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Today was just one of those days when I knew it was going to take copious amounts of coffee to keep me going from the moment I woke up, (at 5:55 or so - I guess that's what I get for going to bed so late). It was to the point where my first cup of coffee happened even before breakfast, (where I again had some coffee - two cups, I think). In the midst of park/feed/water/park, while Dalton was eating and on tie-down, I took that opportunity to quickly run to the coffee room and give a good morning greeting to the wonderful coffee machine in exchange for a fantastic, nice hot cup of caffeinated beverage. Priorities... I took care of my dog first, so there shouldn't be any issue here, I wouldn't think.

The routes in the morning and afternoon went without incident. There were people opstacles in the form of joggers, and DMan did just fine guiding me around them. One of the intersections we crossed had an island in the middle of it, and in the morning when we crossed it, he took me around it, but in the afternoon, he took me right through it, after seeing the dog of the team with whom I was doing doubles at the time go through it, and so I guess he figured if they could go through it, he and I could, too. We flew through it, (this guy means business as far as pace goes, let me tell you!), and it really did feel like I was skiing. We both managed to get across without falling, which does count.

I briefly mention this next point because it does sometimes happen in class: one of the students had a dog switch. Said student happened to be an AQCTION one, and the first dog that he had did not work out. All that matters is that he has a dog now that is doing fantastically for him It really could have happened to any one of us, truth be told.

Food for today: breakfast was eggs, toast and coffee. Lunch was grilled cheese, tomato soup and...more coffee. (I actually wanted iced tea, but they didn't have any, so coffee was the substitute). Dinner was pizza and...you guessed it...more coffee. Perhaps surprisingly, I'm feeling pretty exhausted for all the cups of java I have had today. I think the count is at least five or six. It was funny: one of the ACTION students wished me good luck on my route in the morning, and I said "thanks, same to you", and he had already gone out on his route. In my defense, it was early, and I wasn't all that awake yet. I really do think Starbucks needs to happen sometime this next week...

Lecture was after dinner, where we went over our schedule tomorrow and grooming. The dogs will do individual long-line play. I can't wait to see how it goes. I groomed my dog, (we were issued a comb and brush), and he seemed to like it. He moved around some, but it wasn't anything too major. When I brought out the comb, he first sniffed it before I used it. He did the same thing with the brush.

I honestly don't know what else to write about, and I think I've covered everything as it is. I did talk to a friend who was in class with me last time earlier this evening, and it was really nice to catch up with him. I can't believe a week of training is over! This time next week, I will be back in DeKalb. I really don't want to think about that, because I'm not at all prepared to leave. It has taken a huge amount of energy as it is to mentally prepare me for retiring LivDog, coming back into class and then working with a new guide. The concept of having to leave so soon just isn't on my radar yet. I do still have a week, so I shouldn't be stressing about it. Said conversation helped me put all of that into perspective, of which I am eternally thankful. It will be okay, though, I'm sure. It feels way later than it is. I think an early bedtime may be in order tonight. Dalton is already there. I tried to coax him out of his crate, but upon coming out, he went in again shortly after, both times that I tried this. Take care, thanks for reading, and more tomorrow.
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Is it really day five? Wow, time does fly. I'm working with something like half a brain at present, (I am very soon to take a page out of Dalton's book and go to bed, after I take him out one last time, of course), so please bear with me as I recap the day's events.

First off, answers to questions I have received. If I miss anything, please feel free to comment again with whatever question you have so that I can answer it. Juno work is when the instructor simulates what the dog would do. Yes, crates are provided in the rooms, as well as tie-downs. The dogs are crate trained as pups, and most love them. Dalton is one such pup. The rooms also have televisions and fridges in them. There is no wireless Internet at the Yorktown HQ, but they have Ethernet connections in each room. Wireless does exist at White Plains, though. It used to exist here, but it was having issues. One of the tech people said he hoped to have it up and running again sometime later this year. I think he said possibly by next month or so. A traffic check is when a car comes in front of your path in the street and the dog is responsible to keep you out of harms way.

Now, onto my day. Parking, feeding and watering this morning went without incident, as did obedience. I need to be sure to remember not to switch the leash into the right hand when I want to reposition him, because then he thinks that he needs to be on my right if the leash is in the right hand. We're both learning, and I'm sure it will be okay in time.

Breakfast, too, went fine. I ad a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. While we're on food: for lunch, the main dish was a sausage and pepper sandwich. I'm onestly not completely positive what I ate for lunch, (we [the people at the table where I was sitting at dinner] were talking about it, and I honestly couldn't come up with it - I guess my brain is just *that* fried), although I seem to think that maybe it was peanut butter and jelly, although I know I ate that another day previously. Not that it's hugely important... Dinner was fish, but I had a ham and cheese sandwich instead. For breakfast, the drink was coffee, lunch was more coffee, and dinner was water.

Speaking of coffee: I headed into the coffee room this morning to get another cup of said beverage prior to loading up in the van with the other two ACTION students, (we rode separately into White Plains this morning), only to discover that there were no cups left by the coffee machine. Horror of horrors! This is a true crime, I tell you! I don't know who did it, but it wasn't cool at all. Haha! Coffee is extremely necessary in the morning! Graham saved the day by bringing me a cup when he came out to start the van. Crisis averted with much gratitude!

The morning route I worked a double with one of the other ACTION students. It went really well. I was about to say I can't remember anything that really happened en route, but that wouldn't be true at all. See, my brain really is fried! Oh man... The morning route was complete with an unexpected traffic check which had me slightly shaken up and I didn't even realize was a traffic check until after the fact when Graham mentioned it. When I first stepped off the down curb, I slightly tripped over a snow mound, and recovered from that, only to be met with the traffic check. I didn't even know that the car was there! Dalton was a fantastic boy, though, and handled it nicely. Other than that, I can't remember anything of any significance on our route. His pace and pull are so wonderful, and it's so fun working him.

The afternoon route was where things began to shine. I did a single, and Dalton and I really seemed to start to mesh as a team. I was able to really read him and know how he moves and approaches obstacles and handles certain situations. In narrow places or places where there are obstacles, he will tend to slow down and be extra caucious of his surroundings to make sure that I am okay. I think the traffic check earlier in the day may have had something to do with it, too. When the area opens up or is less full of potential obstacles, he will take the initiative and pull out/speed up the pace again. I honestly really like how he handles that. His turns were textbook, and his clearances were spot on. I can tell he has fun doing his job. Perhaps I can get some pictures of the two of us working en route sometime. As I was able to read him, I think he, to, is starting to be able to read me and know how I work. This afternoon's route was for sure the start of something truly amazing that will only get better in time. He is still definitely attached to his trainer, but my thought is that in time, that attachment will shift over to me. I look forward to the day when that happens. I am starting to work him in the Yorktown building, and again, it's really fun. They now train the dogs to place their two front paws on the first step of stairs going up, and it's really funny, because he's so tall that when he does this, I think he's actually up more of the staircase than he actually is! I need to make a conscious effort to reach down and feel his position until I get used to what it feels like naturally. That way, I can praise him accordingly instead of correcting for something that doesn't need correction. I'm just not used to such a large beast is all. I also worked on targeting with him as far as my room door goes, and he seems to be getting it. We shall put him to the test tomorrow when I work him too and from breakfast.

Lecture tonight was on working the dogs inside versus outside, targeting and leaving the dogs alone for short periods of time. I may or may not have forgotten something, I'm not entirely positive. Oh yes, we were also issued half-check collars. I left Dalton in the room alone for fifteen or so minutes in his crate, and he did fine. I actually put my Victor Stream on record to see what he do, and the only thing he did was let out a slight groan shortly after the door closed when I left, but that was it; no other peep out of him at all. While in lecture, he did decide to be a little escape artist and somehow wriggle out of his collar. I have no idea how he did it, but the next thing I know, empty harness. I was of course still holding onto his leash, and so I was able to put it back on him. Crazy dog!

7:30 park time happened shortly after lecture, and then I have been hanging out ever since. I chilled in the coffee room for a time as people were in there. I made a point to look and see the status of the cups for the coffee machine, and everyone, (especially those on Facebook, where I put out a status about the potential crisis), will be glad to know that they have been re-stocked. Hahaha! This is a good thing for all involved, really it is!

Olivia's puppy raisers called me awhile ago to let me know that LivDog is safely with them. It seems that she is settling down nicely, after apparently having some words with Bryn, another dog who they have also. If I remember correctly, Bryn is a release dog from GEB, from one of the litters of a puppy the family raised who is, or was, a brood (SP?). It's a relief to know that she's finally home. I hope it doesn't take her too long to actually feel at home. She is pretty adaptable, though, so I'm not really all that worried.

I honestly can't think of anything else that I wanted to write about, so this is where I end this, post, go take out Dalton, brush my teeth and then go to bed. Again, many thanks go out to those who read and comment about my training, whether it be via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or on the actual journal. Thanks, also, for the questions that some of you have had. Feel free to send more. More tomorrow.
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Another day, the end of which is leaving me feeling very exhausted and drained, yet satisfied at the same time. Wake-up, park/feed/water and park, obedience and human breakfast this morning all went without any real incident to speak of. I was prepared for some resistance in obedience, Dalton not knowing me from anyone at this point and the two of us being together for such short a time, but he did amazingly well. There were a few times I had to correct, I think, but nothing major at all. The ride in the van to White Plains was also very smooth, Dalton first sitting and then lying down quietly on the floor at my feet. I'm finding myself having to get used to his extra length as far as certain things are concerned, (placement, room for him, etc), but it will all come easier with time.

I had to wait a bit for my first walk with Dalton as I was the last of the three ACTION students to go out. That reminds me: I had wanted to mention previously that there are three ACTION students. When I went through the program the first time, there were only two, and apparently three only happens occasionally. Onto my first walk: it was really awesome! I had forgotten how fast I usually walk with LivDog slowing down. (I still love you, LivDog, don't worry!). I will say that wearing very high snow boots is not conducive to fast walking, even though my feet are warm. I am going to try wearing my sneakers tomorrow and putting yak tracks on the bottom of them if it turns out I need that. Very few corrections were needed on the walk, and he responded well to me, (I thought, anyway), even with the trainer's support leash still on him. Oh, another tidbit about this morning: I was sitting in the lobby with Dalton under my chair, waiting to load up into the vans, when I noticed he made a mad dash out from under where he was nicely positioned and into the aisleway. Only then did I realize Graham had come into the picture. After I got him repositioned, which took some effort, he then proceeded to start whining pretty emphatically. It turns out Dalton is hugely attached to his trainer, apparently.

Back to my first walk: Dalton's gait is more similar to a prance. He apparently does lift his feet up high and also holds his head up, like a pony. (My instructor mentioned that at first, not me!). That description isn't really all that far off, though, the more I think about it. Pony..dog...same difference! He is very tall and does have length on him. Said height is very conducive to finding doorknobs, as I found out on my second walk later in the afternoon. That walk, too, went well. The support leash came off during that one, and Dalton's response was still very similar. There were again a few errors, although sometimes I think it was more to do with me than with him. (I'm used to saying "straight" when in the street, but that has now been eliminated, and "to the curb" is used instead. There are other little things that have changed both in harness work and out that I am having to get used to). We're both learning each other, though, so it's naturally to be expected. It was on that walk that, as I said, Dalton's height played into finding doorknobs. We were back at the lounge, and I praised and treated Dalton for taking me up to the door. He had put his head near the doorknob at first, and, seeing that he got a treat when it was done the first time, continued to bop the doorknob with his nose at least one or two more times on his own, with no initiative from me. Silly dog! Smart, though, definitely! All in all, I really love to work him and have fun doing it, which is why all dog users are in this, is it not?

Upon coming back to Yorktown, we fed/watered/parked the dogs again, which went without incident. Dinner was next, which didn't go as smoothly. Dalton was very restless and would continualy get up as soon as I had him down many times. I was persistent about the behavior that I wanted, (or at least tried to be), and again, I know things will smooth out in time. Given that this was the first full day together, we're doing fine. He seems a little stressed, though, and so I'm trying to be as positive as I can be for him to make it easier and to associate me with good things. Perhaps playtime on Sunday will help in this regard. He likes his crate, so that's at least something that will help in the meantime. We were also given Nylabones after lecture, which took place after dinner, and he did chew on his for awhile in his crate. While I was in the shower and he in his crate, I was originally going to put Animal Planet on for him, but when I switched it on, I couldn't really tell what it was, (rats were mentioned, but I don't know if they were talking about domesticated or non; I don't want him to watch something that might not be nice!), and so I chose to leave him with classical music instead, which he seemed to like. We also had cuddle time on the floor earlier. I really hope that I can have contact with his puppy raisers and get tips from them. Not only that, I just like having contact with the raisers in general. They are an instrumental part of the whole process.

Both evening park times were fine. That brings me to now, sitting here writing this. I am pretty exhausted, and so want to get to bed sooner rather than later. A continued thank-you to everyone who has read and commented, either on the actual journal or on Facebook. I know I haven't commented back, but do know that it's more than appreciated. I definitely read everything, regardless! If anyone has any questions or would like more details about one thing or another that I either write about or don't, please do not hesitate to ask/tell me that. I'm happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability. I posted a picture of Dalton on Facebook; I should figure out how to upload it to LJ. I'm not sure if I'm forgetting anything that I wanted to put in, but if I think of something I forgot, I'll add it in tomorrow. Apologies for any typos or anything. Until then...

PS: I forgot to mention the food menu and so had to come back and post. Breakfast was eggs and toast and cereal, the last of which I ended up taking back to my room as I was too full. To drink I had coffee. I believe that the main choice was French toast. Lunch was BLT's and mushroom barley soup. I opted for a ham and cheese sandwich, chips and iced tea, but ended up with grape juice instead as there was no iced tea. Dinner was roast beef, mashed potatoes and broccoli. I had everything, save the broccoli, which I swapped for string beans. (I would have eaten the broccoli if it didn't have flower parts on it; I actually said I would eat it if it weren't for that - I don't really like those!). I had iced tea to drink again. For breakfast tomorrow is a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, which I did choose to eat. Alright, I think that covers everything... So much to remember! I'm off to bed now. So tired...
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Today has been long and exhausting, both mentaly and physically. It was everyone's favorite part of class: Dog Day! I don't remember when I ended up falling asleep last night, but I was awake around 5:00 this morning, way before the official wake-up time. Juno obedience went well for a second time. I was surprised I ate everything at breakfast as I don't usually tend to eat a lot on Dog Day, or at least haven't in the past. I don't know if I mentioned: the main breakfast choice was an omlet, but I opted for eggs and toast instead. While we're on food: lunch was chicken, tuna or some other kind of salad, and I chose peanut butter and jelly. I ate all of that, too, again surprising. Dinner was burgers and potato wedges, which I did choose and again eat all of. Lunch was actually very busy in terms of a lot of people talking and such. In past classes, I don't remember it being as such. Dinner, too, was mostly low-key.

Now for the part you all have been waiting for: my dog. All throughout the morning and into the afternoon, when we were receiving our dogs' names, I was very nervous and emotions were running high. When I was told that my dog was a yellow Lab male named Dalton, I didn't know what to think at first. When all of the dogs had been paired to people, everyone left and I just sat in Alumni Hall, not really knowing what to do or how to feel. A male? I had never worked a male before. I wasn't so much concerned for the sake of my dog as I was for myself. Could I do this? I actually broke out in tears. I think all of the emotions of LivDog's retirement and my receiving my new guide hit me all at once right then. Another thank-you goes out to the instructors and Becky, (and Flyer!), for helping me through my mini melt-down. I truly appreciate it. When the knock came on my door and Graham brought Dalton into me, one second and I realized I was worried for nothing. He is a very sweet dog and I have all the confidence in the world that we will do fine. He has been obedient to me, even for only having him such a short time. He's actually getting anxious, so I'm going to end this, post it, and give him some attention. I did want to write an update all the same. I do apologize for its abruptness. A huge thank-you goes out to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on my last few entries, especially to Olivia's puppy raisers, Jane and family. You guys are really fantastic! Tomorrow I hit the ground running, literally. We were given our harnesses tonight, and I had Dalton in a standing position to fit him with it. I brought it down close to his head and he walked right into it. I can't wait to work him for the first time tomorrow!
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Today has been exhausting, at least mentally. I ended up getting to sleep somewhat late last night and then was up by 4-something this morning. Juno obedience went well, (Alumni Hall is huuuuuuuuuuuuge, not to mention FREEEEEEEEEEEEZING!!!!), as did breakfast, which consisted of eggs, toast and bacon. We then loaded up into the vans to head to White Plains to do Juno walks. I was scheduled the last group in the afternoon and so had the whole first part of the day to relax. The Juno walk went well, I think. I was actually glad to get outside. For the record, it is amaaaaaazingly cold in the White Plains lounge! Being outside for that short a time made coming back inside seem warm. It felt way too weird not having a dog at the other end of the harness, though, even though I was full aware it was a Juno walk.

Lecture was held after everyone was done route, at the lounge instead of back at the school. We went over the four basic obedience commands--sit, down, stay and heel, (this last actually being a new one for me, I'm used to 'come)--and then got a preview of how the rest of the day/night/start of tomorrow would go. We then loaded back into the vans for the journey back to Yorktown. We had some time until it was shortly before five, when we headed up to the dining room for a quick schpeel from the volunteer coordinator and I think another person. Becky also told us how to work voicemail - Thanks, Becky! Oh yeah, I forgot: lunch was burritos and black bean soup, but I opted for a ham and cheese sandwich. My drink of choice was coffee. Dinner was sesame chicken, but I wanted mine grilled. I also had string beans and iced tea to drink. Dessert was ice cream sandwiches, but I declined.

After dinner there was the usual pre-dog-day retrain session, which I did attend. I do think it has helped me put some things into perspective. It was also nice to be around people who have been through it before, to share good times and not-so-good times. Yay for moral support! I know we'll all be fine. We just have to be patient with our dogs and, perhaps most of all, ourselves. It will all be okay. Really, it will!

After the retrain meeting, I went and hung out in the coffee room for awhile, before coming back here. I went and figured out voicemail, and I want to thank both Britt and Leslie for the calls. Yes, Leslie, I was in the retrain session when you called. I appreciate the message all the same. I also appreciate everyone who is reading and commenting. I was unsure as to whether or not I would get an entry done tonight, but persistance prevails, I guess. I have not looked at e-mail at all today, and really don't know that I want to at present, (I'm too mentaly drained at this point; yeah yeah, "...but it's only day two!"), so if someone could take the liberty of posting a link to this entry to the Juno list, it would be greatly appreciated. If not, I will see about getting around to it perhaps tomorrow, but definitely as soon as possible. This entry is also scattered, but it still works, so we'll go with it.

In other news, New York is expecting a crapton of snow to be dumped on us later tonight and into tomorrow. As far as timing goes, it's pretty fantastic, seeing as we're on grounds all day tomorrow what with it being dog day. (Thank gosh for my new warm, insolated winter boots is all I'm sayin'!). Speaking of dog day, I am finding that very hard to believe. I think I'm more nervous than anything else. It's really surreal. I know I'll get through it, but it's actually figuring out how that I'm struggling with. I think of tonight in a similar way that I think of Christmas Eve, except instead of Santa Clause, the trainers are spreading the cheer, if you will. Regardless, due to nervous and emotions being on high alert, I am finding it hard to settle. I really cant decide if it's easier to be a first-time handler or a retrain. The jury keeps wavering back and forth on this verdict.

Wake-up tomorrow is at 6:00, followed by Juno obedience, breakfast, lecture/practice, lunch, the Sorting Ceremony, (when we find out which dog we will be getting), and then the Christening of the Leashes, (when the instructors come to our rooms with our dogs and attach them to our leashes). After that, the fun begins! The afternoon will be spent bonding, and then...drum roll...DINNER! I.E. the first meal with our dogs. I'm not sure what will happen after that, and that may not even be exactly as it will go, but I think it's a pretty safe guess.

With that, I will end this and attempt to try and wind down. Oh yeah, this morning I had a rather interesting incident with my shower in that I couldn't figure out how the heck to turn the shower part of it on. With the help of another classmate, though, I got it. Liz 1, Shower 0! Take care all, more soon.
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The rest of today has gone well enough. I'm currently somewhat tired, but not tired enough yet that I think I could sleep. It probably doesn't help that I drank a cup of coffee earlier, either. I had wanted tea, but apparently wasn't fast enough with the coffee machine, (that coffee machine, by the way, is amaaaaaaazing!), and the machine spit out a cup of coffee instead. Ah well...it happens. In the meantime, I can write another update!

The meet-and-greet went fine. Most of the class is comprised of retrains, I think only four of the twelve being rookies, or those receiving their first guides. The East Coast is the geographic region most represented. The West Coast has no representation, the Midwest has some, (there are four people who are in Illinois - I count myself among those as I reside there at present), and we even have a student from Vienna, Austria. Said student came with an interpreter to help if necessary, but his English is very good as far as I am concerned. The majority of the class are older people, but January isn't really a common month for younger students, I don't think. The ratio of retrains probably isn't all that uncommon, either, given the month.

Before I go any further, I'll just get it out of the way: food. Lunch was butternut squash soup and a coldcut sandwich. I opted for both. Dinner was chicken parm over spaghetti with garlic bread, in which I also partook. I opted for water as my drink for lunch and iced tea as the drink of choice for dinner. I think the main breakfast food for tomorrow will be eggs and bacon, at least according to the menu that I found laying on the table in the coffee room.

After dinner, we had our first lecture. We went over equipment and were issued our leashes. We will be given the rest of it at a later date. the announced firedrill happened after that, and then we had chill time. I explored the building to become more familiar with it, (upstairs and down - I like the new upstairs with the game room and exercise room, and the tech lab is awesome! I love what they did with it!), even making a stop in what is known as the old living room. That room really is fantastic as far as the energy and furniture go. There is a nice, very comfortable couch in there! It's perhaps a bit too comfortable... During last class, that was my hiding spot. There were quite a few nights when I could be found up there, relaxing after lecture. It's quiet, which works. Of course I just put all of that out in a public entry, so maybe I need to go find a new hiding spot now? Suggestions? Ah well... I'm feeling confident about how things are laid out, which can only be viewed as a good thing.

A few of us ended up in the coffee room and hung out for awhile, before we split up and now I'm back here, in my room, writing this. Wake-up comes at 6:00AM tomorrow. Obedience is between then and 7:15, at which point breakfast happens. We then load up in the vans and head to White Plains for Juno walks and such. I'm not too sure what all else happens, but dinner and lecture are in there somewhere I'm sure. I'll update as things happen. If anyone has questions or comments, feel free to leave them. I really appreciate those of you taking the time to read. I hope that this is informative and helpful in getting an inside look at what guide dog training is like. This is only one person's perspective, though, .

I'm going to go try and wind down and sleep. I'm not really sure what I'm feeling as far as emotions or mood are concerned now, although I'm thinking that my emotions have yet to catch up with what is happening. It will all be okay, though, of that I am positive. It's just hard not to think of LivDog sometimes, even though I know she's fine. I think it has to do with caring for her for the past seven years, and not having that responsibility anymore, but still thinking that you have it and wanting to be sure things are okay. It will be a major relief on Friday when I get the call/e-mail informing me that she is safely with her puppy raisers. Have I mentioned that this school and the people here are fantastic? More tomorrow.
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I just wanted to come in and report that I have made it safely to Guiding Eyes. The drive up yesterday went as expected, and I enjoyed last night spent with the family who drove me up here. We went to Applebee's for dinner as Liv's last work as a guide, and my mom remembers that we went to the same restaurant when she picked me up at the airport in Ithaca when I got Liv in the first place. I had forgotten that fact. Talk about full-circle!

I have been at the school since around 10:30 or so, after an entirely over-priced, not-so-good breakfast at the hotel. Ah well. The food here will make up for it 100-fold, so it works out. I 100% stand by my affirmation that this school and the people who work here are fantastic. The class instructors are Karen and Kat, with Melinda as the class supervisor. Graham is doing ACTION, as heard from Dale when we met up a short time ago. I guess it pays to be driven to the school by staff members, you get first-hand knowledge. No matter, though, I wouldn't have had it any other way. I am super appreciative of the fact that my family drove me up here, I really am.

I turned Olivia over to the instructors not so long ago, and it feels really strange at this time not having a dog. I honestly think that moment is one of the hardest moments a person can go through ever. I was able to keep her leash, and unlike last time, I'm not going to use it for any other dog. That leash is hers. I miss that dog already, even though I am positive I will be able to see her again once she is settled in her new home. LivDog, I love you. You be a good dog and remember all of the rules, okay? I know you're probably a little confused now, but you will be in your new home on Friday, with the amazing family who raised you to be the good dog that you are, and there won't be any more moving around here and there and everywhere. This isn't 'goodbye,' it's only 'see you later'.

I'm free until around four, when we will have the meet-and-greet in the Camble Lounge -- I mean Alumni Hall, (It's going to be a day or so until that one sinks in, I do believe), with everyone in the class. Students are trickleing in little by little. Those I have met thus far seem very nice. I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone in the class and seeing what the dynamic will be.

The renovations that were done to the school are amazing! I am in room 4, which is in the older wing of rooms. The number to my room, should anyone want to call, is (914) 930-3374. I don't remember how to check messages yet, but if I don't answer, feel free to leave one, and I will definitely appreciate it and call back when I can.

I think that's about all for now. I can't think of anything else, at any rate. I will write more soon. Take care, and thanks for reading.

An update

Jan. 8th, 2011 08:43 pm
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I wanted to come in and put an appearance in the journal. I am still home with family until tomorrow and have enjoyed my time here very much. New Year's was spent with family and friends and I had a really fun time. Thanks to everyone who made New ear's what it was. My Birthday was on Wednesday, and I greatly appreciated all of the "Happy Birthday" wishes and the dinner I had out with family to cap off the day.

It is my last night home most likely until the summer, (I realized today that I have a month between the end of Spring semester and the beginning of Summer, and so I'm thinking of coming back around that time), and it's hard to believe that two weeks have gone by. I will miss my friends and family that I have spent time with here, but I'm glad to have had this time with them. My year has gotten off to a tremendous start. It's just what I needed to recharge and hit the books when I go back.

Seven years ago today, I met LivDog for the first time. Time really does fly. Her puppy raisers e-mailed me yesterday and let me know that she will be arriving in Maine on this coming Friday. I really cannot stress enough how wonderfully amazing they are as people. Things could not have worked out any better way if they had tried, I honestly do believe that. Excitement and nerves are in a battle for who will win out right now in terms of going back into class. I know I'll be fine, it's just getting to that point that I need to get through. I received my room information for when I will be at the school via a phone call yesterday. This really is happening, crazy! I will update hopefully daily in the journal as to my training progress and such.

I think that's about all from here, at least from what I can remember. I leave here sometime around mid-morning and head to New York, where I will stay in a hotel close to the school tomorrow night and then drive over in the morning, at which time the fun begins. Well, okay, I won't drive, someone else will! I almost forgot: I went over to the agency for the blind on Thursday, (where I used to volunteer teaching braille), and saw my old teacher of the visually impaired, among other people. Not having seen him in years, it was really great to do so. I'm pretty tired for whatever reason, and so think I will wind down and then try to sleep. I think everything's packed, but that's what tomorrow morning is for, to put the last few touches on packing. Take care, I hope all are well, more soon.
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I thought I would share my 2010 reads with my readers. Here are the books that I read in 2010. )

I also like to collect quotations, although I was pretty lax about that this past year. I should do better about that for this year. Feel free to comment with your own book, quote or even movie recommendations. I'm open to anything.

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Last I put an appearance in this thing was prior to Christmas. Christmas was a very nice affair. Christmas Eve found me spending time with a friend and her family for some hours during the evening. Christmas Day was spent very low-key, but that was okay with me.

The day afterwards I finished packing for my trip out on Monday. The East Coast got slammed with a snowstorm on or around Sunday into Monday, and so I spent much of Sunday monitoring my flight status. The two flights prior to mine were canceled, but mine still showed up as being on-time. I landed in Philadelphia after only a slight delay and no major problems, (we did start to board once, and were told to de-plane, taking our carry-ons, and then boarded a second time and actually left). . A good many of the flights after mine were delayed. I had spent the whole week or so before my trip putting out into the universe that I would land safely with no complications, and it happened.

Several interesting incidents happened in the airport or on the plane. When I boarded the plane the second time, a passenger who sat next to me remarked, "I had one of those," (referring to my dog guide, Olivia), "but it ran away." Awkward moment much? I mean, really, what am I supposed to say? I think I just did one of those "Oh" accompanied with a shoulder shrug things. Upon landing in Philadelphia, while waiting for my baggage, a random man came up and told me that he used to have a lab, but it passed away from diabetes and that it had also been 140 pounds. Hmm, well gee, that explains a lot! Poor dog...

I have been ome with my family since Monday, and I am very much enjoying my time here. The family waited to do gift exchange until I could be with them, and I really appreciated the thought that was put into the gifts that I received. I'm not going to go into full details, as that really isn't the point, anyway, but one gift I did think was really neat was a coffee mug with a picture of LivDog on it. It was taken shortly after I moved to Illinois. She is in harness. My hand is the only part of me that you can see in the picture. Even so, I really will treasure that mug. Perhaps I will get a picture of it to put up. The gifts that I gave people were also well-received.

In addition to seeing family, it has also been good to see friends. My one sister, a few friends and I are getting together for New Year's. Family and friends are getting together at a bar beforehand, and then the celebration will continue with myself, my sister and friends at my sister's apartment. It should be fun.

I intended to go boot shopping today for some nice, warm winter boots, but no boots were to be found. An order was placed online for some, and so it will be exciting when they get here and I can see what they look like. I will enjoy my last week or so here, and then it's off to Guiding Eyes for NewDog, after which the Spring semester will then hit me in full swing. Fun times for sure! I plan on doing some reading ahead so that I'm on top of things. True, I'm only missing a week, but it can't hurt to be ahead, I'm thinking.

I think that's about all from here. I hope everyone is doing well. More soon.
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It just occurred to me earlier today that two weeks from today will be my Birthday, and three weeks from today will be dog day. Craziness! What else is craziness is the fact that Christmas is in three--yes, count them, *three*--days! I'm...not ready for it!
A very Happy Birthday goes out to [livejournal.com profile] samari76! More soon. I think I'm off to bed. My sleep schedule has been thrown off pretty fantastically ever since the semester started.
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I had this dream a few nights ago, I can't really remember which at this point. I wanted to write it down, because it was just that odd.

I dreamt that I received my new guide dog, but it wasn't in the usual style; oh no, not at all! Said dog came as a package in the mail with no other instructions or supporting documentation (ha ha!). The dog was a male, I'm not sure what the breed was. I do know that his name was one of the nine reindeer from the "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" song. As if that wasn't enough, ReindeerDog was huge! I awoke to my dream self calling Guiding Eyes and requesting immediate dispatch of an instructor, because I honestly didn't know how I was going to handle dealing with that dog on my own. Yes, I am a retrain, I get that, but there's a retrain and there's a retrain... I wasn't aware that meant sending a dog in the mail and having the handler just "figure it out". Hahahaha! Either way, I was highly amused.

Upon analyzing the dream later, I came to the conclusion that A., it stemmed from my excitement and also anxiety that usually crops up pre-class, and B., it is close to Christmastime, and that fact apparently had to surface in my dream. What makes this all the more interesting is that in terms of dog preference, my gut feeling says that I really do want a female dog, and anyone who knows LivDog knows she's on the smaller side of dog, and that's what I want. Of course, the instructors know best, and so I leave the match decision in their capable hands.

I just wanted to share that. Hopefully you are as amused as I was! More when and as it happens.
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I have been wondering something for some time, and perhaps readers of my journal can enlighten me. I have, and am a huge fan of, the iPhone. Enter: the iPad. I honestly am not really sure what all of the hype is about. Is it a visual thing? I really don't get it, but it's not for any lack of trying. I'm wondering what appealed to those blind users who use one. Is it more than just a visual thing, more than "I have an iPhone, and iPod and an iMac, I need an iPad"? I really do want to understand this. It's frustrating that I don't. Any explanation here is appreciated.
//End PSA
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I do believe that the last time I made an appearance in this journal was around Thanksgiving. Totally not cool, but there it is. Perhaps one of my New Year's resolutions should be to write in here more often. I could try writing in it daily again as I did some years ago. It was hard sometimes, and sometimes it really felt like I was talking about absolutely nothing, (as I am now, perhaps), but it did challenge me, either way.

Things in my corner of the planet are fine. The semester has ended as of December 9. The fruits of my labor turned out to be 6 A's and a B. (The B was in braille, I was amused. I actually tested out of that class in the summer and so didn't have to go to class, but it was on my transcript for this semester). Pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. Semester One of grad school is now officially in the books! For the first few days of break, I found myself in shock more than anything else and not quite sure what to do with myself. I've managed to finish one book and read another from start to finish. More reading is in my foreseeable future. I have a good chunk of next semester's textbooks already, too. I'm actually looking forward to next semester, and yes, I am well aware that it hasn't even been too terribly long since the last one ended. Call me crazy, a nerd, both...I don't know.

I am very much looking forward to going home to family on the 27th of this month. I miss them all, and it will be really good to see them. The tenth of January is coming ever closer, and with it, Guiding Eyes and dog guide class. A month from this past Sunday will be dog day, which is definitely a little hard to take in. I'm at the point now where I'm getting excited about it, although sadness is mixed in. I seem to remember writing something like that in one of my last journal entries. If so, I'm really not a fan of repeating myself.

The plan to get to GEB was that I would take Amtrak, but that has now changed, and my mom and a family friend will be driving me up instead. I'm really appreciative of this. I'm not too sure what else to report. I'm off to run errands later today and do I have no idea what else. The weather has been crazy ridiculous for the past few days, (snow which is now ice, and bitter, bitter cold temperatures), but it is finally in the double digits, which will make going out more pleasant. I hope everyone is doing well, and I'll be back when there is something else interesting to report.
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I wanted to share something that happened on Thanksgiving that really touched me and was one of those one-of-a-kind events. . I had intended to go out with a friend to celebrate, but it turned out that none of the restaurants were open. Shortly after we got back to the house, Olivia, my guide dog, was over near the back sliding glass door whining pretty incessantly. Figuring she had to go outside, I leashed her up and opened the door, preparing to step outside. Upon opening the door, however, I noticed that something had come into the house. I had no idea what it was, and so I'll admit, I did scream. It was pretty frightening, not knowing what it was, the possibilities of what could have come in were quite a few: a fox, a rabbit, a bear. Well, okay...so maybe the bear is a bit of an exageration. Whatever it was I could tell was small, though. My screams of panic brought my friend over to the door. It turned out that what had come inside was a little dog on a leash. There was no human in sight; he was all by himself. I thought, and still do think, that it's really odd that a dog would be on leash like that with no one with him. He was a very nice, well-mannered dog with the most huge floppy ears I've ever seen on an animal! We ended up calling the police and someone came and picked him up. Hopefully someone called about him, or he at least found a home. I'm just glad that we were home at the time, or who knows how long he would be out in the cold? Who knows how long he was out in the cold to begin with? I really felt sad that he was all on his own with no one. I wonder how he got to be there? Did someone not want him and just put him out of the house? I sincerely hope not and do not want to think about that. Major props go to LivDog for alerting us to his being outside so that we could take the proper steps in getting him someplace warm. What made it all the more special for me was that it was on Thanksgiving that this took place. I thought that was a really cool thing and was glad to be able to be of help in that situation. Wherever that dog is now, I hope he's somewhere where he is happy.
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I'm not sure why one day out of the year has to be singled out to give thanks - personally, I think people should be thankful all of the other 364.something days of the year as well. You get back what you put out, and so if you put out good things, good things will come back to you.

I am very thankful for family, near and far. I am thankful for my family in Chicago, and the fact that I was able to visit when them recently while other family from Delaware was in town. I am also thankful for the family who will be picking me up at the airport on December 27. I am thankful for good friends, near and far, as well. I have met so many nice people while here at grad school. Speaking of grad school, I am thankful for the chance to have gotten to where I am today, in an awesome grad program with an equally awesome house with awesome roommates. I honestly couldn't have asked for better. I am also thankful for the fact that while family isn't near today, I am spending the day with a good friend and we will go out and have a meal to celebrate. I did get to talk to my family on the phone earlier today, and I am also thankful for that. I am thankful for the pumpkin pie which is in my refrigerator at this moment, waiting to be eaten later tonight.

The words "thank you" cannot do justice to the gratitude I feel when it comes to the family who raised my guide dog. Knowing that they are more than happy and eagerly, excitedly awaiting the return of Olivia into their household to spend her retirement is enough to bring me to tears. While yes, it is sad that I am unable to keep her, I know that she will be in a place where she will be just as loved and cared for and appreciated. She will be happy, and she will allow me the chance to be partnered with another guide who I will come to love and trust. This new dog will never replace her, but it will claim another place in my heart.

I could go on and on, but I think I'll leave it at this. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and start of the holiday season.
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I haven't written in here in I have no idea how long. Blame grad school. I'm serious!

All has been and continues to go well. School ends in two weeks, if I'm counting correctly. I believe that I am done with all school obligations on Thursday, December 9. I have a few more assignments and some finals to get through yet, but I don't think it's going to be anything that I can't handle. The weekend of November 13, I traveled into Chicago to visit my cousins who live there. My grandmother and one aunt also came to visit, and so I got to see them, too. It was amazingly good to see family as I hadn't seen anyone since August. I'm leaving DeKalb on December 27th and flying into Philadelphia, where I will be met by my family and will then be in Delaware for the next two weeks. I can't wait! On January 10, I make the train journey up to Guiding Eyes, where I will be in class until the 21st or so training with my new dog. I am then back in DeKalb, just in time for the start of the second week of Spring semester 2011, and a week with a GEB instructor in this area to finish out my ACTION (accelerated) training program. It differs from the 26/21-day program, (the case for first-timers and retrains respectively), in that I spend ten days at the school in the regular class environment, wherein I receive a faster pace of instruction, separate from the regular class, (at least after the first two days or so), and then receive five days in my home environment - currently DeKalb, Illinois, home to NIU. I'm unsure as of yet when Olivia will be going to her raisers, but I hope to know something about that soon. She is doing well and is the typical LivDog. Speaking of GEB, I want to congratulate [livejournal.com profile] mektastic on her new guide dog, Vince. She is currently training at GEB and doing an amazing job, I might add.

I am finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that two days from now is Thanksgiving. I was originally going to cook the usual meal, but then decided against it as there will only be two of us here, and that's a lot of work for that few people. I think the plan now is to go to IHOP, (assuming it's open), or some other similar restaurant. I'm definitely going to enjoy the few days I have free of classes. I think it is just the break I need that will give me enough energy to make it through these next few weeks. At least I hope that's the case. I have relaxation, reading and schoolwork plans, the combination of which should make things doable. I think that's about all I can think of to update on. I may go read for awhile as I'm feeling somewhat like I need a break from assignments, which I was working on earlier. All work and no play/relaxation is no fun, in my opinion. The plan for tonight is to go to Walmart to get a few items that I neglected to obtain on my last trip and also to return a vacuum that wasn't the one I had thought I picked up. Ah well, it happens.

Take care all, I hope everyone is well, and more later.
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Midterms are over, and I feel like I can breathe again. Well okay, so that's a slight exageration...

Speaking of, midterms went well, the lowest grade I received being a 91. I'm very pleased with how things turned out. The haunted corn maze I mentioned in my last entry didn't end up happening, but I did go to the haunted house this past Friday with a group from my program, and that experience was spectacular. The people with whom I went definitely helped make it what it was. I very much enjoyed how all of the senses except touch were catered to; there were wierd smells, interesting materials in doorways that you had to walk through and in one part, there was a low cieling so I had to get down and crawl on my knees. Right after the low cieling, there were stairs going down. It was such that I had my cane out in front of me as I was crawling to alert me to the path in front of me. It was really fun!

I received my acceptance letter on Friday to guide dog class in January. There are two forms I need to sign and send in, and that will get done by tomorrow, or at least that's the plan. I'm looking forward to going back for a new dog, but saying goodbye to Olivia will not be easy as I've mentioned in prior entries.

School continues to go well, work getting completed, things being learned and fun being had. I really think that everyone in my program is fantastic and we have a lot of fun together. This weekend on campus, some unfortunate events took place regarding a student who had been reported missing, which has me feeling slightly unnerved. Apparently you can't even walk in broad daylight without something happening to you. I don't get it, nor do I get why people feel the need to be cruel. I want campus to feel like a safe place where I don't have to worry about such things.

I'm blanking on anything else I wanted to write here, so I'll just end it here and write when something more interesting happens. I hope all are doing well.

Take care, and more soon.
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Hi, remember me? Yes, I used to post here once upon a time ago. Let's try this updating thing again.

A lot has happened since I wrote last. First off, how is it already October. A professor told us yesterday that we were halfway through the semester, which, for me, is very hard to believe. It doesn't feel like it at all, and yet I'm glad for it.

I had my second of three midterms today, and it went well. I hope that the one I took last week, (O&M), went well also. Today's exam was for Anatomy of the Eye. Thursday I have my last midterm, that being for my Intro to Blindness and Visual Impairment class. I'm going to study some for that tonight and for sure more tomorrow. I also need to start writing my introduction for a research paper on braille instruction. We need to have at least two pages written by Thursday's class to bring in and peer edit. My research question deals with which is the better method of braille instruction, introducing uncontracted braille or contracted braille first? There is actually a gap, from what I've found, in the research supporting this question - in fact, there was only one study that I came across which dealt wpecifically with this question. For my paper, then, the plan is to do an overview of the work that has been done related to braille instruction, and then end with talking about the one study that is related to my question and about how, because only one study thus far addressed the question, a conclusion either way cannot be drawn, hence the gap in the supporting literature. I just hope the writing of it turns out okay. We shall see.

With the first of October brought Olivia's ninth Birthday. I can't believe so much time has passed. I got word from Guiding Eyes that I'll most likely be returning her to her puppy raisers before January, giving me some time in between dogs to grieve and also to transition from one dog to another. It would be hard to return her and then get another dog not twenty-four hours later. I totally understand this, but it doesn't make things any more easier to deal with. I was also hoping to be able to bring her home with me when I visit family so they'll get to see her, but that most likely won't happen now. I also worry what the change will be like for her, what she'll think when whoever comes and takes her with them back to the school, away from her usual, familiar environment. I just hope she'll be happy. Perhaps I'm worrying about nothing, but that's besides the point. Regardless, I'm going to miss her hardcore that's for sure. I...kind of don't want to think about it now. It's too sad. *tear*

This past weekend was the Illinois state NFB convention, which I did attend. It was really great finally being able to meet those people with whom I had only talked either online or on the phone prior to then. I met a lot of nice people, and very much enjoyed myself. At the convention, I was also elected to serve as President of the Illinois Association of Blind Students, (IABS), which is really exciting. I'm looking forward to working with my fellow board members and making things happen. The experience I will gain from doing this is also invaluable.

This weekend coming up I think I'm going to go to a haunted corn maze, (the same maze I went to a few weeks ago), with a few of my classmates. It promises to be fun. We also want to go to a haunted house that is around here, but I think that doesn't open up until the weekend after this one. The plan, I do believe, is to go to both.

I think that about covers everything that has gone on as of late. I really do hope I will write sooner than later. I hope all of you are doing well.
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I realize it's been ages since I came in here and updated. A proper update will come soon, but I did want to stop in and let everyone know that things are going more or less well, classes and work are keeping me busy, and, in between all that, I still find time for pleasure reading and also hanging out with friends I have met here. Last weekend a group of us went to a local orchard to go through a corn maze and pick apples. It was super fun!

The Illinois state NFB convention is the weekend of October 8-10, and I'm looking forward to attending. National NFB scholarship applications just came out, and I plan to apply. Time to scout out recommendation letters and such. I have to be out of here in an hour and a half or so for work and class later. Tonight is my Basics of Orientation and Mobility course. That is at 6:00, and I lead two reading sessions for the braille course before then, one before and another after the actual braille class. I really should go do research in between those with the time that I have free, from 3:00-4:45. I hope everyone is doing well. Take care all, and more soon.
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