I Am Grateful For The Human Voice. Are You?

Recently we celebrated Thanksgiving Day—actually we should thank the Lord for His goodness, provision and protection every day.

My husband had to leave very early for work, as he was in charge of the festivities planned for the Homeless.  After fixing a hearty breakfast for us, I took the dog for a little jaunt and came in to concentrate on the rest of the day. My son’s wife, Katie, was coming later and we planned to make pies together.

In advance, I wanted to find a recipe for a gluten free pie crust so we could make our son-in-law a gluten free pie.  So, I asked my Google Home to locate the recipe and she found  “Gluten Free Pie Crust by King Arthur’s Baking”. So, I asked for ingredients first. Google read the first ingredient aloud and when I said “next” it said, “nothing’s playing right now.”  This often happens to me when I try to get recipes from Google.  So, I asked for the same recipe again, and the same thing happened.  After the fifth try, I told Google she was not being helpful at all.  She asked me if I wanted to give feedback about my recent experience.  I gave my feedback about this issue.  Then I unplugged my Google Home for 60 seconds.  This is what I usually do when it has issues like this.  I plugged it in again thinking I would get the rest of my recipe.  It found the recipe and read the part of the first instruction aloud but stopped in the middle of the sentence.  It did that three times after I patiently found the recipe again each time and asked for baking instructions.

Do you ever find a similar thing happening to you?  As use of “AI” becomes more widespread, how much will we long for that human voice, the smile of the person serving us, an opportunity to reciprocate, leaving all of us with a warm, happy feeling?

Thursday Came Too Soon

We were vacationing with my niece, Adrienne,  and family in University Heights, Ohio. It was so nice to visit with her and her husband, Chris, and their 3 daughters over the Labor Day weekend. The 8 and 6 year old loved hanging out with Thelma.  They even invited me to play with them in their Barbie room, and I got a lot of baby time with their youngest, born in January.  We took walks with Thelma too, including the Cuyahoga Valley National Park trail, and the Botanical Gardens in Cleveland. Thelma even went with me to Urgent Care when I dislocated my left thumb. She also went with me to see a specialist on Tuesday who put my finger back into place.  Quite an unforgettable experience, which isn’t over yet!  We all loved visiting Ray’s cousins near Detroit, too.

But then Thursday came.  I knew Ray was thinking about how we’d miss Thelma also, even though he didn’t say much.  Wednesday, as we walked around Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan with cousins, Thelma did such a great job walking with me everywhere.

When Kathy and her friend, Mary Kay met us at our hotel on Thursday morning, we shared Thelma tidbits, words she knew, voice inflections, etc.  We walked to lunch together and Thelma was the perfect dog, lying under the table quietly as we ate our lunch. I showed Kathy how she sits in our car, on the passenger side on the floor under the dash board.

When it was time for them to go, we all prayed together and took pictures.  I gave Thelma her favorite toy, and a special bag of treats.  Then I opened the passenger side of Kathy’s car and told Thelma, “hup up, inside”.  She obeyed and curled up on the floor board ready for a long drive.  Off to her new forever home she went, a bond already starting.

It had been a long hard day for Ray and me.  We went back to our hotel room and took a nap.  For supper, we went to a place nearby that served Afghan food.  It was delicious.  The next morning we had breakfast with another of Ray’s cousins whom he had not seen for 20 years. Then we drove to the airport to catch our flight home to St. Louis.

Thelma’s empty harness stowed under my seat.

How I Found a New Home For My Dog

When I learned that Thelma might have Stargardt, a rare eye disease showing up in Labradors, I started to investigate. Stargardt’s disease is an inherited form of macular degeneration causing central vision loss. After confirming through extensive testing that Thelma had Stargardt, I was in denial for several days…maybe really weeks. But I knew I had to devise a plan for finding her a new home. I had to move on, and so did Thelma. We both had more of life to live and new adventures before us.

How would I ever find a new home, I wondered? I didn’t want to put it out on Facebook, or put out an ad. Not for such a special friend like Thelma! So I posted on a Seeing Eye graduate list asking how others dealt with having to retire one of their dogs, especially a hard working trained service dog. It was a discussion point for several days, and quite a few people spoke into it. Their stories comforted me. I wasn’t the only one who went through this dilemma! I contacted a couple of my local friends who had Seeing Eye dogs to see what ideas they had. I also talked with a few folks from church, and my kids did the same at their church. Several prospects came to light. I made a list of “musts” for the new owner; and a list of questions I’d ask a potential owner.

In a radio interview I did with a high school counselor, she mentioned how schools were beginning to add more therapy dogs to their tool boxes. Could Thelma do that? I started exploring the idea of Thelma becoming a therapy or a comfort dog. She needed to be of service…to have another purpose. I didn’t want her to become just someone’s lap dog who never had any more exciting adventures. I interviewed Tim Hetzner, the director of “K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, “a great mission for MY dog,” I thought. They started dog training for that at 8 weeks old. They had just gotten back from helping survivors in Uvalde, Texas, the site of the most recent school shooting. You can listen to our interview, which first aired on Bott Radio Network, on my podcast at judyredlich.com.

All in all I had 6 individuals or families interested in being Thelma’s “forever new home.” Eventually that number dropped to two families. One was in St. Louis, the other in Columbus, Ohio. We did a play date with the family from St. Louis. We did a Facetime call with the family in Ohio. We checked references on both. They both would have been great homes, in our minds, to fill the bill.

I just hate it when you are in a gray area on something. I’m a black and white decision maker! I needed answers. All I could do was pray and ask the Lord to help. “Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take”—Prov. 3:6. My husband and I took Thelma on walks almost daily as I had done before when she was a working dog. But this time, I could only hold her leash, and take Ray’s arm to guide us. We waited for answers!

Finally, I woke up one morning with a clear mind about this situation, and joy in my heart. I knew then and there that the Lord wanted Kathy and her husband to be the new owners of Thelma. Kathy had been praying for 3 years for a good dog she could love and be its “forever home”. She is a semi-retired community nurse and her husband is a doctor. They would make sure Thelma got the proper eye care. Now, 420 miles away, how would we meet and arrange for Thelma to unite with her new “forever family?” I’ll tell you when it happens.

Have you ever had to find a home for a dog you loved? What helped you most? What tips can you share with others?

Last Week With Thelma

Hello Friends,

Thelma and I have been teammates since May 1, 2018.  She’s my trusty service dog.  There have been some major transitions since then, and family, friends and Thelma have been right there with me.  We’ve walked many miles together, and ventured into unknown territory. Thelma has faithfully been by my side.

At the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, one of my responsibilities is to deliver presentations about vision loss at Independent Senior Living Centers throughout our metro area. Thelma especially enjoys being a part of these presentations to show off her many skills.  She also loves going to KSIV Radio Station with me, where she quietly waits while I’m recording interviews in the studio.  My family and friends are hers, too.

But now it’s time for us to say “goodbye” to each other.  Early in May she was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a rare eye condition in dogs resulting in progressive loss of vision.  It’s like having juvenile macular degeneration.  Since her diagnosis, we’ve been praying and following up leads for a new “forever home.”  She and I have one more precious week together before she goes to Columbus, Ohio to meet with her new family.  I can’t wait to see what new purpose she will fulfill in their lives and others she meets.  But my heart is breaking as I think about how I’ll miss hearing her patter around, coming when I call, and wagging her tail as she shares her friendly greetings.  Most of all, I’ll miss her “get up and go-ness” in guiding me wherever I needed to go.

Yes, I will be getting a new teammate, as soon as the Seeing Eye finds a new dog match for me.

Will keep you posted.


More Shows!

 I’m excited to share with you that Encounter is now on two times weekly, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. on KSIV AM1320 and FM 91.5 and 95.9.

In case you miss the show live in the St. Louis area, listen anytime from anywhere: https://bottradionetwork.com/ministry/encounter-ksiv/

Friend me on Facebook or LinkedIn to receive our latest show promos and share the news about Encounter with your friends.

If you have a story that you would like to share, contact me here and you might just become my next guest!

Wet Menace

What does your dog do when it encounters a sprinkler?  It probably doesn’t matter much to you, unless you have a seeing eye dog and you are intent on getting somewhere. 

My dog and I try and walk at least a half mile a day.  We take different routes each day and some special routes on weekends.

I know grass and plants need water on these hot summer days in St. Louis, but to my dog, sprinklers are a dog’s worst friend.  We’ve passed around 6 of them in the past three weeks on our walks.  I always know we are coming to one because Thelma stops in her tracks.  Try as I might, she won’t budge.  No, I take that back.  The first time we met this moving creature we walked right into its circular path and got soaked.  That did it for Thelma.  The next time, she hastily turned around and we headed back home.  Our hike that day turned out to be almost twice as long just to avoid the spraying menace. 

So I started taking treats with me to help. But she was resolute and just would not walk through them, even though a little water would feel great on a 90 degree day.  So with my commands we’d go carefully out into the street, walk along the curb until the sprinkler was behind us.  I kept giving her commands directing her until she was back on the sidewalk.  Then we’d continue our walk joyfully as if nothing unusual had happened. 

A yellow lab not liking water?  Well, you never know what’s in the mind of a dog.  But together we can navigate as a team to accomplish our mission.  And I am glad that when Thelma sensed danger she wanted to protect both of us from it.  And isn’t that why I’ve chosen  to have a dog rather than just use a white cane?  Another adventure with my four-footed friend.

Helping people tell their story and find their highest potential

Encounter show host, Tuesdays 2:00 p.m.
KSIV Radio St. Louis, MO
AM 1320 / FM 91.5 / FM 95.9
Let’s connect! linkedin.com/in/judy-redlich 

God Bless America

As our praise team was practicing patriotic songs for this Sunday’s service, I reflected on the powerful words of God Bless America: 

“God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above

From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home
God bless America, my home sweet home”

Even in the midst of so much turmoil, we need to remember to thank the Lord for those who went before us and sacrificed, to pave the way for the freedoms we have today.  We pray that today’s leaders would not make decisions based on their own gain, but for our country’s good.

Judy and Annette, Thelma and Gazelle

In this picture are two dogs who love to play together.  They are very special dogs, Annette and I are both blind, and Thelma and Gazelle are our service dogs.

Annette and I live not too far from each other, so we get together when we can to let our dogs play.  Recently, we decided to take our dogs on a long walk in our neighborhood.  We walked around our neighborhood, Thelma and I leading the way, warning our friends about low hanging branches, changes in sidewalk elevation, or street corners ahead. 

Both Annette and I each depend on our dogs daily to get us where we need to go. Maybe a trip to the grocery store, YMCA or gym or to work. Since neither of us drive, we might need to take public transportation, Lyft or Uber. Thelma, my dog, lies quietly on the stage as I lead praise and worship at church, or if I’m speaking or training somewhere. Both of us try to walk with our dogs at least a half mile or more in our own neighborhoods daily to keep them sharp and learning new routes.  It keeps us fit, too. 

In the spring, we often encounter low-hanging tree limbs.  You might love them hanging low over the public sidewalk in front of your home, but when you can’t see them coming, it is truly an annoyance, especially after a rain storm.  You see, our dogs are used to looking out for us on the ground. They make sure they stop at elevation changes in the sidewalks, or at street corners.  Reminding them to look overhead for those branches and overgrown evergreen ferns is something we must retrain them on every spring.

Lastly, our dogs are great companions.  You know, there’s nothing like a dog cheerfully saying “good morning.” It reminds us that it’s another fresh, new day that the Lord has given us, full of adventures.  Since my husband works away from home, even in the pandemic, my dog Thelma is my little buddy who encourages me to take breaks, hikes, and times to play fetch.  Annette works from home too and I know Gazelle helps remember that “dog time” must also be built into her day. 

Please pray for safety for those of us who depend on our service dogs, and remember to give your dog that extra love and attention they need.

Look for two more posts from me this week, both podcasts I think you’ll enjoy. Follow me on Face Book; subscribe to my website at judyredlich.com and feel free to email me at [email protected]

Memorial Day. (Formerly Known As My Birthday!)

Today is the first Monday I am going to try to blog.  I intend to also post two of my radio shows weekly too that aired recently on KSIV, AM1320 FM95.9 in the greater St. Louis area. So many wonderful stories out there to cover. By subscribing at my web site, judyredlich.com, you can get an email notice each time something new arrives on my website.

Today is Memorial Day.  We commemorate those that serve and have served us in the  Armed Forces.  Let’s also include those who are first responders serving on the front lines to keep us safe.

My Dad was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army in World War II.  He received a purple heart for his bravery and quick thinking to protect others in his charge.  Think a moment about those you know who either served, or serve today and let’s thank the Lord for them.  

This week I will be posting two shows featuring heros in the military.  Watch for them. Check them out and share with others.  

Another aside about Memorial Day… Prior to 1971, my Birthday, May 30, always fell on Memorial Day.  Friends at school were always envious because I was always off on my Birthday.  It made me feel so honored to be born on such a special day.  But in 1971, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, designating Memorial Day as the last Monday in May.

Have a good week.  Follow me on face book; send me an email if you’d like at [email protected]