Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Being Pawsitive

| Filed under blindness Fiction Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

Thanksgiving is about staying connected and sharing love and companionship. For guide and service dog teams, it means so much and more – here’s to our partners and how much we appreciate their unconditional regard, trust and protection of us.
Whatever you bring to the table, Bailey, Verona, Nikka, Titan the cat and the humans in our home wish you all peace and warmth.

Read on for a book update.

Well, readers, since the last post, FOLLOW YOUR DOG has taken off at a solid trot. It seems like just about every time I’ve asked businesses and other entities to consider a partnership the answer is YES. I am pleased and just a little bit intimidated by it. Don’t worry, though; I have been practicing for this for what seems like years and Bailey and I are ready for the attention. I hope, gulp.

Go to http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/ to fill up a stocking or two with the new book.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind has been gracious and supportive, too, which is an added bonus. If you are reading this blog post, consider them as one of your organizations of choice for monetary giving. Go to www.guidingeyes.org/

If you are in the Yorktown Hight’s neighborhood on December 9 for the Guiding Eyes graduation, I would be happy to personally sign your copy of the book. Stay tuned for more information on the event or visit my personal website to find out more about other events to promote the book: www.annchiappetta.com

Author Update

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Uncategorized Writing Life

Hello all,
I’d like to share an author’s update. Today I received 50 copies of my new book, “Follow Your Dog a Story of Love and Trust”. My goal is to sell all of them by the end of December. If you haven’t purchased a copy, go to http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/

How did I get there? What motivated me to write and publish a book? The creation of the book merits another post entirely, therefore this post will start at the point shortly before I sent the draft to the editor.
To begin, part of the promotional plan began six months ago. I was thinking about how to improve my promotion since my first book was not as successful as I thought it would be. Poetry doesn’t sell as well as other genres.

The good thing is the new book is nonfiction and appeals to more than just poets and writers. I put the finishing touches on the manuscript and decided to follow advice from other professional authors to create a personal website. I made the decision based on what I wanted to accomplish with this book as well as how to expand my visibility in general. I made a list of what I’ve been doing when volunteering, like being a public speaker and newsletter editor for other organizations. I was also a copy writer for a few organizations, helping with writing content for new websites, membership letters, brochures and social media posts. I have 15 years of coordinating programs and small to medium sized events, too. I’d spoken to audiences from pre-k to seniors on topics like disability, guide and service dogs, mental health, military cultural concepts, PTSD and trauma, rehabilitation, art and literature and fundraising. I thought, why not utilize the experience and talent alongside with the literary arts? I decided to tie it all up in a pretty bow and become a consultant. http://www.annchiappetta.com/ is now live and offers a robust menu, including a speaking engagement form, biography and links to interviews, presentations, and awards. My blog is also linked and the DLD Books author’s page directs folks to it as well.

Which entities or businesses and other promotional contacts have I pursued? Here is a list: guide and service dog schools and programs, Labrador breeding magazines and groups, both my undergraduate and post graduate colleges, local bookstores, bookstores in other States, pet stores, pet groomers, service dog equipment suppliers, social media groups on Face Book, radio stations offering disability-related programs and shows, podcasts and other media outlets. .

I have one book signing planned which will hopefully get media attention as it is being planned with the guide dog school from where I graduated. I have a recorded phone interview and a radio show interview planned as well. I also have been trying to find where I could sell books on consignment and will be saving up for a few magazine ads after 2018, if all goes as planned.

What, one may ask, is on the wish list? A table at a few crafts fairs, a few speaking engagements for National Poetry Month, a weekend writing retreat, and being able to attend the annual Indy writers conference. Also, being able to put my book in the big box bookstores like Barnes and Noble and a book signing at The Strand in NYC would be absolutely crazy-cool. A book signing at The Strand would be like being on Broadway. This brings me to a fanciful thought: what if my book could be adapted as a play or movie script?
Thanks for reading and see you on the pages.

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Ahead of Schedule!

| Filed under blindness Fiction Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

For Immediate Release

Contact: Ann Chiappetta, author 914-393-6605 [email protected]

Writer tells Compelling Tale, and it is all for the love of dogs
New Rochelle, New York — October 24, 2017 – Local author and poet, Ann Chiappetta, celebrates the release of her second book, a memoir titled, “Follow Your Dog: a Story of Love and Trust”.
Legally blind since 1993, Chiappetta received her first guide dog from Guiding Eyes for the Blind in 2009. The nonfiction book tells of her struggles growing up as a visually impaired child and learning how to cope with progressive vision loss while working and raising her family. Throughout the book, her relationship with each dog in her life at the time shares a prominent place.

“It’s all about the dog,” she says, summing up being out in public with her guide dog, adding, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The latter half of the book focuses on the human and canine bond that develops when matched with a guide dog. Chiappetta writes, from the back cover: “With this book, I hope to take the reader on a journey of understanding: learning what it’s like to overcome the darker side of disability by walking the path of independence with a canine partner. “
Chiappetta will be scheduling book signings and readings throughout the United States, beginning with a book signing at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights on December 9. The book is available from popular eBook and print on demand booksellers.

To purchase Ann’s book, go to http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/
Or, to access Ann’s schedule of book signings and interviews, past interviews, or request her as a guest speaker, go to http://www.annchiappetta.com

To find out more about the publisher, go to http://www.dldbooks.com
To find out more about Guiding Eyes for the Blind, visit http://www.guidingeyes.org

Almost There!

| Filed under blindness Fiction Guide dogs Poem Uncategorized Writing Life

Hello readers, below is a plug going out to help prepare for the launching of my second book. Please share this post and visit my new website. The new book will be ready for sale very soon.
Poet, author and consultant, Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

Home Page

Since 1990, Ann Chiappetta’s writing has been featured in both print and electronic publications, most notably Dialogue magazine, Reader’s Digest and Matilda Ziegler online magazine. Her poetry has been featured in small press journals like Lucidity and Midwest Poetry Review, among others. Ann’s fiction has been featured in literary journals including Breath and Shadow, Magnets and Ladders, and local collegiate publications. Her articles and essays are featured in a regular byline in the Consumer Vision digital magazine.

Her debut self-published book, a poetry collection titled, “Upwelling: Poems”, has been well received. Ann’s second book, a memoir titled, “Follow Your Dog: Story of Love and Trust is being released in November 2017. To read more about Ann or to purchase her books or to request Ann as a guest speaker, visit her on the web at: http://www.annchiappetta.com/

Just When I was Feeling Down …

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

Hello folks, just when I thought I’d never manage to step out of the pity party pot, someone offered me a hand and helped me get past the worst of it. Actually, it was more than one person, so read on to find out more.

A month ago I injured my right ankle. I was turning a corner with the left knee ACL strain and the left foot fracture from 2015 had healed. I still feel pain but for the most part the rawness is gone. Anyway, I somehow managed to hurt the right foot and ankle. The pain is horrible, the lack of mobility is worse. It was all getting to me and I began feeling unmotivated and blech. I am limping and back to the support cane. The mornings are the worst, too. The injury stiffens and it takes an hour and pain meds to even take the edge off the pain. At these times I am the bitch mother and I cannot even talk without fire pouring from my mouth.

One can just imagine how unpleasant it is to be around me, and my family has been forgiving and tolerant. 🙂

Now that I’ve established how miserable I was, and still am, to some extent, two things happened: a visit to an assisted living facility with the dogs and the husband and an absolutely stellar review of Upwelling by a person for whom I hold in very high regard. The first part with visiting the ALF pushed me past my pain, forced me to put my own suffering aside. Thanks to Jerry and the dogs, we brought smiles to seniors. Jerry knows how much it means to me to help others and let Verona take on her role as a therapy dog. I think Jerry is beginning to like it, too.

The visit renewed my resolved to work past this injury, to be patient and do my best to heal.

The second gift was reading a beautifully written review of my first poetry collection by the editor of Dialogue Magazine www.blindskills.com/ . It brought me to tears, the thankful kind, very different from the tears of pain and frustration I’d been crying beforehand. I am so thankful to be reminded that I do matter, that others respect and like my work and that just when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to push past the struggle, I received two beautiful and meaningful reminders.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Lost

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Uncategorized

Lost in the Parking Lot
(c) 2017 Annie C.
The realization that I am completely and utterly lost rushes through me like a hot flash. The rain changes everything, what was familiar is washed away in moments. Damaged retinas cannot make sense of the rings of light reflecting off the black asphalt. The downpour muffles the sounds I use to orient in the parking lot. I could very well be only ten feet from the door but at times like this, it is terrifying.

My dog is huddled beside me, I stopped asking her to help me 5 minutes ago, when it was clear she wasn’t able to lead me inside. Her docility was one of the reasons why she made a good guide dog but now the very same part of her temperament caused her to avoid making decisions, especially in the rain without her harness.

I remove the hood from my head to listen for a door opening, footsteps, traffic on the parallel street, or the rush of a train so I can figure out where we are. My white cane trails the parked cars and I turn into the empty space in-between two cars, hoping this is the walkway leading to the back door of the apartment complex. The cane tip touches the asphalt and like a divining rod, I hope to find the familiar. It hits a curb and I know it is not the right place; I go back to the row of cars and stand there, frustrated. My dog shakes off the rain.

Then, behind me and to the left, I hear the back-door open and the relief floods through me. By the sound, I am about 8 or so spaces away. I walk toward the spot and then a flicker of dim light flashes in the little window of my vision and I recognize it. My dog pulls me in the same direction and I sweep my cane forward ahead of us. The tip of the cane touches the metal drain and then, thankfully, the door. I fish out my keys, and then we are inside and my dog shakes off the water. As we walk to our apartment door, the frustration subsides. All it cost was five minutes of paying attention and a wet dog.

Support Indy Authors on Independence Day

| Filed under blindness Fiction Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

Yes, readers, thanks to www.smashwords.com Upwelling is now half price, that’s right, just $1.50 in the downloadable file of your choice. Just put my name in the search field and follow the link to purchase Upwelling at a 50% discount. For the month of July, you can find thousands of eBooks, some for free. I hope you take a look at the sale on www.smashwords.com and load up your eBook reader or tablet and support independent authors everywhere on Independence Day by purchasing a few titles.
Have a meaningful and fun Fourth of July and stay safe and strong.

A Weekend To Remember

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

A Weekend to Remember
By Ann Chiappetta M.S. (c)

April 21 – 23, 2017
Tribute to the First Annual Guiding Eyes Continuing Education Seminar

Like many ideas, It began years ago
abstracts based upon the past
concepts blossoming from a common passion.

It was a new idea, unique and untried;
For some, the Challenge instilled apprehension
Perhaps a reason for hesitation
Or for decisions being delayed

For a time, hope came second
As it happened,
Voices united, attitudes changed
Wishes became goals, then actions

The desire to gather together
was no longer waylaid

Human hearts made it happen
To honor Inter-species relationships
The most powerful relationship of all

The spirit of canine propelled us
To the meeting place.

To 3 days of inspiration
36 hours of memories
And laughs to last a lifetime.

exuberant Labradors
Stoic and steady German Shepard’s
80 teams
30 instructors and staff
40 puppy raisers and volunteers

And really good food
Cumulated in achieving
cooperation totaling 150%
And Energy that could not be measured

A coming together
as vibrant as Woodstock but
Not as muddy.

There were dog tangles
Reunions and tears,
Obedience practice, play time
And Challenges including
A hotel that seemed to be built like a corkscrew.

Faces split in smiles lasting hours
Full hearts sharing meals
Imagine a ballroom lined with
Classroom-style tables
A person sits in each chair facing the podium
Beneath each place lies a dog, quiet
Or silent, asleep or awake
Snoring or dreaming
Licking a paw
And these canines
Our eyes
Our joy
Our inspiration
Our independence
Our family

Our reason for being who we are
And the reason why we were all there
Elicits an inner glow, a sense of pride
Or accomplishment, or purpose
We know intimately how well
These dogs gave us the ability to soar
not for only 3 days or 36 hours
but continually.

Our dogs connect us, bonding Hearts and minds
Later, after the reunion
In the afterglow
We will draw upon the link
Recall the shared experience
And, with humble words, thank our dogs.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

On Being a Good Dog

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

Our Good Dog Story
By Ann Chiappetta M.S. Verona and Bailey
This story began at the time I met Verona, a black Labrador retriever bred and trained at Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I was matched with her in 2009 and we worked together for six years. When she started to tell me it was time to hang up her harness as my guide dog, it was heart breaking. She had become such a loving and intuitive dog, helping so many people during our work together. I am a family therapist and also visit schools and other facilities and institutions, and Verona was unfailing with her ability to bring a smile and ease the stress of someone who was suffering in some way. She was a dog whose job wasn’t done just because her guide dog harness was no longer being used; I did the best I could to honor her doggie work ethic. A year after she retired as my guide dog, she was evaluated to become a therapy dog.

“She is a natural,” the evaluator said, “this is just a formality.”

Verona did possess an advanced doggie degree, having worked as a guide dog, after all, right?

A year later, we were in the advanced class with eight other teams. Once we passed, we would graduate as one of the official pet assisted therapy teams for the Good Dog Foundation http://thegooddogfoundation.org/ .

This part of the story will explain the most unique piece in our journey together. Being blind and wanting to work with not just Verona but also my current guide dog, Bailey, and making it work for all three of us was the real challenge. I was anxious and a tad fearful that this trio of blind person, guide dog and therapy dog would not be accepted by the instructors or the general public. When I got up the nerve to verbalize my worries, the instructor said as long as I want to make it work, there is a way to make it work. Our class instructor was not going to allow me to quit. She made it clear at the very beginning that being blind and having another dog with me wasn’t going to be a reason to walk out with an incomplete or be turned away.

We made it work by preparing and practicing with both dogs and asking for help when I was required to focus on training with Verona. We went to most of the classes with a third person who sat apart from Verona and I. The helper, which involved either my sister or husband, held Bailey, who stayed in harness. The first two classes were the most disruptive to him, but he earned food rewards for settling and not whining when he saw me give Verona a reward. Bailey was still young, very attached to me, even after an entire year of being my guide dog. I think his tolerance was challenged when he was asked to settle and let me work with Verona. By class three, however, he wasn’t even whining. He settled down and even napped during the last half of the class. Class four was a test for all of us, I was handling both dogs and it was a little more frustrating due to the logistics. For instance, the three of us had to work out how to walk together, when to allow Bailey to perform the guide work, and train Verona to heel on the right. I felt that both dogs, having been living together for two years and having already accepted their respective roles, were up for it. We practiced for two months, taking practice walks and the preparation paid off.

In empathy for Bailey and his situation, imagine the person that you have bonded with and guided is suddenly going back to interact with another dog; I could feel Bailey’s confusion. I have since given him some slack but also provided directions and a way for him to perform even when he is not guiding and required to “turn it off”. He is rewarded with treats and praise for being quiet and not engaging. He still wants to greet the children, licking hands and wagging his tail, but he will settle when asked.

November 6, 2016 was graduation day and since then we have been visiting local libraries. We are now working on making smiles happen. Verona is giving back and helping by being the one to give the gift of positive energy. Bailey has matured measurably in the last 8 months, too. I am so proud of his ability to make the transition and step into his harness when I give him the forward command. I am a very lucky lady. I have learned so much about both my dogs and their personalities. It’s given me the confidence to go out and help others. It helps me because I am able to give back, and being a person with a disability, I am often the recipient of kindness and it means so much more for me when I can return it.

I don’t know where our path will lead or what the future holds for our trio but I do know one thing: we will continue to do it together for as long as we can — When I clip on my I.D. tag and tie on Verona’s scarf, it feels like we can conduct miracles with a smile and wagging tail.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Binge Watching

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Uncategorized

I’ve taken on a new social behavior. I suppose being who I am, having been raised in the 1970s in the crib of the boob tube, it was inevitable.

Friday and Saturday nights, after the laptop is closed, I escape into the bedroom. I open the iPad, tap on Netflix and settle in for some entertainment.

As I plump my pillows and wait for the dogs to follow me into bed, I think of those late nights in my childhood, bathed in the eerie luminosity spilling out from the black and white TV. I recall sneaking down to the Livingroom and turning it on, the volume barely above a whisper. I would sit close to hear it — because of being extremely myopic, getting close meant I could see the details and not be dragged away by a concerned family member who feared I would ruin my already ruined eyes. I would place my fingers on the channel selector, gently turning it to dampen the clicking sound and surf the late-night movies until the stations signed off after midnight.

Now, with a finger flick I peruse the choices from anime to westerns. The most amazing part of this is the audio description track offered for blind folks like me. I can watch an entire season in two nights and afterwards, after shutting down at about 2 a.m., I can sleep late and take the time to decide on the next binge.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0
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