Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Are Those French Fries?

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs

Being a guide dog handler is probably the best choice I’ve made since going blind. It gives me much more than just a canine partner and increased safety. Sometimes it even brings comic relief.

A few months ago, I left work and walked around the corner to relieve my guide dog, Bailey. We began the usual routine, and then he started to do something odd, he lay down. I bent to try to make sure he wasn’t eating anything, and, being a Labrador, he sure was munching on something. I pulled him away and made him spit it out but he’d already swallowed it. I needed to know what was all over the sidewalk, so I got out my phone and called AIRA. The agent identified the scattered items through the camera on my mobile phone as French fries, to my relief. If Bailey was going to be corrected for temptation, I needed to know what had done the tempting. The agent’s quick and accurate scan of the area confirmed it was something that would not cause Bailey any harm. This helped me breathe a sigh of relief; it was only a few French fries. We could deal with it.

This is also a reminder that while Bailey has an advanced canine degree as a guide dog, he is still a dog and will give into temptation. The counterbalance to this is knowing that when he does his job, when he pulls us from a driver turning right on red as we try to cross a street, or when he shoves me away from the speeding bicyclist hurtling down the sidewalk, a few French fries is acceptable.

Rescuing May the Dog

| Filed under Guide dogs Relationships

Another dog person once told me each time a dog finds a home either via purchase or adoption, it has been rescued. I think about this often, especially when a new dog comes into our lives.

Nikka died in February 2019 at age 16. Losing her was bittersweet, she had healed our hearts after losing two dogs a year apart, from cancer. We had hoped she would live a long time and she didn’t let us down in this respect. She had a sassy beagle-tude and was a clown and a challenge.

By this time, Verona, my retired lab, was old, almost 13 and Bailey, my working dog was 6.

As it happened, April, our daughter, finally asked the question and I said I was ready; prior to the question a few weeks ago, “When are we getting another dog?”, I still had felt Nikka’s loss.

But this time, my heart was ready to accept a new canine family member and we found ourselves at the local animal shelter. It was like the Goldilocks fairy tale, this dog is too old, this one too young, this one too yappy, this one too big. Then the shelter worker brought in May, an 8 month old slender border collie mix about 50 lbs. Bailey and May played until their tongues hung out and we knew she would be going home with us.

It’s been about a month and here is what we know : she was brought up here for adoption from a West Virginia kill shelter, loves to chew and may have already been partially trained when she got lost and ended up in the shelter. Her herding instincts are surfacing, apparent by the instinct to heel, please the handler, and take on new commands quickly and willingly. She already is leash trained but does require supervision inside and with other dogs, mostly due to her propensity to nip during play. We hope she will learn to stop this and model good play with Bailey’s help. She has captured our hearts and even Titan, our cat, is grudgingly accepting this new dog.

April and May are partners, sharing what good partners share, and we are all working together to raise this young and energetic dog. There will be more of May on my blog, just wait and read what will be coming up next.
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Collie mix May posing for the camera.

Performing Poetry and Friends In Art

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Writing Life

In July I had the chance to perform two poems, In Those Dark Moments C 2016 and On The Tip Of A Finger C 2019 at the Friends In Art ACB showcase.

I was inspired to do it after watching Tom Hanks do a piece of performance poetry on Jimmy Kimmel.
I also co-hosted it and had a lot of fun and met many great folks and talented musicians, singers, and performers. To view the poems, go to
www.annchiappetta.com www.annchiappetta.com

Catch me on this ACB Radio podcast

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Writing Life

Ann Chiapetta Update – Wednesday August 7th 10:30PM Eastern/7:30PM Pacific (and replays every two hours throughout the next day)

ACB member and author Ann Chiapetta rejoins us. She’s going to tell us about one of her brand spanking new publications and give our listeners who want to be authors some guidance.

To listen to this week’s “Speaking Out for the Blind,” go to: http://acbradio.org/mainstream, and choose one of the links under the headings “Listen to ACB Radio Mainstream” and “Now Playing;” or call 1-641-793-0756, and when prompted, press “1” for ACB Radio Mainstream. You may also listen to the program live on the ACB Link mobile app. For more information, go to http://link.acb.org.

Authors Fans & Fun

| Filed under blindness Fiction Guide dogs Poem Uncategorized Writing Life

Authors, Fans, and Fun

Save The Date: August 2 & 3
Face Book Exclusive
Sizzling Summer Super Release Book Launch Party!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1084437158419463/

Why not drop by, chat, comment and get to know your favourite authors?
Click the GOING button today!
Author Take Over Line UP
August 2, 2019 Author Jo E. Pinto will kick us off on Friday evening (time to be announced) for the opening ceremony & take over.
August 3, 2019 Author Abbie Johnson Taylor will start the event at 12 Noon Eastern with an author take over.
August 3, 2019 at 1 PM Eastern we have author Lynda McKinney Lambert with an author take over spot.
August 3, 2019 at 2 PM Eastern author and editor Leonore Dvorkin take over: Leonore also will cover the books published by both she and husband, David Dvorkin and give a book and editing and publishing assist business presentation.

August 3, 2019 at 3 PM Eastern we have multi genre author Phyllis Staton Campbell taking over
August 3, 2019 at 4 PM Eastern author Trish Hubschman will join us for her author take over hour.
August 3, 2019 5 PM Eastern author social media promotional assist Patty L. Fletcher will be doing a books and business presentation. King Campbell will make a special appearance during this hour and will be presenting a gift at that time, so don’t miss it!

August 3, 2019 at 9 PM Eastern author Annie Chiappetta will join us to close out the takeover event.

New on Audible.com

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

For Immediate Release
Contact Ann Chiappetta, Author [email protected] 914.393.6605

Local Author releases first commercial Audio Book
July 20, 2019 – New Rochelle, N.Y.
Poet and Indy author of three books, Ann Chiappetta releases Upwelling: Poems C 2016 on Audible.com, Amazon’s premier audio book seller. Go to https://tinyurl.com/y5p7e3hz
To purchase or listen to the sample narrated by Lilian Yves.

I am so happy to finally have one of my books available through Audible. As a writer who is blind, I feel it is paramount to offer my books in as many blind-friendly formats as possible,”

Chiappetta’s books are available in print and all online eBook formats including Amazon.
The author’s other books, Follow Your Dog A Story of Love and Trust C 2017 and Words of Life: Poems and Essays C 2019 are being prepared as commercial audio books and will be released later this year.

Chiappetta is currently planning book readings and book signing events. Information on these and other appearances, including past appearances and future radio interviews and podcasts can be found at her website, www.annchiappetta.com.
To learn more about the author, or view her author’s book page, go to www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/

Chiappetta’s blog is www.thought-wheel.com

white daisies on black background bordered in red phot by C. Romanek

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Guide Dogs In Rochester

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Uncategorized Writing Life

Jerry, Bailey and I rode the Amtrak up to Rochester, New York to attend the 2019 American Council of the Blind National Conference and Convention from July 4-12. The train ride was pleasant and allowed Jerry to relax, sparing him from the 7-hour drive. Bailey slept the entire time, except for guiding me to the lavatory. Once we arrived, the walking shoes went on and the convention navigation began. We walked a familiar circuit from one hotel, then on the skyway, and into the convention center and the sister hotel. We also found it quite pleasant to travel on the street level, crossing the streets to go from one location to the other. Bailey was happy to do some street work and did a great job recalling the often turn-heavy and difficult routes to the meeting rooms. Jerry, bless his heart, scoped out the area and made his opinion clear, “don’t go out alone at night,”, due to the higher indigent population. The police presence during the day and evening hours while the convention center was open, while necessary, wasn’t very reassuring.

We had a sleep number bed, a spacious room; our key cards didn’t work for more than a few days at a time. The food was good, but the restaurant choices was sparse, and we got snacks from the multi-dollar store down the street and Jerry walked to Dunkin’ for coffee in the morning. The fridge and microwave helped us save some money on expensive meals.

I was asked to co-host the Friends in Art musical showcase, and I said, “OK”. What was I thinking? But I am, admittedly, a closet performer, and the evening was fun and a confidence-builder.

The exhibit hall also allowed me to meet folks who had read my book and allowed me to connect with new readers as well.

My good friend, Cheryl Lawyer and I received awards from GDUI for being advocates for the guide dog movement. More on that later.
Next year is Illinois and I being not sure I will attend, but I do know we will go home with fond memories and a lot to laugh about and remember.

This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative.Homefront Vol. 4 cover

Doing The Dog Thing

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Uncategorized

Many people just don’t understand the ups and downs of being a guide dog handler. Sure, most folks can appreciate the challenges, like having to be blind or significantly visually impaired to be eligible to work a guide dog, or, the dedication it takes to train with one. Yet, the daily routines and tasks may be a bit esoteric for the non-initiated to appreciate.

Here is a situation my current guide dog and I have been facing; I hope the details aren’t too vague or beleaguered. I would add this situation to the category of occupational hazards for working guide dog teams. Not a deal breaker but something that could become a challenge if not addressed with care and patience.

Our office has a rear entrance with a vestibule. The first door opens out and, on the right, the outer door opens out and to the left. One must open the first door, slip past it, let it close, and then go through the second door. Sounds simple, right? Not so with a guide dog. There is barely enough space for one person to get around the inner door when exiting; when entering, one must let the outer door close, then open the inner door slowly or risk injuring the dog. On the way in, the dog must be given the opportunity to come around on the right of the person, then be ready to step back with the person as the door is pulled open. It is confusing and takes practice to navigate it safely for the handler and dog.

We managed to avoid an issue for five years, but then our luck wore out.
Bailey got bonked with the door one day last week and yelped in pain and surprise. He wasn’t paying attention and got hit in the head while we entered, then the following day, as we were walking past the stairway door in my building, he and I were almost hit as it was swung into our path by our neighbor. Neither of us was hurt, but the next day bailey stopped in the hallway and I had to pressure him forward to walk past the door. I imagined his thoughts as we passed, “Is that door going to surprise us again?”

Being door shy is a problem but totally workable to overcome. We worked on the office door issue first, with treats and praise. First session went well, and I think he will be fine. I also used praise to urge him past the stairway doors in my building, which he seems to have relaxed about when passing.

It is these occurrences that remind me he isn’t quite human and will behave in ways I might not be sympathetic about at first. I must remind myself to think like a dog, and go back to guide dog training 101: how can I help my dog feel confident again? When I apply it, I find the solution to a hurdle like door shyness. The most satisfying part of overcoming something like this is that I helped my dog with the issue, we found a way to solve the problem together. I used the skills taught to me by a group of expert instructors who love what they do. I listened to my dog, applied the tools, and made it easier for my dog to adjust and get past the negative experience. The bond of mutual trust is the cornerstone of a great team — and when trust is present, something like door shyness can be overcome with it, using reliable training tools and care.

PD Yellow lab Bailey lying next to water, blue sky above and his image reflected in the water beside him.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 2