Kangaroo on a plane! As an ESA! 


Got your attention with that title, didn’t I?

This whole faking service dogs or emotional support animals on flights is really getting out of hand. Here is another article about it. 

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Emotional-Support-Animals-Growing-Problem-on-Flights-318728371.html

Cat, turtle, pig, kangaroo?! Now, cat makes sense.. I suppose turtle could too, but a pig or a kangaroo on a flight?!!

Sad that they don’t challenge the validity of passengers’ documentation or need due to law suite.. 

The fur is flying in pet-people clashes in the skies


A small dog with an "ESA" sign in a suitcase
Image found at: https://www.nsarco.com/flying-with-emotional-support.html
NOTE: This is not my image. I found it on Google. 🙂

If you’ve read my blog long enough, or know me personally, you know fake service dogs are one of my biggest pet peeves and a topic that really gets me fired up. Now, remember, I am not calling a “fake service dog” service dogs that don’t come from organizations, because there are plenty of really good owner-trained service dogs. I’m referring to pets that aren’t task trained to mitigate someone’s disability (if their owner/handler has one) or aren’t even partnered with someone with a disability.

I was scrolling along Facebook tonight, getting ready to post about how Makiko is doing (don’t worry that will come next) and then I see this title and think “hmm, I wonder what this is about!” So I open it up and my eyes immediately go to “emotional support animal” (in quotation marks, implying a fake.

Here’s the article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/advice/2015/07/31/flying-pets/30930717/

GASP! Excuse me – defecated in flight? Now, I get that any dog, like any human, can have stomach upset, but if you’re a true handler of a dog that assists you due to your disability, you usually have ways to help this PRIOR to boarding the flight – like getting appropriate medication or spending a good amount of time outside relieving.

“Airlines are enabling a bunch of selfish people who have no concern for the people around them,” says Kaczka, a teacher from South Plainfield, N.J.

I couldn’t have said it better. These people ARE selfish, or greedy, and they just don’t want to spend the money.. those who fake these animals, I mean. Now, I get that many airlines are likely afraid of the consequences of calling people out and there is only so much they can do if the person brings forged documentation, but I still think airlines should be a little more aggressive, have posted information about service dogs and emotional support animals, and have management that is aware and can help back them up.

I do get that some animals would have a lot of problems in the storage area of a jet, but then make alternate arrangements, don’t bring them. It’s not worth it. Now, the situation with Sam the cat mentioned in the story is sad. The owner did do the right thing by the cat.. and I feel that the airline should have been a little more tolerant.. clean up the mess and move on with it.. just like you would do if a kid pooped in his/her diaper. It’s a difficult balance though. And wow – that’s expensive for a pet transport!

The passenger who was quoted in teh story about it being a double standard that she wasn’t allowed to bring nuts on the plane, but someone was allowed to bring their medium sized non-service animal dog on the plane, was an interesting remark. I totally get that. I would be frustrated too.

When the article stated that airlines are being pushed one way by federal regulations and the other by unhappy passengers, I thought to myself “so what if they are unhappy if they are breaking the law?” Yeah, they are going to be unhappy if they can’t trick the airline into letting their beloved pet onboard and therefore not having to spend money.. but who really cares? That’s their deal. Federal regulations are in place to protect people with disabilities and their service dogs/their reasonable accommodations. It’s okay if the fakers/scammers aren’t happy if they get refused. But again, airlines and employees are just too scared of getting accused of discriminating or asking/saying things they aren’t allowed to. This is where proper training comes in, and empowerment from management who is aware and knowledgeable of their rights and the laws.

This was a very good article. And recent- posted today!

“You don’t see people faking a life-threatening illness to get a wish from Make-A-WIsh Foundation..” (Followup on Fake Service Dogs Post)


Greetings!

Before I say more.. watch this! If you click that hyperlink, you will be taken to the NBC Bay Area site. After you watch the video, you can read the article if you want but the content is almost identical in both places.

Here are my thoughts:

View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.

  1. YAY NBC! Thank you so much for doing a story on this. The issue of fake service dogs unfortunately is becoming more and more of an issue. The blog that I referenced in my other post as well as the NBC News video above, both are evidence of this I think. Notice the date on the article/video (May 21, 2013). Just last month.
  2. I found “Canine Cheats,” to be a humorous but effective way of describing what is going on here. “Faking,” “cheating,” “smuggling” are three of many words that I could think of to describe the actions of these people.
  3. “It happens more often than you might think, often at the expense of the disabled.” Well, yes, this isn’t person-first language but the message is clear. It IS very much so at the expense of individuals with disabilities who rely on true service animals.
  4. I really liked the way the girl, Alex, who is in a wheelchair expressed how this affects her. Her point about our dogs being very submissive is RIGHT ON and I would have never thought to describe it like that. Our dogs WON’T fight back and as the gal said, our dogs are “at risk,” and for me personally that’s my “eyes” and therefore my independence. For her, it’s her mobility and therefore her independence. The title of this particular blog post came from a quote that this girl said in the video. She said, “You don’t see people faking a life-threatening illness to get a wish from Make-A-Wish foundation. Right? You don’t do that. You don’t take advantage of the perks of someone else’s disadvantage that way.” Oh wow she hit it right on! If that doesn’t illustrate the point, I’m not sure what will. I am really excited to read her blog.
  5. It really is unfortunately very easy to pass your dog off as a service dog. (See more info below)
  6. I absolutely LOVED the undercover conversations with members of the public in this gal’s hometown. The first man admitting that he has claimed his dog as a service dog before.. the dog that is pictured eating all that stuff off the ground (gross).. that dog’s owner who is “over it in general” referring to the fact that only service animals are allowed in some places.. the guy explaining how to “get around” the fact that they don’t have a service animal but they want to bring their dog by just claiming it’s a service dog because the staff can’t ask many questions. I found it very informative that the news reporter explained how staff can only ask two questions: 1) Is it a service animal? and 2) What is it trained to do? They can’t specifically ask about your disability, ask for the identification, asked who trained it, etc. So by law if anybody asked me the maximum I have to say is “Yes this is a service animal and she is trained to guide me.” They can’t ask if I have a visual impairment even. For me personally, I wouldn’t mind saying I am visually impaired but there are many types of service animals and some service animals are for more personal medical conditions and therefore I totally understand and respect this law. If people do give me heck, I do carry around an ID card that says we graduated from a certified guide dog school and I do have the Texas and Federal laws on guide dogs with me at all times in my wallet. However, I am not required to show these and they aren’t allowed to ask for it. I can show it at my discretion though, of course. Then the undercover conversations resume again and the lady says she doesn’t know where the bounds are, a gentleman says he flat out doesn’t listen to any rules or regulations until he “actually gets headed off for it,” and “there are too many sheep in our society,” he claims. Umm, excuse me? That SAME dude then talks about him having a few biting incidents over the years. Um, okay, NO.
  7. Allergies and disease are great reasons to restrict pets from food places. And remember, a service dog is not a “pet.” However, our dogs are really well taken care of. They are groomed frequently (mine is groomed daily), we brush their teeth, they are given monthly heartworm and flea medications, they are caught up on their vaccines. There of course is still room for some disease, but that eliminates a good amount and by grooming the dog daily you actually do eliminate a lot of allergy problems. There will still be people that are allergic, severely allergic to dogs, and while the person with the service dog isn’t required to leave or do anything about it, most service dog owners will find a compromise that works for both individuals. We know what it is like to have it rough and wouldn’t wish that upon anybody.
  8. My dog is registered under the United States Service Dog Registry because that is something someone told me about but it is not required by law or even often suggested to register your dog. The comparison of how you have to register for a blue “handicap” placard but don’t for a service dog was effective. The Americans with Disabilities Act is pretty liberal on service dog fraud. I think there is a line though because having someone judge whether you have a legitimate service dog can get tricky and cumbersome. I’m not sure what the solution is though.
  9. The news mentioned how it’s a misdemeanor in California to fake your dog as a service dog so I wanted to look it up for Texas. It IS a misdemeanor here too.. woo! The news reporter also mentioned how it IS a hard law for police to enforce. There are some really well trained pets and some really “good” mock service dog vests out there. From stories I’ve read and videos I’ve seen of fake service dogs, some really good hints are dogs that leap after other dogs, dogs that expect to eat off the table and jump on things, dogs that relieve at random, dogs that do not look like they are performing a certain task, etc. On www.servicedogs.org, the law is stated:

    Penalties for Improper Use of Assistance Animals

    1. A person who uses an assistance animal with a harness or leash of the type commonly used by persons with disabilities who use trained animals, in order to represent that his or her animal is a specially trained assistance animal when training of the type described in Section 121.002(1)(B) of this chapter has not in fact been provided, is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200. (Faking that it’s an assistance animal is a criminal offense.)
  10. I like how the news reporter also brought up the point that therapy dogs, comfort dogs, and emotional distress dogs are NOT considered service dogs under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

When a non-service dog is faked as a service dog it really gives our service dogs a bad name and as I’ve said before puts a bad taste in the mouths of business owners and staff. The dogs wreck things, eat things, jump on things, bark, relieve, all things that our dogs are taught NOT to do in public and therefore make good service animals and are allowed in these places. It takes a LOT to train a service dog to be the way they are and that is why I emphasize so much about not reversing the training by petting a service dog, letting your dog confront the service dog, or faking your dog as a service dog.

So I mentioned above that it is really easy, unfortunately, to pull your dog off as a service dog. Do me a favor, Google “Fake service dog,” in the dropdown box where Google suggests searches, guess what pops up? “Fake service dog certification,” “Fake service dog vest,” and “Fake service dog tags.” Now PLEASE do not take this information and go make your dog a service dog, oh goodness please do not do that. I’m just expressing how easy nasty people have made it to get products to make your dog appear as a service dog.

To get a Service Dog ID (even though they aren’t legally allowed to ask for this so I’m not sure what the point is), one can go to: http://www.servicedogtags.com  One can also get a vest there, ID, collar, patch, certificate, etc. It’s just disgusting.

Service Dog ID

This is an example of a Service Dog vest anyone can buy online which makes their pet dog look like a service dog.
This is an example of a Service Dog vest anyone can buy online which makes their pet dog look like a service dog.

I understand loving your animal and wanting him/her to come with you. But are people really THAT LOW that they have to put individuals who are already at a disadvantage EVEN MORE at a disadvantage?

Another blogger shared with me a post she wrote on the subject. It shares the same opinion with different viewpoints. “Helper Parrots and Guide Horses” 

What are your thoughts on this? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Distracting a Guide Dog and Limits with Others


I know many of my readers are classmates and friends and they are probably completely sick of hearing me talk about distracting a guide dog or service dog, but many of my readers also do not know me in real life or have not heard me talk about it as much. Plus, this post has two topics to it really that relate. Many of us were taught not to touch a dog, regardless of whether it was a service dog or just a pet, without asking its owner first. I love this rule and I wish more were taught this rule or obeyed this rule because even if the person doesn’t know the rule of not petting service animals, they should know not to just run up and pet a strange dog. Now some will argue that I wouldn’t have an unfriendly dog on an airplane, in a restaurant, in a store, etc., and this is probably true but you truly never know and you also don’t know what might agitate the dog (we’re talking non-service dogs here) and you get attacked. Point of this semi-ramble is people, just don’t pet ANY dog without asking.

I will say though that my classmates are AMAZING. The first few weeks they were learning the rules but they still did really good. Now they almost always pretend she is not there or they will say something to me about her but it won’t get her attention in any way. Perfect! 🙂 Now we just need to teach the general population how to do this, haha. A good example of this was the other day I went to the dentist. I hadn’t been to the dentist since I got Makiko so I didn’t think about xrays. My mom was waiting in the waiting room so I took Makiko out to her and put her in a “down. stay.” She did great, Mom said. Then all of a sudden this receptionist comes out from behind her desk and is ALL over Makiko. I mean, ALL over. Mom hadn’t obviously ever been in that situation before so she didn’t really know how to react. And then, what do ya know, when it was time to get Makiko to up and work back to the room to be with me again after X-rays, Makiko got a little distracted by her. Ugh… that is PRECISELY why people aren’t supposed to do that. And then another member of the staff didn’t pet her but was talking baby talk tot her the ENTIRE appointment.  I was about to say something when the dentist came in. After a while she said, “can I pet her?” and I said “yes, thank you so much for asking. That’s super important.” and then she just pet her real quick and Makiko maintained focussed on me. Maybe that was a bit of passive-aggressiveness in me, but I was really impressed with the dentist herself and not so much with the staff. I am definitely going to say something next appointment.

Another blogger wrote a bit about this and I wanted to share it with you to show another person’s experiences with it. I have shared another part of the same blog post of hers in another blog post of mine. Here is the relevant part: “As is the bain of my existence, a well-meaning woman came up and started baby-talking to Elvis, telling him how sweet, adorable and handsome he was. Ugh. I truly feel it’s one of the rudest things well-intentioned people can do. It would creep people out if I walked up to their child without addressing the parent first, and the same applied here. Plus, most people have not been educated that ANY speaking to, or touching of, a service animal is strictly forbidden. Why? He is an animal- not a robot. If someone starts making sweet clucking or encouraging noises at him, he’s going to MOVE. A guide dog is the blind person’s wheelchair for all intents and purposes. MOVING someone’s wheelchair from where it’s accesible to the disabled person is cruel and unusual punishment. Having my dog move from where I THOUGHT I put him is a huge danger to me. That’s why it is forbidden. However, people are people, and usually ignorant when it comes to these things.

To add insult to injury, she asked ELVIS, not me, if his training was going well. I take offense to people thinking that I am training my dog. I so WISH I was training a guide dog. It’s awfully presumptive and makes me feel bad when someone doesn’t realize I have an invisible disability. Most people would think I find it flattering that I don’t appear blind. I think it’s just rude and presumptuous. I responded, “No, Elvis’ training was done 4 years ago before I lost my sight. I appreciate how cute he is, but please don’t distract him while he’s working. He is busy taking care of me right now. Thank you.” She flushed a deep shade of purple and headed off to her bike.” Blindsommelier’s blog

This kind of interaction while the dog is working does many things. The first and foremost problem is that it distracts the dog from her job and jeopardizes our safety. If she is looking at someone or something else, she might not see that step in time to warn me, or she might not see that car come out of nowhere as we are crossing the street. That could leave one or both of us killed or seriously injured, and I’m not exaggerating. It also teaches the dog that she doesn’t have to stay completely focussed and behaved in harness and she can listen to other people while in harness. Ugh, that is just so detrimental to a working guide dog team it’s ridiculous. It can also distract us from our orientation and we could get turned around easily because we are focussing on getting our dog behaved and not where we are going. Our guide dogs are our eyes, and other types of service dogs have just as critical a job to do. It is not fair to the dog or the handler to distract the dog when they have been trained for so long not to react while in harness. Next time we go in the dentist office Makiko may have a reaction to that receptionist because she remembers all the love that she gave Makiko and I will have to correct Makiko. How unfair to her is that? But she needs to learn; but she wouldn’t need to learn if the receptionist just respected our relationship. Luckily Makiko has never had a big problem like this before, but I’m saying it very well COULD happen. I would hope not with my baby though but I couldn’t entirely blame her if it did, again because of that receptionists actions.

One of my good friends who also has a guide dog recently bought a sign that says “Do Not Pet Me. I Am Working.”  (Pictured below) I have also seen, “Ignore Me, I Am A Working Guide Dog,” “Please Ask To Pet Me: Blind Dog,” and “Ask Her Before Petting Me.” However, I think that the “Ignore Me” sign isn’t direct enough about petting, the “Please Ask” one implies the dog is blind, and the third one kind of encourages that petting is an option so I would go with the “Do Not Pet Me, I Am Working,” one if I got one. It attaches to the harness directly. I have contemplated getting one of these for quite a while. I have been told by many that by the time the person has reached down to see the sign they are already petting the dog, or the people that really want to pet the dog are going to do so, sign or not. But I have also heard from others that it does detract people from petting the dog so I’m really still contemplating it.

Screen Shot 2013-06-16 at 2.08.28 AM

Another issue involving all of this is I’m still learning how to be strict with the public and loved ones. I do understand that it is crucial to our safety and our working relationship that I am strict with others, setting limits regarding their interaction with her and not allowing them to pet her randomly, but most of the time it is not like me to be confrontational. I can if you push my buttons far enough and I think the general public may have done this for me now. I will still be nice though, of course. Many people have come up to me and started petting her and I have said to many, “Actually, she is my working guide dog so if you could please not pet her that would be helpful.” Another strange encounter came to mind. The other day a lady came up to Makiko and stuck her sun hat in her face and was just wanting Makiko to smell it. It was just the strangest thing. I turned Makiko away from the woman and she got the hint. I am better about the public than I am good friends or family. I seem to have more trouble telling them no about what things they can or can’t do with her. There are some things I am absolutely strict on and they know that and seem to respect that so I just have to readdress the boundaries without offending anyone. I really hope that I don’t offend anyone but if I do, I guess I do. I need to do what is best for Makiko and I. Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been really relaxed at all on rules and I’m never relaxed on rules while in harness. Only times we really have issues with whether I allow something or not is off harness. There are just a few things I’m still learning and figuring out as a first time guide dog user. This is why I say being a first time guide dog user is no easy task.

In the quote from the other blogger above, she mentioned about the same woman who was super distracting to her dog was also talking to the dog about being in training. This is often something I get as well and I have addressed in another blog. It’s really reassuring though that others go through the same issues with the public that I do, although I wish none of us had to go through them of course.

It’s okay though, I love to educate others and I am patient. I will continue to educate others nicely but I will not jeopardize my working relationship with Makiko while doing so. I will speak up to whomever it is, whether it be a stranger or a loved one or friend. Here we go..

Fake Service Dogs — Read this person’s blog


This picture features a dog in the feet area of the bulkhead seating on an airplane. Photo from the website: http://www.gooddoghometraining.com/service_dog_training.htm
This picture features a dog in the feet area of the bulkhead seating on an airplane. Photo from the website: http://www.gooddoghometraining.com/service_dog_training.htm

I was casually looking at other blogs tonight of service dog handlers and I happened to come across this one blog post that I wanted to share with you. Keep in mind this individual is not disabled, or doesn’t appear to be by the way she writes and describes things, just a dog lover.

Read this post, then come back to my post after you’ve formed your opinions. Let me know what you think in the comments. Here is the hyperlink: Nicole Marie Richardson’s blog. 

Here’s what I said in the comments, but it is still “awaiting moderation.” :

“As a truly disabled individual who has a service dog that was trained for a year and a half to do her job right, people whose dogs don’t perform essential functions and aren’t super well trained hurt the disabled community, especially service dog handlers. I understand that you would like a cheaper way to travel with your beloved dog, but if that dog DOES act out and is labelled a “service dog” that puts a bad taste in many people’s mouths and makes it even harder for the next person who does have a legitimate disability and service dog. I urge you and all of your readers to consider this when thinking about doing this on your next trip. It may not be illegal, but it is seriously unethical. Last, but not least, an Emotional Support Assistance Dog is an assistance animal, not a service animal and does not have the legal rights they do as they are not covered under the ADA. They are not task trained. Thank you for reading this and I sincerely hope you take into consideration what I had to say.”

I generally don’t like to badmouth other people on my blog as I want this to be a very positive and honest atmosphere, but this just really does put a bad taste in my mouth and for her to publish it. Hmm…  I have been wanting to post something on fake service dogs as this is a topic that REALLY pushes my buttons but haven’t gotten around to doing it yet. I will try to get one written this week.

As I said in my comment, this really does hurt service dog handlers who do have a disability. Many fake service dogs are not as well trained and will go to the restroom indoors, make a lot of noise, jump on other people, eat food off the floor, etc. They do not have the training nor skills that real service dogs have. Therefore, whether it be on a bus, train, inside a restaurant, wherever, when a fake service dog acts out but others on board identify that dog as being a service dog, that puts a bad taste in their mouth. Then the next time when a real service dog is onboard or in the vicinity, the individual(s) may not be as accommodating or friendly, at no fault to the service dog handler or service dog themselves. It’s a really unfortunate situation.

Now, I want to clarify that I am not putting down Emotional Support Assistance Dogs. I think for individuals with some emotional issues, they are wonderful. And if this individual really did have an anxiety issue, I would have an ENTIRELY different outlook on this, even though Emotional Support Assistance Dogs aren’t covered under the ADA. But the truth is she obviously didn’t and was posting this to all her viewers to read and take advantage of. Look in the comments, there are others who think this is a brilliant idea and are therefore going to take advantage of it, adding several more fake service dogs to the world. Ugh.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you on this.

Day 1 at GDB


Oh man, today was a LONG travel day but well worth it. I was out of town for a wedding so I had to fly out of the other city, which then happened to fly into my home town, and then to Portland. I had to be at the airport at 5:20 or so this morning. THAT was early. And of course I didn’t get the greatest night sleep last night because of the excitement of the wedding and worried that I was forgetting something. Turns out I was.. I had forgotten to get cash, but we took care of that easily in the morning.

We arrived at the airport, Mom was able to come through security with me because I have a disability. She stayed with me until I preboarded. American Airlines at the Austin airport had a little vibrating buzzer thing that let you know when it was time to go up. I was the only one pre-boarding though and I just stayed in the “Special Needs” seating with Mom so they motioned to her when it was ready for me. Still, I thought this device was pretty cool and high tech for an airline/pre-boarding. (Pictured below)

American Airlines Pre-boarding Pager

The first leg of the flight went by without a hitch. I was asleep before take-off even. I wasn’t told that I had to transfer planes for the second leg but then I soon figured that out when EVERYBODY was getting off. So I went out and there was somebody to assist me to the next gate. That is when the crazy stuff started happening. So all of a sudden, there is this lady in front of me with a wheelchair, taking my cane, my bag, my boarding pass, etc. She hadn’t introduced herself to me, said not a word, just started grabbing things. So I said, “what’s going on?” and she said she was going to put me in the wheelchair. That is when somebody that was working the desk said, “The wheelchair is for somebody else. She is blind and just needs your arm.” So then I asked her for all my belongings back. So then she like grabbed me in this really awkward position and practically started dragging me. She wasn’t angry or anything, she just legitmateily thought that was the way to guide me. I really think that may have been her first experience with a person with a visual impairment. Then I told her I would prefer to just grab her arm so she let me but then she tried to do this awkward thing about grabbing my arm too. I just wasn’t going to win with this one. So then when we got onto the passageway between the airport and the plane, she started manually guiding my cane back and forth. Well, that practically makes the cane useless for me because I am no longer able to detect anything by using the cane. So then she started telling all the flight attendants. “She’s blind. She’s blind. She’s blind.” Oi. She stressed me out. So then once I got on the plane, I found my seat and I put my cane over to the left side since I was at a window seat. That is where the previous flight’s flight attendants told me to put it. Well, this flight attendant said that wasn’t allowed so she took it from me. See, I was in the bulkhead so I had to store everything overhead but apparently this time that included the cane. Okay, now I’m settled and I try and get some sleep. I fall asleep and then all of a sudden I wake up FREEZING! Apparently they turned on all the air blower things overhead. I tried to turn mine off several times without any luck. The passenger next to me was asleep. Since I was short, it was difficult to even reach and try to turn it off and then once it didn’t work I needed to call the flight attendant. Well, I managed to press the button and she came immediately. She couldn’t even turn the thing off. So then I asked for a blanket, and of course they didn’t have any. So there I am freezing for another hour or more on the plane. I was so ready to get off.

Plane landed. I didn’t wait like the flight attendant’s prefer for everybody to get off. I instead got off close to the start and there was somebody waiting to guide me. He was a good guide. I think he’s had experience because he automatically guessed that I was here for the Guide Dog school and he was very good about guiding me. I appreciated that. I told him I was supposed to this certain place in baggage claim. He was leading me there when suddenly I heard, “Jessica?” It was a married couple who are volunteers for Guide Dogs for the Blind. So they helped me get my luggage and then we waited around for another student. She was about an hour later. Meanwhile, I got Starbucks. I was so ready for it! This other student, “R”, has been blind since birth and is on her like 9th guide dog or something. It’s incredible. I hadn’t met any of the other students yet and we headed to campus.

Once we got there, the volunteers brought in our luggage and showed us around our room. It’s very nice. It’s a converted double room but it’s now private. We have this super long desk and several chests of drawers, two sinks, two areas to fill and dump the dog’s water, a tie down and a mat for the dog, a patio for relieving, two closets, another super long desk on the other side of the room, and a really nice bathroom. Oh, we also have a really nice TV. These rooms are really nice. Also in the room is a nice recliner and a bean bag area. I’ll talk more about that later.

So as soon as we got our stuff in the room, the nurse came by and discussed our medical needs with us and then she took me down to lunch. “R” and I ate lunch, they had turkey sandwiches for us, and then I went back to the room to unpack. I met Laura who helped me learn a few more things about my room and then told me I needed to in a certain room at 4:30pm for our first meeting. I skyped with my family, took a shower, and then headed down there. That is where we learned about basic rules and how things work. We also did introductions. I’m the youngest here. There are 5 other people, two older individuals, one male and one female, a middle-aged man, a middle-aged woman who is a mother and then another mother who looks younger. They all seem like a cool group of classmates for these 2 weeks. We are sure a chatty bunch though.

So after that, we took a tour around the facilities so that we would know what’s where. It’s very nice. We have a library, nurse’s area, music room, public restrooms, dining hall, grooming room, several lounges, etc. After the tour, we went to eat. I had ordered Chicken Marsala. It was delicious. We placed our order for Monday and Tuesday meals as well. I’ll tell you about them as they come though. After dinner, I had Laura, the Resident Adviser who has been helping us all evening and leading the meetings, help me with my key because it was being stubborn. Then we went to another meeting where we learned more about the equipment we will be using. We were all issued a leash and a food pouch. The food pouch is for treats. We take a portion of the dog’s daily food rations and put it into the pouch and we use that for treats throughout the day. It’s a way to regulate the dog’s caloric intake and therefore their weight. The leash is very nice leather.

Equipment

The above picture is of equipment we have here to use or we are issued. The top left picture is what we had in our rooms upon arrival. It’s a medium-sized bin of kibble, a cup, and a Guide Dogs for the Blind fanny pack. I think it has grooming equipment inside. The top right picture is the tie-down and doggy mat. When we are sleeping, we tie-down our dog so we make sure they are well-behaved and they learn that we are in control, etc. The middle picture on the left is something I thought was really cool. It’s a HUGE bean bag and a recliner. I’m told that the huge bean bag is so that we can cuddle up and lay with the dog. And then the recliner is just a really nice area to sit. The middle right picture is the food pouch which I described above. The bottom left picture is the nice leather leash, which we can make into a short leash or a long leash depending on what we need to do and then the bottom right picture is where we fill up and dump out the dog’s water bowl. Pretty cool, huh?

So after the second meeting, we were dismissed. I called a few friends and then sat down to write this blog. I think I’m going to pass out soon. This time is 2 hours earlier than my normal time zone so that will work out to my favor right now. I just can’t believe how early it is and how tired I am, but then I think about the long day I had and it makes sense. Tomorrow my day starts at 7:30am with breakfast.

GDB (Guide Dogs for the Blind) does this every two weeks so they have thinks worked out so well. I will tell you little things that they do that I think that are neat as I think about them. But one of them is we have phones in our room. We can call a certain extension and it tells us our schedule for tomorrow and the discussion questions we should be ready to discuss tomorrow. Isn’t that neat? As everyone probably knows, I am very schedule oriented and I like to have all the details. So, I am very excited about this feature. The Resident Advisor, Laura, also said she is going to email us the schedule and a map of Portland, where we do a lot of the training. I appreciate that because I am also a very visual person (ironic?) and so I like to have everything in writing. I haven’t listened to it yet but all I do know is that 7:30 is breakfast, we have lunch in the afternoon and then right after lunch around 1:30pm we get to meet our dogs. Oh man oh man! I’m excited/nervous!

Everything is really nice. The people are amazing, facilities fantastic, food wonderful, it is just a great atmosphere. I was a little hesitant about being away for two weeks because of all the emotional stuff that has gone on the past two months but I don’t think it will be that big of an issue. I hope not, at least. 🙂 I had heard all these things about GDB and that is why I chose to come here. I think everything I heard will prove to be true. I mean, the nurse manager came by and said she was going to the store and is there anything she could pick up for us. What did I ask for? Some Dr. Pepper of course! We even have our own mini-fridge in our room. (Forgot to mention that earlier). I’m just so impressed by this place so far and I’ve only been here like 6 hours!

I think that’s all for tonight. I’m exhausted. I’m really hoping the weather doesn’t get too bad this week because I am very much a Texas gal and Oregon weather just doesn’t sound like it would be too pleasant most of the time.

Hope you enjoyed my first post and I hope you continue reading!

Flight is… BOOKED


Holy moly GDB works fast. They have booked my flight and good gracious they were right, I am flying out early. Like I said in an earlier post, I will be flying out of Austin because I will be there for my cousin’s wedding the night before. I normally live in Denton/Dallas. The flight will leave Austin at 7:20 in the morning and then it will go through Dallas and then to Oregon. I should arrive around 11 or so and then I’m there for 2 weeks.. woot! The 7:20am flight is going to be brutal though because that means after being up into the morning hours the night before, I will have to then wake up and be at the airport by like 6am at the latest. I am NOT a morning person but I guess this will be good practice since we’ll have to wake up every morning at 6:30 am anyway. The flight there won’t be that interesting, although I do still love flying. The flight BACK however will be interesting because after only 2 weeks with my dog, I will be flying with it. Although, from what I have seen and read I’m sure we will be ready!