Saratoga Springs: Conference Time

The dinner gathering on Tuesday night was a wash. The organizers really didn’t offer any food, just a few appetizers with drinks. People seemed to know one another, so it was a bit awkward for Huib and I. We stayed for a couple of drinks and then left to order pizza in our hotel room with Rogue and Canyon.

Brooke and Rogue standing in front of a metal statue. The statue is a memorial for people lost in the 9/11 attacks. Brooke is wearing a fancy white tank top that has silver trim with blue jeans, a white hat, black Oakley sunglasses and black leather sandals. Rogue is wearing her red guide harness.

Wednesday morning we had a bit of breakfast and then I went to the keynote by John Bradshaw, while Huib returned to the room to watch Dirty Jobs with Canyon.

The keynote was good. Bradshaw talked about anthropomorphism and how it can be both good and bad. I didn’t really agree with his belief that dogs lack higher levels of intelligence and the ability to feel some of the complex emotions, but overall I really enjoyed his talk. After he had finished, the floor was opened for questions. The most interesting question asked was by a woman who used to be a nurse in a hospice. She wanted to know how Bradshaw can explain the reaction dogs have to dying patients if he believes they do not possess higher levels of intelligence and feeling. I totally see what she was saying and I didn’t feel Bradshaw answered her question. I wish I had taken good notes, so I could actually explain what he was saying and how her question related, but of course I am a horrible notetaker.

When the keynote was over, Huib came back to go with Rogue and I into the ball room where the posters were set up. The people who had posters were asked to stay by their poster for an hour each day of the conference to answer any questions.

I had a number of people come by. I’m not really sure why, but people really seemed interested in my project. I had a couple of people comment that my poster had too much writing, but otherwise I had a lot of compliments and questions regarding my research findings. Even though I am still in the beginning stages of my project, I was able to answer most questions and I don’t really think anyone noticed that I haven’t really started my research, lol!

The morning sessions weren’t overly interesting to me, but I did like the presentation on veterans and service dogs. The research seemed to tie in well with the research paper my thesis supervisor wrote last year for Veterans Affairs on the benefit of service dogs for veterans.

Lunch was good, not only did I get some pizza, but they also had some good salads.

In the afternoon there were several different presentations relating to service dogs. A woman from the UK did a research project looking at the psychological benefits of guide dogs to their blind handlers. It was interesting to listen to her findings because one of the conclusions I made in my short literature review was that there is a lot of research looking at the benefits of therapy dogs and companion dogs, but no real studies looking at the psychological benefits of service dogs. There was also an interesting study looking at the activity level of blind people with service dogs compared to blind people without dogs. She found that guide dog users tend to be more active than blind individuals without a dog.

Canyon lying in front of a black horse statue that is decorated in beverage containers.

I can’t really remember what the second afternoon session was about, so it probably wasn’t overly interesting.

Dinner was at a local restaurant. It was pretty fancy stuff. We had steak with mashed potatoes and grilled veggies. They also served some good salad and tasty bread. We could have also had dessert, but we wanted to get back to Canyon and we both weren’t overly hungry anymore, so we passed on the desserts.

On the final day of the conference we had to leave the room by noon, so I only went to the morning sessions. There was a keynote on zoos that was quite interesting. Did you know that giraffes are quickly nearing endangered species status? Did you know that there is no real value in conserving the Giant Panda? I didn’t know either.

There were a variety of presentations in the morning session. There was an interesting presentation by Hal Herzog, on the problems with studies looking at the value of animal-assisted therapies. He argues that most studies do not actually prove anything because often they are too small sample-wise and lack controls.

The next couple presentations were on activity dog programs at a couple of different universities and a rehabilitation centre in Switzerland. I really liked the prevention by Sandra Barker, evaluating the program her university runs. Not only do they have dogs, but they also have cats, rabbits and a chicken. Could you imagine? A therapy chicken?

Other than finding it hard to stay in a down during the afternoon sessions on Wednesday, Rogue did quite well. I got a lot of compliments on her work and about how quiet she is. I do need to work on her staying in a down for longer periods of time, but in her defence, Wednesday was a pretty long day and she did well until the last few presentations.

Once Huib and Canyon had loaded the car, Huib came to get Rogue and I. We then set off to visit Cyndy and Uschi from the blog, Gentle Wit.

It was a pretty short visit, but a good one. Such really liked playing with Canyon. We spent most of the time just hanging out at their house, letting Uschi and Canyon play with the tennis balls Cyndy brought out and spread around the living room. Rogue isn’t an overly social dog with other dogs, so she spent most of the visit hiding on the couch or trying to walk along the back of the couch to see where Huib had gone. Other than watching the dogs play and talking, we went to pick up food at the Cheesecake Factory and had breakfast at a yummy little diner before leaving for home.

I have been sending packages to Cyndy’s place for months, so we also picked a lot of stuff up during our visit. We got Swamp Cooler vests for the goldens from Ruffwear, a bright pink front attach harness and pacific blue front attach harness from Ruffwear for Arizona and rogue, some JW chew toys for Ari, some new black leather leashes for a couple of friends and for the labs along with matching black leather martingales for Rogue and Cessna. I also finally got my new purple iPhone case and Huib got a black one for his phone. Oh, and I also got Cessna’s new supplement I’m trying out with her that is made from the shell membrane of eggs. This new supplement is supposed to be better than Glucosamine, so even though Cessna isn’t showing any arthritis yet, she is making some clicking noises when she walks up stairs, so I’m hoping this new supplement will help her out.

When we got back to my friend’s place to pick up Cessna and Arizona, Ari told Huib how much she disliked the fact that we had left her for so long. She was extremely vocal about it and held onto Huib’s arm for along time, taking him from place to place in the yard, lol! My friend said both girls were great and Ari had a good time playing with her daughter’s foster puppy, Sully. When she dropped Sully off at her daughter’s place, he didn’t even greet Kelsey, he just went over and laid on his bed, lol!

Looking Back

The topic for this round of the assistance Dog Blog Carnival is “regrets.” I chose this topic because in exactly one month it will be 17 years since I was partnered with Phoenix. For new blog readers, Phoenix was officially my second dog guide from Dog Guides Canada, but to me he was my first, and the dog who started it all.

On July 23rd, 1998, I was matched with Phoenix, a 21 month old male yellow lab. He wanted nothing to do with me at first, he just wanted to be with his trainer. Around the two week mark of class, a switch turned and he was mine forever. From that moment in time, Phoenix and I ruled the world together. Even when he retired 7 years later, he was still my constant shadow. No matter how much Huib tried to win his affection, Phoenix would have none of it. When I was home, Phoenix was stuck to me like glue.

We finished my final year of high school together. We completed five years at the University of Guelph and walked across the graduation stage side by side. Along the way Phoenix taught me about unconditional love and the value of true friendship.

It’s true, I’ve had several dogs since getting Phoenix (not all guides of course), but no matter who has passed through my life since July 23rd, Phoenix had and will always have a big piece of my heart.

You’re probably wondering how this all relates to the topic of “regrets.” Well, looking back I have many regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known about clicker training and that I had not used the choke chain and the harsh corrections that went along with it. It’s true that I stopped using all of this a year or so after getting Cessna, but I still have regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known about feeding a raw diet sooner. Yes, Phoenix ate raw his final eight months with me, but it took me over 12 years to finally figure out how to end his constant fight with ear infections. It’s true that I figured out his allergies by the time he was seven, but he still got painful ear infections off and on, so I have regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known the end was near. It’s true he was just two months shy of his 15th birthday when he passed. It’s true that I was not in school or working, so I spent every hour of the day at home with the dogs. It’s true that I fed him all of his favourite human foods, such as pizza, french fries, Kraft Dinner and beef jerky, when he’d eat for me. It’s true that he progressively ate less and less, while sleeping more and more the last month of his life, so I should have known the end was near. But, I have regrets.

I wonder if he would have stayed longer if I had not gotten Rogue. I wonder if he wouldn’t have started to give up if I hadn’t left him with friends for a few days while I took Canyon, Cessna and Rogue to Rogue’s breeder’s reunion. I will probably never know the answer for certain, and he probably would have still passed away, but I have regrets.

According to dictionary.com, regret means to: “feel sorrow or remorse for an act, fault, or disappointment.”

This definition seems fitting. I feel sorrow for the training methods I chose, which caused me to act poorly towards Phoenix. I feel remorse for not acting sooner to stop his ear infections. And, I feel sorrow for possibly causing him to pass away sooner than he might have if I had not chosen to get a puppy.

It’s true that I shouldn’t feel bad for these things, but I still have regrets.

Labradorable Cessna

I’m such a bad dog mom, I haven’t had a picture of Cessna up here in a while. It’s really difficult to get good pictures of her in the summer time because her black coat reflects the sun, so we’re going to try and take more now that we can use the natural lighting of winter.

Cessna with snow on her face

Goodbye 2014

2014 is about to come to an end.

And, what a year it has been…

Here are some of the highlights:
We bought a house
Aiden came to visit for 10 days
Huib was promoted to Assistant Director of Nursing at the Village of Riverside Glen
I was accepted into the Health and Aging masters program at McMaster University
Rogue passed the Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test in May
Arizona joined our family in July
Rogue and I started graduate school in September
Canyon earned another point towards his Canadian Championship title in October
Cessna officially retired from guide work

We can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for us.

From all of us at ruled by paws, have a very safe and happy new year!

It’s Time

Well, I guess it’s time. It’s time to make it official.

Cessna is now retired.

I had always planned to retire her by the age of 10, but she wanted to work longer, so I let her make the decision. She hasn’t wanted to come out for a while now, so if I think back to the last time she worked, I think it would be at the end of September or early October. that means she’s been retired for over 2 months now.

Can you believe that? Retired for 2 months and I just finally got around to making it official.

I haven’t told her school yet and I’m not really sure I ever will. They haven’t contacted me in years and to be honest, I could care less about them knowing.

All that really matters is she’s happy and healthy.

I had wanted to have a retirement party for Cessna, but all of our friends have been busy and many have moved away, so I think I’ll just let it go. I think I will buy her a new retirement collar and leash though…

This is really hard. It’s hard putting it into real words, finally saying to everyone that Cessna is retired. She hasn’t worked in a while, so it’s not like I haven’t known it was happening, but putting it into words makes it real.

It’s been an amazing 9 plus years of working together my little Cessnaroo, but it is time to hang up your harness for good and to start a new adventure together. You taught me so much over the years. If it weren’t for you, I’m not sure I would have ever learned about clicker training or the importance of positive reinforcement. I’m not even sure I would have thought about fostering puppies, let alone raise and train my own guide dog. You are one amazing little lab.

I will try to make your retirement years as wonderful as your working years have been.

Happy Birthday Cessna

Cessna is now 11 years old!!

We didn’t do too much on the actual day of her birthday because I had school and Huib had work.

The dogs each got fresh beef bones for breakfast, and a ground beef Kong for dinner.

Since Cessna’s birthday is so close to Halloween, we decided to have a mini-Halloween costume party for her.

Arizona wears a green frog costume. It has a stuffed frog head that is on her head, and stuffed frog legs.

Canyon wears a Tigger costume. The costume has a stuffed Tigger head that is sitting on his head.

Both Rogue, the lion, and Cessna, the monarch butterfly, weren’t into being photographed, so we just took pictures of the goldens.

Arizona in her frog costume with a big smile on her face

Arizona really didn’t seem to mind her costume.

Canyon Looking for Trick or Treaters. He's looking out the screen door in his tigger costume, so the picture is taken from behind.

We had about 60 kids come, so Canyon thought it was great.

Arizona passed out on the floor in her costume

It was a pretty exhausting day, and then night for the little frog.

During the day Huib and I took the dogs to visit residents at the long-term care home where he works. We took the goldens together and then in the afternoon we took the labs. The dogs were a big hit with the residents.

Cessna even had her friends Ace and Piper come for a visit in their super hero costumes.

Happy Birthday Cessnaroo! We all love you!

RIM Park

Every Friday we get together with our friend karen and her dog, Spark, in either Guelph or Waterloo.

this week we chose to travel to RIM Park with Arizona and Cessna.

I had never been to RIM Park, so it was a pretty neat experience. There were tons of different things to do with Arizona and Spark.

We took them on various bleachers, over a number of different surfaces and even had them walking on the playground equipment.

Spark wasn’t too sure about some of the surfaces and playground stuff, but Arizona continues to wow us with her fearlessness.

Brooke, Cessna and Arizona sit in the middle of an artificial turf soccer field. Brooke is wearing a long sleeved teal shirt with a navy blue vest, jeans, a white roots baseball cap and white running shoes. Cessna is lying beside her wearing her black leather CVC harness, purple Silverfoot martingale collar that has brown Haida whales on it and a black nylon leash that goes across Brooke's body. Arizona is wearing her Mickey Mouse collar and harness with a thin black nylon leash. Arizona is all fuzzy because she's trying to jet away.

same picture as before, but this time Arizona is laying down in front of Brooke and Cessna.

rogue & Cessna take On Marineland

Guess what everyone!!

Mommy took me and Cessna to Marineland!!

It was SO much fun!!

We had to get up a bit earlier than normal, but it was okay with Cessna and I because our friends Sam, Mikayla and Kira came, so we knew it was going to be something exciting we were doing.

When we arrived at the park, Mommy made me and Cessna wear our respective head halters because she said she didn’t want her arm pulled off. I personally think I didn’t need it, but Cessna was CRAZY!!

Once we were all suited up and the humans had their backpacks on, we walked to the front gates and met up with 9 puppies in training from Cessna’s school with their human companions.

I didn’t catch many of their names, but I did get to talk to a flat coat named Martha and 2 labs named Okra and Posy – Mommy says she is glad she isn’t going back to Cessna’s school right now because the names they are coming up with for the dogs are WAY too weird!!

Once we all got through the gates, we walked to a big stadium like place where there were tons of benches and a big pool where I saw dolphins swimming around. I had never seen a dolphin before, but Mommy says they are one of her favourite animals (with dogs and horses being the other two).

Mommy held on to Sam’s arm while we walked to our seats because there were tons of people and she wanted to make sure I didn’t take her on a detour.

At our seats Cessna and I had a perfect view of the pool. Cessna was making some crazy screeching and high pitch whining noises, while I watched intently and quivered with excitement.

When the show started, Cessna got even louder and Kira had trouble calming her down. Mommy tried to help Kira, but Cessna wanted so badly to go swim with the sea lions, dolphins, beluga whales and walruses.

We watched the sea lions catch big rings, collect stuff from the bottom of the pool and swim around. The dolphins jumped, swam and also did some ring catching, while the belugas carried their trainers and did some neat performing. the walruses, in my opinion, were boring, they really didn’t do anything.

after the show we got to meet a dolphin trainer and Mommy and the other humans got to go touch a dolphin. Mommy wasn’t too sure she wanted to do it, but Mikayla asked her to go with her and together they got to feel the dolphin’s tail. the dolphin’s name was Tsunami and Mommy said she felt like a thick, rubbery sort of foam material.

when everyone had gotten their pictures taken, the group began to disperse. We went to the car to get some food for the humans and Mommy asked Kira to come help her let me and Cessna go to the washroom.

After the humans stuffed their faces, we head back into the park and walked to Friendship cove. Cessna absolutely loves the orcas, so Mommy wanted to take us there first.

the first mammals we came to were the beluga whales. there were about 6 or more in the tank and we got to watch them from above and below. After that we went over to the orca and watched Niska swim from below before going up and watching her swim and splash everyone from above. Niska is the only orca at Marineland right now. Mommy isn’t sure if orcas like to live alone or if Marineland has just not had a chance to get another one since the passing of the previous one. She thinks she remembers there being more than one orca when she visited a few years ago, but she isn’t totally sure.

After the orcas, we went to the deer park and waited outside while Kira went in with our friend Elizabeth to feed and pet the deer.

Then we walked over to the ride area and Kira went on a couple with her sister while we watched. Cessna jumped around and whined as if she wanted to rescue Kira, but Mommy held on tight and asked Cessna to sit calmly. I found the rides interesting to watch, but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere near it, so Kira was on her own there 😉

On our way to the bigger roller coaster we stopped and saw the black bears. It was sad to see the older ones in the small pool, but it was cool to watch one of them tell off a youngster. Mommy said it sort of sounded like how Cessna tells off Arizona when she tries to steal something she has. the younger bear wanted to sit on a rock that the older one was on so started making noises at him. the older bear refused to move and made even louder noises back.

When we got to the bigger roller coaster, Kira was too scared to go on it, so Mommy offered to go with Mikayla. Mommy gave my leash to Sam and Kira held on to Cessna. I was SO worried about Mommy leaving us, so I whined a lot and tried to follow her. Sam wouldn’t let me, so after a bit I gave up and waited. Mommy got back 20 minutes later – I was SO excited to see her!!

Mikayla needed to get to work for 6pm, so we left Marineland at 4:30pm.

Oh yeah! Before we left, as we were getting ready to get into the car, Sam dropped a can of Coke and it exploded all over her, also spraying me, Cessna, Mommy and Kira. So when we got home, Mommy put my gear into the washer, wiped Cessna’s down with cleaner and then made us both have baths. Neither of us like baths, but we also didn’t like feeling all sticky, so tolerated it.

I had a lot of fun at Marineland and I hope to go again some day. I think Cessna had the best time though and I am glad she got to go before she retires fully.

Time For Annual Check-Ups

On Saturday the dogs had their annual check-ups with Dr. b.

Canyon was first. He had two years of good titers, so Bianca said we could skip them this year along with the Heartworm testing. She then asked us if we have any concerns and we told her about the episodes Canyon has been having. we told her that we’ve finally figured it out after 3 years, it is not a leg cramp like we had originally thought. It took us (Bianca included) 3 years to figure out what was happening because it is not a typical kind of seizure.

The episodes started in October of 2011. We had recently come in from a long game of fetch and while Canyon was chilled out on the kitchen floor, he started to flip out, as if he was in pain. After struggling to restrain him, we finally figured out that something was up with his left hind leg. he was able to move everything else, and he was totally aware of what was going on, but he couldn’t seem to extend his hip. It lasted only minutes and didn’t occur again until the following october, when they happened twice, about three weeks apart.

Bianca couldn’t make a definitive diagnosis because the symptoms, the frequency and after effects are odd. Other than some increased clinginess beforehand, a slight increase in drooling, some muscle twitching and a release of his anal glands, Canyon is completely normal during and after the seizure. It lasts about 5 minutes from start to when he gets up and grabs his toy to parade around again. he doesn’t loose consciousness, he isn’t incontinent and the muscle twitches only seem to impact his back end, so it took a while for us to figure it out.

This past September Canyon had another seizure, and then at the end of February, end of march and then about a week ago, he had them. Since they seem to be happening more often, we’ve finally figured out what they are. we did some research on seizures and it looks as though Canyon is having Partial Seizures.

Bianca feels as though we are doing everything we can at the moment. She is going to retest his thyroid levels in November because she said the results were on the low side of normal and that Hypothyroidism can cause seizures, but that for now we’ll just monitor things. Since we did note that he had had fish within 24 hours before having at least two of the seizures, Bianca has instructed us to eliminate all fish, except his Omega 3 supplement, from his diet. the only other thing we can also pinpoint as a possible trigger is anxiety and/or stress, so we’re going to try to limit that, but of course it will be impossible to totally avoid.

We are a bit worried about this diagnosis because from our research, it looks as though it is common for Partial Seizures to worsen and become Grand Mal Seizures. Bianca doesn’t want to start Canyon on medication yet, and we agree, because the medications cause liver damage, he’s not quite 5 and the seizures aren’t too severe, so it’s better to wait.

Other than Canyon’s Atypical Seizure Disorder (Bianca’s name for them) we were also a bit concerned about the scar on his eye lid from the surgery back in October. It seems to have grown a bit and it looks as though something is trying to come out. Bianca gave us a homeopathic remedy, Silica, to give him for 7 days and she hopes it will promote the rejection of whatever is bothering the area. Both Huib and Bianca think that it is possible Canyon’s body is rejecting the internal stitches that should have dissolved on their own months ago. She said that if it gets any worse or doesn’t go away soon, that we should bring him back and she’ll probably lance it.

Next it was Rogue’s turn to be examined. Bianca said that we could also skip the titers and heartworm test for her because of previous results. She said that Rogue looks amazing and began asking us questions about where we got her.

after Rogue had finished giving Bianca tons of kisses, it was Cessna’s turn to be checked. She needed her thyroid checked, since she’s already got Hypothyroidism and is taking Levo-thyroxine, but Bianca gave her a pass on the titers and heartworm test.

Bianca was surprised to find out that Cessna is already 10.5. She said that she is in wonderful shape, but that she thinks we should increase her Glucosamine because her elbows seem a bit stiff and her knees are a little crunchy. She said that Cessna doesn’t seem to be in any pain though, so she isn’t really concerned.

this year’s vet visit was pretty successful. all of the dogs are healthy and at good weights: Canyon is 73lbs and both Rogue and Cessna are about 61lbs.

Wyoming Trip: Time To Go Home

As Robin liked to say: “Bootcamp is over and your release papers are in”.

Around 8am, all of us woke up, had our coffee, fed the dogs and then got ready for our final breakfast together.

Once breakfast was over, I went to finish packing the rest of my clothes and then Bill came into the room to make sure I didn’t miss anything obvious. I was shocked, but all of our stuff fit back into the suitcase without the need of the expansion portion either. Huib told me the suitcase is stronger without the expansion part being used, so I tried to make sure I could close it without the need of more room.

Around noon we piled the dogs, my suitcase and backpack into the vehicle and set off for Denver.

Other than a quick stop for lunch in Longmont, we didn’t make any other stops and arrived at Denver International Airport around 2pm, two and a half hours before my flight – which is a good thing because I didn’t make it to the gate until 3:40.

When we finally found the check-in counter, the clerk told me that she would order a wheelchair. When I explained that I did not require one, I just needed someone’s arm, she said that my request was not possible, that they only had people with wheelchairs available. I asked to see her supervisor. I don’t like being difficult, but the clerk was being rude and stupid. There is no reason why an airport shouldn’t have people to escort me to the gate without me needing to sit in a wheelchair to get there. After about 10 minutes of waiting, I moved back to the counter and asked her again to speak to her supervisor. She said her supervisor was busy, but that she would check me in and take my suitcase while I waited. She also said that she could give Bill a boarding pass and he could escort me to the gate. I asked that both Bill and Robin be able to do it if that was needed, but Robin didn’t have her ID, so I told the woman that an escort was going to be needed – I didn’t want Robin to have to sit and wait for Bill to return. the supervisor finally came out after 20 minutes and apologized for being so long. She said they had some trouble with an Ice Air flight and she also apologized about her employee. She said the woman was newer and had not assisted a person with a disability before. She said that it was her who had told the clerk to order a wheelchair, but that once the clerk learned I was visually impaired, that she should have found me an escort to walk down with, not expected me to sit in a wheelchair – I had decided that if I was going to have to have someone take me down with a wheelchair, that I was going to put Rogue into it and hold the back handle, lol! The supervisor said that it was going to take about 30 minutes for an escort to come help me, which I was okay with, but Robin told bill to take rogue and I to the gate.

After getting his boarding pass, Bill, Rogue and I set off for our gate. After going down a couple of escalators we finally made it to security where Bill’s boarding pass refused to work. After about 5 minutes of waiting, the guy gave bill another one. At security, I took off my shoes and belt and took my laptop out of my backpack, then proceeded through the metal detectors and, of course, I beeped. The guard asked if Rogue’s harness had any metal on it and I said yes, but offered to take everything off and have Bill call her back through. I did this. I stripped rogue completely down and wearing nothing, she ran through the detectors back to Bill – I was SO proud of her! I then walked back through the detector and beeped, so they asked for a female screener to come do a pat-down. the screener was really nervous, she worried about hurting me and also worried that Rogue would mind her touching me. Once I reassured her, she did her thing. while we were with the screener, another woman with a service dog was in a couple slots down. Rogue alerted me to the other dog, but when I asked her to stay, she stopped paying attention to the dog and just stayed standing where I asked with her leash loosely between us. Bill said he saw all of this and was very impressed. Once the pat-down was done, Bill came over with my stuff and I got everything back in its place.

At the gate, Rogue and I said goodbye to bill and then settled between two guys that were really friendly. One guy was travelling with another man and the other guy was travelling with a woman and a man. After a bit of waiting, the one guy asked me if I was going to be pre-boarded and when I said yes, he said that someone would probably come soon because they were taking some people in wheelchairs over to the ramp onto the plane. When I said that I hoped they didn’t forget I was there, both men said that I didn’t need to worry because they wouldn’t allow the plane to forget us – Canadians are SO friendly!!

Once on the plane, Rogue settled at my feet and since no one was in the seat beside me, I put my backpack under the seat in front and waited for takeoff.

The flight was relatively smooth. A flight attendant offered everyone beverages, so I had a Coca-cola while I read. When we got closer to Toronto, a flight attendant came over and gave me a customs form. I explained that I was visually impaired and would need assistance filling it out. She said that no one had told the attendants I was blind, so she felt bad that I had not been shown the safety features personally. I told her I was okay.

When we landed, I immediately sent Huib a message to say we had touched down. He said they were waiting just past baggage. The plane had to taxi for a bit so a spot would clear for the pilot to park, so I didn’t end up getting to Huib, Dad and Cessna until about 20 minutes or more after I had initially messaged him. Rogue was SO happy to see Huib and Cessna was SO happy to see me. I gave Rogue’s leash to Huib and he gave me Cessna’s.

It was an awesome trip and experience for both Rogue and I. Hopefully someday we’ll get a chance to return and show Robin how much we’ve grown as a team.