Jingles Visits the Hair Salon

Hello WordPress! Yet again, my absence is inexcusable. Seems like I’ve been hibernating through the winter in all facets of my life. I suppose I should start all my posts with “sorry it’s been so long.”

I just wanted to write a little post to brag on my Jingle Belle a bit. On Wednesday, I took Jingles on her first trip to the hair salon. I had been putting the visit off out of apprehension, anxiously imagining a million ways my friend could misbehave at the salon. Maybe she’d knock over products. Maybe she wouldn’t sit still and I’d have to keep settling her, annoying the person doing my hair. Maybe she’d try to eat everything in sight…

Because of my anxiety about the unknown, I put off my hair cut for…months. Looking like a ragamuffin, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I didn’t want Jingles first trip into the salon to be on a busy day (Saturday, or Thurs night), so I decided to take the day off work. I also made sure to take the same day my husband, who works the weekend and gets a mid-week day off instead, was off work, in case I chickened out and decided to leave Jingles behind.

After getting a little encouragement from one of my friends and former dog school classmates, I decided that I would take Jingles. I called the salon the day before to make them aware and make sure they weren’t afraid of dogs. I know I didn’t have to do this, but I like to make sure I cause as few waves as possible. My hairdresser assured me it would be fine.

SO, the morning of the appointment, I got Jingles together and prepared to conquer my fear of the unknown. My husband, who is always willing to help, asked me if I wanted him to go. I really wanted to do this as independently as possible, but thought a failsafe to hold Jingles if she began to act up, and some company for the walk would be nice.

So, the three of us walked the mile on the beautiful spring day to the hair place. When we neared, I asked Adam to show me where the door was and I’d be fine after that. He did, and I went on to the salon while Adam continued on to have a cup of coffee and be on call in case I should have a difficult time.

Well………..

Jingles was AMAZING. A complete angel. I mean, she’s good in public places, but I’ve never seen her THIS good. I would tell her to lay down, and she’d be a statue. It was fantastic. Everyone loved her. With that face, who couldn’t love her???? She laid patiently as I got my hair washed. Then, when I sat in the chair, I put her down next to me and she laid there serenely, watching the traffic in and out of the place, only getting up once for maybe 30 seconds.  Hair fell all around her, and she never even cared to taste it. This coming from the dog, who would, if it were up to her, try anything not bolted to the ground. My hairdresser loved her too, and she made a great conversation piece.

I left the salon with my hair looking like a movie star’s, and my dog an actual rock star. Jingles would’ve made her puppy raisers, trainers, and Guiding Eyes proud. She certainly made her momma proud!!!

rebekah and jingles on stoop

A Whole New Way to See a Movie

Recently, Adam and I went to see a movie. That is the most normal of phrases, except that I haven’t gone to see a movie in nearly five years, due to my not being able to enjoy it fully. Sure, blindness advocates will say don’t let your lack of sight keep you from seeing a movie, but in my opinion, paying $15 to sit in a theater and not exactly know what’s going on isn’t worth it. I’d rather just rent the movie when it comes out, and have Adam tell me the important visual portions of the film. And that’s where I stood for nearly half a decade.

Last year, I was doing some research about audio description for my job, and learned that some movie theaters were now offering the service. This intrigued me, but I never pursued it because I just figured it’d be a pain in the butt to even try to find a theater that offered audio description. Fast forward to last month. I started the book “Unbroken,” which is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read. Around the same time I learned that the film adaptation was playing in theaters. Adam and I decided that it would be fun to read the book, and then go see the movie together.

A friend that I “met” as a result of my job (we’ve never met in person) is a real movie buff, who also happens to be blind. He is a guest blogger for visionaware.org, and recently sent me a movie review about watching Unbroken with description. Upon remembering that, I asked if he ever went into the City to see movies (he lives about ½ hour outside of NYC), and if so, which were the best theaters for audio description. He wrote back that he didn’t often go into the city, but did a little research and sent me the info for Regal Theater in Union Square. He even called ahead to make sure the movie was still playing. My friend also gave me a step by step guide to getting the correct device.

Armed with my “insider” knowledge, Adam and I went to the cinema. It was a huge place, four floors I think, with a snaking line and escalators everywhere. I had chosen to leave Jingles behind for a few hours, so it was just the two of us. When it was our turn at the counter, I asked for the device knowing that I may have to educate them on what it is, or they may have to search dusty drawers or shelves for one. To my relief, the clerk actually knew what I was talking about! She handed me a small receiver and told me how to wear it. All I had to do was give her my photo ID so they could keep track of it.

Once inside the correct theater, I turned the device on and waited. Nothing played during the commercials (which I anticipated, thanks to my friend). Then, it was time for the main feature. The movie started, and I realized the device was set for the hearing impaired, and was just playing the sound louder through the headphones. This I had also anticipated, thanks to my friend. I told Adam, who went out to the lobby to find someone to help him switch the device from “H” to “V.” Adam returned a few minutes later, and voila! The device was perfectly synchronized to the movie with audio description.

I didn’t miss a detail. I knew exactly what was going on, and didn’t have to ask Adam anything. I know I enjoyed the movie as fully as Adam did, and it was so easy! While the movie was not nearly as good as the book, the description was everything I had hoped, and more. I am thrilled that movies are once again fully accessible to me, and can’t wait to see my next film!

Kudos to Regal Theater for making my experience so easy! I’d recommend their Union Square location for anyone who wants to see a movie with description.

Broadway Bound

On Thursday, Adam Jingles, and I went to the Broadway play “You Can’t Take it with You,” starring James Earl Jones. The play is based off the old movie featuring Jimmy Stewart (I believe it came out in 1938), and was a special audio described showing, made possible through HAI’s Describe! Program.

It was a frigid day, so I had Jingles sporting her blue winter sweater as we traveled. We met Adam at Grand Central Terminal, on the subway train platform. This is an easy way to meet up with someone, as finding each other in the huge abyss of Grand Central can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Since I had my husband-man, I heeled Jingles alongside of me. This is nice to do sometimes because I can still hold Adam’s hand and talk with him while keeping my pup with us. As a side note, I have found that going sighted guide with Adam has had no ill effects on Jingles’ performance, save for us not learning whatever route we are taking that day. She switches right back to work mode the moment I pick up the harness handle.

The first stop on our journey was the Shake Shack in Grand Central. In my opinion, Shake Shack makes the best burgers in NYC. Adam managed to find us a seat, and I tried to get Jingles into a down position under the table. This proved somewhat difficult, as the chair I was sitting in was a high seat, much like a bar stool, and she was fascinated with every smell and crumb around her. Eventually I got her settled, for the most part, and we ate our chow. After dinner, our little crowd headed to the theatre. We had to transfer trains at a different station, so we took the shuttle to Times Square, which I would never recommend to any blind person, as the trains arrive on 4 different tracks, and are only open for less than a minute. Because of this, Adam, Jingles and I would rush to a platform, only to find the doors closing in our face, turn around and repeat the process to a different track, ultimately catching the third shuttle to arrive. Finally, we made it to the theatre, picked up our tickets and my audio receiver from the HAI staffer in front of the theatre, and headed to our seats.

Jingles on escalator
Caption: Jingles rides the escalator in Grand Central. She is wearing her blue sweater and a sign that says “don’t pet me, I’m working.”

It was an interesting ordeal getting the dog settled in at our designated seats. The area was cramped (like all Broadway theaters), and there were several other guide dogs present, which required strategic placement of the dogs so they didn’t try to interact with one another. I wasn’t sure what to do about Jingles’ harness. Since she is small, and I am tall, we have the long handle, so it’s hard to fit her into small places because the harness handle is as long as she is, preventing her from curling up. I was a bit nervous after Jingles’ last theater experience (a story best not mentioned), so I chose to leave the harness on and wedge her between the seat in front of me and my legs. We sat next to a nice couple, with the wife also blind with a guide dog and the husband also sighted. After a little finagling, we managed to get our dogs settled, and got to know each other a bit before the show and during the intermissions.

The play was awesome, and the description was great. There were three acts. Jingles stayed down during the first act, groaning to let me know that she was not pleased with the arrangement. During the first intermission, she jumped into a sit and refused to lay back down. So, Jingles literally sat through the entire second act. I wouldn’t have minded, but the space between the seat and my legs did not allow her to sit straight, so she kept shifting her legs to get back into a sit, which was inching her toward the man to my left. I kept my hand on her collar, fearing that she might randomly bolt, but she didn’t. I figured she was rather uncomfortable, so I unclipped her harness so it would be loose on her. She proceeded to get it wedged, so I removed it completely. About 2/3 through the second act, I reached down to find that Jingles had somehow managed to shimmy out of her winter sweater and it was stuck around her legs and back. Since I knew it was really tight, I tried to remove it completely without disturbing those around me. Finally, the second act ended and I had a naked, unharnessed dog. Once the third act began, Jingles laid down and slept like a rock.

In hindsight, I figure Jingles was extremely hot in her sweater, and uncomfortable because of the harness, which is why she refused to lay down during the second act. While trying to behave for me, Jingles apparently decided to take matters in her own hands. Silly dog. All in all, great play, great day, and I learned some tricks for next time.

2014 in Review

To add to the trend that I’ve seen circulating around Facebook and in conversation with others, wow, I can hardly believe today is the final day of 2014! It seems like only yesterday, I was preparing to usher in this year, and here I turn around and the year is at its close. On this eve of the New Year, and since this blog was my somewhat belated resolution for 2014 (see my first post), I thought it only fitting to post a recap of sorts to my little space on the web.

2014 was a year of immense change in my life, most for the better, some for the worse. The year felt like a car accelerating, or a vortex forming, with many events taking place towards the second part of the year. As noted above, I began this year with a resolve to let others glimpse a day in the life of me – partly to inform and inspire, and partly to try to transform my embarrassment of my condition to some sort of acceptance that I am a blind person. In early 2014, I finally gained the courage to apply for a guide dog, and tried for the better part of the year to wrap my mind around the transformation that was to take place when I would be introduced to my “other half.” Over the course of the year, I feel I’ve lost an incredible amount of vision – or perhaps, I had so little to begin with that every change was insurmountable. Either way, I feel close to what must be classified as completely blind. I can no longer focus on any pictures, most of the world is a mix of origami shades of black, tan and gray, mixed with double vision, and I can’t remember the last time I saw my husband’s face.

As 2014 rolled on, I moved into a new apartment, which was a small change, yes, but was the beginning of an onslaught of newness. A few weeks later, I headed off to guide dog school and met Jingles, my new set of “eyes.” While I was gone, my family grew as my stepdaughter moved in with my husband and I to put her mark on the Big Apple. Upon my return, I set about adjusting to a new dog, a new apartment, and a new family life. Since then, I’ve been doing just that.

Now that the concrete has been reviewed, I’d like to reflect on a few abstracts. For one, I feel like I’ve grown much stronger over the course of the year, not physically (though there’s been a little of that too since training with Jingles), but inwardly. I’ve faced many situations that have scared me half to death, and have not only conquered them, but also found that they all have turned out better than I feared. My family is growing tighter as time passes; I’ve tackled situations in dealing with the public from work to embarrassing moments of blindness, and survived every one. I’m much more confident on my own – and I have Jingles to thank for that. I used to only leave the house alone out of necessity, now I do more for fun. I can now take my much enjoyed long walks solo, though not lately because it’s cold and cold and Bekah do not mix, and being blind in public isn’t so bad when I have my furry companion to look cute and get me around tricky situations. I can speed walk again, and amuse myself leaving folks in the dust on my way home from work. And, I am slowly, slowly becoming more adventurous…slowly.

As far as the whole blind thing goes…I do feel like I’m beginning to gradually come to terms with the fact that until there is some kind of cure, I am without sight. I am no longer embarrassed when someone may hear my voice over on my iPhone or catch a bit of my screen reader on my computer (though I still, and forever will, use an ear bud at work). I am more willing to ask for help when looking for something, and I no longer strain to see something I know I can’t. On the flipside though, the more blind I get, the more isolated from my beloved former life I feel. This isn’t to make people pity me, or start some kind of dialogue about how blind people can do whatever sighted people can do; it is simply a fact of my life. I have always been a very visual person, gaining my greatest enjoyment from small observations of the world around me. From photography, to videography, to graphic design and exchanging glances with my loved ones to watching the snow fall, those I care about grow and change, and spending hours alone browsing through shops just because, my greatest pleasures have been through my eyes. So, now that I have to experience the world differently, I feel a bit numb…jaded almost. Things make me happy, but I rarely feel the pure immense pleasure of what only visual images can bring. Those who care about me will describe things, and thank goodness for audio books and the ever growing accessibility of audio description, but it’s just not the same, and never will be for this girl.

BUT……….not to end this on a downer note. I AM BLESSED. So what, I have hardships. Who doesn’t? I have a wonderful husband, family, and extended family who I love dearly, the spunkiest and arguably cutest guide dog in history, a great job and colleagues who see beyond my blindness to my underlying potential, and a great apartment in the greatest city on earth! Really, what more could I ask for?

So, bring on 2015! I cannot wait to see what this New Year brings. I hope its new adventures, renewed independence and confidence, opportunities for growth, and the strengthening of my current relationships paired with the building of fabulous new ones!

Graduation and the First Week Home

Wow, so apparently I’ve fallen off the face of the planet…sorry!

Day 21 – Graduation
First, I can’t believe it’s been more than a week since graduation. I woke up thinking to myself that I couldn’t believe the day was finally here. Three weeks had gone by so fast, and I surely didn’t quite feel ready to face the real world yet. But, training at the school was over and it was time to present ourselves to the world.
After breakfast and graduation practice, we got to let all the dogs play together one last time. We all journeyed over to the community run and let the dogs be dogs 100%. We also had the freedom to pet and play with each other’s dogs. What fun it was!
Lunch was soon after, and then it was time to get ready for graduation. While I was putting the final touches on my ensemble, there was a knock at my door. My boss had come out to support me at the graduation! How incredibly sweet  He congratulated me, we hugged, and let our dogs meet, and then he was off to the hall, followed soon after by me.
We proceeded into the room, one by one, and stood at the front facing the audience. After each of our names were called, we sat down and put our dogs under our chairs. There were a few words spoken by the president and training director, and then it was time for the graduate speeches. First, my classmate sang a song he’d written for the school accompanied by his acoustic guitar. It was completely heartfelt and left the audience in tears. So sweet. Then it was my turn.

I walked up and tried to get my dog to settle. When she wouldn’t sit, I kind of gave up and began my speech. Halfway through it, I noticed Jingles was…a little distracted. She was giving kisses to my friend’s dog, who was doing her best to keep them settled. I paused in my speech, made a joke about Jingles having a boyfriend, and moved her to the other side of me. Then, I finished. I was pretty happy that I’d remembered all the words. After my speech, another classmate – a returning graduate – gave her speech. It was beautiful. Once the speeches were over, the certificates were given out to us and the puppy raisers, and the ceremony wrapped up.

We were each instructed to take the harnesses off our dogs, and then our puppy raisers were allowed to come up and meet us and see their darling dogs. I was excited to see that mine had come out to the graduation! She led me and Jingles out of the crowd to her group of friends – two of which had helped a lot in raising Jingles – and we went back to my room to talk.

I learned that Jingles had been raised in western NY by a lovely lady who also ran a dog watching and obedience training business. She brought me a gift bag with some treats and a bone for Jingles, and a lint glove and a photo book of Jingles’ life for me! It was so incredibly sweet 😀 We chatted for quite a while, and before I knew it, it was time for her to hit the road for the long drive back home. It was so wonderful to meet everyone who was such a crucial part of Jingles’ life. I definitely made some lasting friendships that day.

That evening, my classmates and I stayed up late (in school-time late was 11:00 pm ha), not wanting our time together to end. But, we all knew we had to go to bed eventually, and said one more good night.

-Going Home and the First Week –
There was a definite sadness in the air Sunday morning. We were all excited to get home, and yet, we knew that going home meant no more hanging out in between training with our dogs and after dinner in the evenings, sharing stories over coffee and laughing. The first van departed at 7:00 am. Those of us going later gave our classmates a hug, knowing that we may never see each other again, and wished each other well. The rest of us had one more breakfast at the school and wrapped up packing. I left at 9:00. The school was amazing and got me a car service from their door to mine! I gave my remaining classmates a hug and got into the car. What a bittersweet morning. Of course, it’s nice to go home…but the school was wonderful, and my classmates were fabulous. We shared so many moments, and I really think we built friendships that would take months, or even years, in a matter of weeks.

I chatted with the driver all the way back to Brooklyn, and before I knew it, I was home. The drive had only taken an hour…I still can’t believe I was so far away and yet, so close. Adam met me out front and we brought Jingles into her new home.

This first week was crazy, I’m not going to lie. It has been quite the adjustment for everyone. For three humans, a cat, a dog, and some rats in a 2 br apartment, things can get chaotic fast. We’ve had our ups and downs, but overall things are smoothing out. I think the biggest thing on my plate at home now is getting the cat and dog to get along. Jingles thinks Muffin’s a toy. Muffin is stressed out, and I love them both, so I get stressed out. I’m sure time will help them get used to living together. My hope is that one day they are cuddle buddies.

It took me a while, but I am starting to get used to the 5:30 am schedule…get up, shower, get the dog fed and parked, finish getting ready and get out the door…then to work, and back by around 6ish. Then dinner, take care of dog, and bedtime.

The first day I was back, I basically tried to get used to being home. I took Monday off, and with Adam’s help, taught the dog the route from my house to the subway.

Tuesday, Adam came with me to make sure I made it to work all right on my first day back. My work is basically the best job ever. I couldn’t ask for more understanding and caring colleagues. When I came back to work the first day, my boss had set up his crate under my desk, brought me toys, and bought me a new bed for the dog to sleep on. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. Everyone welcomed me back warmly, hugging me and asking all about school. It took a little while to get adjusted back to work, but I’m in the swing of things now.

Thursday was Jingles’ first “public” appearance for a function at work. She did pretty well, considering she had to behave ALL day. Friday, I was completely drained, but after some sleep, the weekend was better.

Friday evening, I let Jingles off the leash in the house (the dogs have to be attached to you at all times for the first while home) and that helped relax both of us, I think. Saturday, Jingles and I went for our first long walk to nowhere in particular. It was really an amazing feeling. Its funny how with the stick, sure I could go for that walk, but would I ever want to? Absolutely not. With the dog, I stick out just as much, but it’s different. I have this living, breathing thing guiding me, thriving off my praise, wanting to please me. We’re in it together, and I don’t mind sticking out so much with Jingles by my side.

Sunday Adam, Jingles, and I ventured into the Sprint store to check out the new iPhone. Then we journeyed to Downtown Brooklyn, and after a little walk, we left Adam to finish his errands, and Jingles and I made our way through the subway, and back home.

Today – and I’ll stop droning on after this – I decided to venture into Duane Reade after work to pick up a prescription. Again, I probably would’ve never done this with my stick unless I had to, out of sheer embarrassment, but with Jingles it was an adventure. We got off the appropriate subway stop and made our way up to the surface. Aside from Jingles wanting to check out every trashcan (I’m still working on this one) and attempt to eat some nasty piece of bread, she did fabulous. I, on the other hand, have a little learning to do. I knew generally where the door was, but I went to the back entrance, so it was hard to tell exactly when to turn. With a little assistance from a person on the street, we made our way inside and got in line. I had to wait a few minutes while they filled it, but no one was nasty to me, which was nice. On the way out, I turned a little too soon and ended up in a waiting area. Again, after some help, we were out of the store and on our way. We walked the seven blocks home, through rush hour crowds, with no problems. I came home thrilled that I had accomplished this new adventure, as small as it may be, and did not feel the least bit like crying. It’s hard to imagine that only a month ago, I was coming home nearly in tears out of frustration walking with Bob. No offense man, but Jingles blows you out of the water, even if I can pack you away and don’t have to take you to the bathroom.

Days 18, 19, 20

First off, graduation is tomorrow, and will be on live stream as well as uploaded to YouTube by Wednesday. You can view the ceremony (starting at 1:15 PM, maybe as late as 1:20) by going to the following links:

https://www.youtube.com/user/GuidingEyesGuideDogs

or

https://www.guidingeyes.org/prospective-students/guide-dog-services/student-experience/graduation/

Now, on to the rest of the week:

Weds. – Manhattan Day.
We left the school in two groups. One at 8:00Am, the other later. I was in the first group. We rode in the van to the area commuter rail station and took it down to Grand Central Terminal. Once we were at GCT, the work began. Jingles, myself, and an instructor walked through the terminal, weaving through hoards of people to the subway trains. Jingles did an awesome job. Once we were in close proximity, my instructor led me to the turnstiles (which I can apparently teach Jingles the name of later on) and showed me how to enter with her. First I swipe my card with Jingles behind me all the while telling her to stay. I then walk slowly through the turnstile holding her leash with my arm extended while I still tell her to stay. After I’m through I tell her to go, and she slides easily under the turnstile. It was really cool to see how easy it was for her. We practiced riding on the subway for a couple stops. It will take some practice, but I’m sure it will be easy in no time.

We got off at 59th and Lexington and then began walking. Jingles did great in the crowds. There were a few things I needed to work with her on, but for the most part, I did alright and so did she. Then, about halfway through our trip, Jingles was attacked by another dog! Oh my gosh, it was the worst. Apparently there was a lady walking with some kind of Labrador mix, who lunged at Jingles as we walked past. The woman managed to drag her dog away and my instructor got us out of danger. Unfortunately, the woman kept moving and didn’t even apologize or see if Jingles was okay. My instructor examined Jingles, who was okay, with only a little cut by her eye. She was shaken up though and nervous around dogs for the rest of that day. We made sure to give her positive reinforcement, and continued our walk.

We took the subway one more time, and then finished walking to the restaurant. Jingles was really great in the city. I just hate how she had that experience. I hope it’s the first and the last.

Yesterday, we went back to the small town that we had our night walk at and completed a route there. Jingles was fabulous, except for getting distracted by the smell of a coffee shop. Ironic that the smell that distracts her most seems to be coffee. Ha. Later that day, we went to the grocery store and walked the dogs through them. That was a fun experience. After the grocery store, we went to Petsmart and walked the dogs through. Pet stores can be tricky because there are so many dog friendly smells, but Jingles did really well, even getting a compliment by our class supervisor 

Today, we went to Mount Kisco (which I’m sure I’ve spelled wrong) and walked a loop around a shopping/business area. When we weren’t walking, we were chilling in Starbucks. Can’t complain about that  Again, my pup was great.

This afternoon, we practiced overhead obstacles again, which Jingles again avoided perfectly. We also practiced sidewalk closings, getting in and out of a car, and refreshed on the revolving door. After the work was done, we received our going home packets, class photos, and ID cards.

This evening we took a dog massage class. I know it sounds weird, but it really relaxed the dogs, and it was explained to us the importance of keeping our dogs from being stressed and also how reinforcing positive touch will help when the dog needs its nails clipped, for instance. We also learned how to tell if our dog is sick. Really cool stuff.

Anyway, it’s super late, and graduation is tomorrow, so good night 😀

Days 15, 16, 17 – Catching up

This week has gone by in a blur! I’ve been spending time with my fellow students every night, and when I get back to the room, I just fall into bed, so I apologize for not updating my blog as often as I’d like. I’m going to skim over days 15, 16, and 17 (sun-tues), and save yesterday, Manhattan day, for another post.

So, Sunday, Adam rented a car and came up to visit me. It was so fun being able to show him the grounds, where I spend my time, and of course, letting him meet Jingles. Adam is in love with my little Jingle Belle. However, for the first few weeks I’m back home, I can’t let him pet her too much, and oh my gosh is it hard to keep her all to myself! (if you’re wondering why that is, I’ve been building a bond with the dog since I’ve got her, and it’s very important that she bonds only to me, and doesn’t prefer a spouse or family member. After our relationship is secure, he can pet her and hang out with her, but never feed or give commands…there’s a little glimpse into guide dog world for ya). We had a blast. Adam and I left Jingles at the school (we were required to) and toured around Yorktown Heights. We got some food, sat at a park, found a Starbucks (yay for pumpkin spice lattes!) and went to the mall, where I showed him the escalators I rode with Jingles earlier that week. What a nice day 

Monday, it was back to work…though I can’t really remember what we did. I know we did some routes through White Plains, and oh yeah! I wanted to try going to Starbucks because this is what I do at home a lot. We took a route that would lead us to a nearby Starbucks, but when we got there…there was tons of construction. Turns out, the Starbucks was being remodeled and it had been shut down at 3 PM the day before! Ha. So, we went to a 711 instead, but it wasn’t quite the same. Oh, well.

Tuesday was a much more interesting day. It began with platform work. We went to the White Plains train station and practiced walking down the platform. You are supposed to walk with the dog closest to the edge, no matter which direction you’re going. This sometimes forces them to walk in the opposite flow of traffic, but it is ultimately safer for you. If there is no other choice, for instance, if the platform has only one edge and a wall, you have the dog follow the wall. Cool stuff. We also learned how the dog would react if we told it to go forward off the platform. The dog should back up and turn right to keep you safe. It’s still scary to me, even though Jingles was a champ. Edges just make me nervous.

In White Plains proper, each of us got to tailor our routes to be more like what we’d experience at home, or for things we’d like to work on. I wanted to do some indoor work, so off we went. First stop was Barnes and Noble, where I did get the chance to practice going to a Starbucks 😀 How fun to walk through the store and get a drink. We sat for a bit sipping our coffee, and then we exited into the shopping center, where we took an elevator to Target. In Target, we practiced going through the aisles and how to keep Jingles from sniffing the dog or human food. After target, we walked along White Plains for a bit. During the afternoon, we made sure to pass several outdoor eateries, because Jingles likes to sniff there and visit with people, so I wanted to practice keeping her from visiting. She did great.

On our way back, the instructor asked if we’d like to be dropped at a country road close to the school and walk back. Of course, we did. There were four students and guide dogs. We lined up in a row and were off. What fun traveling together!

That evening was a dinner catered by the local Lions club. We were seated throughout the dining room and spoke with the Lions seated near us. I had dinner with a lovely couple and their best friend. Initially, I was nervous about the dinner, but once I got to talking, it was really fun. They all were super nice. The wife in the couple even promised to send me something she crocheted for my house. Isn’t that the sweetest?

That’s the basic recap of days 15, 16, and 17. On a side note, I will be speaking for graduation 😀 I’ll post details later.