My Journey at Guide Dogs for the Blind

Days 14 and 15 – Revolving around the bank, stepping it up, playing dodge car, going home interviews andd pizza time!

Friday was a day of stairs, revolving doors, elevators and traffic checks. The morning went as normal and we all loaded into the busses for our last trip into Portland. It was very cold Friday morning and I had a bit of trouble keeping my hands warm until we got on the road and the heat worked on the bus. Jim, Crystal and I went out and first worked at City Hall with different types of stairs and then finally an elevator. That all went fine. Harold did a great job as usual.

We then walked down to the bank and went through the revolving door. I hate these things. I avoid them almost at all costs. I am unsure why as I haven’t had any bad experiences with them really, but I just don’t like them.

We then extended our route on the way back to the bus and Harold kept wanting to go toward the right after the up curbs. It is kind of puzzling but we will work on it next week with Sioux.

In the afternoon we bused into the lounge and four of us did traffic check work. We went on a small route and Jim took the Prius and drove like a mad man (not that he doesn’t when he drives the busses :)), just kidding of course, but really in the case of the traffic checks he kind of did. The objective here is to get Harold to react to both moving traffic at somewhat high speed as well as slower speeds. We also worked on cars blocking our path. We must work our dog around the car into the street and back up on the other side. This is done by issuing either left or right commands to move carefully around the car. Harold did awesome!

In the evening we had a surprise short birthday party for one of our classmates. He was shocked and very happy that we did that.

I called Darrell and Karen and talked with them on the Interactive show they were doing and then listened to my wife Keri call into the show. After that it was pretty much bed time. I did spend some time with one other student working with her on her stream but then called it a night.

Today, Saturday, I got up, had breakfast and then waited for my turn for our interviews about going home with our dogs. Harold and I will for sure be graduating and I talked with them about having Don work with me in our big transit centers down town and on the South West side of Tucson. He will call me later next week.

Jim asked me if I had heard anymore from Harold’s puppy raising family. I have gotten a few emails from them but I don’t think they have been given a number to call me yet. I will most likely email them and give them my cell phone number if they wish to call me prior to receiving my room phone number here. I don’t want to intrude though of course :).

After lunch we are planning on going out around 2:00 or so and I am headed for pizza! I can’t wait. A group of us are going to go so I think it will be a good time. I am planning on taking my external GPS receiver and we will see how well it does in finding the POI (point of interest).

This evening I think we are going through what options are available to purchase from the GDB store. This should be quite interesting :).

I will update you later today or on Sunday. Sunday is a day off and the only thing I know of that is going on is the Super Bowl. Go Cardinals! I will be calling Fred and Casey on Sunday to give them some updates on everything going on here as well as Sue (the person who introduced me to Fred and Casey).

OK, more later. Have a good weekend everyone!

BTW, Mary, the nurse is threatening to write an evil post about me on her blog ;). I will cross post it if she does. It is a funny story and if she wishes to share it you will find it both funny and disgusting, but what the heck. I can handle that. All the picking on I did to her the last two weeks, it is the least she can do to get me back :).

Day 13, More Escallators, learning new route for Saturday and romaing through the night

When I got up on Thursday I knew it was going to be a very long day and I am feeling it today (Friday morning).

After breakfast (I had cold cereal and toast) we took the dogs out and got on the busses to head to Portland. It seemed like a long ride. I listened to a station that was broadcasting a morning show from Tucson/Phoenix. It was fun to hear that show while I am here in Oregon. I stayed on the bus for quite a while and then it was my time to go.

We worked on escalators once more in the mall. This is a 4 story mall so we took the escalators up and then back down. Things started a bit rough but by the end Harold was fine. It really was just the initial ride that Harold didn’t want to jump on very quickly. Harold did an awesome job throughout the mall. He loves kids which is probably due to the great family he started with and their three kids. I am so excited that I will get a chance to meet them.

The only other situation we kind of struggled with was getting Harold to pull in harness. Jim showed me some tricks to get him to pull better but Sioux really the hit the mark on this problem. More on this later.

Wow, I just heard on the radio that an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.6 hit the Seattle area. I felt nothing. OK, enough weirdness today, we can’t have more of this going on :).

We got back just in time for lunch. Jim sat at our table and told war stories all about Ms. Price, the cook at the California campus. I guess she had a heart of gold but man was she tough about her kitchen. She would lock the kitchen doors tight but the instructors would sneak into the kitchen and eat tons of ice cream. She figured it out too, and man was she not happy.

In the afternoon we worked freelance routes and I learned where Wall Street Pizza was for Saturday when a group of us go on our independent route. I am looking forward to that.

When I got back I fed Harold and took him out. When I got inside it was a frantic dash to get laundry done. I wanted to get it done so I wasn’t doing it over the weekend. I got it loaded into the washer and went to dinner. After dinner I moved the clothes to the dryer and went out for our third route of the evening. This route would be done in Gresham and would be a destination route.

When I met Harold for the first time I met his trainer Mary and her supervisor Sioux. Mary is a pretty new instructor but Sioux has been here with GDB for 15 plus years. Sioux would be the one who I would be working with for the third route. Jim will be out most of next week and Sioux will be taking his place. As Jim told me, “I don’t know your dog as well as others in the class but Sioux sure does”. This was very apparent when we went out on our night route.

Harold’s work was perfect during the night route! Sioux told me many things about Harold and how best to communicate with him. For example, she tells me that I get very strong responses from Harold with my “Good Boys!”, very good considering that our relationship is pretty new. He has associated the phrase somewhat to food, so she is suggesting that I use a different phrase after up curbs and forward commands too keep him moving. She also showed me techniques where I can get Harold pulling better, and man did they work. We were about to end a block but of course dumb me didn’t realize this, so I got him going pretty quickly. He stopped on a dime at the down curb and I had to react very quickly. As Sioux said, “Very good Harold, not so good Jeff ;)”. Oh well, at least I didn’t fall this time.

Speaking of falling, my leg is about healed up. You can still see where it happened but it is nearly gone, thank goodness.

When I got back we told war stories about technology issues and also discussed the non-starting computer in the lounge. It sounds like a bad power strip to me, but heck, what do I know about hardware. I am a much stronger software and development type person. Leave the hardware to the geeks out there that love that stuff. The monitor wasn’t even coming on. My guess is that even though the lights are coming on on the power strip that power is not moving to the outlets on the strip. Aaron, the RA will figure it out. She is quite tech savvy.

Today (Friday) we are going back to Portland and will do work on stairs and elevators. In the afternoon four of us will do traffic check work where basically GDB drivers come at us with vehicles to learn how our dogs react. I better be nice to Jim today, I hear he is driving :). This evening is Yoga and frankly, well, I think I will pass this time. Once was enough. I will probably cocome back to the room and listen to Darrell and Karen do the Desert Skies Show on ACB Radio Interactive, a show I normally do on Friday nights. If you want to listen, it can be found at I will be calling in and giving some updates as well, so stay tuned for that. I will try and do it in the second hour of the three hour show.

Keep a smile and keep those furry friends tails wagging.

Days 11 and 12 – Snow, Busses and Trains oh my

Tuesday morning I got up and got ready for the day. After sitting down and starting to read email before taking Harold out my tradition has been to check the weather to see what I was up against today. The news wasn’t good. A winter storm advisory was out for 1 to 2 inches of snow (which turned out to be upgraded to up to 4 inches) and freezing rain and sleet. My first thought was, we aren’t going out in this mess. I fed Harold and attempted to give him water. He doesn’t tend to drink any in the morning. We then proceeded to take our dogs out. Sure enough, snow was on the ground.

After breakfast we took the dogs out and then loaded ourselves into the busses. We didn’t get very far when it was determined that we would stop and go to a department store and work inside today. So, off we went. We sat near a Star Bucks so many got coffee and something to eat. I listened to the radio, made and just hung out waiting for my turn. Jim took me outside to look at the snow. I haven’t seen snow in a long time and man there seemed like a lot of it out there.

Harold did great in the store. Besides just navigating around people and objects we did pick up some items and then proceeded to the check out. I came back to the table and waited to leave. Those on the second bus loaded up and attempted to leave. Guess what? The bus couldn’t leave due to the snow. So, calls to the school where in order and we needed to wait for vans with snow tires to come and get us. So, there we sat. I ordered a coke and just waited. I tried to reach some people at work without much success.

It was decided that we may do a clicker workshop in the afternoon. The staff had a mandatory meeting in the afternoon so things didn’t get started until a bit later. Unfortunately, we didn’t do the clicker workshop but worked on platform discussions and teaching your dog new commands. That pretty much wrapped up Tuesday.

Wednesday’s weather outlook was much better. I stayed here in my room for breakfast and tried to get caught up on the budget issues going on at the State level back in Arizona. It looks very scary.

In the morning we went to a mall again and worked on escalators. Harold had a bit of trouble initially but after a few rides was riding in style :). I reached Kevin at work to check in on an issue which I felt good about. With the huge budget issues going on at work and Keri’s potential surgery my mind has been elsewhere some of the time while I have been here.

After lunch we loaded up in the busses and went out to ride busses and trains, oh my :). The first bus we got on had maintenance issues so we had to get off of the bus and load onto another one. Our goal was to get on the bus at 2:40, but it didn’t happen until 3:15. I was very happy to see that Harold got right under the seat (well, with a bit of coaxing). When we got on the train it certainly didn’t feel like it was going very fast at all but we sure got to our destination pretty quickly.

After getting back it was no more shovel time. It was time for us to pick up after our dogs. This wasn’t a problem but I had heard that the food we are feeding doesn’t generate the nicest things to pick up so we will for sure be changing that when we get home :)

In the evening we had a lecture on returning home with our dogs.

On Thursday we are going into Portland to do more escalator and elevator work.

More soon.

Day 10 – Pictures and more pictures and a walk in the park

I got up around 5:30 or so and got ready for the day. I spent some time catching up on email list and work email before I fed and took Harold out. I then listened to some local Tucson radio stations to catch up on local and State news. The Arizona University budget gravely concerns me and I am trying to keep up on that while I am here.

I wasn’t feeling to well but went down and had a very light breakfast. After that we went over to the visitors center and had the class photo taken. They talked with us on our plans for the weekend. On Saturday we will be dropped off where we would like and we can go where ever we want to head to (within reason of course). On Sunday we can go out with some volunteers to do something but we all have to decide what we want to do. So far, I haven’t heard any definitive plans.

We then loaded into the busses after relieving the dogs and off we went to the lounge. We were going to do freelance work. I was in group 2. I had the nurse Belva bandage up my leg before I went out. When she saw it her first word was, “wow”! That scared me a bit.

Group 2 went out at 10:15. Many of us ended up at Jazzy Bagels. We picked the spot and then worked it with very minimal instructor involvement. Accept for two issues I encountered, all went well. One was a pretty severe dog distraction issue on the way there and the other was forgetting that a curb was not available in front of the establishment.

We finished up early and came back to campus. I took it easy and checked my email to see if any work issues came in. I called Keri to check in and all was going OK at home. David was home sick but doing a bit better.

After lunch we did obedience at the Visitor’s center. We did dog distraction work with our dogs. We then talked about dog work and communicating with the public. After this we loaded into the busses, again after relieving the dogs and went to a park. All of the trees in this park blew down into the pond. They had crews chopping them up into firewood sized pieces and loading them into trucks. We had to do some teaching to Harold with right clearances and dog distractions.

We got back quite late. After dinner we did our individual pictures. We will try and get you something to see after we receive our photos as far as how they came out. The Puppy Raising family will also get a picture. I will also get a 4X6 of the picture to take home.

After this I went to see the nurse Mary. She checked my leg and all is looking well. We talked a bit about books we are reading and then talked about blogging. In fact, a comment can be seen by her here on the blog. She posted it just a bit earlier.

On Tuesday we are moving into busier areas of Portland Oregon. In the afternoon we are doing a bus to lounge route. These are the plans as I recall them. We will have a bit of time after lunch on Tuesday due to required meetings for GDB staff members. I suspect I will get some grooming and play time in during that time.

See you on day 11.

day 9 – a day of rest

Today was a lazy day. I got up around 6:25 or so and rushed to be ready to take Harold out after feeding him. The wonderful surprise we had was about an inch of snow on the ground. It felt neat walking on it as we took the dogs out. It didn’t feel to cold either really considering that their was snow on the ground. Due to the snow our 8:15 and noon relieving times were done on the patios from our room. We finished up outside and I went back to my room and relaxed for a while. Today was brunch day so we weren’t going to be eating until 10:00 in the morning. They had muffins for us earlier but I wasn’t hungry. At about 8:30 or so I went to the nurses office after taking Harold out. I had the nurse look at my leg and was surprised to see Mary their. She would have normally been there later in the day but the other nurse was not feeling well so Mary came in to replace her. What a trooper. As usual, Mary and I spent about 30 minutes talking. She is a fun lady and I really admire her. I came back to the room and stripped my bed and waited for the new sheets to come. I made up my bed and then checked email and rss feeds. Soon it was brunch time. I spent about 90 minutes down their and man was the food yummy!.

After lunch I took a nap after taking Harold out at noon. I needed it. I got up just before 2:00 and through my shoes on and out we went again.

After taking our dogs out at 2:00 I met with one of the weekend instructors to work on harness checks and turning foot positioning. We had a good session which lasted about 30 to 40 minutes or so and it really helped.

I then spent the rest of the day just surfing the net, checking on work email, and listening to some music. I talked with Keri and Brian for quite a while as well. Brian posted the pictures on the site for me and added descriptions for each picture. Thank you Brian.

After we fed our dogs and took them out at 4:30 I waited for dinner. We had to put boodies on our dogs paws for practice and all went well with Harold accept the last paw. I think it was strictly a balance issue for him though. We will work on better techniques for this later.

This brings me to now. I am planning on spending time down in the fireplace room getting warm and then zonking earlier after we water and take our dogs out later this evening.

Stay tuned for day 10! Monday we are getting pictures taken for the class photo and individual IDs.

Keep a smile and happy wagging to your furry friends.

Day 8 continued

My plan was to groom Harold and then go for a walk. Well, we had to go relieve the dogs at 1:45 or so and then a gang of classmates wanted to do the walkabout right after. So, off we went. After I got back I groomed Harold, brushed his teeth (what a challenge that was ) and then went back to the room to play a good solid game of tug. After doing that I read some email, called Keri and did some other stuff. Then came feeding time and relieving again. Oh, I forgot to mention, it was snowing a lot today as we were outside. Some of it stuck to the dirt but not enough to make a snowball.

You know, it is days like this that I truly miss Keri who is the master of all things laundry not to mention good night hugs and kisses. I spilled some chocolate pudding on my shirt and frantically was trying how to treat it so the stain didn’t set in. It looks like we got it out (I hope) thanks to the nurse and the weekend instructor. Man, it is times like this I feel like a klutz.

After we take Harold out once more I will be getting ready for bed. Even though we have Sunday off we still need to get up at 6:45 and take our dogs out. Well, that is the time we take them out, so I will be up more like 5:30 or so. My roommate is now here so I want to try and beat him to the shower and such things so I am ready for the day.

I will post activities for Sunday late in the day. Keep a smile and those tails wagging for your furry friends.

Day’s 7 and 8

This entry is being written on Saturday afternoon, just after lunch. I am just about to go and groom Harold before we take the loop around the campus.

Day 7 actually kind of starts with the evening of day 6. Harold and I went to bed around 10:30 after I finished doing laundry. I was laying on the left side of the bed, if you were facing it, and I gently reached down and gave Harold a long pet. I then attempted to sleep. Harold had other plans ;). He wanted more attention and wanted to play. This really didn’t surprise me as he was probably a bit nervous in his new situation, it being the first night and all. Suffice it to say, I got some sleep but Harold kept me up a bit. He whimpered when I wasn’t petting him and he didn’t stop for quite some time and then would start up again later in the night. I think he missed his friends down the road a bit . Poor Harold. I am a bit ahead of my self in saying that on Friday night he slept like a baby and I didn’t hear a word from him. I was very happy about that, both of us slept like babies :).

We went out at 6:45 to take our dogs out to relieve and then we went to breakfast at 7:30. Due to the new matching of Harold route work would be done with instructors as though we just got started. This is to insure Harold understands how I communicate with him and my gate as well as size. In the morning we did a quick route around the lounge and then in the afternoon we went to a bagel shop. The wind was bitter cold on Friday and according to weather reports will continue to be so next week as well. I switched to an offset handle which is something I never had with my other 3 guide dogs. I tended to crowd both Harold and Declan a bit on the left so the offsetted handle really helps. The only problem now, right side clearances. In fact, I fell down in the morning while working with Harold. It was really probably mostly my fault. I scraped up my left leg pretty good but Mary (the nurse) fixed me up. I felt like a little kid again with Mommy fixing up my scrapes as a kid :). The medicine she put on it stung like crazy and she told me”yup, your acting like a male alright”. I told her that she was no longer the number one nurse, the continuing running joke with her and Belva, the actual head nurse ;). The nursing staff here has been fantastic and I am continuing to see them about this on Friday night and Saturday morning.

After route work we got to experience the Toyota Prius up and close. It simply amazes me how quiet these cars are. Jim sped the car around in the parking lot and then gave a few of us a ride in it. With the windows rolled up you can not hear a thing until the engine comes on when needed. I will be doing traffic work with the 2 weekers that came into class this weekend and we will be using the Prius. The rest of my classmates did their traffic work on Friday.

I was planning a quiet evening until I was encouraged to join the Yoga class. Normally this wouldn’t interest me one bit, but I thought, why not. Well, it was all going well, until… You see, she had us laying on our backs and she wanted us to put our feet up on this bench in front of us. I had these eye pillows on my eyes and I had to scoot forward to place my feet on this bench. She came over and I was telling her that these are falling down. She said, “what, your pants”? Oh my gosh, that made the whole class just erupt in laughter. She got so embarrassed and it made my night. I doubt she will forget that one. She is coming back next week and I am sure I will come up with something clever to tell her when I see her again ;).

I got to bed around 9:30 and Harold did great! I was so proud of him. When I got up and saw him he was so very excited to see me. He grabs his bone and and jumps all around showing it to me. He certainly loves to eat but is really quite patient with his food being served to him.

After taking Harold out I stopped by to see Mary to have her examine my leg and we ended up talking for about 30 minutes. She loves to sew so I told her all about my wife Keri and how she loves to do this as well. It was a fun discussion.

Saturday morning was spent doing student interviews. We have this afternoon off as well as Sunday. My interview with Jim went well. My goals for the remaining weeks of class are:


Refining foot positioning for turns

Mastering the different style of obedience drills done here at GDB.

Working on Right Clearance issues as well as just overall communication between Harold and me.

One last comment, I just checked my email and I am so very excited. Let me first say that I am so grateful for those of you that are reading the blog. Your comments are so uplifting. One special comment which is now visible on the blog is from Harold’s puppy raising family. I had tears in my eyes when I read it. I will email them shortly, but I want to say here and now a very very sincere thank you to them for the hard work and love for Harold that they will always have. I sincerely appreciate your hard work and willingness to serve and provide me the opportunity to work with the dog you raised, it means more to me then you know . I am eager to meet them.

One very cute thing about Harold is his tail. It has this very cute bend to it and it just looks so cute. I have received a number of comments from people here about it. It is a shorter tail but fat and fluffy. It is so cute .

OK, well, it is off to grooming land and after grooming Harold I will be taking him for a walk around the campus with a few other classmates. It is best to pair up around here.

Happy wagging everyone and keep a smile, I sure am!

Leave a Comment