I should have written this last night but at some point, I hit a wall and was just too tired to even start this post. But, here we are!
After the usual of park, feed, water, and park again which is also known as Meka’s attempted extended nap time, Treble and I dragged ourselves in to obedience where they are pulling out all the stops when it comes to distractions. Treats are thrown, loose dogs are playing, Treble’s favorite toy ball is thrown. It’s a jungle out there!
It is a lot harder to get Treble to focus on me but I’m remaining consistent in my work and once she does focus, she is all in. We often have to redo commands. It’s very hard for her because she knows what she should be doing. These setups are very good for us because it’s great to see how we both work under specific pressure. I always try to be sure that we end things on a good note before making our escape.
In White plains, We did a street route and rode the bus. I have to say that I’m so glad that I have been blogging about this experience because there is written evidence of our beginnings and the confidence that I feel now. Usually, it’s all a big blur, but this has been very helpful.
after lunch, we headed to a train station to practice platform work. When we are on a train platform, the dog walks between us and the edge of the platform. We use shorelining techniques that I mentioned in another post to make certain that we are near the wall. If it is a double platform, we move carefully. There are light rail and commuter trains in my town but I don’t take them often. However, I never know what the future holds and so I am very careful to never say never and to prepare for any contingency.
Finally, we practiced attempting to walk to the edge of the platform so that we could know what our dogs would do. Treble curled in front of me, pushing me backwards and turning to the right. It is such a heady feeling to know that if I am in a situation that is dangerous and I’m giving a command that might put the both of us in jeopardy without my realizing it, Treble knows how to disobey.
After returning to campus, I hung out with my classmates for a good long time.
Our lecture was about access issues, and here is where I’d like to talk to you about some things that guide dog owners face in 2019.
Our school issues an ID with our names and pictures on them to show that Treble is a guide dog. While it is illegal for people to ask to see ID’s in their establishment, some may show them in order to help smooth the way. There is nothing wrong with that, but I am not generally that way. Probably because I tend to lose the ID, but also because it isn’t something that I *have* to show. We can face denial of service in restaurants, business establishments, hotels, ride shares like Uber and Lyft, cabs, sometimes housing, etc. Here we are in the year of 2019 and people still are not aware of what the laws are and what their rights entail. We can, obviously, be asked to leave if our dogs are not in control or if they are unkempt. We also face a lot of people who bring their pets to the store even when the store says that they are not allowed. People will quickly claim that it is their service dog. Yet said dog is often barking, lunging, growling, and generally being awful because their owners allow them to be, yet some store owners won’t get involved because they assume that if they ask that person to leave, they will be sued.
These access issues are frustrating and it can be hard to know what to do when you are in that situation. The first edict of staying calm is very difficult for me. I can stay calm but my anger goes from 0 to 100 when I know that rights are being denied due to lack of knowledge. I don’t mind explaining, but once we get past the threshold of having explained once, that is when I get cranky. I already know it’s going to be a lot harder to get an Uber and Lyft now, even though their policies state that we should not be disallowed rides. But once it happens, it requires reporting the driver, having them cancel the ride, waiting for another ride, hoping that the next driver doesn’t inadvertently cancel, etc. In the meantime, my time is being wasted and I have to expend even more energy. I do not say these things to be a downer, but this is part of making that decision to have a guide dog once again. I know that many of my friends will find this unbelievable, but it totally happens and I haven’t even tiptoed along the tip of that iceberg. Because of my involvement in a consumer organization, I know how to advocate for myself and to be more assertive, but it is easy to talk about it in the abstract and a hell of a lot harder to handle when you are in the moment. Along with outcry comes backlash, as I witnessed when someone recorded a restaurant’s refusal to serve an individual and her friends. It went viral and the comments were horrible. So, I’m not quite looking forward to jumping in to all of that. I am not a pessimist by any means, but I just know how reality worked when I had my last guide dog and I’ve watched my friends still go through it. Still, I wouldn’t change my decision to work with a guide dog for anything.
One of the highlights of my day was having a surprise visit from Lester’s instructor, Woody. It was so awesome to see her and catch up. We talked all through dinner and I got to introduce her to Treble. It was so fantastic. I gave her big hugs and I’m just so thrilled that during my time here, both she and Chrissy have come to see me.
After dinner, I spent a lot of time with my classmates laughing, telling jokes, chatting, and simply enjoying their company.
Breakfast: Toast with strawberry jam and bacon
Lunch: pasta with a vodka sauce? I think that’s what it was. It was delicious, but next time I’d like more vodka and preferably some cranberry juice.
Dinner: Jerk chicken, coconut Rice, and broccoli