Posts Tagged pigmentosa

Happy Birthday to Carmel-my 2 year old guide dog

It’s Carmel’s birthday! Carmel and I have been together for about 4 ½ months and every day she gets better and better. In our 4 months we’ve had so many experiences. We’ve traveled to Little Rock, ARK., Washington D.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio. We’ve gone to lunches and dinners galore. We’ve attended meetings, and done lots of office work just hanging out in my office. Carmel and I walk every day about a mile to keep in shape and build her skills-and mine.

We’ve had some challenging times-but overall I see our relationship getting better and better. She is awesome!

So, Happy birthday to my sweet, smart and funny Carmel girl!



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Carmel and I after 3 months at home-guide dog doing great


It is amazing to realize that Carmel and I left Morristown and The Seeing Eye 3 months ago. What is so amazing about it is that I can barely remember what it was like pre-Carmel. Carmel and I have slipped into a routine. I apologize to all interested in us out there for not blogging as often as I had planned to-the thing is-there is just not much to blog about and we are so incredibly busy. Carmel and I have a pretty “normal” life. On weekdays we get up, go to work, come home, do stuff and go to bed. But let me try to go over a few of the normal things and let you know how Carmel is doing.

Early on Carmel and I were really good about taking two walks a day, morning (before work) and evening. However, I have to admit that as the summer progressed and it got hotter and hotter in Florida, more often than not we ended up doing only our evening walks. Sometimes if I can get up early enough before it gets too hot and on weekends usually-we do walk in the morning. We are doing about a mile route. Carmel initially really walked fast, but she now has realized she can be a bit lazy, especially towards the end of the route. Yes, I know she is trying to manipulate me into thinking we should not walk so far. But, she is still looking great and muscular and I now the walks make a difference. And, another benefit of our walks is that we are continuing to work on skills. Yes, Carmel still gets distracted, especially by other dogs, birds and children. But, at least now I have learned to read her well, so I know when something is around. I know she just wants to play, but I manage to get her passed most of the distractions without too much drama.

At my office Carmel usually spends most of the day hanging out in my office. However, I do have quite a few community activities each week to go to. She is doing wonderful at sitting under tables when we attend meetings and luncheons. Now, she is a bit excited when we arrive at networking events and have to walk around talking a lot-sometimes it is hard to control her. When we need to follow someone, she does a pretty good job too. I have to say we are still having regular issues with people talking to her and petting her out there. It still amazes me how bold people are to just go up and pet another persons dog. Hello! I have decided that I need to get one of those little signs to put on her to say don’t pet. I have to research where to get one. One of my fellow Seeing Eye classmates uses a “don’t bite” (pretending to talk to his dog) as people approach-hilarious!

Carmel and our other workplace guide dog have done very well together. When they see each other in the office or have to be n the same office for a meeting Carmel distracts herself and looks the other way. After about two months we let them play off harness together for a few minutes. They loved it. We haven’t done it again, but I am sure will sometime soon. They know when it’s time to work though and we are glad for that. It amazes me that as often as other dogs distract Carmel-she is nothing but professional with Heidi. How funny and smart they are.

Carmel and I have had a few trips. She is not the best airport and plane traveler. In fact, I am embarrassed to admit that on our last trip she pooped in the Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. I hope she wasn’t trying to make a political statement! Ha, ha. Carmel is a space hog, and thinks she doesn’t need to curl up under the seat, so she wants to be under the entire rows feet. A friend told me to relax about it and just let her that most people probably love having the opportunity to interact with her during the flight. I think he’s right about that so I will try to relax a bit more.

We have two trips coming up in October, and I hope all goes well. It is great to have Carmel on trips for the most part because I feel so much more confident and we walk so much faster than I could with a cane, but the flying part and getting her to relief areas is always a challenge. Everyone tells me this will all get easier and I am looking forward to that. Practice makes better-so we will keep getting in lots and lots of practice.

Carmel is great with my family. She and Olivia are crazy about each other. It is so funny, but at bedtime Carmel waits right by her crate for Olivia to give her a hug. She will not go in until Olivia gives her a hug and tells her she loves her. About sleep-I have the most perfect dog for me-she gets tired early, so when I say ready for bed around 8:30 p.m. Carmel is ready to go-she just heads right to the bedroom.

Carmel is great and we are doing great. And, I know things will only get better. I will try to blog more, but no promises. Things are so busy, but we’ll try.

Be sure to visit our Lighthouse website to learn more about what we are doing!

Enjoy the picture!


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Guide dog lends a paw to Lighthouse director.

A local news article on Carmel and Me!

Suncoast News article by Carl Orth

There’s also a video!


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Carmel visits the Vet!

My Carmel had to make a visit to the vet today. It all started last Friday evening. It has been raining here constantly for several days (so we haven’t had the sweltering temperatures many others are dealing with), and Carmel kept getting wet, so she had the wet dog smell going on. So Friday evening we had a few people over hanging out swimming in the pool, and we decided it would be a great time to give her a bath. Carmel has a little kid’s pool we use to give her her baths. So, I had bought this new coconut dog shampoo-so she would smell good. Well, she smelled really great after her bath-and was so so soft. On Saturday morning I had to give her her FrontLine treatment-which is a topical cream that goes on the back of her neck. Well, that day I felt a couple of very dry patches on her and Olivia said they were very very red. We put some antibiotic ointment on them-yes, the kind we use-it worked great. But, Carmel kept scratching herself-and this morning she scratched her back so bad it was bleeding. So, it was time to go to the vet.

It is so cool how things work out though, because I had an appointment with a local puppy raiser (who raises guide puppies for Southeastern Guide Dog School). She had been following on my journey and also discovered we have mutual acquaintances, and we wanted to meet. Anyway, she recommended a great vet for me. Thanks Carolyn. Also, thanks to Dr. Hasi of Bayonet Point Animal Clinic. The vet totally spoiled her and gave her about a million doggy treats. I think she might have stayed with him instead of coming home with me if it had of been up to her-he had the treats and she liked those a lot! I am sure we won’t have any difficulties getting her to go to the vet ever!

Carmel had to get a cortisone shot to stop the itching, will be taking antibiotics, and has a new (expensive) shampoo. As the worst of her wounds is on her back where the harness falls, we have decided it is best to not work her the next few days, until the wounds heal. So, it is back to my pink cane. Carmel will continue to go to work with me though. And, I can use her using the “heeling” method, in which I use her leash to walk around with her. This is perfectly safe in familiar areas, but not in unfamiliar or difficult/tight situations/locations. We practiced this “heeling” at The Seeing Eye. I don’t love it, but it does work in very familiar areas. The dog is not working when you heel them, they are just literally on leash, but you can get some information that way. Carmel still stops at steps, turns on cue, and generally follows commands. However, believe me, she knows she is not really “working”, so I can’t totally trust her then to be my eyes. So, back to the cane for a few days. I need to keep up my cane skills too, for situations just like this. Life happens.

So, I also had the “time to give medicine” challenge. I put it in her food-she is a piggy so I figured this would work. It worked fine-she ate it right up-confirmed by my sighted family.

I tell you, The Seeing Eye thought of every possible scenario you might encounter-and it is just unbelievable that you actually do encounter all of those things once you go home. I told someone today the only thing I haven’t encountered in my 3 weeks at home (yes, it has been 3 weeks) is a traffic check-and there have been a couple of times those were close, but they were not real checks. As much as we walk and cross streets and driveways, I am sure we will encounter that soon.

Now, I know I recently complained about having to go on two walks a day-morning and evening-to keep up carmel’s skills and continue to build mine-but now I have to say, I am now disappointed we have to take a break because I was getting used to those walks. The walks have turned into a nice time to really get the day started and enjoy all of the animal sounds, sunrise, and just the peace of the morning, and then the evening to unwind. Carmel hs gotten so much better with all of the distractions too. And, you know I need the exercise! We will get back to “work” in a few days. Enjoy your time off Carmel girl-and I am sorry I didn’t know you didn’t like coconut. It was so Florida-I need a Pennsylvania/New Jersey shampoo!

Feel better soon my pretty girl-my spoiled girl! Carmel is pushing my hand off of the computer so I can pet her-so I guess that means I had better wrap this blog entry up!

Send good thoughts and prayers Carmel’s way for a quick recovery.

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Carmel’s guide dog journey continues

The Carmel Journey continues…

Well, Carmel and I have been home from The Seeing Eye for over 2 weeks. Things are going very fine. Carmel and I continue to take daily walks-2 when weather permits, and thus our skills are continuing to develop. It is amazing how I am starting to notice more and more through the harness handle-starting to really read her well. Also, over the past week I’ve noticed that she is needing less and less correction. IN fact, she has only received a verbal correction/reminder over the past few days. She is such a good guide dog.

We are really doing just normal life. We get up every morning, take a walk, go to work, come home, play, go for a walk, relax, and go to bed. How boring-we need to take a trip. We do have a couple of business trips planned in the next month-so we’ll see how we do. I know for my part getting around will be easier and I’ll feel much more confident.

I guess that is about it for now. If anyone has any specific questions-feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer the best I can.

We are getting ready to go to dinner and then to the mall. We went to do a little shopping (2 hours) this morning and left Carmel in her crate-because she is not the easiest to shop with, but we’ll give her a try this evening. It felt very strange to be without her-I’ve only left her in the other room a few times to build up to leaving her for a bit. I kept worrying that she was lonely. She was so excited when we got home-wagged her tail for 10 minutes straight.

Wags from Carmel.

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Carmel-mistaken identity!

Well, I found out yesterday that Carmel is not a yellow lab, she just looks exactly like one! Carmel is actually a lab/ golden retriever mix. Her father is a black lab and her mother a golden retriever, and thus we have a beautiful yellow lab with fluffly fur and tail. She is a beauty. I know, I know, where are the pictures? Everyone has been requesting pictures. It is The Seeing Eye policy that we do not send out pictures until we officially graduate from training, because the dogs are not officially ours until then. You never know, something could happen that resulted in a change of dog or no dog. It is looking like Carmel and I will definitely be going home together Thursday morning. We have a very early morning flight back to Tampa on Thursday-and believe me-I am so so ready. 26 days is a very very very long time to be away from home and those you love.

Carmel and I have continued to practice walking in a variety of situations and settings. She is still energetic and a wonderful guide. She has given me a level of independence I could not have imagined.

So, I’ll see all of you in Florida soon-and remember-don’t pet Carmel or me-unless I say so!

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Carmel the Seeing Eye dog in New York City!

Well, the trip all have been waiting to hear about-and I have been waiting to go on. Today Carmel and I went to New York City. We drove down-I didn’t drive-but Carmel co-piloted for our instructor. We parked at the Port Authority and walked to the subway and took a subway trip to nowhere in specific. Then we walked a lot-I mean a lot. Carmel did amazing. She dodged people, construction, dogs, children (I know they are also people, but they are in a category of their own when it comes to Carmel), and anything else in NYC one must dodge. It was crowded-as usual-but exhilarating. We were speeding through-and enjoying ourselves. I didn’t have to worry about bumping into anyone-well, of course we did bump a few people-but this is because it is impossible not to in NYC, and you know they weren’t looking where they were going! It was really terrific-we were just one of the crowd. My instructor told me there was quite a reaction from passer-bys. There were those staring in wonder, in fear, and I am sure those who were thinking “who let the blind people and dogs out!”

We had lunch at ESPN Zone. Had a great burger, fries and strawberry shake, and Carmel and her Seeing Eye guide dog buddies sat politely under the table and let us eat in peace.

I was in NYC a few years ago, and I went all over NYC by myself-and was impressed with how well I got around then, but it was nothing compared to today. We flew and I looked around and didn’t have to worry about running into people or falling. Carmel is amazing and I am feeling so great about my decision to become a Seeing Eye guide dog handler.

And, yes, I did wear tennis shoes, but with a super cute outfit-and I will wear the heels next time-when I don’t have to walk so far!

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