Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Dogs of Selas Manor

The dogs of Selas Manor

As most of you already know, I am a first-time dog guide handler. My immersion into the dog guide sub- culture has been both interesting and satisfying, and my most current foray in attending a local dog guide association was my first experience with an organized group for handlers and their dogs.

My good friend, Mike and his dog, Kaiser, a large yellowLabbie, met Ro and I and showed us how to take the bus into New York City. I hadn’t been in the city with Ro since last January and it was great knowing that once we stepped off the bus, Ro would keep me safe. I’m still amazed with the freedom she provides; she seems to know when I need her to be more assertive. She understands that when I’m in unfamiliar places, I’m not as confident and she takes charge.

We set off down Fifth Avenue, Mike and Kaiser setting a quick pace. Too fast for a short-legged woman and dog, but we do our best.We catch up to them at every corner and ro quickens her pace as we go. By the time we are on the long block leading to our destination, we’re not too far behind.

All goes well and we arrive at Selas Manor, an apartment building for people with disabilities and folks over 55. We sign in and go up to the fifth floor to meet Z and her dog guide, Margo, a black Labbie. We unharness and the three dogs play, sniff, and settle down after about ten minutes. There is not one instance of bad manners and this proves our guide dogs are bred and trained with superb results. Ro just falls right into the doggie group and our visit is uneventful.

Z, short for Zurline, is a wonderful hostess, and we talk until it’s time for our meeting. Her apartment smells like sweet potato pie, which she is heating up for the dessert after our meeting concludes. It reminds me of the upcoming holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas being around the corner.

The meeting is focused and our ballots for a new executive board concludes within an hour. I’m impressed by the fact that there are over 20 handlers and dogs present and no one seems to have trouble settling down for the discussions and voting in the new board members.
This shows that well bred and trained dogs demonstrate their merit at times like this. Verona and her doggie friends take a break, snoozing under our feet as we talk and complete the meeting.

Mike and I leave a few hours later and catch the bus back to Westchester, Kaiser and Verona leading the way. We manage not to lag behind too much as we walk the city blocks back to the bus stop.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Winter Greetings

Hello. Just got back from Greenwood Lake in Ulster County, NY. We found a great little motel/B & B right on the lake and it's so quiet and Ro loves that she can run free. We visited Applewood Winery and tasted the hard ciders. The winery is one of only a few local establishments that grow the apples for hard cider. The apples are different than the ones used for eating/baking. We purchased a great Macantosh wine, blueberry and blackberry hard ciders and a few bottles of spiced wine. When served warm, it's like drinking apple pie. Yum.

Last Thursday Ro and I took part in a video taping to benefit Guiding Eyes. It was great to be chosen for it and be involved in such a great project. I'll post more about it once it's "official". :) Ro was great, sitting pretty for the camera. I also got to hang out with another blind woman whom I love to talk to and finally got to meet. As usual, the GEB staff was great and made my participation seem effortless even though I know darn well how hark they work to promote GEB and make it a school reflecting integrity for both the students and the dogs guiding them.

Well, work is very busy and home is busy, so since it's Sunday, I'll finish this up and get ready for another busy week.