Posts Tagged retinitis

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!



Comments (3)

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!


Comments (7)

Carmel takes a flight

Well, it seems like it will always be eventful with a guide dog. Carmel behaved very well overall at the conference, better than I thought she would. But, I have to be honest-it is really hard traveling with a guide dog. I know however that this will get better. Several friends have told me so. And, of course as Carmel gets older she should calm down somewhat. Wait, that hasn’t worked with me-the older I get I get more enthusiastic. LOL. Anyway, here’s the bad thing that happened, since I am trying to keep it real. On Friday evening as we were headed back to our hotel Carmel decided she wanted to go a different direction than I was going-and she led me right down a flight of

stairs. Fortunately I have some pretty good balance, because I managed to keep myself to

only falling down the first 3 or 4 steps, and got myself sat down so I would stop falling. I couldn’t say how it all happened, it happened so fast, but Carmel was very upset. She was shaking, and right in my face. So, before anything, I found myself calming her down and letting her know I was okay. After I made sure I was okay, my ankles were both hurting, but I was able to get up and walk fine, we proceeded on. Now, I should have retraced our steps and made her do that again, but it was just not the time for me. I went back to the hotel room, fed and parked Carmel, took a long hot shower, and ordered room service. The next morning when I woke up I was fine. Thank God.

The trip home from Littlerock went better than the trip there. Carmel behaved much better-even though it was a much more stressful day. Saturday morning we went over to the conference center to say our goodbyes, especially to our friends at Seeing Eye, who were exhibiting and presenting at the AER conference. We arrived at the airport a couple of hours early and I managed to return some emails. Then we met some colleagues from the conference and talked a lot. They told me tht Carmel put a smile on everyone’s face who passed by.

Our flight was delayed, so I was concerned about Carmel needing to relieve herself. I asked the gate agent if I could just take her outside of the jetway area and they said no. It was just too far and long and complicated to take her all the way out to the front of the airport-and to repeat security again. So, as I was boarding the plane (Carmel again went into the cockpit to look around), the flight attendant asked if I had taken her out. When I said no he said he would see what he could do. A few minutes later he came back and told me the pilot said he would take her out if I would let him. So, I handed over Carmel on her leash. The entire plane watched Carmel relieve herself. It was hilarious because they were saying, she’s doing a number one, she’s doing a number two—hilarious. The co-pilot came on the loud speaker and said-we are ready to go as soon as our pilot and last passenger board. Carmel raced up the aisle to me-so excitedly.

The flight went fine-Carmel acted a lot better.

Once we got to Atlanta, we had very little time to make our connecting flight. We ended up racing through the airport, with a wonderful lady we had met in Littlerock (who also attended the conference), and we got there to be at the back of the line that was boarding. Now, when we got on board Carmel greeted every single passenger as we went down the aisle. I finally said “everyone, it seems my dog would like to greet all of you, I apologize to you all, she is just so excited to meet new people”. They all seemed really happy to meet her too. It was a bumpy flight and we ended up spending about an extra hour in the air circling til a storm passed in Tampa, but finally we got home.

Sunday we relaxed all day. I didn’t even take her out for her normal long walks. I was exhausted and just wanted to rest.

Overall traveling with Carmel provided me with a greater feeling of confidence and independence, but it was a lot of work too. I am glad to be home. I now know a few things more that will help for the next trip.

I did tell someone that this past week really was beneficial to me though because I do believe it helped me build a greater level of confidence in traveling with a guide dog and enhanced some of our skills. Becoming a guide dog handler was the right choice for me-and that becomes clearer with experiences like this trip.

Comments (4)

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!


Comments (1)

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.

Comments (1)

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!

Comments (3)

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!

Comments (7)

Older Posts »
%d bloggers like this: