Guide Wife to Guide Dog

It’s been a while since I’ve posted in this blog.

We’ve just relocated to the Denver area, and it is, by far, the best place for us. People are so much more receptive to my husband’s needs and accepts him for who he is beyond his blindness. He’s also not getting ranted at by cab drivers! I love going to the city of Denver, and it is so much more pleasant than DC. The light rail is so much more cleaner and easier to use, versus the metro system, although, I did enjoy riding the metro when I was a college student. There was a whole lot more to see as a young adult, but as a mother with two children, I really didn’t have as many opportunities to just go out and venture through the city.

The challenging part about living here is my husband has to depend more on me for transportation. He can’t walk to bus like he did in Virginia, so I drive him every morning to the light rail and he walks to the rail with his cane. There are times when he can’t see he is running into the little bus stop booths in the station. When I pick him up at the station, it takes a phone call and a bit of directional guidance to help him find the car. With it being in the colder months, he comes home in the dark hours.

I don’t mind picking him up and taking him, but I know he craves his independence. He applied for an eye seeing dog last Fall, and we were warned it would take a while for the application process. We were in Virginia at the time he applied, and I was anxious for him to get a dog as he was dealing with problems in the city of DC with the cab drivers. He had several times of being “bumped” by the cabs as he tried to cross the streets. I did not like that. He couldn’t see they were there, and many times the cab drivers were rude and would yell at him for “getting in the way.” He didn’t tell me of these incidences until after he decided to start the application process for a dog with FIDELCO, which was the organization he chose to go through. The two reasons he chose them was they used German Shepherds and would come to him for training, versus him going to their location. With his job, he needed to be near his work and didn’t have the flexibility to travel for training.

In the middle of waiting, we had the opportunity of meeting some guide dogs while my husband had his one on one interview in Virginia. At that time, we didn’t know about the future transfer to Denver, so in our minds, we were still thinking our home would be there. The dogs were wonderful, and my kids were in love. We also had the opportunity of teaching the kids the etiquette of being around eye-seeing dogs. They were instructed in how the dog is to be left alone when it is working, and, with permission, the dogs are able to play with them when their gear is off.  One of the dogs was a retired dog and going to a new home to be just a pet, and one was on it’s way to Florida to be placed with a client there. The last dog was actually a dog in training, and the trip was giving her the chance to experience the road experience.

 germanshepherds

We talked a long time about what to expect with having an eye-seeing dog, and one of the perks is when the dog is ready to be retired, we can have the choice of keeping it while getting a new dog to be the working eye-seeing dog for my husband. I was elated. I told my husband and the woman interviewing him, “I could have a dog to run with!”  It was an idea everyone agreed to be a good one. My husband loved the idea of having a dog run with me for safety reasons. It was something to look forward to in the future.

When the news of us being transferred came, and we wondered if it would hinder our ability to get a dog for my husband. As we moved out there, we still weren’t sure about the dog placement, but they were able to assure as they could still work with us as the application process was still going through. It also meant there would be another interview for my husband in his new location.

As we were almost into our second month of living in the Denver area, my husband got an email saying there would be someone in town to come and interview him. I was elated. It meant they were still considering him! It came on a day when the kids were in school, and we walked down to one of the stations near our apartment. I learned a few things in the middle of the walk from our interviewer. Dogs are primarily trained to lead their clients on sidewalk, so if the path my husband takes to the station takes part on the asphalt, it would be confusing for the dog. It was agreed we would need to find a better route for my husband to take so the dog would be able to lead him appropriately to the train station. We were also educated in the difference in the dog food on the market. I was saddened to find that many of the food for our animals are filled with fillers to make it cheaper, but it doesn’t benefit the animal at all. I resolved, after that conversation, I was to change my cats food. Sure, I may have to pay a little more, but I find they don’t eat as much with the better food in their bowls.With that being the case, it kind of evens out. On top of that, my cats are healthier looking!

The interview was pretty brief, but it sounded very promising. We were told that there was to be a committee meeting at the end of the month where his case was to be presented and decided upon. Talk about nerve wrecking. I wanted the dog for my husband so bad… For so many reasons. I love dogs, and to have a retired dog down the road kind of excited me. The main reason would be of my husband’s independence and freedom despite his blindness.

In the mean time, I have been my husband’s guide. He holds my shoulder as he uses his cane to get around. It’s not perfect, as today he ran right into some benches, which were solidly bolted into the wall at a restaurant, causing him to gain a good nick on his leg (even despite the protection of his pants). I wasn’t able to guide him away from it in time, and my heart wrenched as I saw him grimace in pain. He hurts himself so many times, and its all because he can’t see. He assured me that he held no blame on me. “You didn’t see it in time either, so don’t worry about it.” How could I not worry about it as he limped out the restaurant in obvious pain?!  I kept it in, knowing I would eventually let it go as we walked together, and I was right. His limping faded and we had a good evening together. I will admit, I’m still terrible at remembering my right to my left. I have to quickly find my callous on my left middle finger from the constant drawing and writing I do to remember my left side. My husband is a good hearted man and loves to tease me about it. “Its the right? Right?” “Oh, come on! That’s the oldest play on words ever!” I would say. After 12 years of marriage and 14 years together, I think we know each other enough.

Just a few weeks ago, I saw a letter in the mail that got me so excited. It was from FIDELCO.  I was hoping it would tell us the result of their reviewing of my husband’s case.

It was.

I waited after I brought my husband home to open and read the letter. We were all excited, as well as overjoyed as we heard and read the acceptance of my husband into receiving one of their service dogs. We were in a celebratory mood, and you can guess we had our favorite pizza for dinner as a family. My two kids couldn’t wait to see the dog, and I told them there was a good chance we wouldn’t get a dog until late spring to summer, at the earliest. We are already discussing names if the given name isn’t acceptable to us. A lot of Greek God and Goddess names were thrown out for suggestions from my Mythology crazed daughter. My 2nd grader son threw out some Star Wars names he liked. My husband had a few he liked of his own, and I told the kids that, ultimately, it was their daddy’s choice. I could see the slight disappointment in my daughter’s face. My nine year old is already so anxious to have a pet of her own, and I’ve been trying to get her to understand the huge responsibility of having one. I do take care of two cats already! As for our feline family members, I have plans of using some Jackson Galaxy oils to help them with the transition, as well as any advice we come across from experienced cat and dog people.

It should be an exciting new chapter in this family’s life when the guide dog comes to join us. I will be sure to share when that day comes!

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About coffeenut79

I am a mother to two CODAs, and if you know what I mean by that, than you would know I am deaf. I am an artist in many ways, and writing is one of the mediums I love working in. View all posts by coffeenut79

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