guide dog

Paws for Thought on Humans and Clothing

The image shows a yellow Labrador wearing a dark brown guide dog harness

 
Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji:
 
As you no doubt realized, Mom is still away overseas. So I’m grabbing the opportunity to steal a few extra blog posts while she’s away.
 
Anyway, as I was lying in my bed this morning, still dreaming about the mountains of food that I imagine must exist in Hungary – wherever that is – I began thinking about the preparations Mom and Dad made before going on holiday.
 
Which got me thinking about human clothing and how odd it is. The more I thought about it, the more confused I got. Because human clothing just doesn’t make sense to me at all.
 
I’m a dog, so I always wear the same collar, no matter what the weather is like, the time  of year, or where I’m planning to go. In fact, the same is true of my guide dog harness. I only have one and I wear it wherever I’m going, if I’m working.
 
But not humans. Oh no, they have to complicate things. They have lots of clothing, with different colours, different styles-  the variety seems endless. Some of their clothing is smarter than other bits. And it seems to come in lots of different forms – dresses, trousers, skirts, long sleeved tops, short sleeved shirts. It makes my head spin.
 
Mom is particularly odd because sometimes she wears dresses and sometimes she wears trousers. At least Dad always wears trousers, so he’s less confusing to me.
 
Humans also seem to get unhappy with their clothing often. Which is the only reason I can think of that they change their clothing so much. Sometimes they might change three times in a single day. I’d be exhausted if I had to constantly change my collar or harness. Why don’t they simply wear the same thing all the time?
 
They even have different types of clothing for different activities. Dad wears one type of clothes when we go running and another when we walk. And they change their clothing if we go out to visit people. How silly is that? Can you imagine me changing my collar every time I go to visit my cousins Pixie, Baillie and Huey?
 
For some reason, time of day also seems to play a role in the clothing they choose. Because they change out of perfectly good clothing and immediately replace it with other clothing before climbing into bed at night. But they don’t do it if they take a nap in the daytime. Which confuses me even more.
 
The only thing about human clothing that I can sort of understand is that they wear more clothing when the weather gets cold. Because I also like to sleep under a blanket then.
 
I’ve tried to ask my mom about it and she pats me and tells me it’s a human thing. Which doesn’t  strike me as a particularly good explanation, because  it doesn’t answer my question at all.
 
If I were a human, I would have only one piece of clothing and I’d wear it the whole time. Okay, maybe I’d have a second item of clothing for when I’m working, just like my guide dog harness. I think that would make far more sense, don’t you?
 
So, maybe  I should simply accept the fact that I will never understand the human obsession with clothing and leave it at that.
 
PS: Like I said, Mom is still away, and all us doggies are having lots of fun with the humans we’re looking after until Mom and Dad return.

Paws for Thought on Helping Mom Out

The image shows a yellow Labrador lying on the ground with her head on the floor.

 
Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji!
 
I know I don’t usually write for Mom’s blog in the middle of the month, but Mom has been so busy recently that I thought I would help her out by blogging for her. After all, I am  a guide dog, and my task is to help her where I can.
 
I’m not overly worried about how busy Mom is,  except when it gets in the way of the things she needs to do to look after me and my doggy siblings. I mean, last week Dad had to feed us supper twice because Mom was in meetings. Usually supper time is 5:00 PM, so I did begin to worry when it got to 5:15 PM and we still hadn’t had supper. Till Dad came to the rescue and everything was fine again. 
 
So, while I’m not overly worried about how busy Mom has been, I am curious about what is taking up so much of her time. I decided to put my nose to the ground and sniff out what’s been going on.
 
One of the projects Mom’s working on has something to do with blind photography. She’s working with a professional photographer who is visually impaired. Her name is Karren Visser and you can find out more about her at www.karrenvisser.com or on her new Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KarrenMVisser/
 
Mom is also busy creating content to update her website. It seems to be taking a long time, but I hope she will manage to find the right words for everything she wants to say. I overheard her talking to Dad and it sounds like the new site will be launched in October, so that’s something to look forward to. I wonder if they’ll have a party for the launch like they did for my book? Because that would be fun!
 
Mom is also planning a workshop for writers who want to turn their books into audio books and sell them through the major audio book retailers. She did that with her own book recently and wants to share her experience to help others. I guess that makes Mom a bit like a guide dog, too – because she is happy to show other people the way to go.  And maybe I can ask her if we can make my book an audio book, too, if I wag nicely.
 
Those are the main tasks that are keeping  Mom tied to her laptop, but she’s also busy with other things as well.
 
She’s been looking after my doggy sister Allie, who has had a soft tissue injury in her paw and has been hopping around on three legs. Mom is trying  to limit the amount Allie runs around and it seems to be working. But I think Allie feels a bit silly only being allowed to go outside if she’s wearing her new super long leash so Mom can control her movement.
 
Allie almost pulled Mom over a few days ago when she suddenly leapt away. Mom was busy on her phone and was taken totally by surprise. Of course, the phone went flying and, though I tried to show Mom that it was under the table, she insisted on looking on the ground and everywhere else first.
 
Anyway, I thought I would help Mom out by writing her blog for her for this week. Hopefully her life will be a bit quieter and she’ll be able to update you herself next time. In the meantime, I’ve  been watching her draw up her To Do List for today and it’s exhausted me so I’m going to take a nap.  
 
Wags from me and my doggy siblings, Allie, Emily and Onyx.

Paws for Thought on the Elasticity of Time

The  image shows a yellow  Labrador looking at the camera. The Labrador appears to be frowning.

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji

Do you know what really confuses me? Where time goes and how it is so elastic. Can anyone explain it to me?

I mean, doesn’t it make sense for time to be a constant? Mom sometimes uses the timer on her watch or phone to measure a specific amount of time, especially when she’s presenting a speech, or when she’s cooking. And the time doesn’t seem to do anything strange then. An hour lasts for an hour, every minute takes the same amount of time as the next one, and each second lasts for exactly a second.

So why does it feel like time goes much more slowly when I’m waiting for my supper? I’m not only talking about how much the time between breakfast and supper seems to drag, but also how many eternities I have to wait for the clock to move from 4:45 PM to 5:00 PM – I promise you those 15 minutes last for hours and hours and hours.

On the other paw, even though I know I only have my doggy vaccinations once a year, they seem to happen a lot more often than that. I swear it was only a few weeks between my shots this year. Even though Mom assured me it had been a whole year. It was honestly as if months had simply disappeared.

If you ask me, there’s something shady happening. I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I’m convinced that somewhere out there is a person who is stealing time and making it appear somewhere, or somewhen, else. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me. And it’s happening right under our muzzles- time is being hoarded in a secret place and those stolen hours are being added every day between 4:45 and 5:00 PM while I’m patiently waiting for my supper.

No, I don’t know how it happens. And yes, I know it’s totally illogical. But I don’t have to be able to explain it scientifically. After all, I’m a dog.

Anyway, the reason for me telling you all this is that it’s been two months since either Mom or I wrote anything on the blog. Which is a very long time. Even though it only feels like a few days since we last wrote. It’s all part of the conspiracy.

Anyway, we’re back now. At least, I am – and I’m sure Mom will start posting articles again soon as well.

As a final note, if you happen to be the person who is appearing and disappearing time, please can you message me and let me know how and why you’re doing it. I really, really want to know…

Paws for Thought to Sniff All Sorts of Things

The image shows Lois sitting at a table surrounded by fragrance bottles and Fiji standing beside her.

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji!

I know I already posted an article this month but I decided to steal this post from Mom because it was her birthday on Sunday. Because she probably won’t tell you what her special day was like… Mom’s just like that sometimes.

I miss the days when Mom used to invite lots of friends around to celebrate her birthday. Somehow food always gets dropped onto the floor when there are lots of people standing around and talking, which makes it great fun for me and my doggy siblings to help clean up. Of course, we’re only doing it so Mom and Dad don’t have to. But Mom hasn’t had a party for two years now. I wish I knew why.

Which isn’t to say Mom didn’t celebrate her birthday this year. Just that she didn’t have a big party with her friends. Instead we hopped into the car and went for a long drive to Franschhoek for a perfume workshop at Kumanov Cosmetics.

When we got there I was somewhat put out because the human lady who runs the place tried to tell me I had to sit outside because she was worried that my waggy tail might break something. I mean, really! Who does she think I am? I’m a properly trained guide dog! Hmph! Luckily Mom insisted that I remain with her and the human lady relented. And I trotted happily into the room… being very careful to make sure my tail didn’t even twitch and accidentally break something.

Then the human lady told us all about the perfume industry and the different types of fragrances that are used. And I just went to sleep – I’m a dog so things like that don’t really interest me.

After a long time things got more interesting. Mom started to open one bottle of fragrance after another and my nose was assailed by lots of different scents. Some of them were nice, but others weren’t so good. Of course, none of them smelled as good as dog food, but still.

From where I was lying under the table with my head resting on my paws, I could hear Mom commenting about the different fragrances and selecting those that she liked, dismissing others that she didn’t like as much.

Eventually, the human lady came and mixed a whole lot of the fragrances together and gave Mom some bottles and a lotion that Mom helped make. Then finally I felt it was okay for me to go and greet the human lady. I wagged my tail as I politely pointed out how good I had been and that she had been silly to think I might break something. She patted me. I think she was saying she was sorry for having tried to treat me like just a dog, but I’m not sure – she might have just wanted to pat me.

Then I walked Mom back to the car and jumped into the back seat. And we drove home.

Oh, I did also get to take Mom to a birthday supper with Dad, Granny Ank and Uncle James where I got to have lots of yummy crunchwater.

Still, I hope Mom will get to have a big birthday braai with all her friends next year. That would be wonderful!
XXXX

My Brother Doesn’t Paws for Thought

the image is of a small brown and black dog with adorable ears

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji!

I know I promised to tell you more about my brother, Onyx. He’s now been part of our family for 5 months and has wriggled his way into the day-to-day activities of the house very well. He is full of energy and loves to run around and play. He also likes to bark a lot, which is a bit annoying when I’m trying to have my midday nap. And he and my sister Allie absolutely love to play together. They run around and jump onto the couches play-growling the whole time – they really are the terrible twins!

I know people say that all dogs are curious by nature, but Onyx takes it from a pleasant pastime to a fulltime career. Whenever Mom or Dad open a cupboard or a drawer, Onyx will somehow be standing right beside them with his head buried deep inside. He’s not even scrounging for food. He simply wants to sniff anything and everything he can find.

Onyx also devours treats whenever he can. Whenever Mom restocks my treat bag before I take her for a walk, Onyx will walk back and forth on his back legs trying to stick his nose into the bag. But Mom’s too fast for him so I don’t have to worry he will eat all my treats. It would be terrible if we were to run out halfway through our walk!

And Onyx is also a sock thief. It all started when he stole socks from the clothes washing that was hanging up to dry. He grabbed them off the rack and ran off at high speed with them in his mouth. Not bad for a partially sighted pup! Then he started checking all the cupboards and drawers he could get into and stole any socks he could find. He carries them around like I carry my tennis ball. And sometimes he tosses them into the air and pounces on them to play. Again and again.

I was a little hesitant when Onyx first joined the family. But he’s great fun and I’m glad he’s here.

Podcast on Long-Distance Air Travel with a Guide Dog.

The image shows a man sitting on a park bench with a yellow Labrador beside him.

Hosting a podcast on accessible travel, I often have the opportunity to chat with interesting people about a wide range of topics. My last few podcasts have been no exception.

I recently interviewed Michael Hingson on the topic of long-distance air travel with a guide dog. Michael has had extensive experience on the topic, having travelled not only for work but also following his experience escaping from the World Trade Centre during the attack on 9 September 2001.

Together Michael and his guide dog Roselle walked down 78 floors of the World Trade Centre and navigated their way to safety. Michael tells the story of that day in his book “Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero”

Michael and his guide dogs have subsequently travelled around the world sharing their story. So he was the perfect person to interview on the subject of air travel with a guide dog.

You can hear some of Michael’s experiences in the podcast – http://iono.fm/e/1103477

While you’re there, why not listen to a few more exciting travel stories. And subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. With 53 published episodes so far, there is plenty to enjoy!

Paws for Thought on New Arrivals

The image is a close-up of Lois and Fiji’s faces with Lois holding a glass of bubbly up in a toast

Hello everyone – it’s me, Fiji!

I’m so excited right now that I’m bouncing up and down and wagging my tail full speed. Because the book that Mom and I wrote is now available on Amazon.

Even more than that, we’re going to be having a launch party on Zoom and would love for you to be there. And you might win a free copy of our book, “Pause for Thought: Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Guide Dog”

To book for the launch party, go to https://bit.ly/38C8uHz

The party will take place at 17:00 South African time on Sunday, 12 September and everyone is invited… your doggy companions as well!

And, to be amongst the first to read our book, the Kindle version is available for pre-order on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09FGYPYP4?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

Mom and I hope you can attend our celebration… and that you feel inspired to buy the book and read my story. It would also be wonderful if you could tell your friends about the book and the online celebration – we would love to have as many people there as possible!

Oh yes, we are planning a South African print run of the book soon if you prefer to read it in that format… more on that as we get everything organised…

Paws for Thought on Trains

the image shows a wet Fiji on the beach, with Lois kneeling beside her.

I don’t like trains.

I think train travel must be important, because I hear lots of trains whistling and screaming past my house from early morning to late at night.

Clearly lots of people travel on trains. Which means that some guide dogs must also go on them with their humans. But I don’t think I’d like to take Mom on a train unless I had no other choice.

I see trains often when Mom and I are walking on the road that is next to the trainline. To me, trains look like giant snake monsters that want to gobble me up. And they make a dreadful rumbling and moaning sound. They shake and shudder as they go from one place to another and their wheels scream and shriek as they go by. And their horrible unearthly whistles try to shatter my poor eardrums. Sometimes their doors whoosh open and sometimes they don’t, which is also intimidating. Is it any wonder trains make me a little nervous?

Admittedly I’ve only travelled by train once, back when I first met Mom and had to help teach her how to work with me. All of us guide dogs took our new humans to the train station and caught a train to Fish Hoek beach. While I loved having the chance to run, wrestle and play with my guide dog friends on the beach, while the trainers made sure our humans didn’t misbehave, I honestly would have preferred to travel there by car.

I know my guide dog sister-aunts Leila and Eccles used to take Mom to work on the train before I was her guide dog, so I know it must be possible for us to go on a train and not get gobbled up by the nasty snake monster-type thing. I’m sure I would probably also get used to it if I had no other choice. But I honestly think it would be far better to go by car or by Uber. Or simply to walk there, provided it’s not too far. But since Mom now works from home, it’s all hypothetical anyway.

So, while I know trains are good and are important to help humans and some guide dogs get to where they need to go, I’m just as happy that I don’t have to use them. Unless it’s the only way to travel to the beach. In which case I might be willing to consider taking Mom on a train again.

Paws for Thought on Screen Time

Fiji sleeping

Hello everyone, it’s me – Fiji!

As I sit here happily remembering the run I had this morning with Dad and my doggy-sister Allie, I got to thinking about something that has been bothering me lately.
How much screen time should we dogs allow our humans?

Because both Mom and Dad seem to spend a whole lot of time sitting staring into a computer screen. Or talking into a computer screen. And I just can’t figure out why they do it.

I know Mom and Dad have lots to do that isn’t of interest to us dogs. Mom seems to love typing into the computer, as does Dad. At least sometimes I can understand when Mom does it, because she’s helping me with my book or with my blog posts, as she’s doing now. It really isn’t so easy for me to type so it makes much more sense for me to tell Mom what I want to say and for her to write it down for me.
But what about the rest of the time? Honestly, there are days when Mom and Dad spend literally hours at the computer. While us dogs find a comfy place to curl up and sleep.

I usually sleep on one of the warm dog beds in the bedroom, my doggy-sister Emily either sleeps on the blanket in the study with Mom or in the doorway so she can keep an eye on what Mom’s doing. My other doggy-sister Allie sometimes sits with Mom but most often curls up on the couch so she can keep an eye on Dad and also make sure no-one can sneak up on the house from outside. And my brand new doggy-brother Onyx usually joins her on the couch as well, so we are doubly safe now.

Maybe all this sounds perfectly normal to you. But to me it simply does not make sense.

Why spend hours and hours staring at a computer when you could be outside walking, running or playing with us dogs? Even though the weather is cooler now, it’s still warm enough to romp around in the garden, or to go for a glorious walkaround the neighbourhood. And if it’s raining, surely it makes far more sense to find a warm and comfy place to curl up and sleep?

Like I’ve said before, sometimes humans really don’t make sense to me!

Back to my original question. How much screen time do you think I should allow Mom and Dad? And how should I distract them from their computers? Any help will be gratefully wagged at.

Paws for Thought: My Brand New Book Cover!

The image shows the cover of the book Paws for Thought, with a close-up of a yellow Labrador’s head on a teal background.

I’m wagging so hard right now! I finally have a book cover for my forthcoming book, Paws for Thought: Seeing the world through the eyes of a guide dog.

And it’s really pretty. At least I think it is. Because it’s got me on it!

I know you’re probably frustrated that it’s taking so long to get the book out. I know I’m frustrated and we dogs are usually more patient than you humans. Unless we’re waiting to go for a walk or to be fed.

I wish I could get stuck in and help on this part of the process but, as a dog, I realize that sometimes I have to leave things in the paws of Mom and Dad. No matter how long they seem to take.

Dad is busy getting the book ready to go onto Amazon, and is sorting out the ISBN – whatever that is – so we can do a print run here at home for anyone who wants to read a book with actual pages.

Mom is busy writing down what I tell her I want on the book description, and is researching things called keywords and categories. Whatever they are, they seem important to humans. All I know is that occasionally she looks down to where I’m lying and asks me if I think a term will work. And I either sneeze, shake my head or wag my tail at her, depending on how I’m feeling at the time. I don’t know how she interprets my responses but she usually laughs and pats me, so everything must be good.

Anyway, although I know we’ve all been waiting a very long time for this book, I wanted to ask you to be a little bit more patient while we work through the complicated human stuff, and for you to know that we’re working as fast as we can. At least now we have the cover!

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