Category Archives: Service animal

Shock

I got a big shock. My friend Jenny called me and asked if I wanted to do lunch. I said sure. I told her to meet me at the front office, and I would get her checked in. As I came up the steps she said hi Joe. I was kind of confused. since I didn’t sign her in. I think I even said how did you get past security? She said I know people. She then said she had a surprise visitor with her. I heard someone say hi, and Jenny told me it was Dawn Gee a local journalist/news Anchor. I love Dawn and all she does to help Louisville! She also had a little stroke earlier this year but it didn't slow her down I admire her resistance! Then she started putting 100 dollar bills in my hand. I was a bit overwhelmed lol. I know that might be hard to believe.

Dawn asked me to talk a bit about Robin. That was hard for me to sum up 8 years in a short time I could have talked forever. I shared some stories, and a bit about how much she meant to me as a companion and my eyes.

I did think about something later I wish I had said. After Robins passing I do the bare minimum to get through the day. I don’t like to take risks. I’ve always been a good cane traveler, but I hate crossing streets with my cane, because of veering fears. Crossing streets with Robin was so easy, and after the first 6 months I never worried about it. I think that’s why when Abby and I walked and crossed West Port I really realized if I want to do this I need a dog. I’m getting so excited, because were getting closer and closer.

Anyway Wave 3 donated money that will really help me pay bills while I am gone. I’m so grateful I was worried and doing calculations on how long I will be without a pay check, and I was really nervous. This helps so much, and makes that worry dissipate. I thank Jenny for contacting them and making it happen. By my calculations it’ll be something like 5 weeks without a full paycheck. I am working with APH now to see about doing some work on the weekends or when I can, but I also don’t want to get to worried about that. I want it to be about the dog first then everything else after that.
I went to my friend Joe’s house, and we talked about how Robin and I came to Louisville alone. I’ll never forget when we moved out of my downtown apartment to one off of New Lagrange road we were packing up, and we had moved my bed and Robins crate to the truck. Robin went in to the bedroom and my dad and I walked in, and he said she looked sad. I gave her a hug and told her we were going to a different apartment. I remember her just standing looking around. I know she loved moving to the house because of the yard.

Joe hasn’t had a dog in 20 years or so, but he still remembers his dogs so vividly. I know that’s how it will be for me. You never forget them. Trading stories about things your dog done or did is just so cool. He told me before his dog Timmy was put down he had some people over to say good-bye. I thought that was a neat idea. Even though you have no petting and things over time the dog becomes part of a group or people are drawn to it. If I hadn’t had Robin at Humana I may not have met Jenny, Leslie, or Michele. The reason I say this is I would have had my cane, and I walk in sit at my seat and walk to the bathroom, and then go home. I would have interacted with Mel, because she was my boss, but others I may not have found. Having Robin had me taking her out on breaks doing some things in the morning it made me more active as a person. I also think right or wrong some people just don’t approach you with a cane. Not all people are animal lovers, but it for those who are it sparks that wheelhouse. I would drop Robin off at the groomers and go to Walmart. With a cane waiting for my ride to go get her no one talked to me or said hi. My god though with Robin I had to be a therapist to some people they couldn’t stop talking. People would be like I had a dog named bla 10 years ago man she was a great dog. I would say yes sounds nice. Then they would go on with a story about their dog lol. I should have brought tissues with me.

As weird as it was at times with people you would encounter it created something I didn’t have before, and that was easy access to finding someone. If I stand somewhere with my cane appearing lost, because I am no one says anything to me. If I stood lost with Robin except in Arizona where no one spoke English people would constantly come up and ask if they could help which I didn’t always need, but was nice.

Okay one more thing about technology. Recently an app from Microsoft came out called Seeing AI. This thing is amazing as hell. I never thought I could have the abilities that this thing gives me. I also never wanted wearable glasses until this app. In the app it has several channels. Short text’ document scanning, bar codes, people, and scene. Short text is what I will focus on mostly here, but you can take your phone point it at something and hear it reading. It’s amazing. I took it to the Outlet malls in Simpsonville and it read me Bose as I was walking by Gucci or however you spell it as we were walking by. In Sam’s it read me office furniture when pointing it down the aisles. I asked my mom if something said office furniture, and sure enough she said there was a sign. This thing shows me how much text sighted people deal with constantly, and how much as a blind person I miss. I love this thing so much, and thank you Microsoft for boosting my confidence in you as a company, but for also pushing AI technology.

I am really excited to go get my dog, but I am sad about leaving APH for a little while. I really do enjoy coming in to work every day, and the working with the people here. It’s refreshing I’m sad to leave maybe they’ll realize they don’t need me. Also I feel like I am now comfortable here leaving again for most of the month then returning will be interesting. All that aside it’s worth it. I just post this part so you can see all of the emotions that play in to this. It’s not like buying a car. Imagine if you had to get fitted for your car based on personality then to drive it you had to go somewhere else and stay for 2 and a half weeks while you learned about your car. I think we’d have a lot better public transportation if this were the case.

Thank you again Wave 3 and Jenny that really was touching. The fact I can bring Robins story to others, and help them see how much these dogs play a roll in our lives is so cool. I think today we can get lost in ourselves and loose that community feel. I love Louisville, because it’s that big small town. I talk about moving in retirement, that’s a long ways off, but if not I love it here. Besides a major league baseball team I have everything I could ever need here. Growing up in Indiana a lot of people made fun of Kentucky, but I love this state so much. We have mountains, knobs, big cities, and lakes. What more could you really want? I want to get back in helping young blind kids get technology they need. I would really like to focus on eastern KY in particular. I’m not sure how to get something started that can benefit kids the way technology donated by the Lyons and Mr. Lanbright helped me, but I’ll come up with something. Also football is about to start lets go Cats! I bought tickets to Florida, but since I am coming home with my dog that weekend I decided to give my ticket to one of Abby’s family members. I want them to have fun the dog and I will cheer them on from home with Tom on the radio, and of course Kentucky Sports radio pre and post-game.

Facts about the guide dog process

People often ask how much does a guide dog cost? Well typically a guide dog costs $50000 to train, however the blind person pays way less than that. Some schools are free, but the caveat is the school may maintain ownership of the dog. I go to the Seeing-Eye where the first dog was $150, and then the second dog or anything after that is $50. I chose them, because I wanted full ownership of the dog. This price includes your travel and lodging. As my friend Joe says it’s a smoking deal. I’m so grateful about the price I try and donate when I can. A lot of people and volunteers make it a great time. It’s hard work for us, but rewarding.

It’s time away from home, and now that I’m working it’s different. When I got Robin I got her on summer break of my last year in college. I find myself now with bills and things, but I am using my tax return to fund my house payment and things while I am gone. I just started working 6 months ago at my new job, so I don’t have much vacation time saved but I have to roll through that then the rest is unpaid. I had pneumonia earlier this year, and I used some up then or I’d have more time saved, but that’s life. I could wait, but I really want to get my dog for when I travel to Vegas for the CES show. I’d also like to get out and do some exploring downtown again, and would feel way more comfortable traveling with a dog than my cane.
Basically a puppy will go live in a temporary home usually for about a year. They will learn basic commands, and things like going to the bathroom outside. At about 12 months old they go in for training and it’s about 6 to 8 months depending on the dog. Here they learn how to watch for cars and traffic checks. They also learn how to navigate around obstacles. Not all dogs pass the tests the instructors have set up for them. For example, say a dog likes to chase squirrels, or is easily distracted that can be a problem for the blind person. More than likely my new dog would be between 17 to 21 months. Robin was just over 2 21 months old when I got her.

I’ll never forget one question I got when I was out at the store once. A guy came up and asked me did you pick out your dog? I said no we were matched by pace and personality. He goes I thought before you went blind you might have gotten to pick her out, so you would know what she looked like. Lol oh man that would be like the most depressing thing ever! Hey Joe you’re going blind, but the great news here is you can go pick out a beautiful dog.

It’ll be interesting what I think the second time around, because I’m more understanding what will happen. The first time I wanted a dog, but not having a cane and receiving that feedback was so foreign to me. I will keep y’all posted!

One of my friends posted that she was taking her dogs to the same vet where Robin went at the end called Plantation Animal Clinic in Louisville. They were so kind, and made that so comforting. When Robin had cancer the doctor would call and talk to me for like a half an hour answering all of my questions. I remember her telling me she will start to vomit along with the diarrhea, and sure enough she did. Once I saw that I couldn’t watch her suffer like that anymore it was too painful. I’ll never forget I was laying with her and she got up and nudged me with her nose which meant she had to go out. We got to the door and she started putting her head down. I got her out, but she was really good about communicating with me.

Anyway I got off track a bit I’m excited to take my new dog there and see dr. K again. I am going to braille a letter and also print a thank you letter for taking care of Robin and giving her the attention she needed. I had been to other vets that Robin was just a number, and it wasn’t personal. I’m happy to go back, and have them being the doctor from the start for my second dog.

Abby and I will be celebrating are 2-year anniversary on the 27th. The first time we went out we went to that Mexican restaurant where everyone got sick damn it I can’t think of the name. Hang on hey Google search for that Mexican restaurant that gave everyone diarrhea? Response to many to list. Haha Actually The answer is Chipotle! Oh Chipotle that’s it! Damn Google is so smart. Anyway we ate dinner, and then Abby and I went home on the same bus, and when she was getting off Robin didn’t want her to go. Abby would say good bye, and Robin would start to make a crying noise. So I had to make date number two since Robin loved her. Abby also gave Robin some treats that I gave her later.

Hopefully this post taught you some things about guide dogs, and that Mexican restaurants are great to clean you out!

The Seeing-Eye called

Last week the Seeing-Eye called me and told me that they had a dog for me and that I could come to class. I’m so excited. I wasn’t sure if I was ready until last weekend where Abby and I went out walking. We had gone to some baseball games where I missed having a dog, but I miss how a dog can keep you walking in a straight line. Something I cannot do with my cane, and I miss it. I’ve been nervous a bit honestly thinking about its name, what it will feel like, and just that investment and bond we will share.

I was asked to be in a wedding a few months ago which I excepted, because I really enjoyed the groom and bride. We hung out with them a lot. They’re Abby’s neighbors, so I enjoyed how easy it was to see them and such. I advised the groom that I might be getting a dog, and he was happy. However, on Sunday he responded with an awful text message. I’ve never received anything quite like it. At first it shocked me, then it angered me, and finally I just wanted to be done with it all. I will paste in the message at the bottom of this, but I want to say something first.

He states getting a dog is a trivial thing and a privilege. Now this is someone who can see mind you. Oh really a privilege? Yes, sir it was a privilege to have cancer and lose my eyes. It was a privilege to never know what the sun looks like, stars, or anything else for that matter. It’s a privilege to wait for the bus and be soaking wet while all of the rest of the world passes you in a car with their windows up and heat on. It’s a privilege to be able to not walk a straight line or fumble for the walk button, because sighted people decide where the best place is for the polls for the walk signs. It’s a privilege not to be able to see the traffic sign that says walk. Don’t you ever tell me being blind or getting a dog is a privilege, because that’s a world you know nothing about. I understand this is the most important day in your life, and until you sent me this I thought we were close, but you also have to understand things happen. This is not like I am blowing off your wedding to go see a movie. I am going out to NJ for 2 weeks without pay, and using up all of my vacation time to get a Seeing-Eye dog not just a dog. Guide dogs provide a tool for me that make me feel more independent, and confident. Yes, I can get around with my cane, but it isn’t as easy as having a dog. Have you had to cross Shelbyville road or West port road blindfolded with a cane? You should try it since it’s such a privilege, and let me know how it goes if you live. Blind people advised me I should educate you, but the fact of the matter is if you don’t understand Robin was more than a dog to me then you’ll never understand. I am not angry for you calling them animals, but I did think of Robin and it made me so angry that you took that tone. I will be at your wedding, because I made a commitment, and it will work out with the Eye, but it’s to be a bigger person than you, and then I’m done with the friendship. The next time you want to go to dinner and Abby and I bring are dogs I’ll think of how you spoke about them, and I just can’t be cool with you.

Your iMessage, Your iMessage, Ryan Hey Joe. In light of the revelation that you are considering skipping standing up with me at the wedding, I've done a lot of thinking. Our wedding is a very big deal to us. We were very careful who we chose to be in the wedding. We wanted people who exemplified the love and trust that makes us the happiest. Asking someone to stand up at their wedding is considered an honor. When you committed to this months ago, I thought you were completely on board with fulfilling your commitment. I am completely disappointed that you are so quick to turn your back on this commitment. Not only are you turning your back, but you are doing it for a reason that is trivial. Getting a dog is not an emergency. Getting a dog is a luxury. The selfishness of pulling yourself away from a commitment that holds so much meaning let's me know that you didn't hold this commitment in the same high level of honor that I did when I asked you to stand with me. I thought the friendship that we had developed warranted including you. Clearly I was wrong. I tried to ease the process of standing with us by lifting the burden of having to pay for the clothes. This luxury is ALWAYS gladfully paid by groomsmen. I cannot recall a single wedding where the groomsmen had their clothes paid for. Even this is not enough. I am deeply hurt that you're even considering dumping your commitment for an animal. I won't wait until Friday Link Link Link to hear what your decision will be. I won't wait until Friday Link Link Link to see if I play second fiddle to a fucking dog. You have until 7 PM tonight Link to tell me whether you will be in the wedding or not. If you choose not to respond then I will assume you will choose the dog. If you choose the dog be prepared to pay in full the amount of your suit, tie, shoes, socks and belt. The cost will be $455. You will need to pay this by the end of the week. Being that you've already had the suit altered, you've wasted the gift card. I need you to understand, I'm not angry, I'm just crushed that something as ignorant as a dog would be the reason we even have to have this conversation. Let me know by 7 PM Link Link Link what you are going to do., 10:35 AM Link Link Actions available, 11:46 AM Link Swipe up or down to select a custom action, then double tap to activate., 8:11 PM Swipe up or down to select a custom action, then double tap to activate.

Happy anniversary Robin

On July 20th 2008 I received one of the greatest gifts in my life my Seeing-Eye dog a German Shepard named Robin! We worked for about 8 and a half years before she passed in December of cancer. She worked up until the end we took it easy the last 6 months, because I knew something was wrong just had no idea it was cancer until about the last week. For this post I want to focus on the first days and months after receiving Robin, because I think people would be interested in that. Some of the things I’ve said before, but hopefully you’ll learn something new. Before I start my girlfriends first dog that passed celebrated a birthday a few days ago. Even though I didn’t get to meet you I hear stories, and I bet we would have been great friends so happy birthday Alice!

I got to New Jersey on a Saturday in 2008. For the next day and a half, we would walk where trainers would watch your pace, personality, and get to know you. You got your dogs on Monday back then I think it’s changed I will soon see hopefully, and blog along the way. On Monday after lunch we all went back to our rooms, and waited to be called in to receive your dog. I remember that moment being nervous not sure what to expect. Rivi called me in she was my instructor, and described Robin to me. She then brought her in and she licked my hand and seemed excited. We went back to my room where that excitement melted a bit, because now Rivi was gone, and I was alone with her, and Robin wanted Rivi not me. I would sit on the floor and pet her and she would move as far away from me as she could. I’d scoot to her again, and she would again move away from me. During training she was always on leash for the most part or on tie down. We would do obedience every day where you practice sit, come, rest, and down. She was really good at it, but tested me the first few times to see what she could get away with.

We would get up about 5:30 and take them out to park and feed them. I remember the first morning I woke up and Robin licked me in the face. That was the first time I felt like she wanted me. For the next few days she would cry when Rivi was near, but she was pretty good about it for the most part.
After we first get them you go on your first walk where you walk around the Seeing-eye’s leisure walking course. It’s basically a circular shape with a gazeebo in the middle. I may not be accurate it’s been 9 years. Anyway we had to put the harness on and go outside. I ended up putting the harness on upside-down somehow. Robin was so patient not carrying she knew what the harness meant though we were going to go somewhere. We went out and walked, and man it was so neat. For the first time I didn’t have a stick I had to rely on her to tell me what we were approaching, and feel her to know what to do. I never had been out there without a cane, and we moved so fast. I felt really great after that walk.

The next few weeks we would go in town and walk around sidewalks doing routes learning each other. I remember one-time Robin told me to stop, and that I should turn I didn’t listen so I said forward and she wouldn’t go. I started moving forward and fell over a bush. Rivi said I needed to start to listen to girls because there always right or something to that affect.

There was part of the training where I felt like maybe a dog isn’t for me. I was so used to the cane, and being without it was difficult for me. I wanted a dog, but I just felt lost, and unclear of what to do. I have this dog stopping and communicating, but I couldn’t understand it to a degree. For 21 years all I’ve ever known is cane travel, and I’m good at it with the dog I am falling and tripping on things is it for me?

We went out for a night trip, and I remember we did really well. We got to a part where Robin thought I would clear a sticking out step and I didn’t and I fell. We continued on and on the way back she slowed down and watched for me I felt that. We went in to New York City, and that was the first time I really felt like man I couldn’t walk this with a cane. To feel her weave around people was amazing. I felt sighted I was passing people. You know people were actually in my way for once! Robin would slow down or bump them with her nose, and we’d move around them. I loved that trip I think that’s where I made my decision that I wanted to keep her.

When we got home to Muncie I had to walk her and practice some routes. I remember I took her on a bus route I did a lot, and I got turned around. With the cane your traveling and it’s objects you feel along with changes in pavement. Your mind is always processing things. With the Robin I could just sit back, and she’d get me by something and I never knew it was there. I got off the bus to go home from Wal-Mart, and we got turned around somehow. I had to ask someone where I was. I felt frustrated, because again I’ve done this successful hundreds of times why with Robin can’t I do it? The answer is you have to pay attention to what the dog is doing I know longer feel trash cans or brick columns at corners I am just on the curb. It took me the longest time to get that. I’d say about 6 months and we were fully in sync with each other.

One thing I remember I had to take a test my final writing assignment at Ball State, and I couldn’t sleep. I laid down on the floor with Robin, and she let me hold her which she never let me do before. That was like are first moment where we had been together for a while and she trusted me. I did things with Robin I hate doing with a cane or now I can’t even imagine trying with a cane. I will do it, but I hate it. Example we went to several Louisville Bat games together, and crowds never bothered me, because Robin would get me through them. I took my cane out about a month ago, and people are tripping on it, or I’m having to hold on to Abby and Bandcroft I just can’t do things as easy as I could when I had Robin. It’s funny how my thought process changed from thinking I couldn’t be without my cane to not wanting to have to use it.

That bond you share with a guide dog is so incredible. She was never too far from me I will never forget the last week we had together. She followed me everywhere I miss that. I miss her I still can work myself up and cry about it.

I’ve shared this story several times, but my first job interview was with an Apple Call Center. I had some interviews when using a cane, and they were uncomfortable, because I had to use sighted guide where you grab someone’s elbow. My thoughts on that are that person already thinks something of me, because they have to lead me around. When I went on this interview Robin followed the guide, and I was just part of the group. I was so amazed by the end of that tour I was speechless. It was the first time in my life where being blind really wasn’t mentioned other than people asking about the dog. I felt sighted. When we would walk in to restaurants, and I could tell her to follow the hostess to the table without having to do sighted guide it was such a confidence builder. With a cane I don’t have to do sighted guide I’m not saying you have to rely on it, but for me why struggle with saying where are you hello I lost you. I just take their arm to each blind person to their own I just want to get to my table or to an Airplane and move on why add stress.

I wish Robin could be with me at my new job she’d love being back downtown. I’d like to explore the area more, but I’m a bit nervous to do it with the cane. Abby and I walked to a bar the other night, and I lead the way for some of it, and it was okay, but man nothing beats walking with a guide. I learned Louisville with her I never used a cane here until now. Anyway happy anniversary to my girl, and thanks for every memory I cherish them all.

I used to think about how I’d react when the day came when Robin would pass, and nothing could or can prepare you for that. Time has helped, but I still find myself randomly getting sad wondering about her. Is she okay? What happens to us? People say it’s hard to lose a child as blind people we outlive are guides so I think that we really feel that loss. Abby and I often talk about Alice and Robin. I’d say once a week we share a story or rehash a memory. It’s nice she understands that I’m not sure someone sighted would. I know Abby thinks about Alice as much as I do with Robin. I have 2 videos I watch about once a month one is of Robin barking. Another is of her eating her last meal. Abby brought Doab over, and Robin had a kids Chicken and Rice. She couldn’t keep anything down for long anyway, so I wanted her to enjoy it. She did she licked the bowl clean. Then I gave her chips which she loved. In retirement I planned to spoil her a bit with people food something I never gave her. I am really strict and will be with my next dog on that. They have their food, and I have mine. Lol

Happy anniversary to are partnership!!! I plan on cooking spaghetti and trying out a new beer delivery service tonight. They charge normal store pricing then $5 to deliver. I don’t drink that much anymore, but it will be nice to be able to see all the beers they have. Nothing frustrates me more than asking what wheat beers they have or what loggers they have and only getting one choice. I wish sighted people could experience that one time maybe things would change. Say I go grocery shopping I have to know what brand and exact thing I want. If I go to a coffee isle and say what types of coffee do you have? That person would think I was nuts or they’d fire back with what do you usually drink? I don’t blame them, but we often miss new products or aren’t aware something is even available. Anyway just wanted to rant about that. The internet has changed this that’s why I love Amazon so much. I will report back on how this goes tonight! After I have one or two for Robin!!!

AirPods and Robins birthday!

Time gets away, and I don’t blog as much as I’d like. Abby and I are doing well. I’m excited to take her to her first MLB game in a few weeks. Pretty soon we will be celebrating 2 years together which is pretty cool. It’s gone by so fast. I had pneumonia two weeks ago, and that wasn’t any fun. Abby came over and helped take care of things. I tell you what when you have that you can’t do anything but sleep. I’d try to stay up, but couldn’t. I am feeling better, but it’s taken awhile.
Abby and I both got a pair of AirPods recently. I tell you what they are some pretty cool technology. Basically what they are is a wireless earbud. You don’t even know you need them until you start using them. I have Bluetooth headphones, but sometimes you just want to wear something smaller. As a blind person traveling on the street an earbud is easier to deal with than an over the ear headphone, because it allows you to hear more. With my Iphone they pair so seamlessly! Then once paired it’s connected to my Icloud for pairing on any other Apple device. For my Mac all I have to do is click on Bluetooth and then Joes AirPods and sound comes through them.
 
Battery Life is decent for a little earbud they get 5 hours music playback, and 2 hours for talk time. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but they also come with a charging case you drop them in there and with in 15 minutes they have 3 more hours of charge. They do well, and battery hasn’t been an issue in my wee trial. For comparison the Samsung Earbuds only get 1.5 hours of battery life when using them to play music from your phone. With those however they do have onboard storage where you can play music without a phone however battery life playback is still only 3.5 hours of play time. They also cost more than the AirPods,.
 
I am really enjoying my new job it’s fun being able to test new applications, and also see new tech. I honestly can’t believe they pay me for it. Lol Larry and I are going to be starting a website for Android TV soon, so I am excited to be involved with that. I don’t think I’ve talked about it here, but I bought a Sony Bravia® TV recently which for the first time I could set it up entirely myself, because it has speech on it. Even just being able to play with the picture settings is so neat. Before I had no idea what my tv offered as far as picture settings, because it didn’t talk. I honestly have no idea why or how it’s not required that every tv at this point doesn’t have to have some sort of screen reader built in. I am happy to see Amazon is going to make the new 4k fire tv they’re selling with Alexa also have Voiceview on it so a totally blind user should be able to set it up from scratch themselves also.
 
This month would have been Robin’s 11th birthday! Also it is 6 months from her passing. I think about her in some way every day. I did apply for a new dog, but It will probably be next year until I can do it. The pneumonia wiped out any chance I’d have enough vacation time to be able to go out and get a new dog if they had one to offer me. The school has to first have a dog that matches your speed and personality first you can’t just use any dog. I’m going to Vegas for a tech show, and really wish I had Robin, because there is tons and tons of people at this thing, and using a cane will be a nightmare. I know I’ve posted this sentiment before, but the way a dog can weave you in and out while in a large crowd is just breathtaking. I don’t give a damn how good of a cane user you are or think you can be you just can’t have that same freedom in an event like that.
 
I just want to say happy birthday to Robin on the 18th. Thank you for being the best Seeing-eye dog you could be. Thanks for the service you provided, and wanting to do it until the end. Thanks for being my friend and partner moving from Muncie to Louisville and several apartments to eventually my house. I know I wasn’t always easy to live with, but no matter what you never seemed to mind. I’m glad I had those 8 years with you, and we created lots of memories. I’ll never forget one time I had to leave her to go to a camp for work. I was gone 4 days, and when I walked out to the parking lot to get her she jumped out of the window of the car to get to me. When I was sick I thought a lot about how she would come lay on my legs, or on the floor by the bed. I miss that companionship a lot! I’ll probably have some desert for her day, and make the best of it.
 
 
 

Cain travel takes time

Using my cane again has been a learning opportunity to say the least. I learned Muncie with a cane first then got Robin, but here in Louisville I never used my cane I learned it with Robin. I went to a building the other day for an appointment, and I found myself frustrated because it took me longer to find my way inside. It has a ramp, and Robin would just go right to the door where I got to the building and had to figure out if I went right or left. It’s hard to describe in words, but when your working with a dog they find you the door making your job way easier. The cane I have to do a lot more analyzing and paying attention.
The holidays were good, but there was this Absence without Robin. My mom came down and spent a few days here before going home for the new year and Christmas with my family. I walked out of work and I had no Robin to get excited to see her truck. I didn’t always like her over excited cries, but now that I don’t have them I miss them so much. When we were coming home my brother and dad drove me back. My dad said he realized she was gone when I would have to grab my cane.
Of course the question I keep getting so much is will I get another dog, and I have no idea. I hate using my cane again, but it’s so emotional if I do it again it will because Robin proved so much to me. It’s weird when I was going to get her I had so many thoughts of would this work could I really trust a dog over my cane? Now I feel opposite, but do I want to make the emotional investment for another 8 or 9 years? These dogs because there always with you it’s like what I feel like losing a kid would feel like. We were partners, and I feel a little of me is gone. I also feel if I answer no people usually have this response of taking care of a cane is easier. If I say yes I haven’t really heard that response. My question for you is why does everyone always have to have an opinion? What happened to listening? If I choose not to it’s not because I didn’t enjoy taking her out in the cold, or because I have to make sacrifices I don’t have to make with using a cane, but maybe because emotionally I just don’t want to have to lose something like that again.
I bought a picture frame and put her death certificate in. My sister also made me a picture frame of Robin looking out the window. It says best dog ever on it. I have that picture next to her box and the certificate behind it. I love it I think it would look nice. I do miss still not being able to see a picture of her. I touch her box a lot, but I always wonder being able to see photo’s if that enhances your memories. For me I have to have a trigger, or purposely think of a moment, where if you see a photo you normally can instantly come up with that memory. All this is moot I guess, because if I could have seen or could see photo’s I would never have had Robin. For me touching the frame it helps, but I recorded her barking once and usually listen to that. I keep telling myself she is in a better place, but it doesn’t really make it any easier.
Everything is a trigger lately to a time we shared. Tonight during the Kentucky game they kept referencing the UCLA game, which is the last game we watched together. Were coming up to a month on the 6th, and words really don’t describe how tough it’s been.
I can’t leave without saying happy new year! Abby came home with me, and we had a good celebration. It’s hard to believe were on year two now. We have talked about doing some cool stuff this year. We already have a few concerts lined up, and were figuring out the summer. We will take a trip somewhere just not sure where. The original plan was to go to Wrigley Field, and that’s where I would have retired Robin. Obviously that didn’t work out as to plan, so even though I would love to take Abby, because she’s never been that may be a little bit longer. I want to take her to a major league park since she has never gone. Whatever we do I will keep you updated. I also would like to say rest in peace to my grandpa I think about him often and find myself listening to a lot of songs that meant something to me when I was a child because of him.

A few stories to add!

I’m nervous Tomorrow I go back to work, but today I found doing things difficult. I woke up at 6 or so on the couch. I feel a connection there since I held Robin the day before. I also find it easier to have her collar near me. I’m sure these things will pass, but for now it helps me. I just now took out the trash something I’ve been meaning to do all day, but that was something Robin would walk out stand at the gate and watch me roll the can to the end of the drive. When I would come back to the gate she’d always give my hand a lick. If I was in a hurry I’d leave the front door open so she could see out, and it would be the same result. Something so simple made me cry.
I made spaghetti and listened to Kentucky Sports radio like I stated and that helped. Once that went off I felt tired and I needed to sleep. I slept from 1-4 and then woke up and spoke to a long time friend. Abby got me a pizza, so I ate on that for dinner. the house is so empty now it’s haunting.
I thought of 2 stories that should have been in the tribute. I know there are so many which is why she is so special. For my first job at Future Choices in Muncie I had to go to a kids camp in Columbus Ohio. I decided not knowing how mature the kids were I’d leave Robin with a friend Dina. I think the camp was 4 days, and man I missed my girl. Anyway I came home and Dina brought her buy and she had the window halfway down and Robin got stuck in the window, because when she saw me standing in the parking lot she wasn’t going to wait for the door to be opened.. She was okay, but I got so many kisses. She did not let me out of her sight for a bit after that. My friend Sue was staying there assisting Dina who was recovering from surgery, and I would call and check in or text. Yes I am that guy, but I missed my girl. Sue told me I know your schedule now. I said what do you mean? Well Sue said she cry at 6 to go outside then I got nicely back to sleep and at 7:15 she cried again for food. I said you have it down.
The second story Abby loves to hear so I thought I would mention it. I decided to dog sit for my friend Carlos;s Seeing-Eye dog Derek. It happened to be the night of my friend Ethan’s Bachelor party. I decided I’d take the dogs out before we left that would give us time. Well I may have had a little to much to drink. I wrote a blog about this incident called something like Braille and strip club. Anyway they dropped me off and I got Derek out just fine. However for Robin I remember her going to the bathroom and then I decided I was tired and I would go to sleep under a tree. I went over and laid down instead of Robin panicking or being alarmed she let me hold her in my arms. Ethan happened to come back and got me up apparently we had a bit of a crowd around us so we got back inside. I just thought it was funny that Robin was like I’m with my dad everything’s fine move along.
She taught me responsibility for something, and helped me mature so I’m thankful for her. Not saying I didn’t do anything else stupid, but I did far less than I would have. I’m just waiting now on her ashes, and will post a link at that time for the company as well. Since Robin was a service animal they will cremate her for free. It is such a great feeling that people and companies give thanks for her work. I’m off to sleep and will post once I get her back. I plan to keep her in a nice spot in my house. Finally last time I checked her post had around 230 views today. Thank you for sharing it, and reading. I felt like it helped me a little to write all of that, and people were able to pay there respect. Sorry about all the errors I’m dictating, because it’s just easier. 

Robin

I would like to start off by thanking a few people an places. the first and foremost is The Seeing-Eye for matching us 8 years ago on July 21 2008. It was dog day and I was brought this beautiful German Shepherd named Robin! I remember her looking around she did give me a lick but wanted to follow Rivi her trainer more than stay with me. That is normal. I remember getting down on the floor with her and she would be close then as soon as I got comfortable she would move to the end of her leash! I could barely pet her when she was that distance. In class I had issues and had thoughts about if I had mae the right decisions maybe a cane was better for me. I remember her stopping on route and I said Robin forward and she wouldn’t go, so again I said Robin forward. I started to move my feet and I fell in to a bush. For me gaining my confidence and my trust were big issues I struggled with at first. Here I am not having any feedback with the environment around me I’m just walking very fast with the dog. The walking fast was a really awesome sensation because for the first time I could out walk someone sighted and actually hit my pace.
I think it took us 6 months to fully bond. We definitely had growing pains, but looking back at it I would not wanted it any other way!
I’ve written different things, and I honestly could write a book on how much I love her. I’m thankful that even until the end she wanted to work. Work for me now is a lot different from when I got her. Working at Humana with Jaws and people talking al day I am tired when I get home. Work moved and taking the city bus and walking home stopped, because it isn’t a walking friendly area where we moved. I think one reason she was able to work longer was we’d get up get on the door to door bus and walk in. It wasn’t physically exhausting for her. I also didn’t travel much the last year, because I felt it was harder for her, and it was nothing for me to make that sacrifice.
After I graduated college it took me about a year to find a job. I actually found something about a week after graduation and got the job, but on the way to Apple they called me and said it wasn’t accessible for the current state of screenreader. I was devastated after this news! I bought in to the lines of you can do anything you want no one ever stated unless it isn’t accessible. It really brought on for me depression, but with Robin she wouldn’t let me just lay in bed she had to go out. She wouldn’t be ignored for long she would lick me in the face. I thank her for giving me a reason to get out and walk her and just for that time we had together. At that time I was also playing with the first GPS unit you could walk around with, so if I was done filling out applications we would just walk down streets and see where they’d go. In Muncie one of my favorite things to do was to walk on the Wheeling bridge. I could hear the river running below, and just found it peaceful. I took Robin back to Ball State for my friend Dina’s graduation and her memory of are routes was just amazing. At that point we’d been in Louisville for a year, and I walked to the restaurant we were going to meet at that night for memories sake. When I crossed the intersection of Petty and McKinley. she tried to pull me down towards the bus stop where’d i catch the bus to go home or to the store. Even after a year she still remembered I just thought that was so cool.
My favorite moment of her work was going on my first job interview. I still to this day and now get emotional, because for the first time I didn’t have to grab someone’s elbow when touring a job. At that interview for Apple we just followed everyone like I was just another person part of the group. I was so gratifying. Thank you Robin for that my sweet girl. She loved my mom to much to really work her around my family so they missed out on some of her abilities she really got emotional around her. She was like that from the start I tried to correct her but she knew my family.
When I moved to Louisville it was a chance to go somewhere new, and have an airport and bus station. In Muncie you only have so many work opportunities. I met Matt and Amanda so I knew 2 people, but otherwise I knew no one else. I still today thank Ethan and Robin for being there and making this place feel more comic home. Robin and I spent 2 Thanksgivings and 1 Christmas by ourselves. Either my parents came down early or I couldn’t go home do to work. We’d watch the football games, and she’d just be with me.
I have way to many things to say about my favorite things about Robin. I liked her ears, the soft fur on her face, the way she would give you kisses if you asked or when she thought you needed them, her intelligence, her ability to adapt to my changes in work schedule and travel, her partnership during a game or whenever, and the way she’d bark when a bus driver would say my name. They would come in and say my name and you’d hear Robin goo woof and wag her tail. She wasn’t much of a tail wagger, but I always felt it hitting the back of my legs when I’d say Robin forward. I could at times get her tail to wag when I’d sing to her. When I’d be sick she would just know and lay on my legs to keep me warm she never really did this unless I was sick. She’d also usually not leave me during this time. Normally she’d sleep beside me until I was sleeping then go on patrol of the house. If I shut my door then she’d just move from one side of the bed to the other.
For a few months I got her nails painted, and she really did think she was something else. I’ll never forget I was walking to dinner on forth street live, and behind me I hear this lady go I wonder if he notices one of her nails are chipped. I just smiled haha
We went to a lot of sporting events together. Her favorite times were when she could snag a bun or something someone dropped on the ground. She also liked to watch people. I would have to hear her thoughts. Two of my favorite trips with her involved going to Arizona with her. Once we went with my dad and she did beautiful work. I’ll never forget I took my dad to 5 games in 4 days and I learned Robin’s nose could get sunburnt. We also took a trip to the Grand Canyon and the Hoover dam. The second trip I was a finalist for a TV gig with the Diamondbacks and we went to the new Cubs park then caught a bus to see a Podreys game. We got off at the wrong stop and I got real nervous but one thing about being lost with a dog vs a cane is you can pet them collect your thoughts and they can backtrack. Robin was amazing at correcting my mistakes, or in this case bus drivers that give mis information. We got to the park just fine once I caught another bus.
The last 6 months she really went downhill. She started having diarrhea issues in the house. My girlfriend Abby helped me with that and we just kept being supportive of her. Those incidents took so much out of her, and I know she didn’t mean for it to happen.
Today I’ve been thinking about everything I can I miss her so much. I wish I could just reach down from my chair and she be here. I have a few times and felt the floor it sucks I hate this. Anyway she had some annoying things she’d do that would just get under my skin from time to time. I’d be doing something like listening to a ball game and she’d go to my room. She would get on my bed and lick my pillow. I don’t know why she’d feel the need to do this, but I would come in and she’d jump down and I’d lay my head down and it would be all wet. What I wouldn’t give now to walk in my room and have her jump down and have a wet pillow.
I also would like to thank Plantation Animal Clinic for being supportive talking to me whenever I needed, and also making today so peaceful. Dr. Kleinhelter or Dr. K for short was amazing. She told me what was happening and was so respectful thank you so much to her for the last 6 months I just wish I’d found you earlier. Not that it would have fixed anything Robin went through, but she got really great care there. I don’t know if you can just donate to them, but they didn’t charge me anything for today, so if you can please donate to them and the Seeing-eye. that would be great. I stayed with Robin so did Abby I asked her to and Abby was like her mom. The last year we’ve spent a lot of time together. I just wish Robin could have been there to see us get married, but she and Abby’s first dog Alice will have the best seats in the house.
When I came home I regretted the thing I just had done, because my best friend, partner, and daughter was gone. I slept a lot today and when I woke up around 9 I know in my heart I did the best thing for her but I’m still not there in my head. I love you Robin.
We set the time to put her down on Monday, so you just watch time and feel it passing way to fast. We spent time in my bed listening to Kentucky Sports Radio together something we’ve done since Ethan died. Listening to the show just takes my mind off things so Mat and Ryan I need you guys a lot the next few weeks. She got me up and her tummy was making awful sounds and she started to puke. I knew I was making the best choice for her. Abby came over and brought dinner. She couldn’tt keep anything down so I asked Abby if she could get Robin a meal too. Abby got Robin a kids meal of Chicken and rice from QDoba. I took video and if I ever feel like sharing it’s the greatest sound. She licked the entire bowl clean. I then gave her chips she loved that. Instead of 20 minutes needing to go outside she didn’t have to until about 2 am.
I slept with her on the floor last night keeping my hand on her most of it. Again feeling time pass knowing was hard as hell. I posted a status on Facebook and afterwords I just put my face next to her and cried so hard. She licked my tears again and then moved and put her head under my face so I could cry on her neck. Another thing April Goesman put a survey up a few weeks ago where she said she loved the smell of her boys hair. I didn’t really get that until this moment. I smelled Robin’s neck and kept my nose there it was nice. Dealing with everything she had gone through and she did have a new oder I really enjoyed the smell of her. That might sound weird but I miss it now.
It’s so strange at my house. She’s not there to follow me and just knowing I’m here alone is so hard. Abby offered to stay, but I wanted a little time before going back to work. Humana let me take Wednesday off too. I will take that day to myself to reflect on memories, cry, and hopefully feel a little better. Robin was amazing she made me better, she gave me so much in so little time. It’s weird to think about time when I got her the iPhone still wasn’t usable to the blind now it’s my most used gadget. I know she will always be part of me, but that doesn’t stop the pain for now.
I wanted to also mention another person who helped out today. When I first moved to Louisville I rode with a driver named Larry. He reminded me honestly of another bus driver from Muncie named Larry, so I instantly liked him. I went a lot of time without seeing him, but he picked us up today. He kept my mind off of what was happening. It also just worked out Abby was on are ride as well so we picked her up. Abby had popcorn which I asked her to bring because I didn’t have any. Robin loved popcorn. I fed her the ziplock bag full on the way. When we got there Larry gave me a hug and petted Robin and started to cry. It just touched me in a way I can’t explain even now I’m tearing up. So many times in life we bicker over shit that is bigger than us, and we forget were humans. Thank you Larry hopefully I will ride with you soon again to tell you in person how much that meant.
Abby took care of things while I slept so a big thank you to her I wouldn’t be writing this now if she didn’t let me vent to her.. Thank you for also loving Robin. Also thank you Brian Q for being an ear tonight.
This was the hardest thing I’ve done. I’m happy for the 8 wonderful years I got with Robin. You will always be in my heart, and again you gave me so much in a short time. I lost my sight to cancer and now Robin, so fuck it. Robin thanks for always putting up with me, being so loyal, and putting up with my annoying habits like not listening to your warnings.
One day at Ball State I was late for class and I came out of my apartment to catch the bus. I old her Robin forward and again she wouldn’t go. I did this twice more and she even turned to the left I should have listened girl. I decided to drop the harness and pull her behind me. I took the first step and water got in my shoes and was real deep. I have a feeling if I could have seen her face she would have been laughing at me. I told you so daddy. Just like her licking the pillow I’m not perfect either ya’ll.
I love you so much Robin. 6/18/2006-12/06/2016 heaven gained a new angel thank you girl for your work for never just wanting a break, and for loving me.

Sorry for the long wait but I was parking my car

I haven’t written in a long time. Let me get you up to speed where things are. Also Happy Thanksgiving y’all.
 
Abby and I have been together more than a year now. Every day we get closer, with us and the two dogs we have are little family. One of my favorite trips we did so far is we went to Lexington to watch a Cats basketball game together. It was last year and they were playing LSU. I’ve gone before but usually with someone sighted who would drive me. We caught the bus here in Louisville and got to Lexington. Once there we caught a Uber to the game. We left the dogs with Jerry and Lee because we didn’t have accessible seating and I didn’t want them to get stepped on.
 
The funniest thing happened in Lexington. After the game we waited for the usher to help us out to the front. In Louisville usually you get one person, but there they are mainly volunteers so you get handed from one person to another until you get to your destination. Once we were in the elevator heading out the guy asked us where we parked? We advised him we took Uber and would catch it in the front. We went to a restaurant that was a former church made in to a pasta place. The bar was actually where the preacher would have stood. Anyway when we were leaving a guy grabbed my hand and helped me down the stairs being over protecting making sure I wouldn’t fall. He then goes where did you guys park? In my head I’m thinking seriously you registered I was blind, but now you’re going to help me to my car to drive Abby home? No wonder are streets are so scary. We left dinner with a few hours to wait for the return bus to Louisville and we learned they lock the station so we went over to a Burger King. I called a Lyft to go to the bus station when time and the driver showed up but we couldn’t find him so I called him. I advised I and my girlfriend are blind and we couldn’t see him. He said what? I repeated I’m blind and can’t see him. You’re BLIND? He yelled it or had a weird sounding voice. I said yes sir he was really cool actually once we were in the car. It turns out the Burger king was about 500 feet from the bus station so I tipped him nicely for his troubles. Lexington was fun just watch out they think blind people can drive which when you think about it is I guess cool we can do anything else I guess.
 
Robin has had a rough year. I took her to the vet last weekend and she either has Irritable bowel disease or cancer of the intestine. If she has the cancer she has a year roughly to live. If it is the IBD then not so serious, but it is still so hard to watch her age. She has lost 16 pounds since last November which scares me. Now that it is getting colder I will wake up in the night and she will jump up on my bed and cuddle against my legs. I cherish every moment like this. One morning I had a hard time getting up and she raised her head up and gave me a lick on the cheek that got me moving it was like she was saying hey daddy stop being lazy. I have her on a new food that she is eating every ounce of so I’m hoping it will put some weight back on her. When I touch her back and go towards her tail it just makes me so sad to see how much she has thinned out. We still play but only certain times. She likes to get on my couch when I’m in the chair and she is 10 so I’m okay with that. We’ve been through so many battles together. Trying to get gigs on radio and TV going from city to city in the last year or so we’ve really settled down. I know she can’t travel and do the things we once did and I’m excepting that for her. We don’t do a lot of street crossing right now because my work isn’t in a walking friendly area so it works out that she still comes with me If that changes I will retire her. She has stayed home more than normal and she has begun chewing the hair off her legs the vet told me it’s a behavioral thing acting out because of changes so truthfully I know she would be right beside me if she could be. I’ll never forget we were crossing an alley when I lived downtown and she stopped and backed up suddenly, and that’s when I heard a car backing out. A second later and I would have been hit. When you are a team it is so rough and so hard to see them getting older. To some she is a dog, but for me it’s more than that we have this bond that I’ve never shared with anything else. Robin you’re the best and thanks for your years of work, and also thank you to the Seeing-Eye for matching us.
 
Next year on the docket is Abby would like to go to Chicago to see the World Series champs!!! Yes I can say that the Chicago Cubs!!!! I cannot believe they did it. It was a really emotional night my grandpa Hoyer got me in to the Cubs, and listening all those years baseball is unlike any other sport. I’m hoping to take Abby to Wrigley. This year we went to a lot of Bats games they were fun except one which the radio was on a delay so people are cheering and were 2 pitches behind. Thankfully they fixed it for the final game. I miss baseball already. Were also going to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill here in Louisville. Finally so far we have tickets to see Aaron Lewis in Feb which I am so excited for. I will try to write more things are just really busy.

Going to the doctors

It’s been awhile sorry life’s been crazy. I also have got through a point where I didn’t feel like sharing. Things have been good. My girlfriend Abby has met my family and fits in well. I’ve been sick, and it’s nice to have someone that can take the dog out or just be there. I felt bad because I wanted to start the new year out right instead I started it out sick. I have a double ear infection and let me tell you what being blind plus my ears out of whack it’s not fun. I can’t really even stand to have the tv on. I mainly listen to my IPad or iPhone on a low setting. Even typing this is a struggle, but I wanted to put something out there that I went through today.
I went to the doctors today, and I found a place that is real good about helping me fill out paper work, and at least communicating to me like I am human. However the nurse today just all the sudden made me say aww and then put a tip in my throat to do a swab without telling me. I hate that please let me know what’s coming I don’t like to be taken by surprise. That’s why I hate going to doctors they get so fascinated with my artificial eyes or the fact I’m there to even freakin diagnose me it seems. Once the nurse left my doctor was really pleasant she said I want to be careful getting between you and your dog. I asked what do you mean? She said I don’t want her to think I’m hurting you. I advised she is okay.
After my appointment I took a Lyft home and waited an hour called an Uber to run by my Walgreens close by. I got a guy named City and I’ve had a guy named that before so I was excited. I didn’t even take my cane since I figured he’d know me and we could hit the drive up. Turns out there are two people named City and god I was nervous for a few minutes like I’m sick, can’t hear well, plus now I don’t have my cane with a stranger. I explained to him I was blind and could we use the drive up and him take me home. He then told me a story about a Youtube video about a guy who was blind who was asking people to make change, and when one person ripped him off he said no I’m not blind you ripped me off. He said it was a peace on how you just can’t trust people today. I’m not sure if he thought I was faking or what but he was cool. I’m just wondering what other blind peoples experiences are with doctors? I will be going to a consistent doctor starting this year so maybe things will change since it won’t be random people.