Funniest Moment

“What is the funniest thing your guide dog has done?”

Well, Uschi is a almost constantly hamming it up, so picking the funniest is pretty much impossible. She stands on her head for goodness sake!

However, I do have a humorous memory of Dolly.

As you all probably know I was in college during most of the time I worked with Dolly. Since I transferred so many times I ended up having to fulfill general education requirements twice and at some point I took a mandatory History class. Like most gen-ed classes it was large enough to be given in a lecture hall. By this point I’d been working a guide dog long enough to have come to the conclusion it was best to sit farther back in a classroom. People were less likely to trip over her if we weren’t in the major flow of traffic and often they wouldn’t notice her at all in the back of the room.1

It was early enough in the semester that I hadn’t yet had the chance to introduce myself to the professor. It could well have been the first day of class. In any case, on this particular day he was droning about something or other. I found my mind wasn’t quite on the lecture because I was watching him pace back and forth at the front of the classroom. Now and then he would stop and glance up at us. It wasn’t exactly odd so much as it made it difficult for me to focus on what he was saying.

Meanwhile, Dolly was sprawled out at my feet. The classroom was routine for her by now. To her it was basically a cue to take a nap. I’m sure I’ve mentioned Dolly snored, though, I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten it across that she was loud. Really, I cannot stress this enough. I have some pretty epic snorers in my family and Dolly gave them quite good noise competition. Her puppy raiser told me that Dolly’s crate got moved to the hallway because even as a puppy she was obnoxiously loud. When I trained at GEB the girl on the opposite side of the room next door to mine, through a solid concrete wall, could hear Dolly snoring.

About midway through the class, her snoring got so bad I was starting to notice students rustling around, glancing back at my deeply sleeping dog. Her snores were to a point I was literally having trouble hearing the lecture. So, I lightly poked her with my foot, intending to get her to reposition herself and hopefully stop the lawnmower imitation she was doing in her sleep. Instead she woke with a loud snort, jumped up from the floor and noisily shook herself off. I’m sure every eye in the lecture hall was on us, including the professor’s.

“Oh!” He exclaimed as I tried to get Dolly back on the floor as inconspicuously as possible amid a classroom of gaping students. “That’s who was snoring.” I turned beat red on the spot, fully expecting him to have a fit about the disruption. “This entire time,” he continued, “I’ve been trying to figure out who would dare fall asleep in my class.”

There was a rather long beat, and then the professor just burst into hysterical laughter.

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

  1. Students were often driven to distraction by the dog and it was incredibly unnerving to have them stare at us throughout the entire class.

Four Years

Portrait of me and Uschi on a brown background; Uschi is standing beside me with my arms wrapped around her

I would be ever so happy if we got rid of Daylight Savings. I spend the following week after we gain the hour feeling like a zombie that’s been scraped out of my bed and propelled into the morning, but worse is the dog who just can’t grasp the time change. For weeks she tries to make 5:30 happen because her internal clock says that’s the latest I should be sleeping. I want to get mad at her about it, but not only do I lack the ability to convey the issue to a canine, Uschi’s method of rousing me from sleep is so subtle and gentle that it almost makes up for it.

Yes, I actually characterized an aspect of this goofy shepherd as “subtle” and no one is more shocked than me. I’ve now worked with her for four years and I am no less baffled, amazed, and amused by her ridiculous antics and boundless energy. She’s certainly a unique dog and it’s been an interesting journey over the years. At this point there aren’t any great revelations to discover like her fondness for standing on her head or preference to eat her meals on a carpeted surface. Unless you count having to deal with the raw skin issues from her allergies. Instead I realized more simple things like how her targeting has transformed from a quick touch with her nose to a soft lick of her tongue.

She’s also become quiet the snuggle-bug and is by far the most exuberant, enthusiastic and willingly affectionate of my guide dogs.

Quick ‘n’ Dirty

I’ve been dealing with an issue with my left eye for about two weeks now which is probably not pink eye but being treated as if it were. The whole thing came on kind of suddenly and for several days my eye burned and watered constantly as if I had soap in it. I was beyond miserable and by the time I broke down and went to the doctor I was in utter agony. I was prescribed some soothing drops which seem to have done just that, but the last few days I’m noticing an increase in the discomfort again. This correlates to me lessening how often I’ve been administering the drops, so I’m strongly considering requesting a refill before I completely run out.

Uschi’s eyes however are finally almost entirely healed. She has just the teeniest raw spot under her left eye and her right, which was by far the worse of the two, has only a thin scab. I’m entirely shocked she doesn’t have scaring and in fact it looks quite likely there will be no evidence of her wounds. I don’t know why this is so surprising considering the same thing happened last year with her nose and that also shows no signs of being rubbed raw.

Aside from the household eye health, the only other noteworthy thing I can think of to share is that in the interest of quelling the nagging voices to get me to update more consistently, I’m debating a blog idea that in an off-hand way Brooke gave me. She complained about the “strange” lack of personal details in my about page and chided me for not keeping it more up-to-date. There are a bunch of reasons for this and as I listed them off I realized that in and of themselves this was almost an entirely new blog. And then I thought about my abandoned blog and how I’ve toyed with trying to resurrect it in some way. Anyway, I’ll get into all that another time after I’ve got a more firm grasp on what, if anything, I will be doing.

Vale Cemetery and Park

Yesterday Uschi and I took advantage of the utterly glorious weather and walked around Vale Cemetery and Park.

Paved walkway in Vale Park covered with fallen leaves

Unlike a lot of the other parks around the Capital District, Vale is incredibly peaceful. Aside from an ambulance siren I heard somewhere off in the distance it was easy to forget we were in downtown Schenectady. Actually pretty much the only sounds I heard were the various critters in the brush, presumably running away from Uschi. And except for one rather daring squirrel, my sometimes very animal-distracted guide dog was completely focused on her job.

Along the path to the main cemetery we passed by one of the more rural burial sites, which caught Uschi’s attention only because a couple were walking around down there.

Uschi looking through a wooden fence at a set of graves in Vale Park

We continued on and walked through the main cemetery before the sun started to set and the air got just a bit too chilly to be comfortable. It was a shame since Uschi was being so cooperative I thought I might finally get a chance to check out some of the graves.

Maybe next year I’ll go on one of the walking tours.

Sharing Photos

For some reason I’ve had ever so much trouble getting Lightroom to cooperate with me since I switched over to a Mac. I can’t explain the issue because the solution to seems to have been a mixture of waiting until the lack of photo organization bothered me enough to wrestle with the program until it finally did what I wanted. 1 Since I was already going through my images, now seems as good a time as any to share a few here.

For what it’s worth, I have been posting photos to my Instagram account more lately. Not surprisingly most of these are of Uschi. This one from Saturday is a particular favorite of mine. It was a very laid back day because the shepherd girl was a bit under the weather.

Uschi sprawled out upside down, sleeping

Not that the above photo is exactly a representation of this, but it does showcase how very different sick days for my guide dog are than for me. Clearly, Uschi doesn’t share my desire of shunning all human contact when she’s feeling ill. I find the level of comfort she manages to achieve quite impressive to be honest. Fear not, it was just a small tummy ache and my shepherd partner was back to her zany self the next day.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to get a baby gate for a length of time that would be embarrassing if not for how easily I kept forgetting I wanted to get one. At one point in this chain of memory fog, I even mentioned the desire outside of the very store I acquired this from and still didn’t manage to accomplish the task that day. The sad thing is that I’m often reminded of the desire because Uschi’s has a tendency to be a bit too much for guests to handle, especially when they’re first visiting my house. It’s not that she’s disobedient, but that she wants to be friends with everyone that walks through my front door regardless of how little they share the sentiment. And even though she’s quite content to be crated, she’ll often spend the entire length of a guest’s stay making it known how displeased she is that she can’t continue her friend-making efforts.

Uschi sitting behind a wooden baby gate erected in the hallway to the kitchen

As you can see, she’s not fazed by the barricade. My guess is because she knows she’s quite capable of getting passed it if she really wanted to.2 As cute as she is sitting there on the other side of the gate, what I found most adorable was watching her while I installed the gate. At first she was lying down further back into the kitchen looking quite demure with her front paws crossed. Eventually that view just wasn’t adequate or I my efforts began to bore her and she started to pace, casting glances at me as she passed back-and forth. And finally because she’s Uschi the whole thing was interpreted as a game and she kept trying to entice either me or the gate itself into a game by hopping about and play-bowing.

In wholly other news, there’s been a lot of new green around the house of late spurred on by the very near death of a spider plant whose was all but entirely separated from its roots when its pot broke. Of note is a little baby jade that I saw had finally gotten some new growth on it.

Small jade with new growth forming

I have a few projects I’ve been lacking time and/or ability to work on, but now that Lightroom is finally cooperating I was able to sort through my photos and start on one that I intend to give as a gift to a friend for his retirement. This required some work in Photoshop and so, of course, I took the opportunity to play around a bit.

Blooming rose edited with a faint glow effect

I’m quite fond of how this rose turned out.

  1. Yes, if you’re wondering, the lack of Lightroom was a contributing factor in why fixing and organizing the photos on this site took forever.
  2. This is one of the dogs who has managed to free herself from a Vari Kennel after all.