UBC Day 16: I’m Not the SuperHero You Need, but I’m the SuperHero You Deserve?

I have many gifts and talents, but none of them extend to work around the house that goes beyond basic cleaning. I’ve lived in apartments for most of my adult life. I’ve never been the type who could just touch something with their hands and figure out how it all goes together, or more importantly, how it comes apart. These are probably lessons I should have learned early on. If I had, though, I wouldn’t have such great stories!
Continue reading “UBC Day 16: I’m Not the SuperHero You Need, but I’m the SuperHero You Deserve?”

UBC Day 3: Teenaged Poetry Slam! How It All Went Wrong

Many of you may know that I am a voracious reader, and at some point during this thirty day challenge, I will tell the stories of what shaped my reading habits and gave me a pure and unadulterated passion for the written word. You may also know that my number one genre is romance. To that end, I find it hysterical that during my teenaged years, no one was finding their happily-ever-after in anything that I wrote. Since one of my many talents includes the ability to make fun of myself, let’s take a journey of what that body of written work included.
Continue reading “UBC Day 3: Teenaged Poetry Slam! How It All Went Wrong”

UBC Day 2: Standing By, All Hands on Deck

When I began this challenge, I told myself that I wouldn’t discuss Covid-19 and its effects on me or the impact that it has made around the world. I like to dwell more on the positive, but I also realize that since this is my blog, it is important to me that I am honest and authentic. With that said, please take care of you. If you don’t want to read about this, don’t worry. I’ll probably have something a little lighter tomorrow. Continue reading “UBC Day 2: Standing By, All Hands on Deck”

Dogventures Day 19: Packing Early is for Chumps

It is very late and I don’t know how I am going to do all of the things that need to be done. Every time I sit down to do something important, I become easily distracted.


Today was relatively easy. Obedience went extremely well with all the toys squeaked, balls thrown, treats tossed, and dogs running about while I gave Treble commands. There was a noticeable difference in her attitude and willingness to follow commands. I felt very good about today’s session.


After breakfast, our final report was read and Treble and I received positive remarks and some things to continue to work on. My instructor was excellent and I learned so much from her. Treble and I were well matched!


We practiced going through airport security. The way that I like to do it, which consequently lines up with the way the school teaches it, is to put the dog on a long leash and go through the metal detector. The dog should be sitting at the entrance of the detector. Then once you are through, call the dog to your side. When they go through, the harness will make the metal detector go off and then said puppy gets the pat down. It works like clockwork, but sometimes TSA employees don’t know the process or may ask to hold your dog. At no time will my dog be outside of my control, which means that no, they don’t get to hold her leash.


Then we practiced getting the dog in the perfect position for being on the airplane. I have always struggled with this, but ideally, if not in the bulkhead section, their butts should be beneath the seat in front of me and their head facing me. I have long legs so it can feel chaotic. I plan on having dog treats for my one-time bribery of Little Miss Trebsie.


We worked on getting in and out of cars. Treble sometimes needs a little boost, but I think the best bet will be for me to remove her harness before getting in to a vehicle, which seems like a pain in the butt, but I’ll do it. The handle is a long one and it’s difficult for long legs and long handle to reside in the same place.


I spent some time doing laundry and packing up half of what I need, but I somehow need to figure out how an eight pound bag of dog food is going to get packed in to my suitcase. I’m trying not to stress out. I’ll try to do a little more packing before I head to bed.


After dinner, we had dog massage training. I already know how to do this, and this is my least favorite part of class. I think it’s a lot to ask to have 12 students and 12 dogs sitting on a floor. Some dogs handle it better than others, but it feels very chaotic. Massage itself is extremely beneficial to dogs, but I really dislike the logistics. This also may have a lot to do with the fact that my 2nd guide dog ran out of the session, leading eleven other dogs to short lived freedom, but who’s asking anyway? It was about eight years ago but it definitely colored my experience.


Tomorrow is graduation and that is exciting. The culmination of hard work will pay off. We got our going home packets that included a whole lot of information, including Treble’s puppy raiser. I really hope she is able to come to the graduation. I want to meet her and have a great conversation with her. I want to profusely thank her for raising and then returning such a beautiful, vibrant, amazing, incredible, sassy, stubborn, cuddly, focused, sweet guide dog. I hope that she is extremely proud of herself.


before I close, I want to reiterate that this experience has been amazing. Being able to share the good and bad moments has helped me put so much in to perspective.

I want to make it very clear that this experience is solely my own. I cannot speak for anyone else. There are so many experiences that can happen when one goes to guide dog school. Sometimes, people go home without a dog because it just didn’t work out. Sometimes, the first match doesn’t work during week one and there needs to be a dog switch. I have never had that happen, but it can take place. I have never participated in the Action program, which is a program that has someone in class for two weeks and then receive home training. I have never home trained with a dog before, and so that experience would be very different. I have only ever attended guide dog schools, rather than owner train a dog. I have attended two guide dog schools in my life, but there are others whose philosophies and training methods would mean that the outcome would reshape the experience in a new way. People often think that one size fits all, when it comes to getting a guide dog but that is not the case.


I can only speak for me, my experiences, and what I have learned. I am not perfect, but this partnership is going to be sound. I can feel it.


Food report

Breakfast: bacon and cheese sandwich

Lunch: Grilled Cheese sandwich

Dinner: fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and delicious red velvet cookies that one of my classmates made. I ate some of the batter and I’m still here! You can’t take this raw cookie dough away from me!

Dogventures Day 18: No Squeaky, No Tug Toy, Big Problem!

This morning’s obedience session was like trying to make it past the mini-boss before getting to fight the big boss on challenge mode.


Treats were flying, Chestnut the black lab of distraction was running around, and someone tossed a ball right at Treble while I was giving her commands. Yet, she was expected to do all that I asked of her quickly. I gave her lots of treats and tons of praise.


After breakfast, we headed to PetSmart so that they could get practice guiding and being heeled inside of the store. Now, I personally don’t like to go to pet stores with the expectation of my guide dog guiding me around. To me, it feels like someone giving me an Amazon gift card, setting me loose on the site, and telling me not to buy books. It would be a tall order. I can only speak for myself, though, and if I want to stop at a pet store for something before heading home then there is that expectation. I typically like to hang out in the front and ask someone to get what I need, though.


I left the school without my purse, so no toys for Treble. One of my classmates came back with a shopping cart full of toys, food, and a couple of dog beds. I made certain to give Treble plenty of praise though because the guilt was strong.


I have ordered a dog bed for her for work, one for home, a crate, and a couple of toys. I have to make it up to my girl, especially after I scared us both by accidentally closing the door on her paw last night. The squeal of pain that reverberated down the hall is nothing I ever want to hear again.


After lunch, our supervisor set up the nature path with bicycles so that Treble could navigate around them. This was to simulate the lack of courtesy that many who ride bikes from bike share companies display by leaving them everywhere, parked haphazardly, sometimes lying on their side, or in a huge cluster of chaos and inconvenience for pedestrians.


Treble did a great job. The supervisor also rode her bike, cutting Treble off to see what she would do. Treble was having none of it and apparently was giving her some dirty looks. My girl has plenty of personality.


We said goodbye to one of our classmates today who had to leave early due to circumstances beyond his control. I’m sad that he won’t be at graduation, but I’m so glad to have met him. I will miss his sense of humor and wit.


Tonight is pretty quiet. I hear squeaky toys in the other room and treble keeps running to the door of our room and whining, so I’m going to take her down for a vigorous play session. Three more sleeps and I’ll be heading home!


Food Report

Breakfast: Pancakes and bacon

Lunch: chicken strips and fries

Dinner: Ravioli and bread pudding

Dogventures Day 17: We Won the Big Apple

Today was the big day where we use all that we have learned and set our sights on Manhattan. It is said that if we can navigate Manhattan as a team, then we can do anything.


I am not really a city girl. Seattle can be busy, of course, but I don’t associate that level of busyness to say, a city like Manhattan. There are so many sights, sounds, and scents. Everything that we have been doing has culminated in to this moment of experiential learning where we get to find out what we can do as a team.

Spoiler alert: It’s all the things our instructors have been telling us all along!


I was in the group that went to Manhattan this morning on the train. my instructor was working with another student, so I got to work with someone that I did not know. She was really wonderful and I enjoyed her. She has such a great sense of humor and helped me feel comfortable. I wasn’t feeling anxious, really, except that subways really freak me out and I was a little worried about being overwhelmed.


We took the subway, which was packed. Treble lay at my feet, her chin resting on one foot. The ride was nice and she cleared me of the doors perfectly.


Let me tell you about this rock star and our walking portion of the route. This dog knows how to move around pedestrians. People weren’t paying attention to us. Often, they were on their phones or not looking at us and Treble walked around them. She walked on narrow sidewalks with delivery trucks that were unloading. Cafe tables blocked our path. Sidewalks were often very narrow and of course, there were throngs of people.


There were also a *lot* of dogs, and this little girl can be very dog distracted. I’m learning to figure her out, though, and find what is best in refocusing her. sometimes, I can find myself correcting her several times and then realizing that I need to change tactics. In the moment, it feels frustrating, but the guest instructor reminded me that I was working with Treble using a lot of consistency and that I always seemed to know what to do. This made me feel very good about my dog handling skills.


Her curb approaches are fabulous. Her crossings are wonderful. during one such crossing, a van blocked the middle of the street and there was construction happening as well.  She had to take me all the way to the left, behind the van, and then back to the right. She was flawless.


We rocked the shit out of Manhattan! There are probably a lot of obstacles that I don’t even know about, but she really worked very hard. We both did, and I am so proud of us. This girl is solid, through and through.


After lunch at a local restaurant, we headed back to campus. We had equipment sales, which I opted not to buy anything at this time.


I chatted with classmates tonight and am starting to turn my thoughts toward packing, home, and acclimating Treble. We’re about to start a new journey, but right now? I am not worried about anything. We handled Manhattan, and thus, we can do anything.


Food Report

Breakfast: Toast and strawberry jam

Lunch: brown sugar wings and fries

Dinner: Cobb salad where I opted to take out all that makes it a cobb. Also a red velvet bar wrapped in white chocolate that a classmate brought for us from a place called Empire Cakes. Wow, that was a whole new, delicious experience!

Dogventures Day 16: Taking a Walk on the Edge But Don’t Try This at Home

I should have written this last night  but at some point, I hit a wall and was just too tired to even start this post. But, here we are!


After the usual of park, feed, water, and park again which is also known as Meka’s attempted extended nap time, Treble and I dragged ourselves in to obedience where they are pulling out all the stops when it comes to distractions. Treats are thrown, loose dogs are playing, Treble’s favorite toy ball is thrown. It’s a jungle out there!


It is a lot harder to get Treble to focus on me but I’m remaining consistent in my work and once she does focus, she is all in. We often have to redo commands. It’s very hard for her because she knows what she should be doing. These setups are very good for us because it’s great to see how we both work under specific pressure. I always try to be sure that we end things on a good note before making our escape.


In White plains, We did a street route and rode the bus. I have to say that I’m so glad that I have been blogging about this experience because there is written evidence of our beginnings and the confidence that I feel now. Usually, it’s all a big blur, but this  has been very helpful.


after lunch, we headed to a train station to practice platform work. When we are on a train platform, the dog walks between us and the edge of the platform. We use shorelining techniques that I mentioned in another post to make certain that we are near the wall. If it is a double platform, we move carefully. There are light rail and commuter trains in my town but I don’t take them often. However, I never know what the future holds and so I am very careful to never say never and to prepare for any contingency.


Finally, we practiced attempting to walk to the edge of the platform so that we could know what our dogs would do. Treble curled in front of me, pushing me backwards and turning to the right. It is such a heady feeling to know that if I am in a situation that is dangerous and I’m giving a command that might put the both of us in jeopardy without my realizing it, Treble knows how to disobey.


After returning to campus, I hung out with my classmates for a good long time.


Our lecture was about access issues, and here is where I’d like to talk to you about some things that guide dog owners face in 2019.


Our school issues an ID with our names and pictures on them to show that Treble is a guide dog. While it is illegal for people to ask to see ID’s in their establishment, some may show them in order to help smooth the way. There is nothing wrong with that, but I am not generally that way. Probably because I tend to lose the ID, but also because it isn’t something that I *have* to show.  We can face denial of service in restaurants, business  establishments, hotels, ride shares like Uber and Lyft, cabs, sometimes housing, etc. Here we are in the year of 2019 and people still are not aware of what the laws are and what their rights entail. We can, obviously, be asked to leave if our dogs are not in control or if they are unkempt. We also face a lot of people who bring their pets to the store even when the store says that they are not allowed. People will quickly claim that it is their service dog. Yet said dog is often barking, lunging, growling, and generally being awful because their owners allow them to be, yet some store owners won’t get involved because they assume that if they ask that person to leave, they will be sued.


These access issues are frustrating and it can be hard to know what to do when you are in that situation. The first edict of staying calm is very difficult for me. I can stay calm but my anger goes from 0 to 100 when I know that rights are being denied due to lack of knowledge. I don’t mind explaining, but once we get past the threshold of having explained once, that is when I get cranky. I already know it’s going to be a lot harder to get an Uber and Lyft now, even though their policies state that we should not be disallowed rides. But once it happens, it requires reporting the driver, having them cancel the ride, waiting for another ride, hoping that the next driver doesn’t inadvertently cancel, etc. In the meantime, my time is being wasted and I have to expend even more energy. I do not say these things to be a downer, but this is part of making that decision to have a guide dog once again. I know that many of my friends will find this unbelievable, but it totally happens and I haven’t even tiptoed along the tip of that iceberg. Because of my involvement in a consumer organization, I know how to advocate for myself and to be more assertive, but it is easy to talk about it in the abstract and a hell of a lot harder to handle when you are in the moment. Along with outcry comes backlash, as I witnessed when someone recorded a restaurant’s refusal to serve an individual and her friends. It went viral and the comments were horrible. So, I’m not quite looking forward to jumping in to all of that. I am not a pessimist by any means, but I just know how reality worked when I had my last guide dog and I’ve watched my friends still go through it. Still, I  wouldn’t change my decision to work with a guide dog for anything.


One of the highlights of my day was having a surprise visit from Lester’s instructor, Woody. It was so awesome to see her and catch up. We talked all through dinner and I got to introduce her to Treble. It was so fantastic. I gave her big hugs and I’m just so thrilled that during my time here, both she and Chrissy have come to see me.


After dinner, I spent a lot of time with my classmates laughing, telling jokes, chatting, and simply enjoying their company.


Food Report

Breakfast: Toast with strawberry jam and bacon

Lunch: pasta with a vodka sauce? I think that’s what it was. It was delicious, but next time I’d like more vodka and preferably some cranberry juice.

Dinner: Jerk chicken, coconut Rice, and broccoli

Dogventures Day 15: Riding That Horse Down the Home Stretch

Today has been a fairly good day. While it started out a little rough, it evened itself out.


After the usual, Treble and I went to obedience. We did this in a group setting with loose dogs that belong to the instructors running around, while treats were tossed to try to see if the dogs would be distracted. Treble did pretty well with a great deal of positive enforcement and some correction. These setups really teach me a great deal about patience, being quick to catch mistakes, and learning more about Treble’s personality.


Today was pretty cold and rainy, so we did indoor work. Treble did a wonderful job on the escalators, and walking through Target. Every day, I just feel more and more confident with my dog and it is a wonderful feeling. I know I can handle correcting a lot of her sniffing and a few other habits. She has become used to me, and I’m used to her. I’m seeing so much of her personality shine through.


After lunch, we headed back to campus and did some work on the stairs. We walked down the hallways and she did an awesome job in targeting the elevators.

Targeting is such a wonderful tool. With a lot of positive reinforcement and clicker training, I can tell Treble to target doors, stairs, or my room. She is spot on and it’s a fun way to teach her. It’s a great game and she’s always ready to play.


We then did a group activity which involved having our dogs sit on our left side while we dropped treats on the floor, getting closer and closer to them. If they did not go for a treat, we would say ‘yes’, and give them a reward from our treat pouch. If they attempted to get a treat off of the floor, we’d give a firm correction. We then walked around in a circle to see if they’d go for the treats or not, stopping every so often to say ‘yes’ and treat them. Treble did a very good job in all of these things, but when we got to the safe zone and I went to treat her, I fumbled and dropped it and she dove in like a yellow ball of thunder. My Treble is one tricky little diva.


Treble and Tanner had a play session in my room, and I got to see Treble take interest in a Nyla bone that she had no interest in until Tanner. She would hide the toy from him or jump around, making sure she had the higher ground. She also likes to flaunt her toys and run around. She is very feisty and savage in the way that she teases the sweeter dogs. Again, what a little diva.


After dinner, I spent quality time with my classmates. I’m thrilled to be going home but I’m going to miss them so much. Each of them has brought something wonderful and beautiful to this experience.


Our lecture tonight was all about what happens once we go home. The dogs have been used to their surroundings for about five months of intensive training. As students, we have been unfamiliar people in a familiar world. taking them home with us is now throwing them with slightly more familiar people in to completely unfamiliar surroundings. There are a lot of things to consider in terms of how to handle these things. For example, when I came home with previous dogs, I didn’t have a roommate, so now I will need to navigate introducing a new dog to her and limiting interactions, which is very hard for me. My roommate is incredibly supportive and wonderful, but this is new territory for me.


Since I’m changing time zones, Treble’s feed, water, and parking schedule will also need to change. It’ll almost be like establishing a relationship all over again without the buffer of instructors to help smooth the snags. I’ll have to be careful and limit the amount of freedom that she has in the house, head back in to work and handle so many things. We will be working on building our routes and jumping back in to things shortly after returning home. It takes about six months to a year to become a fully-fledged team. I’m up to the challenge and am looking forward to it, but it will be a time of growth and admittedly, patience.


I have lived and breathed training for these three weeks. I don’t know what’s really happening in the world right now. Now, I’m going to have to focus on Treble and the myriad other things that are happening in my life. It can be done, but I did not miss the part where you deal with early stages of this development of a team, that’s for sure.


I’m going to make myself a little vulnerable here. I deal with anxiety and depression and some days it feels utterly insurmountable. It is hard to often articulate why I might feel the way that I do or what brought on an anxiety attack, or why I suddenly go from being relatively happy to being in tears. This training is very intense and it’s been difficult to figure out what is just the stress of the class and what is the depression. I’m not good at voicing that I am hurting and I am really awful about reaching out. In some ways, I can be very stoic. Maybe I see it as a weakness in myself, maybe I just want to always portray that I am a strong badass of inner strength. Today, though, I feel like I am neither a badass or have an unending well of said strength. I’m tired and I am sad, and it feels like dealing with this on top of other things is sometimes too much.


I have a lot of go-tos when life feels difficult, but depression is like a wet blanket and feels like it splashes crappy water on everything in its path. It is also a huge liar in what it says that I am, and believe me, I’m great about beating myself up.


I want to be very honest about this experience, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that while guide dog school is an emotional and physically exhausting experience, it is not helpful to have to fight this, too. I only have so much energy. I keep plodding along, though, and trying to do little things when my mind is too overwhelmed to consider specific things to help keep me calm. I don’t want to minimize the stress that is guide dog school, though, so I guess I don’t always know what the hell my problem is at any given time. But hey, that’s something to chat with my therapist about next week, right?


So, hooray for the home stretch. This leg of the race is almost finished and I’ve learned so much along the way.


Food Report

Breakfast: toast and strawberry jam

Lunch: grilled cheese sandwich

Dinner: Grilled cheese sandwich and bacon. …I love grilled cheese sandwiches!


Dogventures Days 13 and 14: Resting Knees and More Malibu Breeze

There was no way I could have written this post last  night and I’ll explain why later.


After the usual, it was time for obedience, or as I like to think of it as ‘why me right now!’ They threw everything at us. Dog treats, puppies, and so many other distractions. Maybe it was just those two and just felt like it was so much more.


We had traffic checks in White Plains which I explained earlier. The class supervisor was in a van and would do things like cut us off during the crossing of smaller streets, or drive toward us slowly. Treble Did as she was supposed to and backed up or stopped completely, depending on what was needed. I have full confidence in her ability to keep me safe in that regard. They have signs on the van that say that they are Guiding Eyes and are doing traffic training, because the general public has yelled at them, thinking that they were just a clueless driver.


I was in a lot of pain and so I did not do a second route. I did, however, talk to my trainer about the Manhattan trip and I’m leaning more toward going.


I came back here and honestly just caught up on sleep. I am so very boring.

We had a lecture and practiced giving the dogs pills, cleaning their ears, and brushing their teeth. I appreciate the ‘shove it down the hatch’ method because every dog I ever had has been a real pain about pills, whether hidden in cheese, drowned in peanut butter, or submerged in their food. The easiest and quickest way to know for sure that they’ve taken that pill is to just do it the tried and true way, at least for me.


After dinner, a bunch of us from class went out to the Yorktown Grill and had a really fun time. I asked for something sweet to drink and was originally brought a Cosmopolitan. It was so tart and tasted like sour patch kids wrapped in regret and despair. I was brought another drink, and hence my new love for Malibu Bay breeze drinks was firmly established. I had three of them and wow, they were so good.


I crashed hard after returning back to campus and have just spent the day today resting, icing and heating my knee, and trying to engage in reading again.

Spoiler alert: Books ain’t happenin’ right now.


We have reached the home stretch. I am really going to miss my classmates so much. This week is going to go by quickly. Will I do the smart thing and do laundry and pack up on Friday so that I’m not rushing to do it Saturday night/Sunday morning? I hope so!

Narrator: Reader, this will not happen. Don’t trust this new leaf attempting to be turned over.


Food report

Saturday Breakfast: bacon and toast with strawberry jam

Saturday Lunch: Uh, this is why I have to write these the day of! Maybe grilled cheese?

Saturday dinner: baked chicken, couscous, and zucchini. I do not believe that couscous and I will have a long-lasting relationship. I do not think that I can be friends with the first cous or cous the 2nd, but it is because  of the texture!

After party: fries, onion rings, Southwest egg rolls, and all the breeze on Malibu.


Breakfast: grilled blueberry muffin

Lunch: skipped it because I was so tired.

Dinner: vegetable lasagna and garlic bread