Tag Archives: Service animal

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.

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.

I love love louisville

Recently I was denied a ride while taking Uber. I just got my haircut, and went out and requested. I texted the driver saying I am blind and I are outside with my service animal. He was 10 minutes away, which is normal so I didn’t mind. He shows up and says is the dog coming with you? Now I am outside a business, so what do him really think? Maybe I Robin can scamper off and when I need her I can wave my wand and she magically appear at my side. He then says well I have an allergy and so I will cancel the ride and my buddy down the street can come get you he’s like 5 minutes from here. He cancels the ride and takes off. I requested another ride and got a girl Jennifer who was pretty resourceful. She didn’t know Steve at all. I complained to Uber and got 20 dollars in credit. However after talking with a driver that drives for both Uber and Lyft I don’t think this will change things.
 
Lyft has been real receptive to service animal training, and even has read this blog to see my complaints. When you drive for Lyft you actually ride with someone and receive a little training. Uber on the other hand you send them your info to apply, and then they do somewhat of a background check and then you can drive. No ride around or car inspection or anything. I am assuming they send you links to their policy, but that’s just like reading terms and agreements no one really does that. No wonder why this issue keeps happening with no training on service animals the public will do what it wants. I’ve pointed out here in this blog the ignorance Uber drivers in particular by linking to a message board where drivers were talking about picking up service animals. I think if Uber wants to change things training drivers is the only way. Robin doesn’t get on the seat, and taking a dog isn’t that difficult as most make it out to be. Uber just recently put a blind athlete on a commercial promoting how blind people use their service to achieve greater independence which is such crap by the way. They’re only doing that because of the bad press they receive do to service animals. Google Uber and service animals and you will see tons of negative. I guess if I practice one thing and does another it’s all fine ask Josh Duggar about that he seems to be the king of it.
 
I do like Uber, but if they’re not going to actually do any training of their drivers on anything not just service animals I don’t really want to take that service. I think as a business you need to at least train somewhat. This driver I had yesterday was really cool with Lyft and he told me he’d been driving for Uber as well for 6 months and other than them excepting him has heard nothing from Uber. I just find that alarming. Uber says they’re educating the drivers about service animals, but how? You can write anything you want on a webpage, but if you’re not teaching it to any of your drivers than how will it stop? Recently the NFB of California took them to court, and I imagine the NFB will make money off of it, and then Uber will do something like put a blind person in a commercial, and then it will be business as normal. Oh wait that already happened, so hey. I’ve fought with other blind people who love to toss the Uber policy in my face, but again when no one is reading it what well is policy?
 
Anyway changing gears to a new subject. I went golfing I didn’t really enjoy it. After the first drive on the first hole everything else was just in repeat. I enjoyed hanging out with Drew and some others, but I won’t be golfing much.
 
I recently have thought I might be better off alone. I like the idea of a relationship, but finding that one person is proving to be difficult. When I was younger I just thought magically I’d meet someone and things would just click, but obviously that hasn’t really happened. The older I get the harder it becomes I think to give up living alone. I get lonely, but I do enjoy it at times.
 
Work has been really busy lately, so that’s why I’ve been so silent on the blog. Typing all day and listening to Jaws and callers at the same time has gotten me tired at nights. It’s getting better, but when I get home I just want to do something different than type on a computer. I can’t believe this is the start of my fourth year in Louisville. On September 1 it’ll be a year that I’ve moved in to my house. Time moves so fast. I remember thinking at the time in Muncie that this would be a great job to get out of Indiana, and so I could spread my wings a bit. I’ve been looking at an application to a job that would take me somewhere else for the past few nights wondering if I really want to move or if I really want to just start over again. I am not necessarily tied to anything here, but I love Louisville. The food is unbelievable look at how fat I am now sitting for 8 hours a day doesn’t help that either. At one time in my life I would have loved to just go different places, but moving sucks. I am a contractor, so basically my years don’t say hey let’s move you over to a full time employee for insert company name. Jobs for us blind folk are not the most common thing, so I just don’t want to get in a situation where I am back to living off the government, and can’t find anything. Louisville offers other opportunities, but it’s all just so overwhelming. I’d also like the opportunity to move up or have a goal to work for, and that’s just not how things are now. I still love the job, and am thankful and have never regretted the move but it has me pondering things. I’d really love to help blind people get to a better place, and think I would succeed at that. I just don’t know if I want to move out west to do so, but if I submit it and get chosen I guess that will just have to be a choice I have to make at that time. Just so you know it’s causing me stress just completing the application.
 
I’ve thought about going back to get my masters forever now. I hate school honestly, but I’m thinking of enrolling at UK online for graduate classes in January. With focus I can do it. I will keep you posted.
 

Happy birthday Robin!

I will eventually get to a Robin story, but I have to take care of something personal first. Last post I commented about Dave and a discussion we were having in a Facebook post. Imagine my surprise when I found out he blocked me. haha Well that’s okay, so I figured I would just say my peace here.
When I started at college at Ball State in 2004 I had a mobility instructor who would come sit beside me show me a braille map, and then when I’d walk it and get off track would get mad at me. Seeing a braille map can help, but I’ve found for me the best way to learn something is to just walk it. With a cane there are so many variables you just don’t know what you’re going to find when doing it in reality. I fired him, because his lessons weren’t helping me learn the campus. I went out and found another person named Dave who came in we walked the campus twice, and I felt so confident. Along the way we became associates when I worked my first job we needed a mobility instructor he worked when I needed and it all most cost me my job. I stuck by him though, because he got things done. When I was thinking about moving to Detroit to work for the radio station he called me and said you might want to think twice about it with the current state in which Detroit finds itself. I took that in to advisement. Fast forward to last weekend when he commented on a Facebook status saying I was irresponsible and it was dangerous for me to take Robin to a ball game. Which by the way I’ve taken her to more games then I can count. Baseball was supporting me for a point or at least helping. It just floors me that he is going to call me taking my dog to a game irrisponsible. All the things I have heard about him over the years I dismissed and never judged, but seriously? He helps blind people learn how to navigate for a living then posts feel good moments and how it helps him repent something. I’m glad your job helps you sleep better at night Dave, but blind people are people, and it’s amazing to me after all the ones you help you can’t seem to figure out some have lives and aren’t needing you to self loth. Am I a better person because you helped me become a great traveler and helped me to believe in myself yes, but to call me irresponsible for a sighted person stepping on my dog out in the open is a bit ridiculous.
With a cane some days I would just shut down. It took so much concentration to navigate I hated it. Rather than go out and do something I would just stay in my room, because it was easier. Carlos was the first person I met with a dog, and I saw how he was able to navigate so freely and I felt the dog made him better. I do not know if that’s how he’d feel but observing it it’s how I saw it. In college had I just got a dog it wouldn’t have went well. I needed to mature, and get the young things out of me. Like drinking obsessively and passing out in yards mainly. When I got Robin I decided to make that change I’m going to start living more responsibly. I commented last post I’m scared to think about retiring Robin, because if I give her to someone else maybe they’ll let her off leash and not watch her and she’ll get hit by a car. Sighted people especially Pita supporters or as I call them hypocrites would argue a blind person can’t take care of a dog after all how can they spot the blood in there urine? I think Robin and I do just fine, and I am tuned in to her because were constantly with each other. When your blind everyone has these great ideas on how we should live or what we can or can’t do, but in reality your not living the way we are so just stop.
Dave’s suggestions were I should leave Robin at a hotel or a friends. If I had to leave her at a friends overtime I wanted to do something what would be the point of having a dog? I’m not trying to hide from society because I have nothing to hide. I want to go out and let people see a blind person and his dog navigating alone or being successful because that’s how things change and progress. At the Reds game 3 people that sat by us as I was leaving shook my hand and said they enjoyed my commentary on the game. Would they have approached me if I were sighted I don’t know. One guy was a Jehovah witness, and di the religious thing, but what he said didn’t bother me. He said last week every Jehovah witness learned about some blind person. Sorry I kind of blocked him out as he was telling me the story, but what I took from it was everyone was learning about someone blind. In public school my classmates knew me obviously, but its not like we learned about any blind people or what they could do.
On Robins birthday it’s hard to exactly state my feelings on her. Along the way I’ve faced different emotions. I get annoyed when I meet people in the elevator at work and their responses I bet she does a lot for you? Yes I guess she does, but they mean it in a way of I can’t feed myself or something or I couldn’t possibly exist without her. That’s the way I take it anyway. The best quote I found is a guide dog is like the ship and the handler is like the captain. If the ship had no captain it would just float around aimlessly. I’m going to Toronto this weekend, and with Robin I will do better than with out her. She makes it easy for me to travel, and feel sighted for the first time. When I got lost in Phoenix last year that might have been the most scared I’ve been, but I was lost with Robin and that made me feel a bit better. It didn’t help when people didn’t know english kept passing me, but we eventually got on track. The scariest part definitely for me was when I got mugged and when I woke up on the ground and Robins leash wasn’t on my hand. I remember being real frantic wondering where she was. When she came over to me and licked my hand it took the weight off my shoulders. I can lose my phone and wallet, but she isn’t replaceable. I will get another dog eventually and it will be good, but she’s my first and took me through a lot of hurtles in life.
After college being unemployed for a year through break ups where I wasn’t sure how I was going to get over that person. She’s always been there wagging her tail in the morning wanting me to take her out. I do think having her does help people connect with me easier in that it gives people the ability to say something. At the end of the day I have a lot of getting out to do, because most people don’t encounter blind people much. Happy birthday Robin, and thank you for making my life easier and more complete. I’m sure when I have dog number 2 she’ll probably look down and think damn he didn’t let me get away with that. When I first got her I never broke in of the rules as she has gotten older I’ve relaxed a little maybe at times to much. haha I think it’s like being a parent you have to find that balance and figure out what’s right and wrong.

Thank you to the Seeing Eye and an epic sports rant an update from my relationship

I got Robin from the Seeing Eye in 2008 July to be exact. I keep up with things time to time by reading friends Facebook statuses or seeing Twitter posts about the organization. I admit it’s been probably five years too long since I’ve made a donation, I don’t know why I guess life just gets in the way or things get busy. I’m very grateful for the experience and the freedom that it’s given me, but I mainly focus on technology and reality of where blind people actually are. Since I’ve gotten Robin and started this blog I’ve pretty much pulled no punches that traveling with a guy dog can sometimes be difficult because no one is holding companies accountable for actual loss. 98% of the time everything is fine it’s just that 2% that really frustrates me. You’re constantly in advocate which is fine I like to keep on people. Other than the transportation companies I’ve talked about Louisville has been fine, Muncie was fine, but when I’ve traveled to Arizona when I go home people follow you around stores it’s very interesting at times. This all being said I joined a Facebook Group recently related to the Seeing Eye. A question was raised from a person that made me interested for retraining someone said they were only staying for two weeks, so I asked if this was new practice because it used to be 2 1/2 weeks? One of the administrators pointed me to a conference call saying listen to this and you’ll have your answer. Now again I’m not being ungrateful when I say this, but I have far more better things to do than to listen to some stupid conference call that doesn’t really relate to me in anyway and why would I seek that out? I maybe that was a little harsh I’m in a bad mood from watching the Arizona game yesterday. I figured there was something completely astonishing that comes out it will make the rounds and I’ll hear about it otherwise I don’t seek out conference calls from any organization not just the Seeing Eye. I just thought the response was a little weird, but maybe I should just follow things better than I do. There’s a lot of people that talk shit about which school is better for getting service animals it happens on all sides even the people from the Seeing Eye get blamed more but I just stay out of all of that I don’t care. It was the first however so I will say that. Haha that actually is one of the reasons I chose it. Not to mention I had seen a lot of successful cases around me at the time from people who graduated from there. There are other good schools but I’ll continue to go to the Seeing Eye. I was telling my friends Jerry and Lee that I feel a little bad from time to time and I don’t know if I’ll get a second dog, because I don’t take Robin on 4 mile walks which seems to be the normal from the lists I read. Maybe is just being from the country, but if I don’t have a purpose or destination I don’t just go. When I was discovering GPS like playing with different units and things I would just go discover roads and I might do that here in the spring since I moved to my new neighborhood but it’s hard just to go out and walk for no reason at all. I mean this week for example we had wind chills in the negatives why take my dog out and make her freeze just so she can walk 4 miles? I don’t understand that philosophy. Then again maybe that’s why I’m a little fat. See I see things from all angles or least try to. Robin I travel a lot together and were at work a lot but when I get home I honestly don’t feel like walking around tons. I don’t know if that’s normal and I’m not sure if it’s fair to get another dog where people are putting a lot of money into for me to do so. There are these types of people that have to know everything about something if that makes sense maybe that’s what I’m seeing on the list I just don’t get that involved.

Robins been with me for seven years now going on seven I guess this year. There’ve been things in life that definitely make us closer at times whether it be moving somewhere new, someone dying, traveling, and just a whole bunch of other things. When I first got Robin I would come home we would play and then she would go to her room and do her thing and I would be in another room doing my thing but now she’s always usually in the room with me. Once in a while if I making a lot of noise or annoying her I guess she’ll go lay in my room but if I sneeze or get up and go somewhere else she usually comes running. I think I’ve always been close to her but definitely moving to Louisville submitted that because she was something that came with me if that makes sense. I’m kind of weird so maybe that’s why I struggle with relationships but I never really talk to her much or I didn’t used to because some people carry-on full on conversations with their dogs and that’s kind of weird to me. In the past I only talk to her when I needed her to do something or if I was congratulating her on something or we were playing. Some handlers really go on and on with their dogs. when Robin and I are working together I say good job tell her her direction, and that’s about it mainly because I don’t want to be distracting. My thought is if I’m dating somebody or in a relationship does my partner want to hear me say everything that’s on my mind or constantly hear my voice? Let me rephrase that so say your partner is reading and you come home and they’re really interested in what they’re doing if you keep talking to them throwing them off you’re going to get vague answers that’s how I feel it would be with the dog because they’re supposed to be watching out for you and being your eyes so why when I walk down the street constantly singing or doing something with my voice to be distracting. rereading that May have been a question but this isn’t your best grammar blog.

As I was saying I’m not the best with relationships. I honestly do try, but maybe it’s my communication skills maybe I just like batty people. here is my side of what is going on in my life. Soap for Valentine’s Day I met my friend Kevin and Lexington and went to the game which is all known to my friend Taylor. We went out to eat the week before and I know she doesn’t like to go out on the actual day because of crowds. I told her my plans because Kevin hasn’t had Valentine’s Day plans for a few years now and she seemed fine. We even made plans when I got back for me to make crab legs and some vegetables and watch a movie. So let’s go to the actual day of Valentines. I get a text message during the Game asking where are you? I responded I’m in Lexington. She then started texting me crazy things like I thought we’re supposed to hang out together today and it’s Valentine’s Day why would you be gone and then she threw in the dagger sports are more important to you than me. Alright therapy time I will admit something here that I don’t know that I’ve said very many other places. In the right situation I could walk away from any sport even baseball, but if someone cared enough about me they wouldn’t make me choose. Anyway she told me that she was going to her house and to forget any plans we have for the day. I couldn’t really call her then there were too many people around too noisy. I’ve sent her a few text messages since then with no response so I don’t know really what’s going on. Apparently though I miss something like a sign men do that we just drive around until we find it. We actually did speak yesterday for the first time. That’s just weird for me and my relationships is it seems that if something occurs the women I like don’t want to talk about it but rather space themselves from the situation or we completely break it off. It’s an observation I’ve made along the way. apparently she wanted to just lay on the couch and watch movies all day and rather than do that I went to a basketball game which created this how I’ve been living in for two weeks. I asked her why she didn’t just say that? Her response was one that just drives me nuts about people she said you should’ve just figured it out. I was in shock I told her the story about how my friend survived cancer how is going to be with him we were going to make something special happened on Valentine’s Day for the both of us we celebrate our Valentine’s Day we Carly and I’m just supposed to know you want to lay on the couch all day and watch movies? You could’ve worked that in somewhere.

Between that situation and not following organizations correctly I’m having a rough morning. Not to mention how irritated I am with Arizona fans. Actually just make that sports fans in general saying Kentucky’s one and done situation isn’t fair. Really? Don’t the rules encourage that? are they cheating? If you’re so mad at the rule why doesn’t it change and be more like the NFL? you shouldn’t be mad at Kentucky or the way they operate rather than you should be mad at the NCAA for their dumb rule change. actually you should also factor in the NBA because I think they’re the ones who really made that change. As a fan I don’t like the real personally myself but I’m not going to sit on sports radio and I wouldn’t be a sports radio host and allow people to come on the airwaves and say that Kentucky cheats how does a cheat? Because they enforce a rule that is already a rule? I’m sorry Indiana fans, Purdue fans, Wisconsin fans, Ohio State fans, and any other team that sits in denial that they’re going to take for year kids and eventually make a team. You have this archaic notion the Big Ten is tossing out about making freshman teams. Sports in general already don’t make much money besides basketball and football every other sport pretty much is a losing entity, so you’re going to make the system bogged down by adding freshman basketball? What is that proving? Can you imagine if Anthony Davis for example had to play on the freshman team? The big 10 in my opinion might be the best basketball conference in the United States, but to think like that is just so backwards. I guess Kentucky and Louisville winning the tournament the last few years has made the Big Ten hungry. how Ohio State forgets the year they had Michael Conley and Greg Oden who reportedly did not go to class at all funny isn’t it? I guess since they didn’t have the success Kentucky has with the system things have to change. Maybe before you start hating on a guy or saying a program is it legit maybe you should look at the overall system and see how it’s failing. The real joke is that you watch these major sports and think a kid has to graduate college that’s not really the intent I don’t care who or what the propaganda tells you anyone who’s playing basketball or football that has a shot for the pros is going to go to the pros only a select few actually care about the education. I love those commercials of course if you’re on the swimming team you’re going to graduate they’re not throwing $40 million at swimmers unless your name is Phelps. A basketball team has what 13 players? Even at that how many players are in the NBA so if you have a talent of a Bryant or James or Wade you’re going to go where the money is and of story. Colleges mask the sports programs as a good deed let’s face it all it is is a free training process for the majors while the universities make millions and the student athletes may Jason education. look at the video game market they were selling video games where colleges we’re getting paid the NCAA was getting paid but the player got nothing until a lawsuit which still the players who were in the game probably won’t get anything. Lol and I love college basketball but you just have to look at the facts the one and done rule doesn’t benefit anyone except for a coach who is smart enough to take advantage of the system that’s it and I’m not hating nor should you. All this talk about where a team ranks against a team from the 70s it’s just boring talk to me things change in the 70s they didn’t have a shot clock how can you compare a team back in the four corners offense days to a team now it just doesn’t make any sense.

If you can or if you would like please go to http://www.seeingeye.org and make a donation it is a great cause and I thank them dearly for what they’ve given me.

Lyft

Last night I kind of went off the handle, but I’m tired of fighting for my rights for having a service animal. I will explain the situation and what happened, and you can make your decision. At work they decided to let us go early and I won a lottery to do so. We have no sidewalks at my work to catch a bus, so I either have to ride with a friend call a cab or use a company like Lyft. A few posts ago I talked about having an issue with the driver, and today it match me with the same driver that took me to work on Monday. He actually called me today and said I have a new policy for my car that doesn’t allow animals. He said what he would do is cancel my ride and I could request another one. I was kind of an a haze because he just picked me up Monday. I tried for another driver, but everyone was busy. I called yellow cab and was told someone will pick me up with in 10 minutes. I was standing outside and nobody came. I called back and asked dispatch where the driver was and they told me that they’ve already tried to pick me up. I said no one called me like I had requested? She then said sorry the notes were at the bottom to do so so she requested another ride. I imagine someone saw the dog when they pulled up because I was outside and just didn’t bother to call. At this point I’m going on standing outside for close to an hour waiting for a ride. I decide to give Lyft another try because all I want to do is get home and start my weekend. I got Bill, so I called him and asked if he was allergic to any dogs? I don’t like doing this, but I don’t want to waste anymore time he said no and that he would be there. Truthfully I’m probably the easiest going blind person out there, because I do understand not everyone likes dogs. That being said I’m also tired of being a doormat to something that is a right I have the right to take my dog anywhere. I just had read an article about Uuber being sued in San Francisco for not picking up passengers with service animals and I didn’t want this to become a trend nationwide.

I don’t have any issues these days at restaurants or stores, for the most part but where I have a continual issue is transportation. When I worked in Detroit last year I posted to my Facebook because a guy wanted to take off once he saw my dog I advised them of the law he did take me to my destination, but was not very friendly. I’ve been told by drivers here in Louisville that if my dog touches them during the ride we will get in a wreck. A lot of Muslim cabdrivers will not take me because of their religious viewpoints on dogs. I know in New York City the police are trying everything they can to stop this from happening, but to my knowledge nothing is being done here locally and Louisville. With all the news today about how for example gays are being turned down services if trying to Mary I think it is the same sort of issue what we face trying to get a ride.

Tonight Lyft did call me back and gave me a free ride and said I would never be matched with that driver again. I don’t want a free ride, because it does nothing. I rather want to educate them on the laws that they should have to abide by. I can be a pretty strong advocate when I need to be some others may not be strong. I don’t know what my actions will be on this matter, but we need change. It is 2014 awareness for service animals should be way better than it is. I know there are issues with people trying to sneak and actual normal animal as a service animal that is a problem too, but when my dog is trained to do a task by a legitimate school there is no reason I should struggle getting a ride anywhere. I don’t know how to feel at this very second because Lyft did reach out, but really didn’t address the issue. Yes I’m getting a free ride and I will not be match with that driver ever again, but it doesn’t keep it from happening again to someone else. Maybe that is a dream like Dr. Martin Luther King would have. In light of things recently we sometimes forget that even though we’ve made strides we still have a long way to go for equality. I do dream about a world one day where the unemployment rate for blind people will drop, and people will CS as a viable option not a pity party. I don’t really have anything more enlightening to say just let’s make some changes. I will say tonight cause me a little depression, because it just bothers me that this still continues to be a problem. I don’t know if I can describe it but it’s kind of a reminder that even though I work hard to live a normal life for some reason I keep being penalized for using a service animal which makes my life easier. Damn that sounds like one big contradiction, but I’m honestly exhausted so I will leave with that.

Robin and yearly check up

Yesterday I took Robin to the vet for her yearly checkup. She weighs 73 pounds, and the vet said she is very healthy. She said she looks a lot better than the last time she saw her. However I mentioned an issue that I’m having which is her hair keeps falling out in clumps or balls and the vet thought it could be a thyroid issue. She wanted to do a blood test which would also work for dental if I decided to get her teeth cleaned later in the year. She asked me if I wanted to do a $150 bloodwork or $230 bloodwork? I said what is the difference? She said the cheaper one is not as thorough, but I said can we work with that? She said yes, so thank God. If it is a thyroid issue I have to give Robin a pill every day for the rest of her life, so truthfully I’m hoping there’s no problems. I do need to find a new vet though my bill was way more than I was thinking, and it seems to happen every time. For service animal with the way my school does it is the vet bill is my responsibility. She cost $50,000 to train, I only had to pay hundred and 50 to go to the school. I can handle a few vet bills! One thing I hate about going to an appointment like that is you never know when it’s going to be over so scheduling a ride home can be difficult if you don’t want to wait around too much. I decided to take Lyft home since they’re still running a free promotion. I waited eight minutes after I paid and they were there unbelievable!

Robin seem pretty lethargic when we got home, so I let her rest. At the vet office it was funny she is not a very good guide there because she’s so nervous. As soon as we walked in she starts crying and taking her nose and bumping my leg. Then she takes my hand in her mouth lightly. When the vet wanted me to follow her back to the office Robin tried to pull me to the door! In the room she laid at my feet. She does really well though when they’re drawing blood, taking her temperature, or doing the check up. There are definitely ups and downs to owning a service animal, but I wouldn’t trade Robin away for anything.

Crossing streets

Today’s blog will be a simple one, but a question I get a lot. The question is how do I cross a street without knowing the color of the light? What you do is listen to parallel traffic when they go it is safe to cross. A number of factors can make it difficult such as wind or other noises throughout the city. Some streets are harder to cross than others such as three-way intersections and major roads. I would like to see audible signals at every light, but that is a dream. The thing that floors me is that some blind people don’t like the audible lights and that is okay, but if it helps a blind person with harder hearing or gives confidence to someone who struggles than I don’t see a problem with it. Myself I love them I still listen to traffic to be sure, but on a harder street to cross it gives me a boost.

Sighted people get their hands held when crossing a street and quite frankly it’s insulting any of you get hit. I have been crossing streets alone now for 10 years, and luckily nothing’s happened. You guys on most lights get a hand signal or a sign that says walk why do you need anything you guys can see the color to know when it’s safe to walk? I find it ironic that the sighted get their hands held through everything, and yet I’m still working hard for a damn talking television guide. What channel is CBS? Most of you don’t know you use your guide and navigate to it I still now my channel lineup by heart, because we don’t have the same access. I one day may post my rant I wrote at a coffee shop in 2012 after moving here it’s pretty much me just letting everything go reading it now it just makes me laugh. Haha

Street crossing is not that bad all though one thing I’ve noticed about living downtown on the weekends with one ways it may be difficult to gage the lights. Downtowns now are like ghost towns, so there isn’t much traffic. Robin is amazing, but she doesn’t know when it is safe to cross a street or she cannot see color I tell her when to go. The only thing Robin would do would be to back up if a car was pulling in front of me. A big misconception about dogs is they are in control and they just know where to go. If you have a routine that is true for example when I went to Fridays last night I didn’t have to tell Robin anything once I got on Fourth Street she just turned and walked to the door of Fridays. It’s mainly where I go. When I go somewhere new though I have to say inside, and she will look for a door. At times she will take me to a window that she thinks is a door, but after all she is a dog. It really pisses me off when people laugh about that or say she is trained poorly when she does this, but she is a dog they make mistakes.

My biggest annoyance that people say about the dog is I bet she takes care of you doesn’t she? This happened last night actually at Fridays. I want to say yes she grows thumbs and a voice and cooks my dinners, cleans, and tucks me in. Don’t get me wrong I love the companionship, but I’m the captain. Were teams Robin takes things in, and navigates me around obstacles. She doesn’t always watch for things above my head, so like this weekend I smacked in to hanging stairs, so I had to correct her, and redo. My cane wouldn’t have caught that either. It hurt, but my hat took most of the blow. I thank god a lot that I’m shorter for this reason. It sucks with women; because they like taller guys but oh well I have a winning personality.

Your dog will poop in my store!

Today after I got home from the Greyhound station I decided to walk and get a Mountain Dew. It’s getting nice outside so I decided to GPS and use my maps and trying to figure out if I can get to a store near my place. I made it to a Thorton’s a gas station near my house. I’d say it’s probably about a mile to a mile and a half away. Anyway I walked into get my Mountain Dew and the worker said Sir sir you’re going to have to get your dog out it can’t be in here.

I explained to him that she was a service animal and she could be in his store. He said no no dogs allowed. I said why can’t she being here after explaining to you the laws? His response she will poop in my store. I told him all I wanted was a Mountain Dew and she had poop before we left so I know she’s not going to poop in your store. Finally he said I will get you a Mountain Dew just standby the counter. Another person had came in and witnessed what was going on and said that the dog could be there as well.