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

Archive for May, 2017

Phil’s Dog, Lancer, and Me

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. 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.


I should be doing something productive right now like washing clothes, but since getting the email this morning that Phil’s cousin Ralph died Sunday, I have been reflecting on the time I knew him.
I first met Ralph when he gave me a ride to visit Phil here in Minneapolis before we were married. I’d say I really got to know him and his wife Grace when they brought us to the apartment the day after we were married.
Ralph was a good-natured, mild-mannered man who lived out his beliefs quietly, accept if you happened to agree with him politically. Phil and I did, so during the dinners once or twice a year with him and Grace, we often talked politics, and Ralph could become quite passionate in his discussion. Despite agreeing with him, I always came away with a new perspective on why I agreed with one party and disagreed with the other. He did more than reenforce our beliefs. I learned from him.

 He was a biology professor,. I suspect he wasn’t the popular, charismatic type, but if one was open to learning something from him, one definitely would.
Ralph was relatively quiet, so when he had something to say, we listened. He often couched his observations of the world in dry humor. I wish I could think of an example, but I can’t right now. No doubt as soon as I send this, something will come to mind. It was humor like that — a little dig, a little sarcasm, and perhaps a little self deprecation for good measure.
Ralph and I had something else in common. Phil and Grace are morning people. Ralph and I … not so much.  

Probably my favorite side to Ralph was the love he had for our dogs and the love they returned. I can hear him now quietly saying, “Yes, yes, yes, yes,” as he doled out affection for our dogs. If my first Tanner hadn’t died prematurely and if he had been amenable, I would have retired Tanner with Ralph. All of the dogs responded, but perhaps because Tanner was my first, I always felt a special connection between Tanner and Ralph.
When I told Phil of Ralph’s death, his reaction was that it was quick. He just started having cognitive issues last year and had to go to a nursing home early this year or late last year. I can’t quite remember. We didn’t see him with cognitive issues, so my memories will always be of his sharp mind. I can’t help thinking that he would be disturbed by many of the political stories of today, and perhaps God was protecting him from knowing some of this stuff. In a Christmas letter, Grace told us in one of his lucid moments, Ralph said a certain person winning an election was “a bummer.” In the end, Parkinson’s Disease took his cognition and eventually his life.
We won’t be able to attend his funeral, as it’s quite a drive away, but I felt I had to do something to reflect on my knowing him. 

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