News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

This is Lancer with a very important update to my post of yesterday. I spewed all that talk about opportunities on the floor and then missed a $500 snack. Phil found his hearing aid, so at least the humans aren’t worried about that.

This is lancer at the keyboard reporting the latest from the Kragnes house. Blake arrived yesterday, and although we could compete in the affection department, he wins hands down in the making noise race. I thought I was a good whiner, particularly last week when I unsuccessfully tried to tell Mom I had to make an emergency bathroom run because of diarrhea. Maybe if I’d whined like Blake, she would have gotten the message before I had an accident on the carpet. But these humans are so dumb sometimes. Phil didn’t realize he dropped a tin foil full of homemade lasagna, but I came home from the Malt Shop and knew immediately. Then Monday morning I had to throw up the works and breakfast too. Maybe I win the messiest dog competition, although Blake is far more liberal with the toy box, even getting inside of it and spreading toys all over the place.
Currently, Blake and Phil are downstairs using the clicker, and I’m salivating thinking of all those wonderful treats Blake is getting. That’s OK, because Phil filled his treat bag too full, and I collected the kibble that fell to the floor. Just because it’s on the floor doesn’t mean it should be wasted. On the contrary, there are many opportunities on the floor whether it’s the ground floor or a high floor in a skyscraper. Food, napkins, and paper often drop to the floor and just beg to be picked up by a smart dog such as Blake or myself. Blake doesn’t seem to understand the opportunities of the floor the way I do. Someone’s got to do this hard work.
Speaking of work, Blake is doing well, but I overheard he had some distractions from little kids that sent him jumping around and squeaking. Phil doesn’t encounter little kids that often, so with a little experience and maturity this should calm down. Otherwise he’s doing good work. But let’s not forget that after a year of being with Rebecca, I’ve done my own good work besides grasping the opportunities on the floor.
One very unfortunate thing happened during Phil’s first trip today with Blake. Phil has been using a pair of loaner hearing aids while his are fixed. He lost one of them to the tune of $500. He’s putting a post on our neighborhood site to see if anyone can find it.
Tomorrow Blake and Phil tackle their office and the Light Rail with their trainer. Rebecca hates the light rail, particularly finding and coming off of the platforms. Thursday and Friday there will be more campus work, and then Friday evening their trainer goes home to New Jersey. I don’t think we’ll have our first double work until probably Saturday night when we come home from the humans’ favorite Mexican restaurant. I’ve been in the lead when Phil used a cane, but word is that Blake and Phil move much faster and tend to pass anyone who doesn’t work that fast. Mom and I will be glad to bring up the rear. 

There have been times over the last months in which I’ve been tense about the purchases Phil makes from Amazon. Some stuff we definitely need like replacement razors when they break down, but there have been other things I’ve questioned whether we really needed. Our iPhones do so much for us that I couldn’t imagine why we needed an Amazon Echo Dot. It was on sale, so Phil bought it along with smart plugs and smart bulbs. Now all I have to do to turn on the dining room or exterior’ lights is ask Alexa to do so. The smart plugs are connected to some of my colored lights in the living room where the echo is. So she can turn them on and off as well. The Echo Dot is connected to the stereo which makes music sound great! We’re also trying Amazon unlimited, a music service in which we can ask Alexa to play a genre of music or a certain artist or group. As I’ve collected music digitally on the computer for my radio shows, I didn’t realize how much less I listen to music in the living room. Sometimes I’ll connect my phone to the stereo, but that’s only for digital copies of newer albums. A lot of my old favorites have languished on the computer or on CD’s we don’t use anymore. Now all I have to do is ask Alexa and many of my artist “friends” from the CD days are right there. Because I buy all my music from Amazon, it’s also right there on the Echo. I also couldn’t write this entry on the phone and listen to music without commercials at the same time without the Echo. The Internet Radio stations I listen to are also just a request to Alexa away.
Phil has been enjoying the music, but he also plays games about facts or asks for facts or vocabulary words. Alexa can tell jokes (even if they are corny), play nature sounds, and much more.
Sometimes I worry about being too materialistic. Some of the people I read and admire talk about living simply so others can simply live, and it needles at me. Are we robbing the poor when we spend money on frivolous things we don’t really need but find convenient? That’s a question Alexa can’t answer, and neither can I really. I know that I’ve missed having a music service like this ever since we gave up cable when we moved to the house from the apartment. Not only do I have access to old favorites and my new things, but I hear music in favorite genres I wouldn’t without it. Am I rationalizing my enjoyment of what is clearly a convenient toy? Probably, but Alexa and I will likely still become very good friends. 

When last I blogged, Phil was coming home from Seeing Eye. He arrived home Wednesday and not a moment too soon. Wednesday night I went to a church musician gathering, and Phil called to ask me to get home as soon as possible to help him get ready to go to the ER. My friend Denny from church who picked me up and brought me home agreed to drive Phil to the ER, so we didn’t have to call a cab or ambulance. He was in pretty bad shape, and they kept him Wednesday night through Sunday. There was definitely something viral plus Pneumonia involved. A heart value raised for a little while, so Phil will probably have heart tests after training. He’s being released from the hospital today sounding stronger, but he’s lost a lot of endurance. Depending on when a trainer can get out here with Blake, Phil may try to go back to work, although not right away.
In the meantime, Lancer and I have been doing our normal things, especially this weekend playing at church twice and at the Malt Shop. I’m glad our time alone is coming to an end, although Phil’s limited endurance and eventually home training may bring other challenges. I’m not sure how long the trainer will expect Phil to keep Blake on leash with him, but that may mean I do things I normally wouldn’t do. It would be hard to do much in our small kitchen with a dog on leash, for example. As my grandma used to say, “I’m getting behind on my worrying”.
The thing I’m looking forward to is introducing the two dogs. Twice this week we have run into other dogs one of whom wasn’t very friendly-sounding. Nevertheless, Lancer made these half groaning half whining noises which almost sounded like a human yearning to get close to those dogs. I predict Lancer will welcome Blake, although he may have a little trouble sharing Phil at first. He’s so accustomed to having Phil all to himself when Phil’s home. Phil is the pied piper of dogs, and when he walks through that door Lancer’s attention focuses on mostly him for a while. there will be an adjustment period for everyone involved. I just hope it goes smoothly. First, we have to make sure Phil is strong and well enough to manage training and life. 

Bad News

 Phil is coming home tomorrow without Blake, because Phil is too sick to train right now. He has some sort of virus he caught on the plane. A trainer will bring Blake out to him in a week or so to finish the training here. Even though this is only a temporary setback, Phil is pretty devastated to have to say goodbye to his new friend so soon after meeting him. He’s worked so hard, and things were going so well in training until Phil got sick. Lancer and I will be here for him during this tough time, There’s not much anyone can do to make it better. It’s just going to take time for Phil to get better and ready to work with Blake again.

I promised I would write when I knew something about Phil’s dog. I know very little, but here it is. Blake is a black German Shepherd with “dirty blond” paws which means blond paws with black streaks. Phil wanted a Shepherd and loves the color black. He doesn’t have height and weight, but made some physical comparisons to his last dog Garron. Phil estimates Blake is 2 to 3 inches shorter and 10 to 15 pounds lighter. The only other thing Phil said is that Blake was a “Sweetheart”. There. Now you know everything I do at this moment.
Lancer had another bout of Diarrhea Monday night, so I had to make bland diet with chicken and white rice. Only problem … I didn’t have enough white rice. I couldn’t find any friends to pick up rice for me on such short notice, so I logged onto the app NextDoor and asked if anyone would be able to go to a store and pick up plain white rice. I got several offers and got the rice in plenty of time to make it with canned chicken for Lancer’s next meal. I’d never made it start to finish myself, but read up on it and remembered how Phil did it. Phil told me where the pan was which we use to cook rice in the microwave, and otherwise, I handled it myself including using the electric can opener for the first time.
Today I went to the bank and had a friend pick up a few things for me at Target. I had McDonald’s for lunch since I was out. Now I’m listening to the radio and writing this post. I should do laundry, but that may wait until tomorrow or even Friday. 
I’m going to do my Blessing Blend show tonight just in case anyone cares to listen. http://www.radioforlife.info at 8 Eastern, 7 PM central.

 

Phil’s gone

I had a post written last night, but it sounded too whiny, so I’m trying again. Phil left this morning for The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ. He’ll meet his dog sometime Wednesday morning, and I’ll probably learn a little about the dog like name and Phil’s approximation of height and weight. They learn the official stats a little later in class.
If everything is going to schedule, Phil is probably either in the airport or in the car on the way to Seeing Eye. Not sure if they still use Limo service. That may have been eliminated with the cost cuts. Anyway, for those who have never been to a guide dog school, he’ll get there, meet his trainer, go to his room, unpack and likely get something to eat in the dining room. I imagine the first lecture will be tonight with more to follow tomorrow. Most of the first days are spent assessing students to determine which dog is appropriate for them. Phil’s dog has already been chosen, but one never knows if something they see might change the dog. He’s pretty sure he’s getting a German Shepherd. I think there’s a wine and cheese party one of the first evenings. Even though Phil’s dog has been chosen, he wanted to arrive with the rest of his class to make sure he understood the building and any changes which have taken place since he was last there. The school offered to have him come later but Phil said no in order to make sure he knew the building. (He also wanted to do things just like the rest of his classmates and be there for his birthday tomorrow.)
Phil packed as one of his last activities of yesterday. I stayed home from the Malt Shop, because Lancer has had Diarrhea. I didn’t want to take any chances with an accident in the restaurant. I also stayed home just to be with Phil and enjoy his presence for the last time in a while. Perhaps that sounds a little melodramatic, but I really am going to miss him. He left lots of good eats in the freezer and took the time to make his famous spinach lasagna, shredded salsa chicken, and a chicken vegetable stir fry medley thing. That’s how he spent the majority of yesterday.
The days won’t feel so unusual, but the nights will be long. I have a few plans with a reader and friends to break up the alone time. This time will give Lancer and me a time of bonding without Phil the pied Piper of dogs. There’s no way to prepare Lancer for the fact that he won’t be the only dog in the center of our universe.
I have an app on my phone called Next Door, and it’s been highlighting a lot of the crime in our neighborhood. Just two days ago, a man’s dog was stolen right from his house just one block west of us. You can be sure my doors are locked! I feel more vulnerable without my man here and will be extra careful these next two and a half weeks. I’ll stop before I go anymore into whine mode. I’ll probably write again sometime Wednesday or Thursday with the few details of the dog I’ll learn.

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