Monday, August 11, 2008

Sense - Abilities # 7 - Sense-Abilities Tested

Good day fellow canines,

These guys and gals with their white canes were all over the college campus as we were training and going through our paces to be top-notch guide dogs.

Some were tapping, some were sliding back and forth and others were just rolling them along. I really wondered what was going on here.

Now, as Dad shares his stories, I can really appreciate the change from a cane to a guide dog. Here he is with his cane, walking to work, before he found me,

Dad said that he carried and used a collasible white cane. Why? It made it easy to put away when he got to wherever he was going. Dad shared about some of his experiences while using the white cane.

His first experience in a shopping mall was very funny. Dad said that he was walking through a mall around the Christmas shopping season and the aisles were very crowded. As he walked and moved his cane back and forth, feeling his way along, the crowd would just start parting in front of him. He said that he felt a lot like Moses parting the Red Sea.

I wish I had that power some times when I have to chase toys into the water. It would have been nice to just walk out to them and not have to go through all that water to get them.

OK, OK . . . the truth . . . I'm a Labrador Retriever who doesn't like to swim or get wet. So what?!

It was now much easier for Dad to go into restaurant. Most of the time, as he moved through a dark restaurant or bar, he would run into or bump people and they would see his cane and say "excuse me" to him!

"It was pretty funny," he said, "I ran into them and they tell me, "Excuse me." Dad was quick to point out that he replied, "No, please excuse me!"

Some other funny times happened when Dad would be standing in a long line, as in for a movie. As the line would snake forward, Dad might get too close and his cane would come between the legs of the person in front of him. They would go, "Wooooh!" He was embarrassed, but did not realize that it had happened until it was too late.

One time he was walking and his wife was on his right side. He uses the cane in his right hand. As they were walking, the cane hit a big crack in a sidewalk and stopped the cane in its tracks.

Unfortunately, the cane spring back and hit his wife in the belly. It happened so fast that he could not stop it. He then began holding the cane closer in to his body so it would hurt anyone, including himself.

The sense of touch is very strong with a white cane. You can feel the grade change, up or down, you can feel holes, bumps or cracks as they are coming at you and be ready for them. You have to concentrate pretty hard sometimes, especially at night, if you have some vision, and this can get pretty stressful if you are not really sure where you are.

Dad shared that the sense of hearing is also at play. You are hearing the sound bounce off of objects that you are passing or sensing as you get near to them. You are constantly monitoring what you hear as clues as to what is going on around you.

The sense of smell becomes very acute, also. You can smell cars that you are getting close to, restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries . . . any place that has a distinct odor. That lets you know that you may be close to your destination.

"We use our "sense-abilities" in many ways when using a white cane," he said.

After 16 years of using a cane, Dad said that he made a decision to upgrade from a cane to a guide dog.

Oh boy, now I get to find out why he came to Guide Dogs for the Blind looking for me!

Lots of puppy love,



Princess Coral said...

Hey Zane,

Nikki seems to have funny tales of the white cane! She can relate to what your Dad is describing:)

It is so true that you feel every bit of everything when using a cane! So when Nikki started working with a guide dog, she was a little scared to go forward because she wasn't sure what's in front of her.

Zane Train said...


Thanks for sharing how Nikki dealt with her white cane transition to a guide dog. Dad said he had some trepidation as well, but quickly learned and trusted me. It makes me feel good to know that he came to trust me so quickly.

I ran him into a tree yesterday, so he might want to retract that statement.
Have a wonderful day and plase comfort Nikki and let her know that you are in control!

Love, Zane

Princess Coral said...

Oops! Zane, you ran Dad into tree!!! Was he singing away when you did that??? A little black dog told me a little story...
Remember the night rout in San Rafael???