NYC, Supplemental

As Uschi already detailed, our recent trip to New York City was a complete blast. We went to one of my favorite Broadway musicals, ate at one of the most fabulous restaurants, and saw a bunch of awesome sights that were both old and new to me. But there were a handful of, well, just odd things that happened.

It started on the train ride. Brooke and I were sitting beside each other chatting when the conductor came up to scan our tickets. Before he moved on to the next set of passengers, he asked me to quiet down.

“I can hear you all the way at the end of the car,” he said, matter-of-factly.

All I could do was gape at him in astonishment. I admit I do have a problem with modulation. This is in part due to a slight hearing impairment in my left ear that makes it difficult to tell the volume of my own voice. Though, I also routinely get loud when I’m excited. I’m honestly rather self conscious about it because as a child I was often made fun over this, especially when I would laugh boisterously.1 But I’ve ridden the train more times than I could possibly count and not one time since my first trip at eight-years-old have I ever been told by a conductor that I was too loud for the train. Brooke assured me a few moments later that I had been speaking to her in a completely normal level and expressed her genuine confusion at the conductor.

I was bewildered, but put the whole thing behind me until hours later when we were at the Gershwin Theater to see Wicked. We had confused the time and arrived just a few minutes late to the show. Because of this we had to wait in the wings until a scene change before we could be brought to our seats. I relayed this information to Brooke telephone-style since her position off to the side left her out of earshot of the explanation Huib and I were getting. And, since I had seen the show before, I followed up with a description of what was happening on stage.

Suddenly, cutting me off mid-sentence, I felt a sharp jab to my left shoulder and turned to face one of the theater staff who harshly shushed me and said: “You need to speak quietly!”

Once again I was stunned into silence and before I could react we were hurriedly ushered to our seats. It was only once we were settled that I could fill Brooke in on what happened. Yet again she assured me that I had been talking in a completely reasonable volume and in fact was practically whispering to her. But I was more taken aback that the guy had actually hit me, though, I don’t believe he intended to strike me as hard as he did. Still, if we hadn’t been whisked away straight after I would have definitely raised a bit of a fuss over it.

The following day at the Met the strange encounters continued. There are signs posted throughout many of the exhibits inviting blind patrons to touch specific items.2 One such item is a sarcophagus in the Egyptian exhibit, which I had indicated to Brooke as I simultaneously ran my fingers across one of the reliefs. While Brooke examined the different patterns carved into the sarcophagus, a security guard came up to me and lifted my hand away from the stone. Shaking his head at me, he said: “You can’t touch that.”

The facts are these: (a.) Standing directly to my right not a foot away was Brooke with her hands on the same exhibit. (b.) Uschi, in her harness, was sitting beside me to my left. (c.) The protocol at the Met when there is doubt whether a person is visually impaired and thus allowed to touch an exhibit is to ask them. My conclusion: I’m not blind enough to touch things, but Brooke is. At Junior’s the next evening I related the story to Abby who was appropriately outraged at the whole scenario.

By that point, though, any irritation I may have had about it had ebbed away to amusement and that is most definitely because of our trip to the Statue of Liberty. While going through the second security checkpoint to enter Liberty Island Uschi set off the metal detector. I’m more than familiar with this as a state employee and have long since taken up the habit of stating that she’ll set off the detector before I even recall her to my side through the device. Sometimes this means that I have to pass through the device again to prove I didn’t set it off and/or the dog will be checked separately with a hand-held detector. Instead, the security guard instructed me to go back through and before I could react she had ripped Uschi’s leash out of my hand. When I didn’t immediately back up into the metal detector, she got right in my face and physically shoved me backwards. After I stepped through a second time, I voiced my extreme displeasure, stating that I had clearly not set off the detector and expressing how inappropriate it was she took my guide dog from me.

Rather than apologize or even acknowledge her actions, she curtly responded: “The machine is very sensitive and we have protocols. If you don’t like the way things work, you don’t have to visit the Statue!”

Before things could get truly ugly, Brooke and Huib led me away. But we were all deeply distressed at how we had been treated and the guard’s attitude. Honestly, I fumed about it most of the day. Several weeks later I’m still pretty miffed about it, especially since I’ve reported the incident to the park management and heard nothing back.

Possibly the most baffling thing to happen was later that afternoon before we met up with Abby. Originally we were going to take a second boat for a cruise around Ellis Island. As the day wore on, the weather got steadily more crummy. And we were all starting to wear out from all the various activities — and walking — we had done, especially Cessna who was showing signs that her feet were in pain. Standing at the bus stop to catch our boat, I randomly just fell over sideways. I have absolutely no explanation for it. One moment I was upright and the next I was crashing towards the ground. After I picked myself up off the wet Manhattan pavement, we took stock of ourselves. We were cold. We were wet. We were tired. Cessna’s feet hurt. I’d fallen over. A boat ride just didn’t seem worth it and so we went back to our hotel and ended up taking a nap.

We never could suss out what exactly happened that landed me on the ground, but after all the strange and bewildering things that had gone on during this trip I’ve surmised that New York City was just out to beat me up. So, somehow it caused the whole of the Earth to tilt just so and it rose up and smacked me!

Certainly gives new meaning to the “mean streets of New York.”

  1. What’s wrong with a loud laugh?
  2. Having been to the Met previously, I am well aware of this policy. Not to mention, Abby, who works as a security guard for the Met, has also on numerous occasions made mention of this fact.

New York, New York!

It would seem that all efforts to get me to produce some content here have failed. For what it’s worth I had every intention of making good on the posting thing, but with one thing and another that clearly never came to pass. Rather than bore you with all the details of my inability to blog, I’ll let Uschi tell you all about our recent trip to New York City with the Ruled by Paws gang.


The way I understand it New York City is some sort of right of passage for a guide dog. Cyndy has talked about it a bunch and seemed disappointed that I hadn’t yet accomplished this task. But, honestly, after four days there I don’t get the fuss. As far as I’m concerned New York City seems more like a testing ground for walking the pads of your paws sore. Maybe it’s more fun when you only have two feet?

Cessna, Uschi and Rogue sitting in front of the dragon clock at the entrance to Gershwin TheaterAnyway, the best part of this little journey was that we were joined by my new friends, Rogue and Cessna, and their humans, Brooke and Huib. At least, I think we’re all friends. You see, we had a bit of a communication barrier. I can only guess excitedly bouncing around and loudly barking doesn’t mean the same thing in Canada because no one seemed to get that I wanted to play and play and play!

At any rate, after a rather uneventful Saturday here, I woke everyone up bright and early the next morning and we took the train to Manhattan. The humans remarked at how packed it was, but all us dogs had plenty of room on the floor. And we got plenty of attention from some of the kids in our car. Mostly I used Cessna as a pillow and slept through the ride. Our first stop once we arrived in the City was to our hotel, but before I could once again attempt to convey to my canine buds my desire to play we were out the door again for the humans to do some shopping and have dinner. Then we headed to the Gershwin Theater where the humans saw wicked music or something. The photo to the left is the three of us in the lobby in front of the dragon clock.1

Manhattan at night taken from the observation deck of the Empire State BuildingAfter that we went to the Empire State Building and took a bunch of elevators to the tippy top. Everyone kept mentioning how pretty the City looked all lit up at night so me and Rogue both tried to get a glimpse over the Observation Deck walls. It is pretty neat as you can see for yourself to the right, but it’s also super windy so it wasn’t long before everyone was cold and ready to head to the hotel for bed.

Monday we visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. At the Met we visited the Temple of Dendur and looked around at the Egyptian exhibit. It’s one of the sections of the museum that allows blind people to touch things like a sarcophagus by the Temple of Dendur. My favorite part was at the Guggenheim, though. It’s built as a series of levels spiraling up to the top and once again Rogue and I had to check out the view, which in this case was a perfect vantage point of a fountain on the ground floor. By this point everyone was tired out, especially Cessna who had basically gone on strike and was pretty much refusing to work for Brooke. So, we spent the evening back at our hotel where I at least partially overcame the communication barrier with Rogue:

Okay, so that wasn’t exactly the epic playtime I was hoping for, but there wasn’t really enough room for a proper game of chase in our hotel room anyway. Then again, perhaps I should be insulted considering the very next morning Rogue spent a good ten minutes stalking a packet of honey Cyndy had from her morning tea.2

The Statue of LibertyYou can probably guess from the photo to the left how we spent our last full day in NYC. We had to take a boat to the island, which was a neat experience for all us dogs for reasons the humans found amusing since we were all intrigued by the ripples of water the rudder created in the boat’s wake. At Liberty Island, we went up to the pedestal and got to check out yet another cool view. We also went through the museum, which had a few things that Cyndy and Brooke were able to touch, like Lady Liberty’s face!

We were going to do another boat ride around Ellis Island after, but the weather was getting steadily more unpleasant so instead we just went back to the hotel. Everyone ended up taking a nap, but we managed to drag ourselves back out into the snow and rain to meet Abby at Junior’s. Or, as I like to think of it, my second nap because we were there for literally hours while the humans had their dinner.

Uschi and Rogue on their hind legs looking over the fence bordering Liberty IslandAll too quickly it seemed our trip to NYC was over. We headed back home Wednesday morning and spent the rest of the day back at our house. I got Cessna and Rogue to finally play with me for a bit, but truthfully we were all so wiped from our trip that we pretty much just fell asleep.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and it was a bittersweet day for me. There was, of course, the holiday festivities, which meant another trip to some type of excitement — and yummy goodies for me! But all my new friends were leaving just when I finally seemed to have gotten them to understand how desperately I wanted them to play with me. Cyndy says we’ll be seeing them again, though. And, of course, I have all the photos from our trip to look at and remind me of my new pals and our adventures in walking!

  1. It was too crowded in the lobby to get the top of the clock, where the dragon is climbing, into the shot.
  2. None of us is quite sure what was up with that. Rogue had jumped up on Cyndy’s bed and when she caught site of the honey packet, she started to react like it might jump up and bite her. It gave the humans quite a laugh.

A Trio of Dog Photos

I’m very slowly trying to organize all these photos from my vacation, which led to me poking through my own Flickr stream at stuff. While these have all already been posted here in the corresponding babbly posts about the goings-on at the time, I thought I’d share the photos from the last few years of all of Raechel and James’s doggies.

Me and Raechel with Giselle, Otis, Spock, Yara, Scarlet and Dasha

Raechel and me with Otis, Dasha, Scarlet, Yara and Yancy

Raechel and me with Yancy, Otis, Dasha, Scarlet, Yara and Nerys

I have to say that the first photo was probably the easiest on me; Giselle was (and probably is) a total sweetheart and thus far has been the smallest puppy I’ve had to wrangle. This last one, as I mentioned, wasn’t exactly fun since Nerys bit me a fair few times — on the nose, twice. But I actually have no real memory of taking the second photo, so I guess Yancy wasn’t too bad to handle. I do have to say, though, that Dasha and Scarlet break my heart with the sad faces. You’d think we were forcing them to sit on the hot coals from the fireplace. It also cracks me up that if you see all the “outtakes” from these shots, Yara is the only one who never moves the entire time. Guess shoving a camera in her face constantly does have some merit. ;)

Vacation Wrap-Up

Yara and I have made it home safe and sound. We’re both wiped out; in fact, Yara is already asleep. She didn’t even lift her head when I called her for dinner and earlier I gave her a new raw meaty bone to gnaw on and she just took it and fell back to sleep. I think she might perk up tomorrow, though, since it’s back to our normal routine and she’s always eager for work. That makes one of us. I’m dreading the return to work tomorrow.

Anyway, since my daily posts over my vacation were pretty lacking due to my supreme exhaustion each night I went through and edited the original posts (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) with more fun details and pictures for those of you who care about every small tidbit that I could recall. I also thought I’d go through some of the finer points (read: random) of my most awesome ten days and show off some more of the many, many photos we took just to wrap things up. Especially since there wasn’t much of interest to report for today since it mostly consisted of riding the train back to Albany.

Yara and Felix

Perhaps you remember how much fun Yara and Felix had last year. Interestingly, they really didn’t have much interaction this visit. Yara did spend a good deal of time supervising the cats, especially when one was in my lap. But we mostly had her with the puppies in the kitchen so her stalking was a bit limited. She did try and play with Felix a few times, though. But the night we took that photo she wasn’t so nice to him and tried to bite him and got herself swatted in the face by a kitty claw. Better luck next visit, Yara.

Nerys

One of my favorite things about German shepherd puppies is how they sometimes look like teddy bears. I think this photo shows Nerys looking particularly teddy-bear-esque. She really is a cutey. Which is good for her given she’s possibly the worst biter of a puppy I’ve ever encountered. Also, she spent the entire ride to her Windsor walk hitting me with her paws. I kept shoving them off the seat and she’d put them back and/or smack my legs or hands with them. And when I ignored her, she’d bite me. Oh, well.

Scarlet

Scarlet has one thing in common with both of the guide dogs I’ve worked with thus far: she’s very good with her plush toys and she loves squeaky toys. She also tends to use that bed as more of a pillow, which is one thing I’ve never understood about either of my guides. Anyway, the puppy was very aware of this lone toy left in the front room and EVERY single time she was out there (en route to “get busy”) she’d try and make a grab for it. Yara actually succeeded in sneaking it into the kitchen at one point, but thankfully the puppy was in her crate so no damage was done. Phew.

Yara

So, my friend Sarah has a pop-up crate, which I told Raechel about since she and James take their foster puppies to a convention each year and, well, long story short they bought themselves one and got one for me, too. I haven’t had any need for it since, though, so it’s been collecting dust at their house. But I set it up for Yara to use over our stay and she seemed to think it was homey enough. It was slightly bent when I popped it open but a few shoves straightened it out. And, then, of course, Yara bent it all over again by leaning on it funny in her sleep . . . Okay, well, I thought it was pretty funny. It did straight out again rather easily. And now we have a portable crate for when we go places, too!

I leave you with this very cute video I took of Otis going through his “sit-down-rollover” routine with Raechel. Like all of her dogs, Raechel’s trained them when they were puppies, but Otis never quite got that all those commands were separate and he tends to run through his gamut of tricks if there is a treat available. Enjoy:

Dogses

Raechel and me with Yancy, Otis, Dasha, Scarlet, Yara and Nerys

Our last full day in CT was a pretty laid back one, which was rather appreciated since I think both Yara and I are fully exhausted by all our fun activities. Went with Raechel to run some errands and brought Nerys with us. Then we all went to Nita’s for lunch, along with Yancy, and ran a few other errands. Back at the house we took our customary photo of all the dogses, which was quite an experience with “bitey, bitey, bitey dog” in my arms. Little bugger bit me on the nose. Twice! Raechel and I also watched some Witchblade and we had grilled homemade pizza for dinner. It was very cheesy and delicious and an excellent excuse for eating some more of the sauce I made the other day.

Tomorrow we take the train back to Albany, but for now you can check out the HUNDREDS of photos here on this Flickr set. Me? I’m going to go fall into bed.