I’m very passionate about literacy because books are a wonderful gateway into so many things. As an avid reader it might surprise you to learn that I didn’t first learn about guide dogs between the cover of a book.1 It wasn’t until I was training with Dolly that I even heard there were any books related to guide dogs! Below are several titles that you might be interested in checking out. This is by no means an exhaustive list (and if you’ve any suggestions of ones I may have omitted, feel free to share).
Manchester Community College’s beautiful walking paths have been the venue of choice for Fidelco’s annual walkathon fundraiser. Walkathons are a fairly common fundraising event for guide dog schools as they are a great means to showcase the work that goes into raising and training these fine dogs and the independence they provide once placed with a blind person.
This particular photo was taken at the 2008 Walk for Fidelco by Yara’s puppy raiser, Patty.
Randomly this morning I remembered to check on a comment that Becky made while out here last month. We had been talking about different dogs and such and somehow this led to me mentioning that Stanley was on one of the labels of the Fidelco wines. And Becky remarked that she was fairly sure Uschi was on a label. I just gaped at her in disbelief. I guess I would have expected someone to have mentioned it to me, but I had to admit I never paid much attention to the labels. I had seen Stanley, but then Becky said something about how they just redid the labels and she was really sure that Uschi was on one of them.
Anyway, on a whim today I wandered over to the site:
I have to admit, I actually thought it was her at first. The face is pretty much spot on, but it’s actually looking at that where I see the differences: this dog is just way too serious to be Uschi! Also, the ears are a bit larger. The other defining difference is the amount of black he has right below his neck; Uschi is more mottled right below her neck and doesn’t have large amounts of black until about her shoulders. There are a few other things, too, but regardless I am fairly sure it’s one of her littermates. Probably her brother. I don’t know the specifics of her litter, but I do know she has at least one brother.
Even so, I may have to get myself a bottle.
EDIT: Corrections and clarifications made.
Yesterday Uschi and I had our first follow-up with our instructor, Jay. His timing, I must say, was rather perfect because we’ve been incredibly busy the last several days. So, Jay accompanied us as we ran around downtown Schenectady checking off my long list of errands. We even stopped by the antique shop that we wandered through during training — wherein I picked up a perfect birthday gift for a certain patriarch. Mostly, we walked and walked and walked. And other than the fact that she decided randomly to defecate whilst in harness and working, Uschi did flawlessly. Not really sure why she ended up having that accident, especially since I’d given her the opportunity to go before we’d left the house and she seemed quite convinced that she only had to tinkle. Oh, well.
We even managed to find a dog to walk by a few times to show Uschi’s improvement with her animal distraction. In fact, other than an initial startled jump at the fact the other dog was barking its head off at her, she was pretty much nonplussed by his presence. Jay seemed pleased with us as a team, which I am hardly surprised about as I’m pretty pleased with us, too.
And in continuing with our frenzied and active schedules of late, we headed off to a SWAG Write-In a few hours after Jay left. Last night’s was at Flavour’s Cafe in downtown Troy and it was the very first time I had been there. Actually, that’s only partially true as I did step all the way inside the doorway when we were at the Victorian Stroll last December, but it was completely full so we ended up going elsewhere. It’s a wonderful cafe and we were able to nab a large table in the side room to spread out our laptops, books and food. I was very impressed with the food, which was incredibly yummy! Their portion sizes are ridiculously huge, too. Quite a rarity on both counts in my cafe-going experience where usually I find I only marginally enjoy the food and/or I’m still hungry afterward because I only had enough to nibble on.
The Write-In itself was kind of a non-event for me in terms of writing since my head decided it was the prime time to be annoying. This particular migraine came with some random nausea that seemed to be directly correlated to the amount of light I was exposed to thus making it impossible to look at my laptop screen. So, I spent the majority of the night reading Rage and I don’t regret that choice at all. Actually, I’m hoping to get my copy of it and/or Hunger signed by the author tomorrow at the Empire State Book Festival, which is happening for the second year and I am beyond thrilled!
On a somewhat related topic, the other day I gave my stats a casual glance and very nearly fell out of my desk chair. I tend to ignore my stats as a whole other than to give a passing look at how traffic arrives here. Generally I check my referrers often and usually peek at my search terms. The former has led to many an interesting read and the latter tends to give me a good laugh. But what caught my eye the other day was a substantial spike in traffic. I did some investigating and discovered some chatter on the ‘net about my experiences with a certain author. Honestly, it amazes me the longevity that whole thing has had. There hasn’t been a day go by since that incident that at least one person hasn’t come to this site through some mention of the entire event and usually it’s a good deal more than one visitor. Personally, I’ve put it all behind me. Though, a few months back I had some rather disturbing confirmation that the author has not, which is a shame for her and had she not had the audacity to call me such vile things I would probably have some concern about her mental stability. But from the cursory search back it seems there are more than enough replacements for her to keep Internet drama alive and well.
I was asked recently if the whole thing had left me wishing to avoid writing reviews, especially those that aren’t glowing. Honestly, it hasn’t. For all the crazy that occurred and the slanderous things said about me and spread about the ends of the intarwebs, I have had an exponentially greater number of wonderful experiences with authors. Both those I know quite well personally and strangers alike. I think, for me, the thing that was the most difficult to get over was that small personal connection that I had with the author because there had been a dialogue there between us, albeit formal and short, which led to her sending me the a copy of the book for free. Thus I was obligated to read it and give my thoughts, which was exactly the reason for my gentle tactfulness in what I wrote, as it was only expected she would read them. So, having that blow up in my face was kind of astounding. And I’m not naive enough to think it couldn’t happen again, though, if it ever did I do hope it isn’t such a wide-scale event!
However, completely ceasing sharing my thoughts on books I’ve read (or for that matter anything else) is a disservice to those that are looking for such insights.1 There are many things in my life — especially books — that I’ve only decided to try because of the reviews that were written about them. In the end I may not agree with those reviews, but they were still an asset. As for shying away from negative reviews, I think such a thing is completely pointless and am the first to avoid sites and specific reviewers who will only do so. I find that without that comparison of things that did not appeal to the reviewer, it’s impossible to know how much their viewpoint truly meshes with mine. Basically, it’s a skewed image. So, in case you haven’t been following my sporadic reviews enough to gather, I don’t plan to cease reviewing or censor myself and only publicize the things I strenuously adore. I plan to do exactly what I’ve always done: write about things that I feel passionately about as it strikes my fancy.
- While I am always thrilled if something I’ve written proves useful to someone else it is worth noting that essentially this website is for me. It will forever astound me that anyone has even a passing interest in anything I write here. ↩