How To Use A Laptop

Rogue lying with head on the keyboard of my laptop. You can see my hand sort of under her chin.

Back On Campus

yesterday, I had my first class on campus, after 9 years away.

Nine years ago, I graduated from the University of guelph, with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Public Policy. Since graduating, I completed a social work degree at McMaster University and have taken three courses online through the University of guelph, but I haven’t taken any courses on campus.

I hope to apply for masters, starting next fall, so I’ve decided to continue taking a class each semester, in order to improve my Grade Point Average.

this semester, I am taking a 4th year advanced topics course that looks at the area of human rights.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been thinking about doing a masters thesis relating to human rights, so I thought this course might be a good starting point.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working with the labs on becoming familiar with the University campus. Since losing a bit more of my sight almost two years ago, I’ve had to relearn how to work with and trust Cessna, while also training Rogue. Even though I lived in guelph for almost 10 years, and attended the University for 5 of those years, I’ve had to relearn the city and campus, while also trying to regain some confidence.

When Cessna and I arrived at the University, we got off the bus and headed toward the University Centre. We found the first crossing with no problem, but then became disoriented. We were supposed to go over-left a bit and then continue walking forward, but Cessna continued walking to the left and I didn’t realize until I started hearing sounds that told me we were approaching an intersection. I turned around and asked her to go forward and then stopped to listen for sounds that might help me find the correct route. I knew we were close to the spot we needed to be, but couldn’t quite figure it out, so listened for someone to walk by. I heard someone and asked for help, a couple of people walked by, but then a woman stopped and said she was also going to the University Centre. I had Cessna follow her, and was quite amused by the woman. She kept telling Cessna to come along and when we got to some steps, Cessna paused to tell me, and the woman started saying “Up, up, come on, up…”. I almost laughed. Thankfully the woman’s calls fell on deaf ears and Cessna kept me safe. When we got to the University Centre, the woman went her way and I had Cessna find the spot where we were supposed to meet our guide. I ended up having to call my guide, we had missed each other, but we found each other in the end and I made it to class a few minutes before the professor arrived.

Cessna slept through the class and we got back to the bus and home without any further complications.

I’m going to take Cessna to campus a couple of times this week to work on our route to the University Centre, so that hopefully on Friday we won’t end up lost.

The Rogue roller Coaster

The past month has been full of ups and downs for rogue and I.

We are really getting into the tough part of training and it’s been quite the roller coaster.

We’ve had really good training sessions, and then we’ve had okay training sessions. I guess a positive part of all this is that we haven’t had any really bad training sessions.

Rogue is getting really comfortable with her new working gear and she is slowly settling into her guiding responsibilities.

I’ve been really focusing on her curb approaches, directions and confidence.

I’ve been trying to find friends willing to work with us, to give Rogue an opportunity to work without Huib.

I find my dogs get really comfortable with Huib and forget to focus on their jobs. they get into the habit of expecting Huib to take care of me, instead of just working along side him. It’s not just a problem rogue has, but one both Cessna and Phoenix have been guilty of.

Since Rogue and I did a lot of work in malls when we lived in the north, she is extremely confident and her work is almost always spot on. We had two really amazing training sessions that I wish i could have videoed. Her pace was amazing, her obstacle work was perfect, and her precision had me speechless.

Then, when we went to London to see my neuro ophthalmologist, she had me again speechless. She was guiding me around people and through the hospital hallways with such confidence, you’d think she had been there before. she was turning left and right when I asked and she only blew her up curbs by a couple of steps. Huib was with us and was so proud of the work we had done.

Last week I took Rogue and Cessna to the University of Guelph to learn the route from the bus stop to my class. I decided to start by working with Cessna, and then do it with Rogue. I thought Rogue would be able to learn from watching Cessna work – I was completely wrong. When it was Rogue’s turn, her pace was slow, we struggled with our curb approaches but her obstacle work and overall work was okay. I was frustrated because I didn’t understand where my confident little worker had gone.

On Saturday I returned to the campus with a friend to do some more work with Rogue. We still struggled with our curb approaches, she keeps stopping a few feet away from the down curb and then when we inch our way closer, she ends up blowing the curb by a couple of steps. her up curbs were a little better, but she was still taking a couple steps too much. her pace was better though and looking back, I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that her confidence level was higher, since we had been to the campus before. We worked on the route from the bus stop to my class and Rogue did well at finding the stairs, finding the doors, finding the ramps and even finding the elevator, but I think the biggest thing I realized was that I didn’t trust her. I was okay when I knew there wasn’t any stairs I could fall down, but as soon as I knew, or even thought, there were stairs coming up, I felt myself tensing and noticed Rogue’s attention drifting.

overall, I’d have to say rogue worked well, but I need work.

After talking to some friends about the work Rogue and I have done over the past month, I came to the conclusion that we aren’t going to get to the point where she can take over from Cessna if I don’t start getting her out daily. If I’m going to trust rogue, like I trust Cessna, then I am going to have to put in the time.

I’m going to get my cane out and use it to help rogue learn exactly where I want her to stop at curbs and stairs, while also using it to give me confidence that we’re safe.

I think the curb issues stem from something i unintentionally taught her.

To be honest, it seems that most of the issues I have with my dogs are because of something I unintentionally teach, lol!

I’m really going to try and make a conscious effort to get Rogue out daily, even if it means we need to work a bit in the rain.

Eye Checks

Today, we took Rogue and Cessna to a CERF clinic held in simcoe. Rogue is now 27 months, so I wanted to make sure her vision was good before we continued her training.

A blind guide dog isn’t too much help to a blind person 😉

Two years ago, we took Cessna and Canyon to a CERF clinic held in Kitchener and learned that she had developed tiny cataracts. Since Dr Nick Whelan, was going to be the ophthalmologist at this clinic, I thought I’d get Cessna’s eyes rechecked. Well…the news was both good and bad. the good news is that Cessna can still see perfectly fine, but the bad news is that she now has three additional cataracts in her right eye. At the last check she had just three in that eye, but now there are six. There are still only two in her left eye though, which also good, I guess…

Dr Whelan says that she will most likely develop more of these tiny cataracts, which will at some point interfere with her vision, but that they will probably continue to remain tiny. I’m both happy and sad with this news. I’m happy that Cessna can still work with me, but I’m sad to know that someday she may not be able to see well enough to chase her beloved squirrels and chipmunks.

Moving on to better news. Rogue’s vision is perfect! Other than some capillaries that didn’t go away at birth, something that doesn’t effect her vision, she’s got perfect amber coloured eyes.

With CERF clinics being so inexpensive and most doctors offering free exams to service dogs, I really don’t see why dog guide programs aren’t asking their clients to take their dogs on an annual basis. If it weren’t for Canyon’s need to get his clearances for breeding, I would never have known Cessna was developing cataracts. The cataracts aren’t causing any issues with her vision, so we’re a safe team, but it’s still a good thing to know and keep tabs on.

Canada Day

Rogue and I standing together. Rogue is wearing her red and black guide harness, you only see the black straps that come over her shoulders and a bit of the red canvas lower on her chest. She's also wearing a red limited slip collar with Cessna's black leather braided leash and is pulling toward the camera. I'm standing to her right wearing blue denim jeans, tan running shoes, a red long sleeved shirt and a red baseball cap that says Canada in white stitching.

earlier this evening, Huib, Rogue and I went to Riverside Park here in Guelph to check out the Canada Day festivities. There were some carnival rides and games, as well as, some food and snack vendors. There was even a band playing, followed by some loud music over the radio. rogue was a little too excited, so needed to wear her silver Halti, but she had no issues with all of the people, noise and smells. Whenever we stopped, she focused on me, nose targeting my leg, and when she was distracted, she was easily redirected to us. I think with a little more time to mature, she won’t need the Halti at all.

Fireworks in the sky. there's a yellow one just above the red one.

Fireworks in the sky. There's a white one above the yellow one.

Later, Huib and I went to the fireworks display put on by the rotary Club. for safety reasons they had the park blocked off, so everyone was lined up along the sidewalks. It was really neat to watch the fireworks go up and then explode in the sky. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to see anything, since losing more of my sight about two and a half years ago I’m not able to see a lot of what I used to, but I was delighted to discover that I could see them. I wasn’t able to tell what colours they were, but Huib told me as they lit up the sky.

I hope everyone had a safe Canada Day.

It’s Canada Day!

Cessna, Canyon, Rogue and I wanted to take a moment to wish all of our fellow Canadians a very Happy Canada Day!

There are some special events going on at some of the parks around Guelph, so I think we’ll take Rogue and Cessna to check things out.

Later in the evening, there will be fireworks, so the dogs will stay home while Huib, dad and I go watch them. I used to take Phoenix to fireworks displays, but I have heard of other people needing to retire their guides after such events, so I won’t ever take another one of my dogs. so far, none of my dogs seem phased by the sounds of fireworks, so I’d rather keep it that way.

Happy Canada Day Everyone!!

My Sister’s Wedding

Saturday was my sister’s wedding. I think I mentioned her getting engaged in an earlier post, but I really wasn’t too involved in the planning, so I haven’t talked about it much here on the blog.

On the Friday afternoon, Huib, Dad, Rogue and I packed up the Orlando and headed to Niagara Falls. We arrived around 4:30pm, checked in at the hotel we were staying at and then began bringing our stuff inside. I called my sister to find out what the plan was for dinner, but learned she was not yet in Niagara Falls, so we went to Shoeless Joe’s on our own.

I ordered chicken breast with goat cheese on it, along with a garden salad and some french fries. Dad ordered a baked chicken penne pasta and Huib got a club sandwich with fries. the food was good, but the portions were on the small side and quite expensive.

After dinner, we walked over to the Falls View Casino and went our separate ways. Huib and I took Rogue for a walk down by the falls, while Dad went into the casino to try and win some money – good thing we don’t live too close to any casinos, lol! On our way back to the hotel, I got a call from my sister. They had arrived in town and had met up with Dad. We had planned to all meet back at our hotel room, but somehow the plans were changed without our knowledge, so we went to visit my aunt and her guy friend at another hotel. Each of us were in a different hotel, but none was more than a five minute walk away, so it worked out perfectly.

Rogue trying to get a closer look at the falls. I'm standing to the left looking toward the camera. Rogue has her head underneath the bottom rail.

On Saturday morning, Huib, Dad, Mark (my new brother-in-law) and I met up with my aunt and her guy friend for breakfast. Mark had stayed the night with us, and wasn’t allowed to see Brandi until the ceremony, so he hung out with us for most of the day. For breakfast, I had eggs Benedict, it was delicious! After breakfast, Dean (my aunt’s guy friend) joined Huib, Dad, mark and I on a walk down to the falls. We had planned to do a tour behind the falls, but the next available spot wasn’t until 1pm and the wedding was supposed to start at 4pm, so we thought we had better not chance it. Dad and Mark headed back to the hotel, while we went back to the Hilton with Dean. My sister was staying at the Hilton with two of my other aunts, so Huib and I went up to make sure she was doing okay. Huib also brought our camera and took tons of pictures while Brandi was getting ready.

At 3pm, Huib, Rogue and I headed back to our hotel to get ready. I wore black dress pants and black shoes, with a white button down blouse that had some black accents. Huib wore black dress pants, a black tie, black shoes and a dark long-sleeved purple dress shirt. Dad wore a black pinstriped suit with a white shirt, black shoes and tie that had a wolf on it. Dad was giving Brandi away, so he had to look good 🙂

When we arrived at the room where the ceremony was to take place, Huib and I went into the bridal room to wish Brandi good luck. We weren’t able to stay in there too long because her maid of honour and one of my aunts was busy altering her dress and Brandi was crying, so I had to quickly leave – I didn’t want to start crying as well. Even though she had tried her dress on the week before and the seamstress said she had made all of the necessary alterations, the dress ended up being too long and didn’t quite fit properly around her chest area.

When the ceremony began, Dad and Brandi came down the aisle to “When You Kiss Me” by Shania Twain. It was kind of an odd song to play when you are walking down the aisle with your Dad, but I understood the meaning behind her selection. Brandi was beautiful. She said she was concentrating hard on not tripping as she walked and tried not to look at everyone, in case she began crying again, lol! It was probably a good decision, because almost everyone in the audience was in tears, even Mark’s Dad, which got Mark in tears, lol! The exchanging of vows was pretty standard and the minister was pretty interesting. Brandi had wanted the same minister to do their ceremony as Mom, Dad and us had, but with the whole wedding package, the minister was included, so she decided to just go with the one provided. When they signed their marriage license, they had the song “From This Moment” by Shania Twain played, and then when they walked back down the aisle, the rest of “When You Kiss Me” was played.

In between the ceremony and dinner, we had some pictures taken with the photographer and then we had some coffee while catching up with old friends. It was really cool to see the girls we had grown up with, it had been so long since we’d all been together.

At dinner, Mark’s brother said a short speech and then Dad did his. I was supposed to write it for him, but I had gotten stuck, so Dad just did it on the spot. For dinner we were able to choose between chicken and steak, I think almost everyone picked the steak – it was awesome! Along with the steak, they served baby bokchoy and a baked potato, with a salad to start.

Rogue and I sitting at a table covered with a white table cloth. Rogue has her paws up on a chair that is covered with a white material looking toward the camera. I'm sitting behind her. You can see my white blouse with black accents. Rogue is only wearing her purple Haida whale martingale and Cessna's black leather braided leash. You can see the falls through the window behind me.

Brandi and Mark chose Savage Garden’s song “Truly, Madly, Deeply” for their first dance as a couple. brandi has always loved that song, so I think it was an awesome choice. After a bit, Dad and Brandi danced together to some song that I don’t know the name of, but that totally made me teary. It was about a Dad talking about his little girl growing up and how she reminded him of her mother – it was just so fitting. Finally, it was time to cut the cake. Instead of getting a normal cake that no one was going to eat, Brandi and Mark decided upon a strawberry cheesecake. I’m not a fruit fan in my food, but after Huib took off the strawberry topping, I ate the rest of the cheesecake.

After the cheesecake was served, several guests left, so the rest of us started getting ready to go as well. Brandi and Mark only invited twenty people to their wedding, so once most of the guests were gone, it wasn’t much of a party.

we all went back to our respective hotels and then everyone, but Huib and I, met up at a local night club. It was so funny to see Dad and my aunts getting ready to go to a night club. Huib and I didn’t feel it was a good place for rogue to be going, and didn’t think she’d remain quiet in our hotel room, so we stayed in and watched TV. Dad and the aunts returned shortly after leaving though, they had all forgotten their ID and were told that they weren’t allowed to enter, lol! Dad is 64 and my aunts range from 49 to 55, so it was pretty funny to hear their story. We were able to get a hold of Brandi and the others though, so everyone decided to meet at another place. dad didn’t come back to the hotel until the wee hours of the morning, lol!

On Sunday, we met up with Brandi and Mark for breakfast and then headed back here. Canyon and Cessna had stayed with Kelly, Josh and their dogs, so we wanted to get back and relieve them of their dogsitting duties.

More From Niagara Falls

Rogue giving me a kiss at the top of the falls. I'm standing with my body toward the falls, but I'm looking to my right. Rogue has her paws up on the rock portion of the railing, giving me a kiss. I'm wearing a black tank top, blue denim jeans, black sandals, a lime green treat pouch and light pink baseball cap with a horse embroidered on the side in white. Rogue is wearing her dark purple Har-Vest with a black guide handle attached and on the side is Guide Dog embroidered in yellow.

Rogue did an awesome job at guiding me in Niagara Falls. She followed her line perfectly well, not veering onto the grass at all and keeping us away from other people walking along the sidewalks. It was a really good opportunity for me to see how far Rogue has progressed in her learning. She had a bit of trouble staying in a straight line when crossing the road, but I was able to easily redirect her with the help of Huib, who was walking behind us. the only issue we ran into, was when Rogue forgot to stop at an up-curb. Thankfully, Huib was watching and grabbed my shoulder before I could trip.

Niagara Falls

this weekend we were in Niagara Falls for my sister’s wedding..

Rogue and I standing in front of a metal railing that overlooks the falls. You can see a rainbow in the background. I'm wearing a black tank top, blue denim jeans, black sandals, a light pink baseball cap with a horse embroidered in white and a lime green treat pouch. Rogue is wearing her dark purple Har-Vest that has Guide Dog embroidered on the side in yellow, along with her purple martingale that has Haida pattern whales in black and Cessna's black braided leather leash.

I wanted to post some more pictures from our weekend, but there seems to be an issue with the picture uploader, so I’ll have to try again later.

A Night At The Races

Rogue and I. I'm standing to her right and she's looking toward the camera. I'm wearing denim jeans, black sandals, a dark purple tank top and light pink with white baseball cap. Rogue is wearing her purple Har-Vest, but you can only see the front chest strap. Behind us, you can see the score board and the railing that blocks us from the horse race track.

Rogue and I. I'm squatting down to her right and she's looking toward the camera. I'm wearing denim jeans, black sandals, a dark purple tank top and light pink with white baseball cap. Rogue is wearing her purple Har-Vest, but you can only see the front chest strap. Behind us, you can see the railing that blocks us from the horse race track.

This was rogue’s first time at the horse races. she was interested in the smells, but was very focused on me throughout the night. She kept targeting my leg with her nose (our form of eye contact), so went through her treat bag within just over an hour, lol!

We also started working on pairing “leave it” with “look” (nose targeting my leg), so that she’ll someday automatically nose target my leg when I ask her to leave something alone. She did really well at this pairing, so I’ll probably have to raise my criteria sooner than I expected. her absolute favourite behaviour to do is nose target, so I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

At the end, we took her into the casino for a bit and she just settled at my feet while I played the slots.