Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sense - Abilbilities #8 - Is a guide dog for me?

Dad in Georgetown, CO, at the edge of a cliff - YIKES!
Boy, did moments like this make Mom nervous!

G'day mates,

I bet you're wondering how Dad ended up at guide dog school in the first place. It's not like you just arrive at the front door and announce you want a guide dog! There is a process that can take many months. Here's how it happened for Richard.

He went to a business meeting in Ogden, Utah, and several working guide dogs were there. There were also some puppies in training from the Guide Dogs for the Blind school in California.

Different guide dog owners shared what a difference having a guide dog had made for them, such as how their lives had been saved so many times when the dog did "intelligent disobedience" and disobeyed commands that would have put their partner in danger.

"Wow," Dad thought, "what a sense of safety and security that would give me."

He knew it was time to get serious about applying for a guide dog. He had a few near misses with cars at intersections, run himself into some sign posts . . . you get the picture. Ouch!

But getting a guide dog is a BIG decision. Any dog requires 24/7 maintenance, lots of grooming and weekly care. Having a guide dog is a whole new level of responsibility.

"With a white cane, you just fold it up and put in the corner of the room. You can't do that with a dog!"

But Dad loves dogs and felt that the responsibility would not be anything new (he already had one dog, my sister Cuzzie), and decided to go for it.

He picked up an application for Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) from Mr. Boulter, an alumni student right at that meeting in Ogden.

When he got home, he told Mom, "It's time for me to get a guide dog. What do you think? I feel that this will provide me with more independence, freedom, a sense of security and safety."

Do I feel proud! I provide all of that for Dad. I'm so glad that he chose to come to guide dog school and that I was the one that got to go home with him.

Claudia, my new Mom, was thrilled and relieved as this would give Dad not only more freedom, but make his life safer as well.

You see, it's not just the blind person who is taken care of by guide dogs like me. "The family members get their stress levels reduced when their loved one is protected," Mom said.

By mid-July he had completed his application and mailed it to GDB. He was so happy that he had started the application process because he knew it would change his life forever.

The initial application has several parts: a section that requires information from an eye doctor and three references of people that know you. He got that complete, faxed it in and waited with intense anticipation.

Gosh, how long do we have to wait to know when Dad got approved?! This suspense is killing me!

Thanks, Dad, for having confidence in Guide Dogs for the Blind, the college that I graduated from.

Lots of Big Licks,



Princess Coral said...

Hi Zane,

Your dad is smart! He made that decision rather quickly! Nikki took a long, long time to finally do it although she had been thinking about getting a dog for quite a while.

Becky said...

I remember that meeting in Ogden! Becky was bragging about me. It took my handler getting 'bumped' by a car to decide it was time! Hope our paths cross one of these days ... Cricket & Becky

Zane Train said...

Cricket & Coral,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts so quickly. Yes, the Ogden event was a turning point for Dad. But my princess, Dad said that he had been using a cane for 15 years! Is that a quick decision?

What I notice when I see other people with white canes, people love to come up and PET me and give me hugs and kisses. And that means that Dad gets to meet a lot of people that otherwise would not say hello like they do when they want to come see ME!

I'm the stud, if you pardon the expressioin! Dad just comes along for the ride. Cricket, I look forward to meeting you some day. But you have to remember, my heart has been stole by my Princess!

Hugs and Licks! Zane

Anonymous said...


Tell Dad there are some advantages to using a cane.

1. It doesn't need to go outside at 3:00 AM in the morning
2. Canes don't shed black hair.
3. They don't slobber on the car windows or sliding patio door.
4. Food is cheaper...canes just need a coat of paint every few years; no need to groom a cane either.
5. Canes don't chew socks or eat cantalope
6. People don't constantly ask to pet a cane or ask how old it is.
7. You don't need to carry around a blue bag in your back pocket all the time
8. You get to work a full 8-hr reason to take the cane for a walk at noon so you can get more work done.
9. Canes don't drool or slobber
10 They don't need treats or pats on the head.
11. Cuzzie was never jealous of the cane (neither was Claudia)
12. Canes don't have tails to step on or trip over
13. Canes don't get ticks and fleas.
14. Canes don't need to be put on "tie-down"....ever.
15. It's OK to hang a cane. It would be wrong to hang a guide dog.
16. Canes take up lots less room in the bed.
17. Wet canes don't shake and get you all wet.
18. You don't get as emotionally attached to a cane as you would to a guide dog. If a cane breaks, well, no big deal.
19. People like us don't get to "raise a cane" but we do get to raise a puppy!
20. Canes never throw up.
21. They don't drip water all over the floor when they drink.

So, good buddy, it seems to me like your Dad gave up a lot when he retired his white cane. Perhaps you can try to explain this to him.

There's got to be many more good reasons your Dad could go back to using a cane. But the best would be that he'd no longer need you and you could come back to live with us again!

PS: (I'll never stop trying to get you back).


Gary and Vicki (your "first family")

PS: Give Dad a big lick for us because his old cane can't.

Zane Train said...

Gary & Vicki,

Dad read me what you wrote about how much trouble I am compared to a cane. Heh, who's side are you on? Are you trying to get me back?

Dad said, "Gary & Vicki are priceless and you two did such a great job raising me. Plus you are very creative and funny."

Dad really liked that list, but he said you forgot:
22. A cane does not need a bath or their nails trimmed, just changed.
23. Canes don't run all around the house like a mad dog!
24. CAnes don't need their ears cleaned or teeth brushed.

Heh, wait a minute, I sound like a lot of trouble? Ahhhhhh, Dad, just gave me a HUG and a KISS.

I'm so happy.

Thanks for trying to get Dad to go back to the cane, but it did not work!

Love, Zane