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Sunday, July 29, 2012

What's in our northern Michigan woods?

It was a dark and stormy night....

Oh, wait. That's a quote from another famous dog.

It was a grey and gloomy morning. Mist hung mysteriously over the treetops.

FLD Scout was on assignment with me, to cover the opening of the Bigfoot Bash at the Michigan Magazine Museum in Comins.

As we entered the museum, the participants who were already gathering for the welcome speeches let us know that Bigfoot "doesn't like dogs."

Once again, Scout's dreamy brown eyes wins one over.

FLD Scout looks back at me like she's thinking, "Really? He doesn't like dogs?"

We'll see about that.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The 8th ADBC--Marchin' to Your Own Drum

This is my post for the 8th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, hosted by Brooke over at ruled by paws. Brooke creatively selected the topic "Marchin' to Your Own Drum." I decided to take her literally. Here's a poem about my Future Leader Dog "Scout" and our wonderful morning routine.

furry twister

when the sun peaks
around my blind in the morning,
a muttered whine drifts in
from the other room, my future
leader dog puppy Scout is ready
to bring on the day

my sweetie, like a gallant knight, arises
to grant me a few moments more
in bed

he dresses,
goes into the other room and clips open her crate

Scout sits, exhibiting
some semblance of self-control

he releases her
with a snap of her collar
I hear the tingle of her tag
and a rhythmic pat-a-pat-pat of her pads
as she waggles around to my side of the bed

with a castanet clap of her teeth
her tail drums
Good Morning! against my Teak wood dresser
the beat, beat, beat travels through her feet
and spirals out her bobble-head
a dancing furry twister

she can barely get a lick in

I doubt that anyone
could carry a crabby through the day
with a wake up like this

FLD Scout, my morning wake-up call!

For  more information about the ADBC, visit Sharon Waschler's blog post About the ADBC. Spread the word, participate, read and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Birthday FLD Scout!

FLD Scout when we first brought her home from Leader Dogs for the Blind.

One year ago today, Scout was born. She was the last puppy born of a litter of six to Leader Dog "mom" Reese and "dad" Kasey. Reese was also the mom of my second Leader Dog puppy, Mike, who went on to become a working Leader Dog.

FLD Scout, sporting the same smile on her one-year birthday!

Scout had a very fun day today. We started with a romp in the woods with Gus and Gypsy, and ended with a hike on the property of some friends. Needless to say, lots of treats in between!

A romp in the woods with cc'd Gus.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

But I can see...

"You will want to wear this," Bev says at check-in as she hands me a plastic credit-card sized room key on a blue lanyard. Student Room #23. The values of Leader Dogs for the Blind are printed on the back.
  • Respect and compassion for people and dogs
  • Passion for the work
  • Safety in all we do
  • Do what is right
  • Innovation in our field
  • Teamwork
The hallways of the Polk Residence Center at Leader Dogs for the Blind are gleaming white. Sparkling tiles beneath my feet, painted block walls with bumper-like handrails at my sides. A wide royal blue stripe above the handrails and narrow stripes on the floor in the same shade of blue guide me to the room that FLD Scout and I will share for the next three days. She is still in the kennel for now, until I get settled.

Each blue-rimmed doorway is identified with a room number at the side of the door and in a blue square above the handrail directly opposite. In Braille.

#23. That's my room.

Arms loaded with my duffle, Scout's supplies and bed, my camera backpack, and laptop bag, I stand on tippy-toe at the black-box sensor on the left side of the door. The key hanging at my belly changes the red light to green for entry.

The room is large, and starkly antiseptic. The same bright white walls and floors as the hallway is made even brighter by the florescent lights imbedded in the ceiling. The ceiling tiles are white too. There are no hotel-paintings screwed to the walls. I have the sense that everything was designed for the safety and efficiency of the blind or visually impaired client who usually occupies this room.

I can see the three shelves in the bathroom that have one-inch lips on them to keep things from falling off. I can see the red numbers on the digital alarm clock that speaks when touched. I can see the small screen of the TV atop the dresser at the end of the bed. I can see the special flip-up light on the end table, and another one at the desk next to the dresser. I can see the tie-down for the dog in the corner. I can see the second door opposite the entry, the door that exits to a covered "park" area.

I think of the person who travels to Leader Dogs alone, the person who can't see, who stays in this room for 26 days of learning and teambuilding. If all goes well, he or she will leave with new eyes--a Leader Dog.

The itinerary for our three-day puppy-counselor training is non-stop from breakfast at 7:30 a.m.  to an after-dinner lecture that ends at 8:00 p.m. I imagine trying to keep a schedule like this for 26 days, like the person who can't see, all while trying to bond with a young dog who is probably wondering why he is in this strange room and "who the heck are YOU?"

I imagine that those three and a half weeks could feel a little bit like boot camp. I hope that isn't so for FLD Scout and me!

FLD Scout on her bed in the corner by the tie-down.