Great news! On Monday, yes this coming Monday, I will begin training with a new guide dog from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, GEB. I have been without a dog for a year and a half. I’ve never been so long without a dog since I got my first in 1975 at age 17. I’m so excited! I won’t give details until my trainer says it’s okay, but the dog has been living with me since Monday, so we can begin to bond. She is adorable, an absolute darling, and I am already head over heels totally in love! Follow the journey here if you’re interested!
Last Two Days of ZoomText Fusion Training
Wednesday 21 July 2016
Kindness of strangers and a Dog Day evening
First of all, thank you all for your patience as I was delayed posting this. It will be a long update, to cover Wednesday and Thursday. Someone asked where this was all happening. I was taking a class in an adaptive technology software program called ZoomText fusion, a screen reader and magnifier combined, putting it simply. The class last three days and was held in Littleton Colorado.
I worried all Tuesday night about getting to class on Wednesday. Would it be another disastrous start to the day? And it could have been. I asked the front desk to call the taxi at ten to eight, and at 8:30, it still had not arrived. Crap, I thought, though I’m sure I thought worse than crap, I’m going to be late again! Suddenly, a guest in the hotel walked up to ask if I wanted any breakfast. I had been sitting there a while, waiting for the blasted cab, after all. I politely thanked him, told him no and that I was waiting for a cab. And out of nowhere, he offered to give me a ride! And what did I do? I did exactly what I would have warned any other single woman not to do. I got in a vehicle with a man I did not know and trusted him to take me where I needed to go. And he did! I don’t even know his name, think it was Walter, or something like that. I have good instincts, so I felt I could trust him, and the hotel people knew I’d left with him. He was a businessman, and he was very kind, and I got to class five minutes before start! Thank you sir for your act of generosity. And for being a good guy!
Class went well. We covered so much each day, and I only hope I retained a lot of it. I was getting to know the other members of the class and enjoying their company very much. We got lunch from this incredible place called Etai’s. I had a turkey avocado sandwich with a seasonable fruit salad, chips and carrot cake. The sandwich was so good, and the variety of offerings on the menu blew me away. Oh, Etai’s, please come to my neck of the woods, please. They deliver too, and it would be so nice to have something besides pizza to order for delivery on a Friday night, when I actually want dinner but will not cook.
Wednesday night, I’d arranged to get together with a few friends, guide dog puppy raisers and a former trainer. Dot picked us up from the class and we went directly to her house. She had three dogs there, her old career change guide dog puppy she’d raised, an eight-month old puppy she had, her own dog, and a retired guide she was dogsitting. Then we had Barb with the dog she’s raising, Melissa with the dog she’s raising, and Becky with her career change guide dog puppy, that she raised a few years ago. At one point, we had seven large dogs, Labradors and my golden, running and raising cane in the back yard. It’s a testament to the fine training all the dogs have received, that all seven got along. They had fun, and there were no fights or other problems. Seven well-trained dogs, five experienced dog handlers, great food, great friendship, a perfect evening. Dot made the best food, homemade chicken salad, with these amazing appetizers, and Sangria. It was lovely outside on the patio, just sharing time with friends and laughing at the antics of seven dogs. I never wanted the evening to end. Well, except for being tired.
Thursday, 22 July 2016
Last Day, saying Goodbyes, Coming Home!
If I’d been stressed about the morning situation on Wednesday, it was almost nothing to the stress I felt about it Wednesday night. I probably only slept about three hours. Okay, so yeah, I have insomnia anyway, and I don’t sleep well in a strange place. Add to that the fact that a hotel is never really quiet. Room doors opening and closing, people or luggage bumping walls, it all wakes me up. I knew I’d have to finish packing everything, and somehow get me, my dog and my luggage to the center for class, on time!
That morning, I call the front desk, even before heading over, at 7:30 and asked them to call the taxi. By the time I got Petunia relieved and got to the lobby, it was close to eight, and they had heard from the cab company that it would be another fifteen minutes for the cab. If they showed up, of course. Surprisingly, to me, anyway, they did. At first I thought the cab driver was going to try to refuse the ride. He kinda freaked out when he saw Petunia, but he didn’t object more than saying a few things about how nobody told him there’d be a dog. For those who don’t know, a person with a disability is legally allowed to be accompanied by a service dog in places or services of public accommodation. This definitely includes taxis. Anyway, he didn’t object, and he was reasonably friendly. We got to the center in plenty of time, in fact, I was the first one there. Go me.
Last day of class. I had such mixed feelings about it. I was eager to get home, brain and body tired, wanting desperately to sleep. Petunia doesn’t care much for traveling apparently, as she hadn’t eaten Wednesday night or Thursday morning. I needed to get her back home to her own environment. At the same time, I had enjoyed the class greatly, loved learning the new stuff, was becoming friends with classmates, and part of me hated to have it end and to go back to my quiet lifestyle. Hmmm, I guess there still is a social lady inside me.
At the end of the day, we got to evaluate the class, and I gave it all the top marks I could. I’m very happy I was asked to take the class. I learned a lot and feel like I have the beginnings of a grasp on the program. Obviously, I won’t have a deep grasp until I get to play with it in real life time, but it was a good start.
My classmates and I shared email addresses, and I already heard from a couple of them. I do hope we keep in touch. We’re all scattered around the state, so we probably won’t see each other, but keeping in touch by email will be nice.
We all got a fun goodie bag for completing the training, with shirts, demos, thumb drives of materials we covered in class and a nice certificate of completion. I must admit I had some trouble concentrating in the latter half of the training day though.
Sandie picked us up at the end of the day, and we were finally homeward bound! Petunia got in the back seat and crashed. We made it home in good time, dumped my luggage, relieved all parties, and then we were off to dinner, for the humans anyway. We went to chili’s and had a good dinner, and I had a margarita too. But I was just tired and wanted to get home. Once we did get back, Petunia finally ate her dinner, and Sandie did some yard work for me.
When Sandie left, I thought Petunia and I would both fall upon the bed and sleep, but we didn’t. I unpacked a little, watched a bit of the RNC out of curiosity, and just unwound. Finally, I went to bed, called Doug to catch up and slept till time to get up for work.
I still feel exhausted and brain and body tired to the bone. I want to curl up with a good book or a movie and let the sound lull me off to dreamland for a few hours! But it’s Friday, and that means, the weekend is upon us, once five PM arrives!
Overall, the experience was fabulous. I have to say a huge thank you to the Residence Inn and all there staff. And I don’t even have words to express to the training people how much I enjoyed the class. Thanks, ZoomText University, Mark and all involved! Knowledge increasing is a glorious thing!
Two little comments, I believe I left my charm bracelets in the hotel. I’m kinda crushed about this and need to call them to see if they have been found and if the hotel can send them to me.
And what am I reading, a book called Coyote, about a trip to colonize another planet, but oh, there’s so so much more to it than that. Political intrigue, family dynamics, character development, survival, and all kinds of good stuff. Check it out!
Well, here I am, down by Denver in a Residence Inn. My oomtext fuson class starts tomorrow. It’s been a long long day, and I’m too tired to write this all in Word first, so please forgive typos and brevity. I worked today, and we were quite busy. I shut down and 2:30 and finished packig while waiting for Sandie to arrive. We loaded up me and Petunia and our things and went to Sandie’s house first’ We hung out there, had some pizza and relaxed before driving down here to the hotel Their career changed guide dog, golden retriever Olima is absolutely adorable. She took to me, ad I to her I do love those goldens!
The hotel is nice enough. the room is adorable. The staff are incredibly nice and helpful. We brought a few groceries, but as the class will be providing lunch, and I’m going out to dinner Wednesday. I didn’t bring much. We taught Petunia the way around and she picked it up so fast. This dog is top notch. I’m so blessed in her.
Now, i’m sitting here at the desk in the room, drinking some wine and catching up on email. I’m tired I’ve been stressing and agonizing over this trip for days. Now that I’m here, I’m calm, but I’m exhausted i’m going to call the desk in a minute and ask for assistance finding where to relieve Petunia, and then I’m going to bed.
Just a weird thing about the hotel, there are no little bars of soap. Hmmm.
don’t Hotels always have those little bars? I guess I’m washing with shampoo tomorrow. weird. Also, I asked specifically for a disability room with a roll/walk in shower, and I didn’t get one. Wish me luck and keep me in your prayers, getting in and out of the shower.
And tomorrow, the class starst.
Sunday, 1 November 2015
Yes, I decided to do NaNoWriMo this year. I tried this two years ago, and though I did write a lot, I was so burned out and trying this only made it worse. But I’m in a fairly good place this year and excited to get started today.
For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is national novel writing month. The idea is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. It feels overwhelming when you think of it that way, fifty thousand, yeah fifty thousand words in one month. But I went to the trusty windows calculator and determined that breaks down to approximately 1667 words a day. I can do that! In fact, knowing how I usually write for hours without stopping, on weekends I can do much more and get ahead, for those days when it’s hard to write 100 words, let alone over ten times that much in one day.
My story this year will be loosely based on the journal I kept during the first time I went to GDB to get my first guide dog in August 1975. I’ve hesitated about this for many years, even though I think I have a great story to tell. I don’t want to write for a limited market. Books about guide dogs are pretty common and generally appeal to only a limited few. But my first time through training ended up being about so much more than getting a guide dog. I was seventeen, just out of high school. I was shy, so terribly shy that I was nearly helpless around strangers and afraid of the sound of my own voice. Other than camp or an overnight at a friend’s, I’d never been away from home for such a long period of time, twenty-eight days. I would be in a class with fifteen other people, of all ages, walks of life, experience. My roommate was eight years older than me, and to me, she was wise in ways that awed me. She smoked pot, was sexually experienced and was unlike anyone I had ever known. I took my first steps in learning how to break out of my debilitating shyness. I gained confidence in myself in ways I had not expected. I developed a huge crush and found myself experiencing the first fumblings into sexuality. In short, I began to come of age, to move from that little girl into the woman I so desperately wanted to be. Of course, it was only the beginning of that journey, but that first time through guide dog training was when it began.
And this, I think, is the hook for the story, the thing that can make the story reach out to far more people than the limited disability or service dog market. Hasn’t every adult had those moments, those first times, those exciting and terrifying times, when we step into the first phase of adulthood? Wasn’t it glorious to meet people outside our bubble, to begin to discover sex, to feel that confusion about it? Didn’t we all have to come of age?
I think, and I hope, this story can touch hearts of people who’ve been through it, who are going through it and help people see that in all the way that matter, we are so very much alike. People with disabilities are not really that different at all. I know that at age seventeen, when I walked into that dorm for the first time, ready to get the dog I’d been dreaming of and waiting for ten long years, I never imagined I’d experience all the other things that came my way. It was an adventure, a romp, a thrill every minute. Well, for the most part.
I’ll be researching music of the era, movies, TV, slang and fashion. I remember the music well. I had a piece of luggage full of cassettes, many of which had been recorded by me putting my tape recorder up to the radio. I had a Perkins brailer and a binder of paper to keep my journal. I was not much into TV so can’t remember what we watched, but I well remember rushing to the theater to see Jaws several times that summer. I don’t remember what clothes I wore, but I was always nuts about clothes, so I’m sure I was wearing whatever teenage girls were wearing. The research will be fun, though I usually don’t enjoy research too much. It will be like stepping into a time machine. I wonder what I’ll find when I get there.
If anyone reading this is doing NaNo this year, feel free to buddy me on their site. My name there is sherriola. It’s going to be a fabulous month! Check back here for progress reports. It’s going to be a blast, or should I say, in keeping with the era, it’s gonna be Far Out!
Woo hoo, and according to the word count, I’ve already written 818 words, just writing this. I’m halfway to my goal for today! Can you dig it?
A year ago, when I let Bianca leave this world and go on to whatever her next adventure would be, I couldn’t write about her or talk about her or even think about her too much. It hurt so damn much to say goodbye, and in my usual way, when something hurts like hell, I need to shove it away, lock it up in a secret hiding place and throw away the key for a while. But today, one year later, I can think of the good things and bad things and feel so much thankfulness that with all her foibles, with all her joy, with all her being, Bianca was mine. In a sort of written snapshot form, here are some memories of Bianca.
How could I ever forget the moment I met her? She danced to me, and put her head in my lap and wiggled and wiggled and wagged that crazy tail and flung herself into my heart and soul forever, from the first moment.
What about all that incredible safe confident guide work? I crossed intersections with Bianca I would never have done before. Ah, yes, the not so joys of Las Gallinas and Los Ranchitos, in San Rafael, when I worked at GDB. That crossing terrified me. Huge, busy, between a mall and a strip mall, with delivery trucks going through the intersection at all hours. And an island in the middle. What was that island you might ask? It was a pole, in the middle of the intersection, with cars, buses and trucks whizzing around me in every direction. When I would gesture and tell Bianca forward, my heart would be pounding with extreme nerves, but my voice and expression were calm and confident. And because I exuded calm and confident, Bianca would take off and tail wagging, face smiling in her way, she’d take me right to that pole, then swing right and cross the turn lane, at last at the sidewalk. And she knew, she knew she’d done a great thing. Always after that crossing, she’d prance up to the sidewalk, knowing the praise and kibble reward was coming, and she’d continue to dance down the street, knowing she was a great guide dog.
I remember how we went to starbucks every morning during training, and so forever after, whenever we passed a Starbucks, even ones we’d never visited before, she’d slow down, hesitate and turn her head, glancing at the door and then glancing up at me, asking, well, do we go in here. Aren’t I something?
Then there were the times when I wept with heartbreak, and Bianca would snuggle up so close to me, letting me bury my face on her side and cry and cry and cry, soaking her coat with my tears.
Or how about the times, the exuberant little black lab would sit, perfectly still, not twitching even an ear, so that a colleague who was terrified of dogs, could take a chance and meet Bianca?
Oh, and the mischief! The times she ate the butter softening on the counter. The time she just had to taste a chocolate chip cookie to see if it had turned out right.
Then the time she ate a whole pound of Sees Candy soft centers, wrappers and all, and had to be rushed to the vet?
Or the time she ate snail bait at Brenda’s? and had to be rushed to the vet
Or the time she ate the paintballs at Karen’s? And had to be rushed to the vet.
And the time she stole the dozen or more ibuprofen from Joylene’s purse? And ended up spending a day and night at the vet.
The paper towels she shredded. The way she tried nesting by getting on my bed and pulling all the blankets and sheets into a perfect sleeping place for a black Labrador. The squeaky toys she loved. The Kong she tried to play tug with. But Bianca, Kongs are not meant to be tug toys! The way she could lie quietly under my desk, or a table in a restaurant, shocking the people who only saw her energy or mischief.
She had a billion sides, a billion qualities, smarts to rival anything I’ve ever known, and endless all-encompassing love and affection for everyone. Especially me.
Now, I reach over and hug Petunia, another incredible guide and companion. I think at her, don’t feel jealous when you hear the name Bianca. Sure, you’ve got some damn big paws to fill, but you are a beautiful funny, sweet girl all on your own, with a fantastic work ethic, a great guide, a loving companion. And best of all, you’re not eating candy, snail bait, paintballs or ibuprofen. You’re not shredding paper towels or trying to play tug with the Kong. You’re just you Petunia, and girl do I ever love the heck out of you!
Thank you Bianca for all the years of great work, headaches from the mischief, loving and joyful companionship. I’ll never forget. But there’s no doubt, I’m really happy to have the well-behaved dog I have now!
HER NAME IS
I meant to post this yesterday but I forgot. A little story of the moments before I met my first guide dog.
August 20, 1975. Wednesday
I sit waiting, not patiently, eagerly, anxiously, but definitely not patiently. My classmates surround me, and I wonder briefly if any of them are as eager and anxious as I. They must be, but have any of them been waiting ten years for this very day? I don’t think of my classmates long; my concentration is on what will happen to me in the next minutes and hours.
We sit in a room the staff calls the loading lounge. It’s directly across from the instructors’ room, and I can hear their hushed voices.
Come on, come on! The thought spins and twirls in my brain. It’s time, surely it’s time. Come on!
I hear the instructors come out of their room. They join us and find seats, papers shuffling. I focus on the sound of those papers. Is that it? Is that the list? They give me my answer. It’s not the list yet. It’s a lecture. They tell us how the afternoon will progress, what the procedure will be.
Yes, yes. After this meeting, we return to our rooms. We wait. (I know that waiting will mean pacing the floor for me.) When they call us, we bring our leashes to the instructors’ room, and there we will meet our partner. We will spend the afternoon getting acquainted, then feed, then let the dogs out on the run. And then? Oh goody, more lectures.
I’m listening to their words, but in another part of my mind, a frantic desperate refrain plays over and over again. Will the dog like me? What if the dog doesn’t like me? How long will this take? I want my dog. But what if the dog doesn’t like me? Of course the dog will like me. This is my dream, my goal, the first important goal I have accomplished in my life, a whole seventeen years now. I’ve waited and worked for this so long, and I just know the dog will like me. But—but, what if it doesn’t? What if I can’t keep up? What if I do something wrong? Oh, will the dog like me?
I’m quiet. I don’t speak up much in groups. I listen. I fidget. Cross my legs, uncross them. My hands are constantly moving. I can never keep them still when I’m nervous. Now, my fingers twine and untwine. I fiddle with my fingernails. I twist my fingers together. I rub one hand over the other. I force myself to fold my hands and try to keep them still. It doesn’t work. In seconds, the fidgeting starts again.
Oh, when will this lecture be over? Will the dog like me?
At last, it’s over. Is it time? Are they going to read the list? Damn! People start asking questions, and I just want to scream for them all to shut up!
Please, please, please. Can’t they ask their questions later? The questions have gone on for at least fifteen minutes. Oh, please, I just want to hear the name! Does anything else matter at this moment? No!
Finally! Finally people become quiet; the questions stop, and now we are waiting. Everyone knows what comes next. The instructor shuffles papers again and clears his throat.
Now my brain goes on a new track. Will they read the list in alphabetical order? By last name? Or maybe first name? Maybe by dog name? Perhaps by room number? Birthday? Application date? Oh no, what if I don’t like the name? Could that be possible? No way, I’ll love the name. But what if I don’t? What if it’s a dumb name? Oh, never mind, I’ll love it. But, but, what if the dog doesn’t like me? And the frantic moving of my hands begins again.
Suddenly, the instructor begins to read. I freeze; even my restless fingers are still. I catch my breath. I feel my smile grow with each name he reads. Soon, soon, it will be my turn. I’ll hear the words I’ve been waiting so long to hear. Well, just one word, that name, that all-important name!
I listen as he reads one person’s info, and then the next. And the next. When will it be my turn!
And then, at last, he says:
“Miss Gomes, you are receiving a female black labrador retriever named Quincy. Q u I n c y, Quincy.”
Quincy! Cute. It’s cute. I beam. I think if my smile muscles stretched anymore they might just break right out of my face! I’m so happy, so happy.
They tell us to go to our rooms and wait to be called. We will meet our dogs one at a time. Did I think waiting for the name was too much? It was nothing like waiting to be called to meet my dog. Pace, pace, sit at the desk, write in my journal, pace more. Don’t want to write too much because the braille writer is noisy and what if I miss them calling me? Flip up the face of my watch to feel the hands. How long, how long? Pace, pace. I hear others go down the hall; hear them come back, the sound of doggy toenails clicking on the floor, tags and leash jingling.
Are they ever going to call me? Did they forget me? Did something happen to my dog? What if the dog doesn’t like me?
“Miss Gomes, it’s your turn. Grab your leash and come down to the instructors’ room.”
I answer calmly. I don’t scream out the things hiding behind my lips. “Finally! Far-out!” And all the rest of the joyful exuberant words pushing to be screeched at the top of my voice. But I don’t act like that. So, I feel that smile break out. I take the leash and not calmly at all, I go down to the instructors’ room, ready, oh so ready, to meet my destiny.
FORTY YEARS AGO
On august 17, 1975, I took my first steps to true independence, my first steps to a new life. I walked into the San Rafael campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind, and I was never the same again.
I was young and innocent, just out of high school, two months from my eighteenth birthday. I’d never been away from home more than an overnight at a friend’s house, and there I was planning to be away for a whole month. I was shy. I was nervous, but oh was I ever excited. This was my dream, had been my dream for ten years. I was finally there, finally getting my first guide dog after waiting so very long.
When I was seven, I read a book about a guide dog. I didn’t understand mobility for blind people then, but I did understand that there were dogs just for blind people. I vowed right then and there that someday I would get one of those guide dogs, no matter how long it took. I loved dogs, and I wanted my own dog. Dad had hunting dogs, but they weren’t my dogs, and I so wanted my own. I wanted a dog that would sleep by my bed, cuddle with me, share my life, be my companion. When I got old enough to understand about mobility,then I wanted a dog for all those other reasons, but also for excellent and safe mobility.
Over the next ten years, I had to fight a lot of battles to achieve my dream, but then, should a dream be an easy conquest. Shouldn’t we have to work for it a bit? During high school, a person in authority, tried all he could to talk first me out of getting a dog, and when that didn’t work, tried talking my parents out of letting me get a dog. Just before high school graduation I broke my leg and had to put off training. I did everything the doctors said to get my strength back after the break. Nothing was going to keep me from getting my dog.
Finally I was there, settled in my room. Long before the era of computers and cell phones, I had my Perkins brailler, a binder full of blank paper, about a hundred cassettes with all my favorite music, taped off the radio of course. I had a ton of cute clothes and comfortable shoes. I was ready, so ready to meet my dog. I was nervous about the other students. I was one of sixteen students in that class, and my shyness threatened to choke me that first day. But it would be worth it all in three days when I would finally meet my dog!
I did get over the shyness, and I made friends. I fell in love with my dog, and I fell in love with a boy. Neither the boy nor the dog were part of my life forever, but the dog set me on a new path of freedom, first of seven, and special for being the first. I learned many things, not all related to interacting with and caring for a dog.
Was it all worth it? The ups and downs, the hard lessons and the good lessons? Today, as I look back forty years, and as I no longer feel that young innocent girl inside me, yeah, I know without a doubt, yes, it was worth every bit of it!
Today, I went with my friend Joylene to see Fiddler on the Roof at the Boulder Dinner Theater. We had a great time.
I was a little worried that I might not be able to get out of my yard, because we’ve had some snow melt, and then the temps have gone to zero and below, and right outside my front door gets quite icy. But Dan drove so Joylene didn’t have to–he works in the area anyway–and he helped me walk over the icy parts.
We got to the theater at around noon, got ushered to our seats. Yes, at this theater, they actually personally usher you to your seats, instead of just telling you where they are. It is a dinner theater, so we sat at tables. The table was raised up on a platform, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to step up there, but holding onto the table and the chair and Joylene helping me balance, we made it. The tables were elegantly dressed, with linen table cloths and napkins, water glasses and coffee mugs, bread and butter and silverware. The cast members actually wait on and serve the audience.
Joylene and I both ordered a mimosa. My meal was chicken cordon bleu with potatoes and veggies. Joylene ordered a veggie coconut curry. We ordered dessert too, but it isn’t served till intermission.
The show started at around 1:30, and I was spellbound. I’ve watched the movie so many times, and I saw the play once when I was a teenager. At first, I wasn’t sure that the actor playing Tevya was going to be good. He really doesn’t sing well. But oh my, that man acted the part so wonderfully. He had the mannerisms, the emotion, the up and down of that character. And since Tevya is the show, he made it fantastic. All the other actors and singers were great. And when the entire company was on stage for the crowd scenes, oh, I just can’t express how fabulous. I’m running out of superlatives! It’s not a huge theater, so no place is really far from the stage. I could hear every note, all the beautiful harmonies in the music. When they sang the song about their home town, they brought tears to my eyes. There just aren’t enough words to say how good it was.
At intermission, we had our dessert. Joylene had something called orange blossom cake. It had a butter cream frosting without real butter, and she said you couldn’t tell the difference. For Joylene, that’s a big thing, because like me, she likes butter and lots of it. I had a caramel turtle cheese cake. It was quite good, and not as overpoweringly sweet as I expected.
The only problem I had all day was Petunia. Tuney just would not lie down and stay down. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, not begging for food or bothering other people, nothing like that. But I’m used to dogs just lying down under the table and going to sleep. She was up and down and up and down for the whole almost five hours. Ugh. Ah well, she’s young still. Joylene said that during the crowd scenes, the scenes with the whole cast on stage, Tuney would stand and watch them. Silly girl.
Anyway, it was a wonderful day out, and I’m so glad we went. I hope to go again, but next time it will be my treat for Joylene, as this was hers for me. I had almost forgotten how very much I love live theater!
BIANCA’S LAST DAY
When I wrote about Bianca’s passing, I said I’d come back and write about her last day. Honestly, it hurt too much for a long time to think about it. But tonight, something reminded me of her, bringing tears to my eyes. I realized I wanted, needed to write about her. I can’t easily talk about the loss of those I love, but I can write.
What triggered it tonight? A simple silly thing. Watching the video of Jersey Boys. I sang so many songs to Bianca, usually based on her nickname, Beanie Baby or just Beanie. Several years ago, when I lived in San Rafael, I went to see the musical Jersey Boys in San Francisco. I loved it, totally blown away by it. The next day, I was listening to the sound track. Bianca came up to me, just as the song sherry Baby began. I’d grown up hating that damn song, due to people singing it at me in school to tease me. But you know it says,
Sherh eh eh eh eh reee yee bay yay bee. And so on.
Sorry screen reader users, I can’t get it to read that the way Frankie Valli sings it.
But anyway, I had my hand on Bianca’s head, and I started singing it,
Bee ee e e e e nee bay yay bee, beanie baby, Bee e nee, girl you guide me so right, guide guide, guide me so right.
I went on with words like, you’d better ask your trainer. Or why don’t we go out, with your harness on, moving slow and steady, I’m so glad you’re my I ine. And so on.
So, forever after, it became one of the many Beanie Baby songs.
I must hear that in my oldies play list many times, but tonight, listening to the actors singing it on the DVD, remembering how she loved me singing her little songs to her, how she’d wag and wiggle, it just made me cry. I miss her a lot.
The other day, I had something on a paper towel on my desk, and again on the table near my chair here in the living room. Suddenly, it struck me that I need not worry about things like paper towels anymore. Beanie would have grabbed an unattended paper towel, pulling it and everything on it, onto the floor, where she could devour and shred to her little heart’s content. Yes, it’s a relief not to have to dog proof to that degree. Petunia wouldn’t think of grabbing something on a table, of course. But at the same time, it was a little tiny bit sad to know I don’t have to worry about all that anymore.
All this to explain, why tonight, of all times, I wanted to finish the story about Bianca’s last day.
There’s not too much to say really. I took the day off work, and I sent Petunia over to my friends home for part of the day. I made it a fairly normal day for Bianca. Okay, I did feed her twice the normal amount of food she got at meals, actually did that every day since I knew she would be leaving me forever. I also cuddled her a lot, sitting by her and petting her and talking to her about all our adventures, about how much I loved her and how I thanked God every day for the joy and love she brought into my life.
When Joylene came to pick us up to go to the vet, at my request, she brought a bacon cheese burger. Remember, Bianca was a guide dog, then a retired guide dog living with another working dog. She’d never been allowed suche food. That’s not to say Miss Mischief hadn’t snuck a few things over the years. But she’d never been cheerfully given a forbidden burger. I tore it into a few pieces and put it in her bowl. She inhaled that thing! It was gone in about thirty seconds. And she was one heck of a happy dog.
Later, at the vet, just before Dr. Natalie came to begin the process of sending Bianca on to her next great adventure, I gave Beanie the last treat, something she’d discovered to my great horror a few years before, and something she had tried hard to experience again over the years. I pulled a chocolate bar out of my purse and proceeded to feed it to her from my hand. The last thing I could give her.
And the rest, I believe I’ve talked about in another post. I did all I could to make Bianca’s last day something special, giving her time, attention and treats. I miss her, but her antics live on in my heart.
I’m planning to write a book about her, a funny book. Not your typical inspirational guide dog book, but a book about the good he bad, the funny and not so funny parts of living with a dog like Bianca. In fact, I’ve already started it. It will be my final tribute and thank you to a beloved companion. So missed, and never forgotten.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here. Judy, Olga’s new mom, let me know a couple weeks ago that Olga has developed arthritis. For anyone who forgot, Olga is my just retired guide dog. She had her physical in February, and there was no indication of arthritis then. I feel pretty sad about though thankful I retired her when I did. After all, I’ve lived with the pain of arthritis all my life and I’d never want my dog to live with it and have to keep pulling into the harness. I’m so thankful Olga has such a wonderful new home. Judy and Jim are devoted to her. Judy tells me she’s already completely attached to Olga after just three weeks or so. I’m thankful. But my heart feels sad that I might have missed symptoms and might have made Olga work even longer than she should have. do have to say though, she had no trouble hopping on my bed. lol. I miss her a lot. all my dogs leave of piece of themselves in my soul, and Olga is no exception. Bless her and keep her happy and well.