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

Archive for July, 2016

Guilt, Worry, bathroom repair, and Lancer.

Today Lancer was an angel, and I wasn’t or at least didn’t feel like one. The last couple days have been brutally hot, and aside from the Malt Shop, we didn’t have anywhere to go. Storms were also either forecast or in progress if it wasn’t hot. I’m a very destination oriented traveler and generally don’t get out just to go. Especially in this weather. I’d take the cold over the heat. That doesn’t mean I didn’t feel guilty about staying home. Lancer just seems to be taking it in stride and doesn’t seem restless at all. He did pretty well at both church and the Malt Shop for the first times. At church, people definitely noticed him, but I tried to wait to exit until most people had gone in order not to have Lancer distracted. One little kid distracted Lancer at the Malt Shop. The funniest thing was that somehow he got out of his harness during the latter part of the evening when I was eating.
Today we signed a contract to have our bathroom wall fixed and our tub converted into a shower with a door. It all sounds impressive and like I’m really going to enjoy my showers even more than now. We have the funds, but it’s also a little scary. I tend to be a worry wart about all this, and I’m hopeful nothing goes wrong in the process which should begin in between 7 and 12 weeks. The process takes approximately 3 days, and then we hope there’s not a weekend in there. Spunge baths will be the name of the game.
I start back with my radio shows this week, and probably better start on getting plans underway for at least 1 tonight. Tomorrow we take the Metro van downtown and then work and bus to the vet’s and home. Lancer came to me with a mild ear infection,, and I want to make sure that’s gone. 


First Solo Trip Without Instructor!


‘m lying quietly while Mom listens toMichael Jackson in headphones. We had a great first route without an instructor with us. Last week Mom and I targeted a bus bench. I’ve made it my business to show Mom every bus bench at our stops I can find. Because she is a sitter, Mom appreciates it and gives me lots of praise!!! I found two for her today which made our first route extra special.
The Downtown part of our route was new for both of us. Mom had to correct me once for almost tripping her up on an obstacle. We mistook a parking garage for an overhang too, but a retrace of our steps got us back on track. 
We were late for lunch with an out-of-town friend, but she understood. The huans had a great time, and Mom’s attempt to put on the Gentle leader settled me right down. Mom had a Shepherd’s Pie. (Hey, what about a Lab’s Pie? That sounds better anyway). Actually, so did the “Muddy Paws Cheese Cake. Mom ate all of that too, the dog!! Mom treated us to cab ride home, since she didn’t want to do too much on only the first day.  

Day 9: The Last Formal Day of Training.

Nicole is on the way to the airport to go home, and she’s ready!!: She looked forward to going home all day, but was nothing but professional on this last day of formal training and every day. I can’t say enough good about her.
We went to Phil’s office using bus and light rail. I’m not crazy about transferring on and off the platforms, but we targeted the bus stop c (for clicker) where the 23 going West bound stops.
Phil had his Juno Walk while I hung out in his office. Then we went to lunch. But don’t worry. I had my work with Lancer doing a bus, and two light rail trains each direction plus a fairly complicated route to Phil’s office. We ate at Big Ten, but they were out of their famous Nelly Mo Bars!! That might be worth another train ride back to the restaurant at some point.
After returning home, Nicole, Lancer and I got in her rental car to target an audible pedestrian signal poll which is mid block and between two bus stations on either side of the street. 
I’ve learned that I have a tendency to go right, and Lancer is starting to learn to compensate for it. This was apparently shown after I took a fall in the street. Lancer tried to go right, but I knew that was wrong. instead of going left (as it turned out he had a pole in front of him), he took me to the street which I didn’t know. Nicole and another gentlemen helped me up, and luckily my ankles didn’t rebel. My sore knee wasn’t so lucky, but it will recover.
Back here at home, Nicole” gave me an informal lecture on play and massage particularly pointing out things Lancer likes. She took a couple more cute pictures I’ll have up on Facebook soon.
As always after an instructor leaves, I feel a little overwhelmed and wonder if my new dog and I are ready to be on our own. With all of the construction downtown plus the neighbors’ deficient landscaping and slanted sidewalks around here, we have our work cut out for us. Tomorrow we meet another friend for lunch at Brit’s, Saturday is church and possibly our Mexican place, and Sunday is the Malt Shop. Nicole really stressed that although we don’t have to walk far, working a new dog every day in some form is important. With all of the above, it will be a challenge to get him out every day, but I understand the more we work, the better we bond, and the more confident and competent we are as a team.
I’ve been so concentrated on training that I haven’t mentioned a challenge we’re facing on the home front. Yesterday our grab bar in the shower collapsed, and Phil discovered the tile is breaking. The whole wall is rotted through and falling down. Phil did a temporary job, so we can shower and was up until one in the morning. He did his Juno Walk with some pain due to crawling in and out of the tub. The pain has worsened as the day progressed. Fortunately we have a lead on a good handyman to help us figure out what to do about the situation. 

Lancer’s Day 8.

Today was another trip downtown for us. I think I only made one clearance error the entire trip. I’m a serious little worker, and I’m glad Mom notices. Yes Rebecca didn’t give birth to me, but she is definitely a female caregiver, and that’s close enough to Mom for me.
We tried coming in on a different street, but though it was less construction, crossing Nicollet was just as bad along ninth as eighth. Downtown is just going to be a mess, and Nicole reminded Mom there was no shame in asking for assistance when crossing the street when construction is this involved.
The Medical Arts Building was a snap. I enjoyed all three of the offices we visited, but my two favorites were the dentist and the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist let us come into the office proper, not just the waiting room, because the office path was so narrow. We also exited from a different door than we entered, which is a regular occurrence. We had to target the dentist office, which meant lots of clicks and treats for me! Mom doesn’t go there as often, but it’s guaranteed I’ll remember where to go on that floor.
Mom mentioned a friend wanted to meet at Panerra Bread for socializing after appointments, so we went there for human lunch. I kept my nose to myself, so no gentle leader needed to be applied.
Then we redid the IDS building including our trip to the bank via the elevators. Nicole showed Mom the path using a tactile map kit. Little pieces of different shapes are Velcroed onto this cloth board thing. After feeling the route plus our experience there yesterday, it was a lot easier to make the trip. Our trips to Panerra and IDS were during lunch time, and at one point, I even showed Mom a chair!! There are some humans like Nicole who like to stand and others like my mom who enjoy sitting when possible.
We had time before our bus came so Nicole lifted me onto the bus bench to take our ID photo. Mom has to figure out how to permanently put it into her phone before uploading, but it should show up very soon
Tomorrow we do the lightrail to Dad’s office. Then we have one final trip yet to be determined, but it will either be the gas station or targeting a midblock audible pedestrian signal on the way back from an uptown doctor’s office. I showed Mom the office last week, but we didn’t look at that signal.
Mom let me loose from the leash after I parked, but I was so tuckered out, I didn’t do much. She may try again after this next park time and when Phil’s home to see what happens. 

Day 7

Our first trip was taking the bus downtown and back with work in the IDS center to get to the bank via the elevators. We’ll be taking another downtown trip tomorrow, and although I hope to repeat the IDS center again, I hope we can avoid some of the construction we encountered today. There was one corner at 8th and Nicollet we couldn’t cross. If I was on my own, I think I’d go a block to cross at a better intersection. As it was, we had to treat a corner like it was an obstacle and cross by going out into the other street. It’s definitely not a maneuver I would have felt comfortable doing alone with a brand new dog. I have some ideas about how to circumvent this on our downtown trip tomorrow, but Nicollet is under construction all along the Mall, so we’ll probably just encounter something different.
The IDS is a little confusing. Nicole is going to make a tactile map of the route, so I have a better understanding of how to get to the elevators.
We survived our traffic checks, because Lancer is a very good boy! They got faster and closer as we went, but Lancer really kept an eye on that car!! We went to the DQ, but not for the Peanut Butter Monster Cookie Blizzard I’ve heard about and am determined to try. It was purely for traffic checks and obstacle work.
One of the biggest concepts I’ve had to learn this training is when to sidestep. There are times when Lancer tries to get me around something, and it feels like a turn instead. I’m unsure if it’s the offset handle which is making this harder, or it might be how definitive his moves are compared to my other dogs who felt much more subtle. I think this is just going to take time to learn to read him. The offset harness is still great on my back, but it, Lancer’s Height, and possibly his less subtle maneuvers are making our work a little different than I’ve had in the past.
The one thing about Lancer which drives me to continue is his willingness. I can tell he puts his heart and soul into his work, and even his puppy raisers say they felt he’d make a good Seeing Eye Dog because of his love of having a job. Zane’s work ethic was great, and I said hands down he was my best worker. However, whereas Zane’s work ethic was about enthusiasm, Lancer’s is about caution’ intensity’ and care if that makes any sense at all. 

Day 6

Today we had one big trip. We went downtown by car to have lunch and then do some work at Target. I learned several things along the way.
1. I am not the slowest walker on the planet. I may not be able to go that far, but I’m a low-average walker.

2. Lancer doesn’t distract easily, and when he does, he’s honest about it. He turned his head toward a guide dog team. Because he doesn’t move his body when distracted, I should go with him whenever he moves unusually.

3. Target doesn’t have in and out doors. In fact, Target wants people to use the narrow, revolving door. I hate revolving doors, and this one is particularly narrow. Instead, there are two regular doors side by side, and either of them is OK to use to enter or exit Target.
This trip was my least stressful yet, because downtown sidewalks are much flatter than the sidewalks in South Minneapolis. There’s more for Lancer to do in terms of construction and people, but I’m getting better at reading his signals. 

Phil went with us this trip to meet Vanessa another TSE grad, for lunch at Brit’s Pub. I had a salad and their White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with peas and bacon. The meal and the conversation were both great.
I couldn’t use the target on the bench, because someone was sitting there, but I healed Lancer while picking up a few things I needed. Having Phil using a cane behind me made me realize how much faster and more efficiently I was moving with Lancer. When Phil gets his next dog, it is likely Lancer and I will take the back, because of how quickly Phil and his dogs tend to move. However, until then, Lancer and I can take a pretty comfortable lead.
Tomorrow Nicole and I will do more downtown work. Then the second trip will be full of traffic checks with another trainer driving them. For those who don’t know, traffic checks are when vehicles pull out in front of us from driveways or turn in front of us. It’s anything which makes a dog need to stop suddenly or even back up. It’s good practice for reading the dogs signals in serious situations.

Lancer’s Day 5.

The DQ solo went very well, except one retaining wall for which I tried to calculate and didn’t quite make it. So I got the horrible “Pfui” word no Seeing Eye Dog likes to hear. Still if it keeps She Who Writes from being hurt, I suppose it’s necessary. I did it better and was corrected for a couple other mistakes I made. Humans don’t seem to get corrected from my point of view. She Who Writes made a couple little mistakes suggesting a direction too soon and possibly pulling me a little that way. They don’t get that scolding word we guides get.
I was very patient while she put on my booties. Supposedly my predecessor ate the bag in which his booties came. Now RuffWare has made the bag bigger, and I don’t have much interest in it anyway. Give me the stuff on the ground by the DQ picnic tables any day!!! I heard talk of a Gentle Leader on an upcoming trip to curb my nose’s tendency to investigate while the humans sit still. I would rather wear the booties and march around the house like I did this morning. I couldn’t go along with the KC and the Sunshine Band’s slightly modified title Shake Your Booties. They stayed on tight, and having only one strap to concentrate on tightening really helped keep them on my feet.
The Malt Shop went well, and I gained some new fans along the way. Unfortunately I also gained a Gentle Leader when my nose tried to investigate. She who writes didn’t put it on the leash, because I straightened up with that thing on my nose. The humans ordered stuff to go, and I had to lie down or at least sit with all those good smells emitting from the front seat. Tonight and tomorrow night we’ll be chilling, and trying to ignore the war zone happening outside for the 4th of July. The Mystery Man has the holiday off, and he’ll be joining us for lunch along with Vanessa and her Shepherd Fiona. Last night at supper I heard talk of big Shepherds and I swear I sensed the Mystery Man (who is a lot less of a mystery now) practically salivate with excitement. My puppyhood best friend was a Shepherd, so having one around might be cool.
After lunch, we’re going to do some clicker training at Target. She who writes has a tough time finding the door, and there’s a bench where she likes to sit and wait for help rather than standing. So I’ll have two targets at Target. (Just a little humor for you all).
Speaking of humor, some may call me a platinum blonde, although She Who Writes calls me her Cream Pup. Anyway, I am serious about my mistakes at work, so She Who Writes gives herself the “Phui” word for the wrong acronym!!! Of course, She Who Writes should have been SWW, not SWR. 

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