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Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
4:50 am - Accepted!

I posted here awhile ago about how I was applying to Guide Dogs For the Blind for training. Well, I received my acceptance on Friday. I'll be attending training from Monday, June 27 until Saturday, July 16.

I'm so ecstatic!

My blog has more details about this entire incredible journey.


current mood: ecstatic

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Friday, January 7th, 2011
4:05 pm - Just Beginning

I started my application about a year ago. It took so long because I needed to track down quite a bit of paperwork. I'd just moved from New York to Florida, so doing that wasn't easy.

But everything's finally back on track. With any luck, I'll be getting my guide dog between now and May with Guide Dogs For the Blind in San Rafael California.

I am so ecstatic, I'm practically quivvering. I gave this a lot of thought and I've finally decided that I'm ready for this responsibility. It's nerve wracking, terrifying and so incredibly exciting.

Does anyone have any advice for first time guide dog users? Anything from feeding to cleaning to playing to walking. I'm open to everything. I think I read like the whole GDB website, even the sections that had nothing to do with getting a guide dog, such as puppy raising and such. I wanted to know everything about the process, about the results, about what I should be expecting. I love hearing stories about guide dogs, tips and tricks and just everything anyone has to tell me.

If anyone's interested in my personal experience, I have a blog that's detailing it all.


current mood: ecstatic

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Monday, December 6th, 2010
11:21 pm - Hurting

Hey guys,

I know I haven't posted here in years, but I need an outlet.
Kazzi, my beloved black labrador, who just turned 8 on the 19th, has to retire soon.

The Seeing Eye came out to visit last week and confirmed what I've been suspecting for the last 4 months (I was in job training and not really in a position to have us evaluated or have them start looking for a new dog) She has compressed disks in her lower back and goes too slowly in harness, but her work itself is still good. I'm hoping maybe that I can find some painkillers or treatment that will help us for the short term, as she seems ok for the most part out of harness.
On top of that, I've just moved to Philadelphia, a place I've never been and don't know anyone and am about to start my first job.

How do you do it? For those of you who've retired a dog? Every time I try to fill out the replacement application I start crying and can't finish it because it makes it "official". Hell, I'm sitting here crying now. Kazzi is a specialty dog, trained on my right, so its more difficult for them to find a match.

Hell, I went out on a limb and requested a specific breed, i.e. not a lab. I'm scared of getting another lab because I don't think I can handle it. I know I shouldn't have a preference because it will be harder yet for them to find me a dog, but thinking that the new dog will be different, of course I know it will be different because it won't be Kazzi. I'm just scared of this whole process and don't even feel ready for a new dog. With it being specially trained, it would take them 2 months at the least to train it, so its not like it will be soon anyway...

I don't know what to do.

current mood: crushed

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Monday, November 22nd, 2010
9:31 pm - Guide Dogs in High School?

Hi Guys,
I worked at a local camp for the blind three summers ago. The kids were between 5-15. All the little guys were fascinated by the "cute doggie" that guided me everywhere, and some of the older ones were more curious about what he did, how we worked, and how he made life better.

Today, I got a Facebook message from one of those girls. She's 15 now, a sophomore in high school, and she just sent in her application to get a guide dog. I answered as many of her questions as I could, but there's something I can't help her with. I got Laser right after I graduated from high school. I never had him during high school for some pretty specific reasons.

I was curious if any of you had any experiences with working a dog during high school? I'd like to give her advice, as she's asking for it, but don't really have first-hand knowledge of the situation. Any help that you could give would be greatly appreciated.

current mood: curious

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Monday, July 5th, 2010
2:20 am - An Introduction!
elisabethgilman Hey Everyone! My name is Amber, I am 20, and I live in California, and am totally blind (from R.O.P) anyways I am looking at getting a guide dog next summer! (I finally decided that I want to get one!) because I know a lot of people got their guide dogs at 16, I couldn't have taken on that responcibility, lol I could barely get up for high school! So I didn't want to get a guide dog at the time. But now that I am a sophomore in College and I just transfored in to a huge University- I want a guide dog- it'd make traveling on a college campus a lot easier! Anyways I was thinking of attending the seeing eye- I've heard really great things about that school- and when I called them they sceemed nice and answered all my questions. The reason I preference T.S.E is because I am elergic to labs and goldens and lab/golden crosses which like 90% of the schools use so therefore I cannot go to for example, GDB for this reason. And+ I want a German Shepherd as a guide dog. I really like the breed- and I would feel most safe with one walking by my side guiding me- and me directing it where to turn/go etc. So I was/am wondering if anyone of you have or had german shepherd dogs as guide dogs? What was your experience? Were they difficult to handel? The other dog I was considering was a boxer as a guide, I know T.S.E does them occationally for people who are elergic to the other dogs- but the only problem is that boxers (from what I've read on the internet) don't adjust to somewhere that is very warm or somewhere that is very cold. Since I will be going to school in the midwest- where it gets cold- this might not be a great option for me. So I am going with a shepherd. I know- some of you are thinking- if your elergic to labs/goldens then I'd most likely be elergic to shepherds/ well that's not always the case- after all I will be grooming/feeding my dog every day to keep the shedding down as much as possible. (and+I have two irish terriors of my own right now) so I do have some experience with dogs even though my current dogs don't really shed- but what dog doesn't? So any advice you could give about the shepherd dogs is appreciated! As well as T.S.E since I will most likely go there. I looked at J.E.B, but what I didn't like about that is the dog isn't yours when you leave the school- also- you have to request certain dogs- like if I wanted a german shepherd- I'd have to request it and my wait time would be extremely long because I had a preference. And when I talked to them they kind of said that a shepherd might not be the dog for me, and to find another school to possibly meet my needs. I looked at the survey done in 2006 of all the schools, and I liked T.S.E the most. I was also looking at Fidelco- but I don't really want to home train- and I haven't heard really good things about their school, I also looked into guide dogs of the desert, but I've not heard good things about their school either. So any advice/suggestions/tips are appreciated! I probably won't be applying until like November/December of this year anyways, but I am still working on my O&M because I do live in an area that doesn't have sidewalks, and I want to make sure that my area is mastered by the time the trainer comes out to do the home interview!
Any help is appreciated!

current mood: happy

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Monday, March 22nd, 2010
1:58 pm - Beyond frustrated
alexofthesvu I'm writing cause I need help! I've had it with Wilda and want to retire her. Well part of me does and part of me doesn't. Apparently she hates where we live. She refuses to go to the bathroom anywhere near our building. I must walk her at least a few blocks away or she will not go. She's held her pee up to 2 days before cause she hates going by the building. Whenever we go out, she's fine but when we walk home and she realizes it she does 1 of 2 things. She refuses to walk any further in that dirrection or she'll cut out into the middle of intersections and get us way lost. I walk her 3-4 times a day but I guess she's not happy with the length of her walks. I took her on a 3.5 mile walk the other day but ended up in the ghetto and couldn't find my way back. People out here are too high or too stupid to know street names or they'll stop to say you're mean for working a dog and refuse to give dirrections. I know I effed up a lot with her. I let her start having run of the house too early, I let her sleep in the bed, I'm sure I've probably done other things wrong and I just don't know what to do. I can't afford to move somewhere else cause of not having a job so I gotta stay in the subsidized area and there are no paths around. Do you think taking her to the mall for a few hours a day and just walk her around and around? I called the school but I'm afraid if I retire her they won't let me have another dog. I also have a job interview today that if I get the job I will not have time to go get another dog. I just don't know what to do anymore.

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Thursday, January 7th, 2010
9:12 pm - Raincoats?

Hi Everyone,
I just had a quick question. I've been contemplating buying my dog a raincoat, but I have a few questions. For those of you that have them, do they help keep the dog dry? My dog is 90 pounds, with very broad shoulders. Do any of you with larger dogs use raincoats?
I know that GDB has one for sale for $18, and I contemplated that (at least I know where the money is going and that is to a good place). Do any of you with this particular raincoat have thoughts on it? Does it go above or below the harness? Does the fact that I use an off-set handle interfere with such a thing?
I know it's a lot of questions, but I would appreciate any input that any of you could provide. Thanks in advance. :)

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Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
6:03 pm - any puppy raisers out there?

Questions for ya'll if you don't mind... I wonder if there are any puppy raisers in this group. I know it's not really guide dog related and I'm sorry if it's not too relavant but... Our family has been given the opportunity to rescue a heeler lab mix who is currently 4 months old. I'm having some issues with him and what I believe might be seperation anxiety. Any suggestions that I might be able to try? He's a very quiet boy other than the time he is set to go into his crate before I leave for work. We put treats in before we go, so there seems to be no problem with him going into his crate, but the howling and barking commences shortly after... He seems to be too worked up to much on the kong with the treats inside.... Thanks in advance for any suggestions! :o)
And if there's anyone out there who might want to contact via email? Any suggestions again would be great!! Please let me know! Thanks again!!

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Saturday, October 17th, 2009
2:43 pm - A Tribute To Maggie

My guide dog Maggie (yellow Lab) recently celebrated her twelth birthday.  It seems only right to spend a few minutes describing the impact she's had on my life during the ten years she's been with me and  to appreciate her for the wonderful helper and friend she is. To say that I love this dog and that my  life has been so much better because of her seems like such an understatement. She's been beside me through so many  life transitions, relationships, and milestones, and has  lead me, made me laugh,  snuggled with me, given me a reason to get out of the house, and  broken plenty of ice for me in her day as the  more outgoing of the two in this team. She's  helped me to become the independent and dignified adult I've  wanted to be.
Since we were matched in 1999, here is a list of some of the things Maggie has been  beside me to  experience. She has borne witness to  so many important events and seen me laugh and cry and struggle and  succeed and everything in between.  If she could talk or had thumbs, she could spill all kinds of stories about me. I doubt that she would, though, even if she were able to. She's just my   good friend like that.
Last semester of college/dorm life and  college graduation
Trips to Pawley's Island during the year and however months I spent in and out of  a relationship with a man who lived there. These trips included  romps on the beach, and learning to use a dog door (That took months!) She loves the beach, though. 
First apartment with college roommate Lindy and a cat named Yuffy
Graduate school and roaming all around USC, especially the horseshoe and Russell House area of campus.
The time I needed her most as a guide was probably throughout the several years I spent in graduate school and  we got through that together.  
Moving into our own apartment in 2003
My horrible year of unemployment and licensure exams
Everything that happened with Jason, including the several places he lived, his trial, and visits to Lee. Those two were crazy about each other!
The four years I've been  counseling at Crossroads
Trips to and from NM to visit the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with, including an afternoon of playing in the snow. (2008)
The publication and promotion of Carmella's Quest, including in the recording studio
She's been with me as my sister's kids have grown up and for so many family occasions
She's seen various friends and several boyfriend relationships through from start to finish
That's so much major stuff in my life, from college student to  successful professional and grown up. She has been tremendously devoted and loyal to me  all these years and I've never doubted for a second that I was her favorite person on earth.
Now, lest  I sound overly sentimental or sappy,she is not perfect. She is a dog.  She doesn't fly around with angel wings on and is not a human child or a robot or  a traffic light reading "Hang on and I'll get you to  Wal-Mart" genius creature. I chose  to work with a dog and  any number of dogs could have traveled this journey with me. I could have done it without a dog.  But, for  the last 10 years  of my life, Maggie has been beside me on my journey.  I'm so glad that, of all the dogs I could have worked with during this time, its been her. She has done that as  herself, though, and deserves props for that. I wouldn't want her to be anything other than exactly who and what she is.
That means she gets distracted at times,  plays up that ditsy blond thing, and  can be just plain naughty occasionally.  That's especially true if she sees another dog. Sometimes, she barks too much. Oh, and she sheds. There's a cloud of yellow hair that follows me everywhere I go.  And anyone who knows her will attest to the fact that her breath is bad.  Very bad. She's  scared of cats and acts ridiculous when she sees a cat. She's also  quite opinionated at both home and work if she's bored or  tired or unhappy with what she's having to do. She has a lot of personality.  
I thank God for her every day. Her health remains good. I just found out she doesn't need  cataract surgery, and the supplement we added  for joint stiffness a year ago has been a tremendous help.  Other than some problems with allergies, a period of  stomach  issues, and a couple of ear infections, she's been very healthy. I'm pretty amazed at how  well she's doing and  people comment all the time about how she doesn't seem as old as she is. I'm so blessed to have her still with me and still working kind of in semi retired mode.  I don't make her walk long distances in the heat or do stressful sorts of tasks very often, but she does still work and she still does her job well.  She doesn't always move as fast as she used to, especially during the ridiculous  summer heat we have here in SC, but she has always slowed down some during the summer.
Some people say they think their older dogs are still working out of obligation. I don't get that sense with Maggie. She continues to enjoy the work, from what I can tell, and likes to get out and  about. She's such an extrovert. I'm perfectly content to stay in  on the weekends and  she gets so bored.  This dog  really loves going places, seeing and being seen, and interacting with people. That girl can work it when it comes to navigating some obstacles and seems to especially love doing that sort of work. She still does street crossings, obstacle work, and the various other tasks of being a guide dog with professionalism and accuracy. She did a great job in the airports last year during our travels back and forth to NM.      
She  enjoys attention and winning friends and influencing people. She would have made a great blond naked politician. What she does most these days is kind of similar to that, I suppose. She serves as  a wonderful co therapist in my counseling work.  She really brightens up the office for my colleagues and clients, and my colleagues' clients.  Maggie considers herself the official Crossroads greeting committee and  is fully convinced everyone who comes there is  scheduling by the hour and paying money to  get to spend time with her. Sometimes, I think she's exactly right about all that. She does have a devoted fan base and has Mr. Bettis wrapped around her little paw.     
When I had to retire my first dog at a young age, I was very upset and didn't think I could  love another dog the way I loved her. Maggie  was the dog I needed, though.  As I said in a previous post,  Poppy's purpose ultimately was to be with Mom and Maggie was the dog to be beside me through all these transitions.  I'm glad.  I love her.  She's something so special. I hope we have a ffew years left together.


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Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
2:29 pm - traveling question

Hey. sorry if this has been asked before, but I'm having a ridiculously hard time finding any information regarding this.
I live in Canada, and within the next few months will be traveling both to the US and the UK. What, specifically, do I need in order to avoid any issues at the boarder with my guide dog? Also what are the regulations concerning dog food?

thanks in advance

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Sunday, October 11th, 2009
5:24 pm - It's a Boy!!!

He's not even here yet and I'm already nervous!! I'm gonna be a mommy!.... sort of! :)
I've been wanting a dog now something fierce for the past oh... year or so I'd say... and the opportunity has come to me to get and find a beautiful little guy who will soon be a beautiful big guy. I found him at the Humane Society. His name is (currently) Sam and he's an 8 week old Red Heeler mix (i think with a lab).
I've had dogs before so that's not going to be a problem. My issue is that I don't get the luxury of having a puppy raiser to raise the dog for a year, housetrain, socialize and walk it through it's puppy phases. So many questions....
Just based on my previous experience with dogs before, I think I'll have to have the dog with me at all times so I can see what it's doing so tagging a leash along with me will be old habbit. But when I'm gone for the day... crate? Pen?, I do have someone able to take the dog out partway through the day so that should ease some problems. But now my hesitation comes with *me* actually being the leader.... I'm dead scared that I'll trip over mister puppy or whack him with my cane....
Any suggestions? Ideas? Tips you can provide? I'd sure be nice! :o)

current mood: nervous

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Sunday, October 4th, 2009
2:39 pm - guide dogs and uni/college

Hi Everyone

My name is Kat and I'm just enquiring about how people founding getting there for first quide dog while at uni?
was it hard to adjust, did it work out?

any advice would be appreciated

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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
11:41 am - Problems with Kazzi

Hi everyone,

Well, my black lab Kazzi will be 7 on November 19th (we just had our 5th anniversary in July,) and last weekend when I went out with my dad and stepmom, she was unable to jump up into my dad's Ford F-150 truck (its rather high off the ground.) She's been reluctant to jump up in it for the last few months, but generally does so after some encouragement. I've put her on a glucosamine supplement for her joints because she doesn't like me grooming her hind end anymore, which is where most of the hair collects. Anyway, after about 5 minutes of encouragement, she put her paws up on the running board, but made no attempt to jump, so I lifted up her hind end and she was able to get in the truck.

Later in the same day she was able to jump up in the truck, albeit reluctantly, and she can get out just find. She can also get up on this little grooming bench my dad made me, but if I try to groom her hind lift leg (I use a furminator and steel comb) she leans away from me, even though I'm not applying much pressure at all. Also, she still plays and runs about, but not like she did when she was younger.

Right now, we don't have to deal with more than one or two steps in a day, which she seems to be fine with (in and out of the house) but I'm concerned that when I finally get a job somewhere it could get worse.

I've thought about calling the Seeing Eye about it, but we don't go many places save for on the weekends (I'm way out in the country, not really anywhere I can go by myself, save walking around the neighborhood) and Kazzi's work is still wonderful, its just these physical problems that seem to be appearing, and I wanted some input from dog users who've been with a "middle aged" dog before, or just input in general.

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Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
11:20 pm - Insurance?

Hey guys.
I was wondering if any of you have purchased pet insurance for your guides. If so, which company have you gone with and why? I want to take as much of the financial heat off of GDB as possible with Railey.

current mood: curious

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Sunday, June 14th, 2009
9:15 am - Traveling with a Guide Dog in the EU


I'm in the U.S. and plan to travel with my guide dog in the EU next month -- Netherlands, Germany, Denmark.) I've got all of her paperwork ready and the right micro chip for international scanners. I'm curious if there's anything I should be aware of as far as access issues, treatment and attitudes, etc.

Thanks for any help..

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12:09 am - Blind VI Now on Twitter & Facebook!

More ways to promote/support Blind VI and spread the word about the website!

Blind VI now has a twitter page! Please follow Blind VI! This is a great tool for those who have no time to read a long lengthy blog entry. Lots of people can read stuff on their mobile phones so this is something new that could be a positive for the website. Once you're following Blind VI's twitter page, spread the word by telling your entire followers list to follow Blind VI!

Facebook Fan Page
Everyone's doing it! Please place Blind VI as one of your fan pages! Click on Become a Fan and then click on the SHARE button and share Blind VI's fan page info to all your friends on facebook. And ask them to become a fan to Blind VI as well to support the website.

current mood: excited

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Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009
8:08 pm - product questions
latinanewschic Hi,
First, does anyone know the name of the trophy place in Morristown, NJ? We went there during class, and someone showed us a statue of a dog where we could bet a name and date engraved.
Second, I'm looking for poop bags. I want something that is biodegradable, but not bio bags or the bags on board that feel as thin as syran wrap. I thought there was a thicker kind of bags on board, but all the ones I have are too thin where a nail could easily go through.
Finally, are there plastic collapsable bowls? I know there are dispose-a-bowls, but are there any that last a while; my nylon ones always took a while to dry when I left them open, and I thought plastic might be faster.


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Monday, May 11th, 2009
10:23 pm - Paula Abdul Surprises Idol's Scott MacIntyre With Guide Dog

Direct link to video

Paula Abdul Surprises Idol's Scott MacIntyre With Guide Dog

by Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna

Today 2:19 PM PDT The night Scott MacIntyre got booted from American Idol five weeks ago, Paula Abdul took him aside and said, "I have a wonderful surprise for you in a couple of weeks," he told Access Hollywood. That surprise came on Friday when the Idol judge presented the visually challenged singer with a guide dog from Guide Dogs of America in Sylmar, Calif.

Scott walked—or "test drove" as he joked—two of the organization's Labrador retrievers on Friday, but he won't get his dog until after the American Idol tour ends on Sept. 15. At that time, he'll get matched up with the right pooch for him and go through a 28-day training process. "We have to find a dog that really likes loud music," joked Paula.

Scott, who was lured to the event under the false pretense that he was there to sing, was quite surprised to learn the truth...

"Are you serious? Thank you so much," Scott told Paula at the event, which was in honor of May being National Guide Dog Month and cosponsored by Natural Balance Pet Foods and Petco.

Scott is the first visually challenged contestant on American Idol. The Scottsdale, Ariz., singer isn't completely blind; he has a 2 percent field of vision and gets around with the use of a cane. On the set of Idol, his fellow contestants would walk him to and from the stage. Now, he'll have a furry friend to help him out instead.


I hardly know where to begin, so... Have at it, guys.

(x-posted, because... Yeah.)

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Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
4:26 pm - Relationships with other pets

I feel like I've asked this question to all 4 corners of the internet, sigh. So sorry to those of you that have seen it many times (read: those on my flist). Anyway. I'm planning to go to TSE... at some point. Hopefully soon. It's complicated. But, I'm a cat lover. I'm trying to decide if I should get a cat now,or hold off until I have my dog. The only things that are making me want to hold off is leaving the cat for a month, and potential dominance issues. I know dogs from all schools (or at least, I assume) are trained to behave around cats, but I don't want there to be a power struggle between them during down time.

So, thoughts or personal experiences would be very much appreciated. I know there will undoubtedly be adjusting issues no matter what I do, I'm just trying to figure out which will be the easiest for everyone. Thanks for any thoughts.

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