Monday, April 29, 2013

Reveling in my guide dog day walk.

On this dog anniversary day, had to write a second post. Working working on various things at home. But, when you have a dog and the spring has finally arrived, then you need to get out and walk. And so we did that. While out on a walk today, met some very badly behaved (not aggressive) dogs.
First dog was barking and lunging at the leash. Tulia glanced at it but kept going. The man was trying to get the dog moving but having little success.
Tulia found our crossing poles and a garbage can and a door and the coffee shop and mailbox.
Then, on the way home, another yapper coming right at us, barking and jumping. The woman said, "I have a dog here." I smiled and didn't say what I was thinking which was, "Yes I know you do." She said, "It is just a little dog." As it jumped and barked. I said, "Would you mind getting it under control please." "I have trouble doing that," she said. This whole time, Tulia is seated calmly beside me. She says, "YOur dog is better behaved than mine." Jump jump bark bark. "Perhaps," I said, "YOu could pick it up and carry it away." "Good idea." Like she had never thought of it. She did that. Away they went, barking and bouncing. Once they were gone, Tulia banged my leg with her head. Yes, I know, you are so civilized and good Tulia.
Home we went without further mishap.

Guide dog anniversary

Time sure flies. It was on this day in 1992 that I met my very first guide dog. Female black lab Gwenny. She was reserved and not sure about me. She whined a little and pined for her trainers. But, being a lab, once I fed her, she was more comfortable with me. Our first walk was scary. For me anyway. Fast and wild and I did not know whether to trust her. I've only had a few weeks of guide dogless travel since and really would never be without a guide again if I can help it. For as long as I can hold a harness I hope to have a furry friend by my side. Not just for the guiding. The guiding is great. For the team work. For the partnership. For the being beside you through everything. For the laughter. for the times when the dog gets you to play or cheers me up when I am sad. For those times when they have saved my life. And each one has at least once. For the sound of a dog's peaceful breathing while asleep. For the smiles they bring to others. For the stories they let me tell. I have had the pleasure of working with 4 wonderful guide dogs. At the moment, my second black lab is here. Lying on her bean bag. Snoring lustily. But it is of Gwenny I think today. She started me on ,this path andwhat a path it is. Love you Gwenny dog! And all of the others too. And love all of you who have given of your time and talents to help to create and train my wonderful guides. You know who you are. Thank you!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Belated happy international guide dog day.

I had a busy day yesterday. Out with my guide dog. She guided me across streets. She found a garbage can, an audible crossing pole, a bus stop, our house, two buildings, a chair, a bus seat, a counter, a table. She lay quietly beside me in a coffee shop while I worked. She lay beside me in a meeting. She was and is a part of my day. She played at home with her green rubber bone which once smelled like mint but now just smells like dog. She ate, she lay on her back tail wagging while I patted her stomach. She was there for me. Making me smile. Helping me move through the world. On Monday it will be my 21st anniversary with guide dogs. Really? Where does the time go? Tulia is my fourth. Happy happy international guide dog day and thanks to guide dogs for the blind (see link below) for training all of my wonderful guides. And thanks to the raisers who raise them. The trainers who trained them and matched them with me. And to Gwenny, Margaret, Gia, and Tulia for all that you are and for walking this path with me. Guide dogs for the blind Inc.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The ordinary to me is fascinating to others

I use a braille display paired with my phone. I can also use the device as a notetaker. It has a display on the bottom with little pins that pop up and down when I write or when I read and change lines. In a meeting this morning, someone asked about it and was fascinated. This happened a couple of weeks ago too and happens every time I use it. To me, it is a normal device like you might pull out a pen and paper. To others, it is fascinating. I always stop and think when someone finds something I do extraordinary. Because these things are so normal to me. Yes I listen to speech on my phone at 100 percent speed. Crazy I know! Yes I walk with a guide dog. Yes I have a braille display. Yes I have cool apps like light detector, colour identifyer, bar code reader ETC. To me they become part of my life. I am glad to share them with others so that they know that blind people can do everything sighted people can do if they have the right technology and resources and support.

Friday, April 19, 2013

blind people in chaos

A friend of mine who happens to be blind was running the Boston Marathon this week when the explosions took place. He is fine. He did not finish because of the bombs. He was worried about his guide dog who was waiting at the finish line. But, all were okay. It got me thinking. Thinking about being blind and in a chaotic situation. Like in a fire, or bombs going off, or flood or tornado. If your landmarks are moved. If things around you change. If everything is noisy it is more difficult to navigate the world around you. However, at times it might be an advantage too being blind in these situations. If it is dark and hard to see for example.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Even at the dentists, my dentists, the dog gets more attention!

This morning, my guide dog and I went to my dentists for my regular cleaning. My dog first tried to turn down a street instead of going straight. I made her go back the way I wanted only to find that the sidewalk was blocked and there was major construction. Should have listened to her. She found the medical building. Have not been there in 6 months. She found the elevator. She found the dental office. She found me a chair. We went into the back to get my teeth done. So then, my hygienist asked if she could pat Tulia. The receptionist too. They are dog people. I took her harness off and they came and patted her and she rolled about. But, what did the dental people say and do? Oh yes they patted her belly ETC but then looked at her mouth. Commented on her perfect front teeth that I brush and her under bite. Smile! After a time, I asked if they might get back to cleaning my teeth! That Tulia is so darn cute! And smart! After we left there, she found a coffee shop. thenot, I had to go and teach someone to use their IPHONE. She found the building, the office and everything. She's home now lying at my feet snoring contentedly. She brightens all my days and those of others around me too.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Heard a cardinal today. That sound always makes me happy.

As I took my dog out this morning first thing, I heard a cardinal outside. I love that sound. It is so happy and makes me feel totally happy too. In the night, I also heard rain falling. I do like to hear that especially when I am lying in bed and don't have to go outside. When it snows in the night, you can't hear it falling unless it is blowing and hits the window. But if it is fluffy snow, it doesn't sound even when it hits the window. It has to be that sharp frozen snow to hear that tick tick sound. So the sound of rain and cardinals makes it finally feel like spring.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Three well behaved dogs in a meeting

I had a meeting with two other blind women in a coffee shop yesterday.  Each of us has a guide dog.  Two black labs and one yellow lab.  We were looking at various braille displays and helping each other with technology.  I first want to publicly thank the coffee shop staff who carried hot beverages, moved one chair so there was more room for dogs, put two tables together for us, and generally were great and respectful.  Then, there were the dogs.  They all wagged a little at sight of each other.  But, then they all lay down and relaxed and caused no disturbances.  When we left the shop, they all guided to the door and when we all set off after, they worked like pros.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Painting of Tulia and I.

There is a wonderful painter who lives in my city.

She has painted some famous people including one of our previous governor generals, medical staff helping civilians during the war in Afghanistan, and much more.

Find out about her at her web site at

It was fascinating sitting for her as she tried to describe all of the visual aspects of painting in terms that I would understand.  It was so great.

she is going to do another painting of me too I think.

In the fall for Ottawa's Nuit Blanche the storytellers she is painting are going to stand in front of our pictures and tell stories.

Here is a photo of the painting she did of us.


Find out more at 

Kim tulia womenatwork2 72dpi sm crop

Where does your guide dog live?

Met a very odd person today.  She said my dog was cute and asked if she could pat her.  I said no as she was working and when her harness was on she was working.  I thought that was clear but she started making those cutesy cutesy sounds and calling Tulia.  Tulia wagged but when I told her to stay, she did.  Then the woman kept asking when she could pat the dog and why she could not pat the dog.  I explained several times.  Then she asked where the dog lived?  To me an odd question.  Where would she think the dog might live?  In a kennel where I went and got her for work every day and left her at night?  With someone else because a blind person could not possibly take care of a dog?  Or some other explanation?  Like to give the benefit of the doubt but…. Very odd.  Tulia was a good and dignified girl through the whole thing. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The guide dog memory.

Yesterday, my guide dog and I were looking for a bus stop we have not used often and maybe only been to once. I knew it's possible location. But, not exactly where. I knew it was either in one block or the next. I thought the first block but I wasn't totally sure. But my guide dog stopped and sat down. I let her do it while I waited and listened for someone to ask. Because it was the hkliday weekend, and it was cold and fairly early in the day, no one seemed to be out walking. I listened and then my heart sank because I heard a bus approaching. Since buses were on holiday schedule, I knew that if I missed that one, I would have to wait a while in the cold. But, the bus pulled up and stopped beside us. I asked if I was standing at the bus stop. The driver seemed a bit surprised when he said, "Yes you are." My dog knew exactly where we were. Smart girl.