Posted by: arnoldoneal | December 17, 2011

Hiking and Ministry…..Oh my!

Hello again! I am so sorry that it has been so long since I posed.  I have let life get in the way of keeping you all up to date on Brody. Brody is great!  A couple of weeks ago Sue, a trainer from Southeastern stopped by to check on us, and she gave us the thumbs up. She said that Brody and I looked great together, and that we make a great team.  This was very encouraging news because there are times when I feel like  I am failing at my obedience training and that Brody is loosing his edge.  It is very important to do doggy push-ups every day, along with corrections and praise. These exercises keep Brody on his best behavior.

Since my last post we have had some fun and adventures. Brody has become a hiking dog. I have always enjoyed outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, camping.  Recently I  read a book by a guy who hiked the whole Appalachian Trail, all 2100 miles with his guide dog Orient. This story inspired my wife and I to do some hiking ourselves and so a couple of weeks ago we took Brody and hiked the first leg of the Palmetto Trail. This was a short seven mile leg that runs along the marshes of the Intercoastal waterway.  The trail  continues on to the northwest for about 90 miles to the midlands of South Carolina. Seven miles was a long way for novices like us, but Brody was in his element.  It was amazing how he seemed to naturaly know the way. Brody and I led, and Bobbi Jo and Taylor followed behind. I must admit that is was hard work.  Brody was very excited to be out in the woods, and he pulled hard.  There were times when I was not sure that I could keep up with him. Toward the end, I was so tired I thought I was going to fall down and just let him drag me through the woods.  It was a lot of fun, and Brody kept me out of trouble, he is a phenomenal guide.  I hope to get in better shape, and maybe we will continue hiking the Palmetto Trail, and someday, the Appalachian Trail.  Who knows, maybe I will write a book about hiking with a guide dog.

The other big adventure is my Pastoral Internship at Seacoast Church.  For along time I have felt a nudging towards ministry. I say nudging, because I am afraid to say calling, that sounds so formal, and what if I’m wrong. Anyway, I have a heart for ministering to people in crisis, and I am doing hospital visitation, and responding to prayer cards.  The internship has been a great experience, and it keeps Brody and I busy. Brody is a big hit  around the church, and gets lots of attention when we go to hospitals.  He’s a natural at ministry, and I’m learning a lot.

This Christmas my family is flying to Iowa to visit Bobbi Jo’s family.  This will be my first flight with Brody.   So…stay tuned and I will let you know how that goes.  I am sure Brody will do great, another learning opportunity for both of us.  

I probably will not get another post out before the holidays, so I will end with a sincere Merry Christmas and  Happy New Year! I hope each of you have a wonderful, peaceful Christmas season and a prosperous New Year!  Image Image Image Image

Posted by: arnoldoneal | September 18, 2011

School Days

In my last post I talked about the training that Brody had in order to become a guidedog.  People are often shocked when they hear that I had to go to school and be trained to work with Brody.  They are even  more surprised to hear that I was there for four weeks.  That’s right, four weeks, and it wasn’t any picnic either.

I arrived at Southeastern Guidedog school on Memorial Day of this year and was greeted by Leanne my trainer, along with Carl, Ashley, and the one of the senior trainers, Lynne.  I was very impressed with the campus, the well kept grounds, the comfortable dorm rooms, and a large fence that surrounded the property.  We were not sure if it was intended to keep people out or to keep us in.  My son Taylor made the comment as we drove up to the campus on the first day “Hey dad, it’s going to be like being in jail”.  Not that he, or any of us, have any experience with being in jail, but I guess he thought that with such a large fence like that, it might be similar.

I don’t want to give a negative impression, the school and staff are great, but there was something kinda scary about being somewhere that you cant leave whenever you want.

Our days started every morning at 6 a.m. We would take our dogs out for a walk and then meet in the cafeteria for breakfast at 6:30am.  I must say that the food was really good.  Chef Rob and his assistant Heidi always provided a great meal every day of our stay.

After breakfast at 7 a.m. we met at the feeding area to feed our dogs, followed by obedience training at 8 a.m.  Obedience was often combined with a lecture of some sort and then we would line up at Obedience Alley to do some doggy push-ups and heeling.  Doggy push-ups are good for keeping the dogs focused and teaching them who is in charge.  We did this again at 4 p.m. every day.  I continue to do obedience training with Brody every day.

After morning obedience we would do routes.  Routes could be done on campus, but sometimes we would load up in the short bus and go into town such Bradenton, Sarasota, or Tampa.

Lunch was at noon, usually followed by a lecture or another route.  The afternoon feeding was at 3 p.m. followed by lecture and obedience.  Dinner was a 5 p.m. and our day was over, except for mandatory busy breaks at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.  A busy break is when we take the dogs outside to ‘do their business’.

This was the routine 7 days a week although on Saturdays and Sundays we didn’t have to do routes, but everything else was pretty much the same.

It was a grueling schedule, but we got used to it.  It’s funny looking back on the time at Southeastern, it seemed like some of those days would never end, but they flew by and it was a great experience.

Most of our days were routine, but a couple really stood out.  The first one was the day that I met Brody for the the first time.  Before giving us a dog they reviewed the interview that we did dring our home visit.  This was to ensure that they had made the right choice of dog for each of us.  They had given us a leash to carry around and get used to having in hand. After a couple of days of working the leash and carrying it with us every where, we met in the day room, and one by one they told us our dogs name and description.  When they told me I had a male black lab named Brody, I was excited.  He sounded perfect for me, I thought of Chief Brody from the movie Jaws. I was so glad that I got a manly dog with a manly name. I had told Bobbi Jo that I was afraid that I would get a dog named Cupcake or something girly.  Not that there is anything wrong with names like that, but I didn’t think that would fit me.  One of the ladies in my class got a Goldedor named Biscuit.  She seemed to be a great dog, but dogs with names of baked goods, just aren’t my style.

When they brought us our dogs, they had us wait in our rooms with the door closed.  Then they brought the dogs in one at a time.  They told us that they would bring the dogs to our door, they would take them off their leash, open the door, and we would call them by name.   When I called Brody, he came running in and I put my leash on him.  This let him know that I was his new master.

When Brody ran into my room, he was very excited.  I was overwhelmed with emotion as he jumped around and licked my face.  At one point  I felt compelled to put my hand on his head and pray for him.  I thanked God for him and asked for God’s blessing on our life together.  It was a very moving experience.

Since that day there has hardly been a minute that we have not been together.  I did not know that you could become so attached to an animal.  I guess that when you are as dependent on them as they are you, a whole new level of bonding occurs.

Posted by: arnoldoneal | September 5, 2011

Old Dog, New Tricks

One of the most common things I hear when I am out and about with Brody is “He sure is a well trained dog.” or “Is he in training?”.  People are amazed at how well behaved Brody is and they wish their dog would behave and obey as well.  I enjoy telling them about the training that guide dogs undergo and I love the reaction I get when I tell them that it cost $65,000.00 to get a dog ready to go into service.

I have written about the puppy raiser families that adopt the dogs as young pups who teach them obedience, potty training and who take them every where so that they learn to behave in public.   This is where the training begins, and they do a wonderful job and are a vital part of the process.

After a dog has been with the puppy raisers approximately a year, they must, against all natural instinct, return their dog to Southeastern to begin the next phase of training.  This is where the dogs are matched with a guide dog trainer. These trainers specialize in training guide dogs for the visually impaired, and have undergone years of training in order to reach this level.  Some of the training staff at Southeastern have been training guide dogs for more than 20 years.  At this stage of the training the dogs will learn to work in the harness.  It is amazing how different the dogs behave when the harness is on.  When in harness they know that they are working and they are very focused on the task at hand, whether it be guiding their partner down the street or waiting quietly under a table at restaurant.  The dogs are trained to stop at curbs, go left or right on command, find the crosswalk button, find a chair, go to a door and even find an elevator.  People ask me all the time if he is trained to do tricks.  He is not trained to do tricks, but he does make a fabulous eggs benedict.

The truth is, Brody is brilliant.  I am the one that needs better training as it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks. Since I have some vision left I have a tendency to anticipate the curbs and obstacles. Brody senses this reaction, and it teaches him that he doesn’t have to work as hard.  I can tell sometimes that he isn’t as focused as he should be, and this scares me a lot. I have even had bad dreams that I ruined Brody and he had to go back and be retrained.  Unfortunately this can happen and I don’t want it to happen to us.

One of the biggest dangers to a guide dogs training is letting people pet them.  Guide dog works for the praise and affection of his partner. When others pet them they learn that they can get attention without working for it.   It is hard to tell people that they can’t pet Brody. He is such a handsome dog, everyone loves him and wants to pet him, and to often I let them.

I have found that some people are not very understanding and can get angry when told they can’t pet your dog. The other day I went to the mall and was in a store when an employee of the store came up and asked, “Can I pet your dog?”.  I thanked him for asking, but told him,  “No”, and then explained why.  He then said, “Well, if I can’t pet him, can I kick him in the face?”.  At first I was so surprised I didn’t say anything, but I then I calmly replied, “I suppose you could do that, but are you sure you want to spend time in federal prison for assaulting a service animal.  You would be better off to kick me in the face.  You would do less jail time for that.”   With that, he made out like he was just joking and he went on his way.

After this incident, I ordered a sign for my harness that says  “ Please don’t pet me, I am working”.  The sign seems to help, but there are still those who pet Brody anyway.  They pet him while reading the sign. I guess they are thinking that the blind guy cant see what they are doing, so they do it anyway.

I promise I will try to do better at not letting people pet Brody, but could someone else have that conversation with my wife.  I’m to afraid!

Posted by: arnoldoneal | August 21, 2011

Brody goes Idol

Summer is coming to a close, the days are getting shorter, the heat is not as brutal and Taylor, our 16 year old, has started back to school.  It’s been a great summer for Brody, he has had many adventures.  We spent a week in a cabin at Myrtle Beach with my family from Cooleemee, NC. The group included my mom and dad, my brother, my sister and her daughters Amanda and Bethany, and my son Taylor. We had a great time, although Brody didn’t care much for the ocean.  I took him to the beach the first day and he was doing fine until we went down to the water.  As we were standing on the sand he was watching the waves with curiosity.  Then one of the waves reached where we were standing and he was not at all happy.  I always thought Labs liked water, but not this one. When the small wave washed over his paws he jumped like his paws were on fire, he couldn’t get away fast enough.  I felt reallt bad, I didn’t mean to scare him.

It was interesting to walk down the beach with Brody in his harness.  People aren’t used to seeing guide dogs on the beach.  One day we were taking a leisurely stroll down the beach and a lifeguard came running up to us.  In a thick French accent she informed me that I could not be on the beach with a dog.  I told her that he was a guide dog and she told me to wait while she called her supervisor.  After a brief conversation with someone over a radio, she asked me if I had a license for the dog.  “Sure”, I replied, “I have all kinds of paperwork and an ID card to prove that he is a guide dog, but I don’t carry them with me to the beach”.  “Hmm”, she said, “Well we are going to pretend that I saw your license for the dog, so that you can go on your way”.  I’m glad the she had a good imagination and saw my pretend paperwork, otherwise who knows what could have happened. I would hate to get arrested by a little French lifeguard.

Another highlight of our summer, was Taylor’s audition for American Idol.   Idol came to Charleston to hold auditions for the upcoming season.  Taylor, who sings in the Show Choir at Wando High School, wanted to audition.  On the first day we went to the coliseum to get our wrist bands that allow you to get in on the day of the auditions.  If you are a minor you must have a guardian with you when you audition. Bobbi Jo was out of town, so that left me and Brody.  We heard that the lines to register for a wrist band where 3-4 hours long and outside in the blistering heat.  I was not happy about doing this, but it was important to Taylor, so off we went.

When we got to the coliseum just after noon, there was no line at all but then we found out that we had to be back there at 5 o’clock the next morning.  I am a morning person, but this was pushing it!  The next morning we got up early and headed back to the coliseum.  When we arrived it was crazy, there were thousands of people getting in line to get into the building.  The Idol staff were on megaphones instructing people to “get in line, find your space, spread out, and get comfortable.  It’s going to be a hot day, and a long time before anything happens, don’t panic” they said.  I’m thinking, “Shoot me now!”. Why did I agree to wait in line for several hours so that Taylor could sing three notes to a judge who would most likely send him home anyway?  Not that I don’t believe in Taylor, but lets face it, it’s a long shot when you are auditioning with ten thousand others.  So Brody and I took our seats on the pavement and began the long wait. It was still dark, so it was not terribly hot….yet, and since Taylor forgot to tell me that they told him to bring something to sit on, the pavement was getting real hard, real quick.  After about 4 hours of waiting the line finally started to move. The only thing that made the wait tolerable was that it was a carnival atmosphere. People all around were singing and playing guitars, and most of them were very good.  Also, many people wanted to talk to me about Brody, he was a big hit.

After the line moved a little, we came to check point where the staff was directing the crowd up a ramp into the building. I asked a staffer if I could get out of line to let my guide dog “do his business”?  When he saw Brody, he said to come back to the check point after we were finished, and he would take us straight into the coliseum.
This was great! It saved us another hour of waiting in line.

When we were in the building, we were making our way up to the nose bleed section of the coliseum to our assigned seats, when another staffer spotted Brody and asked us where we were sitting?  “Up there”, I answered and pointed to the upper levels.  “Come with me” she told us.  She put us on the elevator and took us down to the floor of the arena where the crew was.  You gotta love it!  Being blind and having a cool guide dog certainly has its advantages.

The staffer gave us all access passes, and we were right there where Ryan Seacrest made his big entrance to greet the crowd. I am sure we made some of the camera shots, so watch American Idol this season, maybe you will see Brody on TV.

Being down front allowed Taylor to audition early, saving us another 2-3 hour wait.  Unfortunately he did not get the Golden Ticket and make it through but he did a great job and had a lot of fun.

People always ask me about the training that Brody and I went through together.  So, in my next post I will share a little about my time at Southeastern Guide Dog School.

Posted by: arnoldoneal | August 3, 2011

Breakfast with Brody

It’s been to long since I posted but sometimes life gets in the way and… I’m lazy.  I enjoy telling my stories, but my typing skills are really bad and it takes me forever to get my thoughts typed out.  I thought about handwriting my blog and getting Bobbi Jo to type it for me but there are limits to love.  She doesn’t seem to mind editing my poorly typed dribble, but reading my hand writing is cruel and unusual punishment. I have to write with a fat tip sharpie or I can’t see what I wrote, even then it’s a challenge.  Enough excuses!

So, my wife is really struggling. She is in love with another.  I try to prevent them from being together and I know that she is trying to resist but he is handsome and charming, so I can’t blame her.  I must admit that I am jealous, because I crave his affection as well.  I told Bobbi Jo from the beginning that she must resist, but how can you not fall in love Brody.  I hope he doesn’t forget who he’s supposed to be working for.

Bobbi Jo is a little spoiled, well maybe she’s a lot spoiled.  Years ago I learned how to do massage because she has a massage addiction.  I figured it was cheaper for me to rub her than it was to pay someone else to rub her.  That’s how I got started in the massage therapy business.  So now she gets all or some part of her body massaged every day.  She is a big fan of the foot rub!  Now she gets the foot rub from me and a foot licking from Brody.  I have thought about adding this as a service on the menu at the spa, the foot rub and lick combo. It would be a hit, and Brody works cheap.

Along with all the massage she wants, Bobbi also gets breakfast in bed.  Not just occasionally, but everyday. That’s right, every day!  She has never been a morning person and I am.  I always get up early and make coffee and get Taylor ready to go to school.  It started as a special treat. I would make breakfast for me and Taylor. So one day I put Bobbi’s breakfast on a tray and took it to her in bed.  She loved it! I was happy that she was happy, so I did again, and then again. Before long she stopped coming to kitchen in the morning altogether and I was serving her breakfast in bed every day.  I don’t really mind doing it, and I am afraid to stop. I do like being married.

After I came home from guide dog school I picked up the routine of taking Bobbi her breakfast. She was glad as she had forgotten how to make a bowl of cereal, and didn’t eat breakfast for the month while I was gone.  So when I got home with Brody I would fix Bobbi’s tray, and while holding Brody’s leash I would carry the tray to the bedroom.  Now under normal circumstances this trip from the kitchen to the bedroom is treacherous.  Through the living room, down the hall, around the corner and through the bedroom door.  Many times I have run into things, spilling the coffee, splashing the milk and dropping the pancakes.  However, I persevere in the name of fulfilling my duties.  With Brody in tow, the task had become even more challenging, not to mention that I can’t see to begin with.  One day I was about to pick up the tray off the counter and I decided to drop Brody’s leash and see if he would follow behind me while I carried the tray.  When I dropped the leash he stayed still, but when he saw me pick up the tray, he took off to the bedroom where he woke Bobbi Jo with some hearty licks to her face and then I arrived with breakfast.

This has become our new morning routine. I make breakfast, Brody runs ahead to wake her up and get the loving, she thanks him for bringing her breakfast, I do all the work, he gets all the glory,  what’s wrong with this picture?

I guess the good thing about this relationship between Brody and my wife is that even if she gets tired if me, she will keep me around, because Brody is MY dog, and if I go he goes with me.

Posted by: arnoldoneal | July 23, 2011

Oh to be a dog!

Oh to be a dog! Dogs can definitely getaway with things that we can’t.  This past weekend we were hanging out at Guitar Center, one of my favorite places. I love guitars, I can’t play very well, but I am convinced the more guitars I own the better my playing gets. Price seems to also be a factor. The more they cost, the better I play.  Anyway, I was looking at a display of instruments when I heard a little squeal of surprise. I turned to see Brody sniffing the back of a girls thigh, just below the hemline of her short shorts. Now that would land me in jail.  I may be blind, but I still have enough remaining vision to spot a pretty girl.  Maybe that’s just Selective Seeing Syndrome.

Later the same day while shopping at Kohls, I went in search of a restroom. I found the family restroom and went in. I had Brody in harness, but was holding the leash which gave him some roaming room.  I was feeling my way around the bathroom trying to find a light switch when out of the darkness came a hearty slurping sound. When I finally got the lights on, there was Brody enjoying a cool refreshing drink out of a small kiddy toilet, no larger than a doggy bowl. It didn’t occur to me that he might drink from a toilet as he never had before however this one was just his size and at nose level. The water looked clean so hopefully no harm done.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be that laid back?

In my last post I told you about the great job the puppy raisers do. After they bring the pups back to the school the dogs begin their training to become guide dogs.  This training takes about six months. In that time they learn everything from how to pee to finding buttons at an elevator.  How to pee?  You read that correctly. Boy dogs are trained to squat like girl dogs. This way they don’t go around spraying things.

The trainers a Southeastern are amazing.  These folks are very passionate about training guide dogs and they take their job very seriously.  Rick, the director of training, has been training dogs for over forty years, and has been at  Southeastern for twenty-four years. He is a true “dog whisperer” and I hear he plays a mean harmonica.  Rick has a very talented staff of trainers under him, and they are incredible people.

The trainers not only train the dogs but they get to know them.  They learn each dog’s personality and traits.  This is so important so they can match the dogs with just the right partner.  This matching process is critical, because the dog must be able to fit into the lifestyle of his new partner.  In my case, I was not picky about the breed, color or sex of the dog. I just wanted a dog who could go to church and concerts where its loud and crowded.  He needed to be able to go to work at the spa and ride the city bus.

Once they determined which traits that I needed in a dog, the search for the right dog began.  The staff at Southeastern review the training notes of the dogs in the strings they have available and try to find a dog that matches what they are looking for.  Once a couple of good dogs are found, the student can come to Southeastern for training.  The school tries to have more than one dog that can work for a student in case there is a problem with the student and dog not bonding right away. This is rare, but it does happen.

This whole process can take several months, but at Southeastern, they have so many great dogs, the wait was only three months. Though my wait for a dog was not very long, it seemed like a long time because I was anxious  to get my dog.  I will say that it was worth the wait.  Brody is such a huge blessing that words cannot express how I feel.  We make a great team, and he has already become a much loved member of our family.

There is so much to tell and so little time, I will leave you with a joke that we found in the Adair News which is Bobbi Jo’s home town newspaper in Adair, Iowa.

A man was driving through town and a police officer saw him run some red lights.  When he pulled the man over he asked him, “Sir, do you know why I stopped you?”  The man answered, “No officer, I don’t.”   “Well, you ran right through two red lights”, said the officer.  The man reached over and slapped a dog laying in the seat beside him.  “Why did you slap that dog?”, the officer asked.  “He’s my seeing eye dog”, the man replied, “He must have fallen asleep.”

Posted by: arnoldoneal | July 13, 2011

Raising Brody

Having a guide dog as cool as Brody reminds me of when our son Taylor was younger. All his friends, and even other parents, called us “Taylor’s mom” or “Taylor’s dad.” That’s how it is now. I no longer have a name. I’m just ‘that guy with Brody’.  And… I’m okay with that.

It was a little hard on the pride though when at school at Southeastern Guide Dog School, I would call home or get a message on Facebook, and my wife would ask, “How’s Brody?” or “I can’t wait to meet Brody, he’s so handsome”.  I’m thinking….what about me?  The other day we were at the mall and it was really crowded.  I could tell that people were looking at us as we worked our way through the crowd. I commented to Bobbi Jo that I felt like people were staring at me.  She said, “Don’t worry, people aren’t looking at you at all”.

Sunday we went to church.  We have been attending the same church for fifteen years, and I worked there for almost ten.  We know a lot of people, but in a big church like ours you don’t get to interact with people as easily as you do in a small church.  But, with Brody, people come out of the woodwork. It’s great! People are coming up to say, “Hello” that I haven’t talked to in years.

The good thing is that I don’t mind being ‘that guy with Brody’.  After all, how can you not fall in love with a handsome dog like him? He is a beautiful black lab with a little white streak on his chest.  He is lean and athletic looking while I am a middle-aged, grey haired, fat, blind guy. He’s a rock star and I’m a washed up stage hand.  I’m just proud to be seen with him.

So enough at this attempt at humor.  Let me tell you about Brody.  He was born on November 5, 2009 at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Fl.  He spent a couple of months in the puppy kennel and then went home with his first puppy raisers Scott and Jan Black.  Scott, a pilot for the Coast Guard, was transferred from Florida to California, and as a result Brody, at about six months of age, moved in with Dennis and Mary Lou Garcia.  I must say that I really appreciate what puppy raisers do.  They take into their home a new puppy, potty train them, teach them not to eat everything in the house, take them everywhere they go, teach them to be obedient, all the while loving them with all their heart.  About a year later and after all this, they have to bring them back to Southeastern.  I can only imagine how heart breaking it is to have to give them up.  The only thing that makes it worth it, is the satisfaction of knowing that someday they could become a working guide dog for a visually impaired person and they will change someone’s life.

I had the great pleasure of speaking with Jan over the phone.  She was very sad that she and Scott were unable to return to Florida for Puppy Raiser Day at Southeastern.  This is a day when all the families, who raised the dogs that were in our class, come back to the school to see their puppies all grown up and meet their new partners.  Jan was so full of love for Brody and was very proud that he made it all the way to becoming a guide dog.  She shared some stories of her time with Brody, and like everyone who has ever met him, she talked about his sweet personality and his tail that never stops wagging.

I haven’t had a chance to speak with the Garcias, since they were also unable to attend Puppy Raiser Day.   Before they knew when the date was, they had already scheduled a trip out of the country. I know that they were very disappointed that they were unable to see Brody again.   They sent me a very nice note, and it’s clear, they too love Brody very much.

I hope that someday I will have a chance to meet these great puppy raisers in person and thank them for all that they have done to make it possible for Brody and I to be together. To all you puppy raisers…… Thank You!  You do a great work and I know it is hard to give those puppies back after you have grown to love them.  What you do is priceless, but it will come back to you.  In life, you reap what you sow, and you my friends, are sowing some mighty good seed!

Posted by: arnoldoneal | July 9, 2011

Who’s that guy with Brody?

Let me begin this blog with a disclaimer. I am not a writer, although I am writing a blog. I am not a comedian either, although it may seem I am trying be. Telling a story with a funny twist is just my way of coping. If I didn’t have a sense of humor I would have to shoot myself, and I can’t do that because it would piss off my wife. My insurance wouldn’t pay off , and she would have to do load of paperwork. I am not very good at spelling or grammar, I barely speak English, and my ‘southernease’ has a serious Carolina twang.

Having made this clear I will attempt to write a blog about my guide dog Brody and our adventures together. I hope that it will be entertaining and informative, and not to offensive. I will give you the real deal, my real thoughts and feelings, not some made up crap that would go over good in Readers Digest. Although if Readers Digest wanted to buy my stories, I would gladly sell! I guess I am just cheap and easy.

I hope you like following along as Brody and I learn to get along together, and I hope you enjoy our stories.

I am doing this because my wife Bobbi Jo told me to, and I thought it was a good idea. Maybe there are people out there who would find it interesting, after all who doesn’t like a good ol’e dog story?

Where do I begin? So as to not bore you with the insignificant details, I will for go the part about me and say ‘hello, my name is Arnold and I am blind”. Not totally blind, but blind enough to be a danger to society, and it’s getting worse. I will someday be totally blind. Blindness is not black and white. It’s not like a light, either on or off. In some cases its kinda grey with multi-colored spots, maybe like driving down the Vegas strip at night while looking through a dirty fogged over windshield. Hey honey, did you hear a scream when we went over that speed bump?

Anyway I digress. As my vision has gotten worse I have resorted to a variety of techniques to cope. One of which is humor, as mentioned earlier, and another is denial. Denial is somewhat ineffective, since no matter how hard I deny, I still run into things, fall down steps, and basically come across as a drunken ass. My next technique was to hang on to my wife all the time. This isn’t all together bad because I like her and it makes me look good to be seen with her. It is unfair to her though to have to have me hanging on all the time. The problem is that I do try to have a life and I am not always with her. When I go out with my friends I needed help, and lets face it there’s nothing cool about a middle aged fat guy hanging on to another guy in a dark restaurant.

After denial came the dreaded white cane. Yes, the white cane, oh how I do hate it so! It’s like a people repellant. When people see it their first response is to look for the nearest exit and runaway. I guess folks aren’t trying to be rude, they just aren’t comfortable around people with disabilities. And the truth is that many people don’t know what a white cane is for, their just wondering why is that guy caring around that funny white stick? Lets face it, it just ain’t cool being blind.

This is where Brody comes in, The next step after denial and the cane was getting a guide dog. But I’m not blind enough for a dog, am I? Well it turns out that I am. But if you want to read about Brody, you will have to wait.

I will post again soon with the scoop on this fabulous dog.

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