issues with her being so itchy, too.

  1. For the third time.
  2. To this day the “Pokemon Craze” leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I’ve never been able to find any interest in a single aspect of it. And, subsequently, its many clones.
  3. You might recall I knocked my old one off the counter and it shattered into nine thousand pieces. It was very tragic.

The Return of the Pain

If you needed some more time to get your post ready for the 15th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, you lucked out because I’m still taking submissions. My hope is to get the post up this weekend, but I’m making no promises.

This is because I haven’t written my own post as yet woke up with another scary stiff neck and I can’t really sit at the computer presently, which makes trying to organize the actual #ADBC post something of a challenge.

#ADBC Extension

I’m not sure exactly what if any specific cause there is for the lack of contributions to the 15th #ADBC, but so far I’ve only received three submissions. I admit my own efforts in advertising have fallen a bit by the wayside between the holidays and a suddenly very packed schedule, so I apologize for that lapse.

In any event, I’m going to extend the deadline through to 11:59 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 7th. That’s an even two weeks from today!

15 Years (and Then Some) of Learning

Ideally, this would have been posted last June to coincide with the fifteenth anniversary of partnering with my first guide dog. In fact, it was my intention to submit it for the twelfth #ADBC. Months later, Brooke even tried to “help” me finally write this in the hopes that I’d participate in the thirteenth #ADBC.

Collage of three black-and-white images of Yara, Dolly and Uschi in harness

Even though it seems to have gone by faster than it should have, fifteen years is a long time. Nearly half my life, in fact.

A lot has changed over that decade-and-a-half. I’ve changed a lot over that decade-and-a-half, which seems cliché but is nevertheless the truth. I’ve written about this previously, of course, and later expanded on the profound differences. But one thing I’ve not really stressed before is just how much I’ve learned as a guide dog handler.

The key things are probably the most obvious: I’ve learned about how to work with a guide dog, what a lifestyle change it involves, and the incredible life-changing effect it can provide. My knowledge of dog training has grown in leaps and bounds and evolved along with the differences that dog training has undergone since my time at Guiding Eyes. And with fifteen years experience as a handler, I have a better understanding of my specific needs and desires in a partner.

Over the years I’ve amassed a wealth of information about public access and discrimination due mostly to personal experience. Nothing on a grand scale by any means,1 but I have been more-or-less thrown out of a few stores, had a few issues with some restaurants, and met with a fair amount of discrimination when hunting for an apartment. My favorite incident is a rather hilarious story involving a liquor store that ended with me arguing with a policeman about NYS access laws.

I wasn’t even aware of how self-conscious I was about being blind before I started working with a guide dog. I coped by trying to hide my limitations, which is practically impossible to do when you are accompanied by the most visible sign of blindness. A fact that was actually the argument more than a few family and friends used as to why I shouldn’t get and didn’t need a guide dog, which is amusing to me since that was basically the whole point for me. At the time I wasn’t quite able to explain it or maybe I was just too much of a stubborn teenager and didn’t want to.

What really stands out to me, though, is what I’ve been taught by my girls specifically. I’ve gained firsthand experience in how profound a bond there is between guide dog and handler and along the way gained more than a few insights on life: Dolly with her joie de vivre reminded me to not forget to enjoy myself, even when it was a simple and small thing. Yara’s serious attitude always makes me think of how I can better do the task at hand. And, in her own unique way, Uschi has shown me that it’s important to embrace who you are, quirks and all.

Sometimes it’s hard to separate out the specific things I’ve gained by working with a guide dog, so perhaps that’s why I feel I should have far more to say on the subject. Which only proves the point that all three of my guides have made me acutely aware of how much I have yet to learn and so the lessons continue on.

  1. Arguably, there has been cause for a lawsuit here and there, but none that have been worth it in my personal opinion.