Adventure Three with My NEW Four Footed Friend

Hello again from Morristown, New Jersey.

If you couldn’t see, and you had to team up with your dog to walk to a certain bus stop, take the bus to the train station, and ride the train to another destination, what preparations would you make? Close your eyes and imagine…. What thoughts fears, or emotions might you have? Or, would you consider the trip a huge adventure and go for it?

On a beautiful, Sunny day, two of us left with our instructor to practice the bus and metro link with our dogs. We walked about four blocks and waited at the bus stop for the bus. Our instructor gave us some direction, and when it finally came, we hopped on and found our seats close to the driver. We tucked our dogs under the seats, putting one foot on our leash, holding the leash loop in our hand, our dogs’ heads and front legs firmly between our legs. During the 15 minute ride to the train station, my thoughts flashed back to a time when Velda, my first Seeing Eye dog and I were riding the bus. When I started to get off the bus I realized Velda’s harness was half off. Somehow, she had begun wiggling out of it under the seat. I had to quickly put it back in place, buckle it again, and exit the bus. We were safe, and I learned a valuable lesson– Always be aware of what my dog is doing.

When we arrived at our stop, we got off the bus and walked several blocks to the station. With the aid of our dogs, and instructions from our instructor, K.O., We found the stairs and took them to the platform. After climbing to the platform, K.O. showed us where the train would come. In fact, she asked us to face the track, with our dog, and tell the dog to “hup up”. Our dogs did not budge. That’s because if they would have, we would have fallen onto the track several feet below. If we have pushed their harnesses to make them go, we could have been seriously injured. Another valuable lesson—K.O. reminded us we are the navigators, our dogs are our guides. We can’t just put our dogs on auto pilot and think they will take us where we need to go. The train came, we got on, found our seats and our dogs lay at our feat, their leashes securely under our foot and loops in our hand. At our destination, we got off, and walked joyfully back to our starting point. Mission accomplished, and new skills under our belts. Here’s our picture at the metro link station.

Another adventure with my NEW four-footed friend. You’ll hear from us again, soon.


Judy⠠⠚⠥⠙⠽ and Thelma ?

Adventure Two with My NEW Four Footed Friend

Hello from Morristown New Jersey. We’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to send you any new adventures until now.

Let me tell you about our team. As I mentioned in the previous adventure, there are 21 students in our class. We have four persons in our team with one instructor.

We ate meals together the first week, and we work together as a team, in pairs, or separately with our instructor for the duration of the training. Training for those who have already been Seeing Eye dog handlers is 17 days. New students get an additional week, either at the school or in their home town.

On Wednesday, when we received our dogs, we spent time getting to know them individually in our rooms. After lunch, we started on our first route. This was a 9 block route in downtown Morristown. Each of us went individually with our instructor to learn the route. We walked the route with dog and instructor 5 more times in subsequent days, familiarizing ourselves with it. Our instructor gave less instructions each time. We concentrated on traffic flow, both parallel and perpendicular. We learned which streets had controlled lights, and which had none. As our trust grew in each other, the route became easier and we began to enjoy the sounds of spring and fresh Morristown air as we walked swiftly along.

On Sunday, in the pouring rain, we soloed our route. That means we did it on our own, with our instructor following at a distance, only giving instruction if our lives were in danger. Thelma and I could not avoid the 3 inch puddle at the beginning of one street crossing. We also got unexpected traffic checks, when a car came out of a driveway in front of us. A block further, we politely stopped to let passengers get out of their car and go into a building next to us. We then continued on our way. As we turned the corner onto our last street, we increased our pace anticipating our route’s end. We turned left into the alley. Soon, I told Thelma “left, left”. Obeying, in a bit, Thelma stopped and her nose was right under the door handle. I gave her lots of praise as I had become accustomed to doing. We went inside, wet, but triumphant. What was a little water when you together conquered the challenge? Maybe, just maybe, this yellow lab would walk with me another 6,000 miles like Velda did!

Another adventure with my NEW four-footed friend. You’ll hear from us again, soon, and a picture.


Judy⠠⠚⠥⠙⠽ and Thelma ?

Adventure One with My NEW Four Footed Friend

As I flew to New Jersey on Monday to spend the next 18 days training at the Seeing Eye School with my new dog, I remembered 12 years ago when I made the same trek. It was in March then and a bit colder. The same excitement flooded me then that surged through me on Monday. What would my new dog be like? Would she be like Velda, who served me for 9 and ¾ years? Would she be a lab, or a golden retriever, or a German Shepherd, or a cross lab golden?

Upon arriving at the airport, a rep from the Seeing Eye met me and introduced me to the other student riding back with us to Morristown N.J. On the ride back, Nolan and I chatted about our families, lives, and our dogs. Our instructors met us at the door, took us to our rooms, and helped us get oriented to it. I was even more amazed this time. The dorm had been renovated and there was Braille everywhere, including building lay-out maps. I remembered the raised wooden terrain street map they had last time so we could figure out our walking routs prior to taking them. I couldn’t wait to explore those maps again. We all ate a delicious lunch together. Other students had arrived already and some of them joined us for lunch.

Soon it was time for my Juno walk. This is when my instructor pretended she was the dog. She took the other end of my leash and the harness. She walked on my left, alongside me just like a dog would. She’d vary the pull and pace in order to solidify which dog would be the best match for me. Over the next day and a half, each of us 21 students did 4 Juno walks in all. We were divided into groups of 4 and each group was assigned an instructor. We eat together, have individualized training together and more. We also have class lectures, every evening.

Wednesday morning after breakfast, we received our dogs. Mine is a yellow lab with honey highlights. She’s the same size as Velda was when I got her in March, 2006. She’s a fun-loving dog who loves to serve. We did our first 8 block trip in downtown Morristown. Right now, as I’m writing this, she is sleeping in her crate after a long, exhausting day.

Since our day tomorrow begins at 5:30 a.m. I’m signing off, too. Will write more soon.


Judy⠠⠚⠥⠙⠽ and Thelma ?