My Journey at the Seeing Eye

Days 16 and 17 – Court, long routes along with ice cream is awesome!

Well, it is 2:30 in the morning on the day I am going home. Yes, obviously I can’t sleep so here I am wrapping up the blog with my journey at the Seeing Eye.
During day 16 I checked out with the admissions staff. I paid the money I owed the school for supplies, and I also received my ID card, paperwork for traveling and a personal picture of Chief. They will send this to me in digital form in the next few days.
we went to the court house in the morning and worked on security review to simulate what we will do at the airport on Thursday morning. This went very smoothly.
After lunch we went on a trip near the water. Here we worked on parking lot work and worked along a waterfront to see how the dogs did. Chief was amazingly great at this and did not care too much about the water.
When we got back, we went straight to the vet for our review with them on Chief’s health record. We received all his medications, and they assisted in putting the tags we received on his collar. They didn’t have the equipment needed to do this correctly, so we took care of this once we returned to the house.
In the evening we had our lecture on dog interference. This is always a difficult lecture to hear but it is so vitally important.
On day seventeen we did this amazing route in the morning. My classmate that I paired up with many times and I worked our dogs on a 3.1-mile route in Madison, NJ. It was a very beautiful area, and the blocks were very long. It was a great route for the dogs and Chief had never been there before so it was awesome to see how he would do in an area that he never had seen before. There were plenty of grass lines to contend with, so his nose was quite active. This caused us to correct quite a bit, but it was also good to see how he would react to this.
After lunch the entire class went out for ice cream. I asked for a sugar free vanilla cone, and a small one at that! What I got instead was a super large cone, and I mean huge! It was very good!
We worked our way back to the school and I rested a bit from the day’s activities prior to taking the dogs out for park.
After dinner it was time to finalize packing activities. I showered for the next day, threw in my laundry and finished packing my remaining things except for my computer. Yes, this is the same device I am typing this on and after I finish this and check email it will get packed.
I made some phone calls to family and friends and then hung out with some classmates in the evening before returning to my room to get some rest. I went to bed around 10:00 and got up at about 2:20 or so. Yes, it is going to be a very long day, but this is OK, I would rather it be. It will be nice to sleep in my own bed this evening!
OK, well, this weekend I will write a bit more about us returning home and I will fill in everyone on how Chief does on the plane, the introduction to his new home, our first visit to work and our first routes in our neighborhood. The adventure is truly beginning!

The Big Reveal

I will get pictures up a bit later. Here are the stats on Chief:
Dog Name: Chief
Sex: Male
Breed: Yellow Lab Goden Cross 3
Height: 23.3 inches
Weight: 69 Pounds
Puppy Profile
Family Composition
Chief was raised by an adult couple, husband and wife. Both were the primary raisers.
Chief was brought up in a row home on the outskirts of a city with moderate traffic volume.
Pet Friends
Chief was raised with our male retriever and our cat named Sprinkles. He got along wonderfully with all the pups in our club.
Chief visited restaurants, malls, parks, doctors’ offices, grocery stores, ball games, our library, Walmart, Target, Costco, museums, pet stores and he loved going for rides in the car. He attended all club outings.
Positive Characteristics/Traits
We found Chief to be happy, outgoing, confident, playful, and loyal. We love him and will miss him!
Chief loves balls, bone and anything that squeaks! But be careful, he will unstuff them!
Favorite Memories
We have so many fond memories of our Chief! He is a snuggler and loved to snuggle with our retriever.
How did your puppy let you know it had to go outside?
Chief would sit by the door when he had to go out.

Day 15 –Bussing and Clearance work was for sure not all washed up but coming home is ever so close!

We made it to the last week of class. Things are beginning to wind down and it cannot come soon enough!
I got up a bit earlier than usual and took him out for park and groomed him very early on Monday.
In the morning we ventured out to work on bus work. This went very well, and he is quite a wonderful traveler while on the bus. We worked our way back to the campus and arrived quite early.
I proceeded to start getting organized as far as packing was concerned. More on this a bit later.
I went down for coffee break and talked with a few students and then proceeded to do some laundry. The rest of the class was venturing out to New York, a trip I never have been interested in taking. This gave me some extra time to prep for returning home. I washed clothes and his mat that is inside his crate.
In the afternoon we worked on clearance work as well as more island crossings. We also walked through the park and near a very nice water fountain.
We returned home to campus right about the time for park time. After dinner it was lecture time. Joan gave the retrain students our Going Home lecture. This was almost two hours in length as well. Much of this information I already was aware of, but it was good to get this refresher for our activities once we return home.
After the lecture I proceeded to pack. Yes, I know, I have a few more days left at the Seeing Eye, but I wanted to get as packed as possible. Almost all my clothes are packed along with much of the equipment we received from the Seeing Eye, either by them giving it to us or me buying it. Technology items will be packed probably Thursday morning.
I talked with Keri and found out that we were having a very big storm back home. I am missing all the rain it seems!
On Tuesday we will go work the courthouse. I am taking my dog to the vet on Tuesday afternoon where we will learn a bit more about his history and we will receive all the medications that he requires. As for the second trip, I am unclear on what will be taking place. My guess is something very simple as we do need to be back in time for the vet visit.

Day 14 Part 2 – Tag or Click, your it or better yet, let them eat cake!

In the afternoon on Sunday, we went to the pet store. This was the first time I heard a noise come from my dog. He was quite excited while we were in the pet store.
While at the pet store we bought an ID tag for my dog. The prices of these tags has gone up quite a bit more than I was expecting. I chose one that would allow us to put two lines on one side and three lines on the other side of the tag. So, I put my phone number and name on the first side and our address on the other side of the tag.
After we returned to campus, we took the dogs out and then proceeded downstairs for dinner. BTW, for those that have been at the Seeing Eye before, I am in room 225, in the old wing. We had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. I checked in to see what we had for dessert, and it was chocolate. What a coincidence. You see, today is my birthday. So, they brought out a cake, including candles, and everyone sang Happy Birthday. That was nice. There were raspberries in the cake, not my favorite but I loved the chocolate part of the cake most certainly. They gave me a giant piece, so I only ate a bit of it.
After dinner, a legend of guide dog work, Lucas Franck came to speak to us all about clicker. He spoke to us for almost two hours. As usual, he was terrific and offered all kinds of advice in the use of clicker to all of us. He handed out the clicker pouches, clickers and targets for our use. This is something I want to talk with Keri about. While the pouches are good, I think Keri could come up with something more practical and potentially the target could also be improved. I will check into this after I return home on Thursday of this week.
This brings us to the end of day 14. We only have three more working days left and I am quite eager to return home!
As for making announcements about my guide, I am waiting for the Seeing Eye to supply to me the puppy profile data before the post goes up. I apologize for the delay.

Day 14 Part 1 – Exit Interviews, Packing, planning the trip in the afternoon, clicker and more!

Today is Sunday, July 30. We have more class members leaving the school today. We had one leave yesterday and one leave today so the numbers in the class are thinning out a bit. I leave next Thursday August 3rd.
This morning we had exit interviews. I am planning on raising the following points:
• I would like to see the windows in the bathrooms frosted to ensure people from the outside cannot see into what a private space should be. Yes, you can pull down the shades, but this is sometimes not a failsafe method as these get pulled back up at times and if you don’t constantly check, well, you got the picture here. It is a simple thing and one that would cost very little for the school to implement.
• The rooms have an inaccessible thermostat. This should be changed. They put Echo Dot devices in the rooms. There isn’t a reason why some sort of accessible solution shouldn’t be put in place for the thermostats. You shouldn’t have to call your instructor to help you set the silly thing. They have enough work to do with students as is.
• I would like to see more of an emphasis placed on distractions while in class. Yes, they have two or three roaming cats in the hallways, but we need to do more. I am specifically thinking of food distractions.
• I am hoping clicker awareness training is handled earlier in training. I would have liked to use it more while in class to target specific things. We will be having our last clicker training lecture this evening and will be given our clicker kits to be used when we leave the campus. I understand schedules can be difficult here but earlier would be better.
That is about it as far as things I plan on mentioning during my exit interview.
My instructor Greg will be taking a student to the airport this morning so we will work in the afternoon. I asked to be taken to the pet store. We will see if this takes place. I am planning on buying an ID tag for his collar. My name, address and phone number will be placed on the tag. His name, and no, not yet folks as far as his name is concerned, will not be placed on the tag.
I am planning on doing a bit more packing today after I get back from the exit interview.
I will write more about today’s activities a bit later and stay tuned, more details are coming late today!

Days 12 and 13 – Wide Crossing, overheads, Mall visit, home packets continued work on recall and relaxing on a Saturday!

On day twelve we had two trips. After breakfast we traveled quite a distance from campus to a terribly busy part of town where they had five lane crossings which also included an island in the middle of the street. We also dealt with extensive overheads and collaborated with the dogs on working through them. It was a short but especially useful trip.
After lunch we traveled about 30 to 40 minutes from the campus to a mall. It was an exceptionally large mall with glass elevators, glass railings, escalators and much more. The dogs did tremendously well, and we spent about an hour moving about much of the mall. Stairs, ramps, lots, and lots of people are just a few of the things we experienced during our visit.
After dinner we reviewed the content of our going home packets.
After this we went to the free run area to see what our dogs would do as far as recall and play. My dog really was not interested in it very much. Lots of toys were in the area but he did not care for them.
We are continuing to leave the dogs alone in our rooms. I am up to about 15 or 20 minutes at this point and will try for thirty this weekend. The pup was overly excited to see me when I returned. During this 20-minute window I went downstairs and tried out this new massage chair the Seeing Eye has. Parts of it was a very deep massage which I did not care for, but other aspects were wonderful for sure!
This brings us to the end of Friday, which being day twelve.
Day 13 is going to be a lazy day here as far as guide dog work is concerned. I am trying to catch up on email and work-related projects. We did work our way around the leisure path this morning. In the evening we watched Partners in Travel. You can watch the audio described version of Partners in Travel. We also watched Harnessing Freedom. This second video is not audio described sadly.
I am working on the day fourteen post, or at least the special parts of that post. I am still waiting for some of the data that will be added to it but all of you should try to read Sunday’s post. I am unsure when it will get posted but it will be late on Sunday.
See everyone then!

Day 11 Part 2 – Revolving Doors, Freedom and announcements to work colleagues

Before we proceed with the rest of day eleven’s activities, I wanted to point out how difficult it is to write without expressing or mentioning gender or names of my guide. To give this a way, my dog is a boy but that is all we will say for now. Come back on Sunday for all the details. OK, let’s continue the activities for the rest of day 11!
OK, now we venture out in the afternoon of day eleven. We all loaded up into the van and proceeded to head downtown where we worked on revolving doors followed by OCS.
I won’t say much about revolving doors except to say that I personally have hated them, and this continues to be true. He doesn’t care for them either so I think we will avoid them at all costs if possible. The goal here is to put the dog on the right-hand side of your body with me keeping my left hand on the glass of the door and walking forward. This keeps the dog’s tail from getting caught in the revolving door. He absolutely hated this experience and rushed through the door to escape the overall experience. I don’t blame him at all!
This brings us back to the second part of our journey for this trip, that being OCS (Orientation, Coaching and Solo). This is a technique where we teach the dogs to target a specific location through a technique of orienting ourselves to the target using sighted guide through the entire route. This is a combination of someone showing us the path, having the dog sit at strategic points and reworking back to the target in baby steps. We do this all without the use of Clicker. This is all based on praise and repetition. Once the path has been determined the team works the route in “Coaching” mode, meaning that the sighted assistant works with the team, standing behind the person’s right shoulder to observe and to “coach” the team where needed. Once this is completed and reworked if needed then it is time to solo the trip. Just like our routes in town, the team does this independently and corrects as needed, including reworking portions of the route if necessary. We targeted a bank teller machine and with one exception the plan worked very well.
We then worked our way back to the rest of our class and other members of the class participated in the activity.
After we returned from our trip, we did a bit of “recall” work with our dogs with the “here” command. The goal here is to work on getting the dog to come when called. We start with recall on leash and then on a longer lead. Because the ExtendaLeashes were being used we did this with him off leash in the hallway with my instructor. The steps are this:
• Have the dog sit.
• At the beginning have the dog rest and make a long leash.
• Command the dog to “rest” in place and walk away from the dog.
• Place a bit of food in your right hand and make a fist.
• Place the fist in front of you, about chest high and command the dog to “here”, meaning to come but with the “here” command.
• While commanding them to “here”, extend your right hand in front of you with your fist closed until the dog touches your fist with their nose.
• Once the dog has touched your fist with their nose then open your hand and treat.
• Repeat this process by making the distance longer and longer each time.
The goal here is to have them sit and then treat. The goal is to not need to treat when performing “here” but this will take a bit of time.
In typical fashion, all of this leads to our discussion in the evening in a lecture that was entitled “Odds and Ends”. More on this in a minute!
We returned from our trip, and I proceeded to get out of the van and worked my way toward the building. Now, this furry friend has been outstanding for the most part with dog distractions, cat distractions and distractions in general. There was only one occurrence on a trip where he was very distracted on one of our routes. The only exception to this was the planned dog distractions with Seeing Eye poodles. He would never really stop for them but would slow down and look a lot. As we approached the building something was significantly different. He was very much distracted, and it showed in his work tremendously. Come to find out the dog’s trainer was standing near me as we worked our way into the building. I will have much more to say about this on Sunday, so stay tuned about this. We talked for a good 20 or so minutes all about my dog, her work with the dog and overall impressions of her work with my guide. The trainer told me a bit about the family and the work she did with the dog. Again, I will reveal much more about this on Sunday so please come back this weekend to learn much more!
After dinner we had our “Odds and Ends” lecture. We talked about the following things:
• Freedom in the room.
• Free range water.
• Adequate recall, “Go to Your Place” and good door behavior. These things are crucial at this stage. If they are not then freedom must be closely monitored, especially if someone knocks at the door and the door is opened.
• Alone time. Yes, the dogs must learn that it is OK for us to leave the house. They must also be reassured that we will be back. So, this is also a crucial part of moving our way forward to leaving the Seeing Eye with our dogs.
• We talked about the importance of monitoring our dogs when outside and not letting them off leash at all costs. Tragic stories were told, and this always broke my heart.
• The last point made was about the appropriate way to place the collar on our dogs.
I wanted to circle back to an activity that took place on day 10, that being a food lecture. We talked a lot about the appropriate and inappropriate things that were allowed for dogs to eat. Much of this was not a surprise to me. The basic rule here is stick to the food we are feeding them now. Limit their intake to this only. They don’t need people’s food under any circumstances!
After dinner I went back to my room and worked on a bunch of work-related activities. After taking the puppy out for park one last time I give my guide some freedom in the room. I found that the furry one loves his crate and would go there most of the time.
I then worked on taking the Seeing Eye “Coming Home” letter and significantly revised it for my colleagues at the University of Arizona. I included pictures, video content from me being introduced to my guide along with video content from the Seeing Eye from their YouTube channel. This was a bit challenging to accomplish as I needed to get the videos and photos transferred to my computer and then placed into an email and on OneDrive for distribution. This was all good prep for this weekend as you will soon see.
While working on this my shopping order arrived so I ran downstairs to meet the driver. I carried my stuff upstairs and put it away. I then completed the email and sent it out to my work colleagues.
After this, Keri, my wife for those that do not know, and I did a bunch of research on crates for both work and home. The crate we had for Rory, Jacinda and Tawny was quite old, so it was time to replace it. We went with the 36-inch Amazon Basics crate, and we ordered two of them, one for home and one for work.
By this point it was about 10:30 and I was wide awake! This is going to catch up with me for sure later today. I am writing this on day 12 after taking the dog out and grooming him.
I spoke with friends on the phone and on Club House and finally made it to bed around 12:30 AM this morning.
It is almost time for breakfast so I will write more later day twelve’s activities. I know we most likely will do something outside in the morning and we will do things inside in the afternoon. The temperatures will reach about 94 here today.
I will have more to say this evening. Come back for more!

Days 9, 10 and the first part of day 11 – Clicker, Shopping and to Solo or not to Solo, that was the question!

This brings us to Tuesday, and it was a remarkably interesting day to say the least.
We started with the normal park time and breakfast. We proceeded to go out to practice the Elm street route once more on Tuesday morning. The weather was quite nice. All things went quite well on this trip and traffic checks along with barricades were the theme of the day in the morning.
After our trip we went down for coffee break and then took the dogs out for park.
The plan was to take the dogs out on the shuttle for our Elm street practice solo trip. I was supposed to be called for the 1:45 shuttle but my name was not mentioned over the intercom system, so I was a bit perplexed. I proceeded to go out for park before the trip and waited outside for a few minutes when …
God, or in this case Mother Nature, sometimes loves to play games with those of us in class. While waiting outside I heard very distant thunder. Thinking nothing of this I thought, well, I will go inside and wait in the lounge. I am glad I did. A few minutes later it was storming! Suffice it to say, we did not do our practice solo trips Tuesday afternoon.
In the evening we worked on more clicker work and targeting in the dining room. Dogs love this!
Wednesday morning, we were again paired up to perform our Elm street solos! This went very well. I only had to do one rework of an approach to a crosswalk which in the scheme of things is not bad at all!
We got back early and proceeded down for coffee break followed by picture-taking time!
This was ridiculously cute! It will be interesting to see what photos they use for the ID cards that we receive. All I will say now is that I have one very mischievous little puppy here!
After pictures were taken we waited for lunch. Before our afternoon trips we received our new harnesses. They are initially very stiff so you need to be careful on how long the dogs wear them. We were instructed to take them off during lectures and other periods of down time.
In the afternoon we went to the grocery store. I must say, this little pup did exceptionally well in the store. There were no distractions while in the store which was amazing! My guide was very alert and “Follow” was truly spot on for this big furry pup!
After we returned, we waited for park time and then dinner. After dinner we had a food lecture.
After this I decided to do a load of laundry. I got to bed a lot later than usual, around 11:00 or so but the day was filled with lots of fun!
This brings us to day eleven where so far, we have done country work. This was quite a small trip in the scheme of things and that work went very well.
One more thing, I determined yesterday the size of the cooling vest that I needed to buy for my dog. So, I will get this purchased today and depending on how quickly they ship it I will have it shipped either to the Seeing Eye or at home. Time will tell. Temperatures are still hovering around 110 or so in Tucson Arizona so this will be a must have part of the dog’s equipment.
Sunday will be a special day for the blog so stay tuned! Many secrets may be revealed!

Days 7 and 8 at the Seeing Eye – Soloing we have gone and Entering Elm we will go!

Yes, I am behind a bit so combining two days.
On Sunday we got up at the normal time and prepared to venture out for our South Street solo. We did quite well as a team. Lots of people were bustling about on a Sunday morning so we had people distractions, dog distractions but less traffic as there were more people walking about. We did have one crazy lady yelling at people as we traveled near the end of the route which distracted not only the dogs but us humans as well which required some rework at one of our last turns on the South Street route.
In the afternoon we reviewed:
• Clicker! Yes, we started with some very basic clicker work, mainly loading the clicker and doing some simple targeting work in our rooms with a targeting stick. We will do more of this on Tuesday to target our chairs in the dining room. My dog really doesn’t need that targeting work as the dog finds my spot at the table with significant ease!
• Equipment for purchase. I purchased the light from Ruffwear that attaches to the dog’s harness, a harness pouch and two collapsible water bowls. BTW, if you have not signed up as a Guide Dog user for Ruffwear’s discount program then I would highly recommend it. For privacy concerns I will not provide the link here but if you know how to reach me then please do. I will send it to you privately via email or text. They are very quick at onboarding you into the program and you get a 40% discount off many of their products.
• We received a bell and shoes for our pups. We tried the shoes on and walked around the building a bit. My dog was fine with me putting them on but walked very funny in them as we moved about the building. This is very normal. At the end of working in them my dog jumped up on the couch and refused to get off. My dog loved my bed the first day and I think still does. This may be challenging when we return home next week. Something tells me the cats won’t allow the dog on the bed and nor will I. There isn’t room for a fifth member of the family in our bed!
The rest of the day was ours to do as we pleased. I did some work-related activities and relaxed a bit. It has been a long week for sure.
Now, this brings us to day 8, the Elm Street route! This route is approximately 1.4 miles in length, and I will post more details on its make-up a bit later this week. It is a bit complicated and the written description I have needs some touching up due to changes in the route that were done after it was written by our training manager. This route has the following characteristics:
• Dog distractions
• Silent car traffic checks
• Much more complicated traffic/crossing patterns
• A round-about to contend with
• Some Clicker-like commanding to find traffic polls
• Much tighter spaces to navigate and much busier environments to navigate.
• A lot more people that are traveling the same walk path.
As you can see, things pick up a lot during this route. We have worked this path twice on Monday and we will do it twice again on Tuesday. We will solo the route on Wednesday morning. After this route it is off to freelance. This is a lot more relaxing.
After we got back in the morning, we had our dog care lecture. For those of us with dogs this was pretty much a repeat. We pilled our dogs, washed out their ears and received other information pertaining to the upkeep of our dogs.
When we returned from our afternoon trip, we had dinner followed by the vet lecture. A couple of things to note here for those that have been at the Seeing Eye before:
• Microchipping is now free at the school.
• All the information pertaining to our dogs will be supplied in written and electronic formats. Yeah! This is good!
After the lecture I took the furry one downstairs to groom the puppy.
After we took the dogs out for the last time I returned to my room and prepared for the next day, which would be Tuesday, July 25, what would have been my Mom’s birthday.
OK, so I think we are up to date. Again, we will be continuing to work the Elm Street route again and will probably do a practice solo in the afternoon like we did for the South Street route.
See everyone in the next post!

Day 6 at the Seeing Eye – Solo Practicing Makes for Perfect Traveling!

We are now on day six, almost at the half way point for retrains. Believe it or not, I am already starting to pack things I won’t use for the rest of class. Yes, I am eager to get home!
Today is the day we run through the South Street route one more time before we solo the route.
After breakfast we did a bit more on door behavior work with us taking the lead of opening the door after a knock. Again, the goal here is to ensure that the dog stays at rest and sitting while we answer the door. My little pup is doing well at this!
We all then loaded into a van (shuttles do not run on the weekends) and made our way to the Training Center. We were the last team to go out to practice the route. This time, Greg kept at a distance, and we worked the route. We made sure to stick together with each of us treading off who lead on alternating blocks. I had a number of distractions to contend with, all natural and not planned by the Seeing Eye. Other than that, all things went very well.
We then proceeded to come back and took the dogs out for park, and we then worked the Leasure Path. During this adventure we were given the full breed, weight, height, and identifiable markings of the dog as well. I am not disclosing some of these details for security reasons here. At the end of class I will reveal all of the details on my dog.
We then went down for lunch, and we were moved into the back dining room.
After lunch I made a few phone calls and laid down for what was intending to be a short nap. After 2.5 hours it was time for park. I guess time was catching up for me this week. I feel great now though!
We then went down for dinner and following this we attended the Going Home lecture. As a friend commented on Facebook, I thought this was done during the second Saturday and not the first but what do I know. For those interested, here is the video we watched during the lecture (with audio description of course).
The rest of my day will be to go groom the furry beast and to get ready for solo day! I am hoping we get to go first during the solo so that we have a bit more Sunday to have for ourselves.
See everyone on Sunday!

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