From the BlogSubscribe Now

Day 1

The journey started early this morning, or should we take you back even further.

On Friday night Keri and I finished up packing and she got to bed around 10:30 or so. I chatted with Darrell and Karen on the phone for a while and then I proceeded to finish up last email work and copying files to thumb drives and getting the wireless information ready for GDB. I finally went to bed at 12:30 in the morning but I didn’t sleep a wink. I gave up on the idea of sleep and got up around 3:00 or so (keeping in mind that it is really 2:00AM in Oregon).

I read email in the early morning hours and listened to some music. I then packed some remaining things into my laptop bag and loaded the car. It was now about 4:30 in the morning and I awoke Keri. She got ready to go and we loaded the one remaining suitcase into the car.

We reached the airport at 5:15 and proceeded to work our way through security. This time Keri came with me which was very nice. It certainly made going through security a heck of a lot easier.

We waited at the gate and I finally boarded the plane. We boarded about 20 or 30 minutes late due to some maintenance issues. This made me nervous as I thought I would miss my connecting flight. The flight to Phoenix was uneventful once we got on the road. Assistance was ready for me as soon as I got off of the plane and we literally ran to the next gate and made it with about 30 minutes to spare thank goodness.

The flight to Oregon was very bumpy. It was probably one of the worst flights I was on as far as how rough the flight was. Not only was it rough but it was hugely boring. It felt like I was on that plane forever.

Once I got off of the plane assistance was there waiting for me. I must say that that was a pleasant surprise.

We walked down to the information desk and Molly from GDB (she is one of the instructors) met me with my already found luggage. I was so worried that it had been lost as I tend to have that track record when flying.

We met one other student and we went out to the GDB van and loaded our luggage into it. I then started up Mobile Geo and tracked our progress as we traveled. We first went to the train station to pick up one other student and then it was off to the GDB campus. They served us sack lunches on the van (a turkey sandwich, crackers and apple juice, yum!).

We were guided to our rooms and our bags were brought to us. Unlike what I had told others I went ahead and unpacked non-techie stuff (well, I did put the laptop on the desk but I didn’t do anything with it). It did not take long to have all bags unpacked and put away. After this I got the laptop configured to talk on their wireless network and was very happy to get online and check with the rest of the world.

I met with Jim Dugan (the class supervisor) and Molly to talk with them further on matching me to a dog. I will discuss this more on the day 2 update.

We then got a tour of the dorm area. Unlike the Seeing Eye, my former school, this dorm is laid out like a big letter P. We have one long hall with rooms on each side and then one room that is the loop of the letter P where public meetings are held. The nurses office is in the inside of the loop. During the tour we ran into the cooking staff and placed our orders for meals for this evening and all three meals on Sunday. I must say that they are hugely accommodating to even my very odd tastes or lack their of in this case ;). Just ask my wife about that, no, never mind, please don’t do that.

For dinner this evening we had this very interesting pasta dish with a Greek sauce and hamburger in it. It looked like a meatloaf and was very yummy. Think of meat loaf with sauce and noodles in it. I don’t think I have ever had that combination before. I had milk to drink as well as ice water and sugar free chocolate pudding for desert. It hit the spot.

For breakfast we are having scrambled eggs with bacon in them as well as parmesan cheese, toast (if I recall correctly) and fruit. More on the meals for day 2 on Sundays report.

I asked the nurse for two more pillows for my left arm which has major problems if I do not keep it propped up at night.

After dinner we had a 6:30 meeting where the retrains were given leashes, food pouches, and a grooming pouch. We talked all about the schedule, dorm rules, all that normal junk. We finished up about 7:30 or so and she asked if others were willing to get a jump on work for Sunday. Even though I was tired I raised my hand. Amy and I worked for what seemed like about an hour or more on very cool stuff:

1. GDB techniques for obedience drills.

2. Differences between Seeing Eye methods of obedience and dog guide work.

3. Characteristics of a dogs personality and a way to gage that with your dog.

The time was just so rewarding. It was one on one time with Amy who made me feel proud that I stayed up to work with her. She listened to my frustrations and patiently worked through all of my questions and she felt very good about all of the questions I was asking. I will have more to say about this after I meet my new guide dog on Sunday morning (that is the plan anyway). We talked about all kinds of things and I will share them in the context of my new dog when we all know that detail which is coming soon.

They had this very cool make believe dog called wheeler. Think of a dog on wheels. It looked very real and even had the dog’s harness, collar and leash on him. I will try and get pictures. All work this evening was done using wheeler. The only draw back was getting wheeler to properly sit or lay down. Sorry, this dog isn’t that sophisticated .

I am very very excited about the progress made today. I feel the time spent was just amazing and look forward to continuing that with Amy if she has the time.

Well, as I am writing this it is going on 20 hours that I have been awake so I am going to call it a night. See everyone on day 2!

Boring Oregon, does it really exist?

As I was preparing last weekend for my 3 week trip to Guide Dogs for the Blind I thought I would set up Mobile Geo to have the school’s address set as a route. This way I could follow the route as we drive to the school Saturday afternoon. I entered the city name of Boring and was quickly told that Boring doesn’t exist. I was a bit surprised about this so seeked the advice of a friend at Sendero. He suggested looking up the address using latitude and longitude coordinates. I did this and found that according to the version 4.0 Sendero maps, Boring Oregon is really Sandy Area, Oregon. Go figure. Finding this location on the map wasn’t Boring at all. If this is just one example of how this next three weeks is going to go I am in for a ride, which I am going to love.

My Hero Jacinda

Jacinda Smiling into the camera
Jacinda past away on January 3, 2009. I will miss her dearly. The picture above shows her loving smile and great personality that she shared with all of us throughout her life. I want to thank Fred and Kasey for taking care of her during the month of December for the last part of her life. Her death was a shock to all of us and she will be deeply missed.

Jacinda was probably the most playful of the three guide dogs I have had and she sure made sure she was noticed. She often wanted to be the center of attention until that harness went on. Once that was done her personality dramatically changed and for the most part it was down to business.

She always would make sure that she got what she wanted and even developed a way of talking to us in a special barking kind of way. She loved wearing bandanas. In fact, it was kind of a ritual to see her run into it every time. When she got sick of the one she was waring she would run to Keri jumping up and down and barking until Keri picked out a new one for her to wear. She would run to the dresser where we kept them and would point her nose at the drawer. If the drawer was open she would often pick one out. Once it was put on she would prance around the house wagging her tail and making sure she showed everyone that she had a new one on. Keri had a heck of a time getting it on. She always wanted Keri to pick them out for her.

Her guide work was awesome and she loved to serve with that wonderful wagging tail that she held up so proudly. I want to sincerely thank The Seeing Eye for the opportunity to work with such a great guide dog. Ralph (the trainer that trained Jacinda and worked with me with her) was a great person to work with and without him bringing us together we wouldn’t have had the 6 plus years as a team. Thank you Seeing Eye.

Jacinda, I will miss you and I love you very much. Click here to listen to a song that expresses this even more.