Like millions around the globe, Opal and I listened to live radio and Internet TV coverage of last night’s election. It was pretty late by the time Obama gave his speech, but I wasn’t about to miss it. My family believed in exposing us to important events, even if it meant staying up late. As a child, I had listened to JFK’s acceptance speech on TV with my family, then watched raptly when his brother Robert spoke years later. The sight and sounds of Martin Luther King Jr. still echo in my head. There’s nothing more electric (except, perhaps, being there) than listening to live speeches from significant figures at pivotal times in history, AND to the response of the crowds displaying their emotions. I want to hear all of this at the moment it happened, not the day after, when the speaker’s words (in this case, historic) have been re-hashed, analyzed and commented on by the everyone and his uncle. The surreal, global fascination with this man and his promise of change caught my attention too. What truly inspired me yesterday was the record number of Americans who went out to vote and the the energy applied to ‘getting the vote out’. This gives me a little hope that the American people have not given up trying. Is it wishful thinking for me to make comparisons to the energy and optimism of 60’s?
Lucy came up on the bed to listen with us. She seemed fascinated…not with the speeches, but with her ‘sister’, Opal’s smell. Actually, she probably was noticing the LACK of smell. Opal had her bath yesterday. She is a fuzzy, clean dog. Lucy was so mesmerized by Opal’s new scent that she curled up around Opal, and actually straddled her for a while. I told both of them that they should be listening. Instead, they licked one another and then went to sleep. Eventually, after Obama’s speech, I would go to bed too, aware of how tired I would be in the morning, but grateful that I had been up and around to witness another important moment in time.
Posted in animals, Canada, cats, dogs, Lucy, news, Opal, opinion, personal, Uncategorized
Tagged Lucy, Obamma, Opal
Yesterday, I was trying to get into my cab at the local Sobey’s grocery store when a man called out, “Excuse me..” I thought I was blocking his path (it’s a narrow squeeze on the sidewalk by the store entrance). I hustled my heavy bag of groceries into the back seat Opal and myself into the front. Again, I hear, “Uhm, excuse me”. Now I am wondering if I dropped something. Or, maybe I’m supposed to recognize this guy’s voice and the body attached to it? No, none of these. He continued speaking to me through the open taxi window. “Is your dog from Ontario or the USA?” It suddenly became clear to me. This was a ‘Dog Stop’.
At the training centre of Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind in Manotick, Ontario, one of the topics we covered in the ‘theory’ part of the training, was our responsibility as Guide dog handlers to maintain a positive attitude with the public who observe and question us as a guide dog team. I understood the rationale of educating people on guide dog etiquette and of being an exemplary representative of CGDB’s program. I did not have any idea how significant a part of my life this would become. People with pet dogs often comment that their dogs are a vehicle for social interaction, even a means of getting a date. But guide dog handlers? We are a curiosity that gives rise to an open invitation for interrogation, conversation and commentary. Mostly, it’s all about the dog. The top questions? “How old is your dog?”, “What’s your dog’s name?”,”How long have you had your dog?”, ” Is it a female or male”, “Is that a Seeing Eye (NO!)/ Guide dog?”, “Is that a black lab?” Top comments? “What a beautiful dog!”, “What a smart dog”, “I bet she’s your best friend”, “that’s a well-behaved dog” and so on. I am often approached by people who want to tell me about their dog, sometimes one that is ill or that just died. It seems people think I would ‘understand’ about the loss of their special friend, even though we have never met and are in a public place when they bare their souls. I have had strangers (on buses, in malls etc) ask me if they can take our photo, though I suspect that I am often cropped out of these images. People who meet us, and do not see us for a year or more will often not remember my name. that’s understandable. They might not remember MY name, but Opal’s? you bet!
The man standing outside my taxi went on, ” My wife raised puppies for Canine Vision….” I listen politely as the driver waits (meter running) for me to give him a destination.
Posted in animals, blindness, Canada, dogs, Guide Dog Schools, Guide dogs, Halifax, humour, Opal, personal, seeing eye dogs, Uncategorized
Tagged dogs, Guide dogs, humour, Opal
People sometimes say that dogs smell bad. They even say I smell funky once in a while, but no one has ever experienced a smell (BIG STINK) like I have. Lucy the cat gasses me and mum whenever she poops in the litter box. It’s absolutely toxic! That feline is polluted. Mum sings “Smelly Cat” (from Phoebe Buffet’s rendition on Friends….the most current pop TV reference she can muster ’cause mum gave the TV away) and sounds like she MEANS it…like she shares my pain. Do you think Lucy ate a really old, dead gopher? Are her insides rotting out? Is she just doing it for attention? Or because she doesn’t get to go outside like me? Is she working on a secret weapon for a third world country that can’t afford a real bomb? If anyone knows why Lucy’s trips to the litter box smell so bad, please write to mum. She doesn’t want to get up in the middle of the night to scoop the box anymore.
Posted in animals, cats, dogs, humour, Lucy, Opal, personal, Uncategorized
Tagged cats, dogs, humour, Lucy, Opal, Smelly Cat
Ladies and Gentlemen, service dog handlers, dog lovers, friends and readers; I am pleased and proud to announce that HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) has approved funding (via a recommendation from the HRM Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities) in the amount of $20,000. towards the creation of an off leash dog park which service dogs and their handlers will have priority use of. What does this mean? Guide dogs, hearing dogs, special skills dogs, other service dogs and their mums and dads will have a safe, fenced place to go and exercise OFF LEASH. An existing site, already partially fenced has been secured. The funding will allow for total fencing, clearing of the area, addition of some seating and refuse bins and posting signs. The location is more than suitable, with bus and ferry service routes nearby. Service dog handlers who require parking will be accommodated as well. Use is not exclusive to service dogs, however signs will indicated that pet dog owners must vacate when a service dog handler wants to use it. A public awareness and education campaign will hopefully ensure that this is a workable stipulation. The parks department will take care of maintenance.
I have worked on this proposal through its various incarnations over the last two years that I have been on the ACPD, and more so in recent months as the committee’s chairperson. When this dog park is finally established, it will be a first in Canada. We are the city to watch. We will be the model for all other initiatives seeking to establish similar facilities in Canadian cities.
When I finally pronounced the outcome of the motion today, Opal rose and stretched. Sure, I know that she was bored, but I like to think that she was showing a little interest. I KNOW she will when I take her to the dog park next year (hopefully fully functional by then) and let her free run. She will go foolish!
Posted in Accessibility, advocacy, animal rights, animals, Canada, Disability Rights, dog quiz, dogs, Guide dogs, Halifax, news, Nova Scotia, Opal, opinion, personal, Responsible dog ownership, seeing eye dogs, Uncategorized
Tagged animals, Canada, dog parks, Guide dogs, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Opal, Service dogs
Thanks a whole heck of a lot there buddy…(I mean the dude at a local publication for “seniors” aka anyone over THE AGE OF 50 like me, called The Senior’s Advocate). I write an article on guide dogs AT YOUR REQUEST, obtain photographs AT YOUR REQUEST, send 2 signed release forms AT YOUR REQUEST, and YOU CAN’T EVEN ADVISE ME THAT THIS RAG IS OUT? YOU CAN’T MAIL A FEW COPIES (LIKE ANY REPUTABLE PUBLICATION WOULD) TO All THE CONTRIBUTORS who provide you with stories (without any monetary compensation) that keep you in business? You did not return any of my phone calls or e-mails…VERY NICE! You also did some fancy editing there pal…like changing ‘ opportunities to relieve’ to ‘bathroom breaks’ (referring to Opal’s daily cracks at going outside for a pee or a dump)…do ya think the old geeks who read this thing are so anal retentive and ‘sensitive’ that they need to read some childish euphemism like, “bathroom break”? Sheesh! give ME a break! Good gravy, old people talk about their bowels, bunions and bad backs in great detail all the time! It comes with the territory. And frankly, if I was the photographer (Cyndi Burns of Pet Country Magazine), I’d be calling you up to complain BIG TIME that you printed my photographs without CREDITING THEM!
Posted in dogs, Guide dogs, Halifax, humour, Nova Scotia, Opal, personal, Uncategorized
Tagged articles, Guide dogs, Opal, rant, senior's advocate