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

Archive for June, 2016

Day 2

Today we took both trips to the gas station / convenience store just down the block and across the street. Getting to the drive way to go in was fine, but we had to rework the driveway / parking lot to the store several times the first trip. Because it’s a gas station, cars are parked at different locations each time we enter, not to mention the idling engines of cars waiting to get out of the driveway. There are angles I just have to let him make while telling him “inside” . Reversing the route is just as interesting, because there’s some sort of curb right in the middle of the route we had to teach him how to avoid. I have to make a right turn out of the driveway when I feel the sidewalk and a ramp going down into the street, and I’m not always sure if I am feeling the ramp. If traffic in the street is heavy, this is a little easier, but he has to stop and not anticipate the right turn on his own. We started here, because it’s the closest route I take besides buses but not the easiest.
Before our first trip, we went through some obedience exercises , and I can tell he’s starting to react better to my voice. He’s a clever boy anticipating what’s next, so we’ll have to change up the order of obedience to keep him from being board. Anticipation shows up in his work, and he truly wants to do the right thing.
After the trip, we went over his medical history, and I learned he’s a little older than most dogs. He’ll turn three on November 21st, 2016. I asked why he was so much older, and although Nicole had a few guesses, she said she’d find out specifics for me.
We also talked about Pet insurance. She accentuates it with her students, because she feels it saved one of her dogs’ lives. Insurance pays for some medication they couldn’t have afforded and would have had to put the dog down without insurance.
We groomed downstairs, because rain was threatening, and if the sun appeared, it would be awful out on the deck. He seems to think grooming’s ok, and this is a step up from Zane who hated it from the time I got him until the very end. I won’t have to do the thorough grooming as with my Goldens, but it’s good to know Lancer won’t hate having it done. 

During the second trip to the gas station, we used the offset harness! What a difference!! My back didn’t hurt, and I felt we were moving at a much better pace. Nicole said Lancer looked far more confident with that little extra space he could use to the left. We had far fewer corrections and picked up some stuff for supper. The trip home was great too, and we came in the back way. He found the gate as if he’d lived here for years.
I realized after Nicole left that we forgot his medications, but I don’t think it will hurt to extend them one more day. Nicole and I were busy putting together a preliminary plan for the days ahead. Tomorrow morning we’ll walk to the DQ 2 blocks opposite from the gas station. Tomorrow night we’ll hit the vets and possibly introduce Lancer to the piano here at home. Along with obedience exercises before the DQ trip, we’ll have an introduction to clicker training afterward. 

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First trip, feeding, watering and park.

We took a first trip walking about 6 blocks. Not sure we’ll do this route again, because there’s no place we really go along there. The neighbors do a lousy job with growth along their public sidewalk. We’ll probably just keep along 38th street, because that’s where we go to catch buses and occasionally eat at the Caribean restaurant. There’s also a little store I’d like to learn how to use for the occasional gallon of milk or other conveniences. That’s where we’re headed tomorrow along with grooming and obedience. Anyway, Nicole and I were both impressed at Lancer’s intuitiveness for looking out for me. I fell up a curb once, but it had to do with me hitting the curb before he came to the ramp to stop. Our corners are rounded, so two streets share one ramp. He’s not used to this, because in Morristown, each crossing has two ramps at the intersection — one per street. Here we have one ramp which is shared by two streets.
I haven’t walked at this speed for a while and had to take some breaks. I think the heat is also a factor. Lancer is also 2.5 inches shorter than Zane, so my back is feeling the strain of holding the harness that low. We’re going to try an offset handle tomorrow to see if that feels better.
Feeding, watering, and Parking went very well! He gave me both numbers the first time we parked with Nicole the instructor. I’m impressed by the food he gets. It’s a different formula than the one we have been feeding — adult formula. This one is called Active Life All Stages 26/16. It reminds me of the old Proplan with all dry kibble rather than some dry and some moist. We’ve noticed with the moist morsels, there’s a lot more build-up on the dog’s teeth, so I get the feeling Phil will like this formula when he sees it.

Just a quick note to say my new dog’s name is Lancer. I haven’t met him yet, but he and my instructor are on the way.

Visiting Zane, Phil in Hospital

Phil’s been ill with some sort of infection and is now in the hospital. They are watching him overnight and running tests while giving him antibiotics through an IV. Cultures may show something in the morning, and the plan is to have this be overnight only. I know he’s ill when he calls an mbulance for himself, because x’s too early to wake anyone and too complicated to get a cab.
In other news I visited Zane yesterday. He remembered me fondly (or lovingly as Kathleen says), but he wasn’t clingy. I was thankful for both, and he looks and feel very good!!! It would be nice to have my new boy meet Zane, but that’s way in the future after we’ve bonded.

The weekend

The countdown to Yellow Lab Day is on, and it’s basically 2 days away. Meanwhile, Phil and I went to a wedding this weekend, and I would never call myself socially gifted. Even though I’m deliriously happy for the couple, I get more than a little anxious when I hardly know anyone. Phil knew a few of his coworkers who introduced themselves, and we rode down with one coworker and her husband who were very nice. There were people assigned to make sure we got the food we wanted, and others automatically pitched in. It was the first time for me eating a pretzel bun, and it enhanced the flavor of the bbq chicken sandwiched between it. Along with the sandwiches and snacks, there was also a food truck catering service offering Indian food, and the chicken dish was so tasty! I even elected to have another helping of that and skip the Oreo ice cream. Don’t worry. I wasn’t a complete saint. I had some chips and chocolate chip cookies!!
It was fairly hot with the sun out, but luckily many times it went behind the clouds. There was also a nice breeze, and during the ceremony and early dances, there were people around to describe what was happening. I ended of having a great time listening to all the music the couple picked out for the afternoon and for the dances. We rode home with the parents of the groom who were ready to get back to their Minneapolis home after the first few dances. The only downside was that Phil didn’t feel good and had to go lie down inside. He had a chill Friday night, but seemed to be OK Saturday morning. The heat may have had something to do with his illness, but he was also so delirious with fever that I had to help him get his feet off and bring things for his evening medication. He’s been sleeping a lot of the day, and I suspect he’ll be home tomorrow.
I go to visit Zane tomorrow afternoon for the first time since his retirement in September. I wanted to wait until my new dog was almost here and to give him plenty of time to bond with his new family and person. I hope he’ll remember me, yet won’t have an issue with me leaving. I know he’s happy from the various reports I’ve been given, but it’s a bit of closure. Someday I’d like my Yellow Lab to meet Zane the Black Lab, but that will be months away.
The last couple weeks have been pretty tough at the Malt Shop in terms of tips. I earned $15 for 3 hours work last week, and tonight it was $13.25. At least the air conditioning worked tonight. Last week I played until I almost felt physically sick from the heat. Tonight I wore some sound reactive, light-up glasses with green LED’S. The thing which was most discouraging was that there were pretty good crowds both weeks, which tells me a lot of people just didn’t want to tip. It’s hard not to take that personally, but one waitress told me she had a group who didn’t tip her at all either. 
I may blog about my visit with Zane, but more likely, I’ll write about it quickly when introducing my new dog to you in a couple days. From then on, I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to write, but I’ll do what I can. 

New Dog News

We’re down to a week before the new dog comes. I am canceling all my gigs per direction from The Seeing Eye. Nicole will help me get in position to do gigs, but her supervisor Tom feels full gigs are too soon for training.
The big news is that there has been a dog switch. I was supposed to get a male 75 percent Lab, 25 percent Golden. Now I’ll be getting a pure Yellow Lab, because Tom feels he’s an even better match for me. Still my “Mellow, Yellow Fellow”. Just no Golden in him.
I am finally to the point where excitement is overshadowing worry, which is good. I wasn’t sure about my gigs and was kind of guessing. I also missed a deadline about getting food which had me upset. However, Tom reassured me Nicole will bring some food allowing me to get some next week. It won’t exactly be in time for new dog day June 29th, but with Nicole bringing food, we’ll be fine.
We have a wedding to attend this weekend, and then Wednesday will be here before we know it. My last day of training is Friday July 8, I’ll try to write about training, but no promises. I am relieved to say there will be no radio shows during training. Fortunately, both of my station managers have been dog handlers and know the stress of training.

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