Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Handler’s Corner

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The Handler’s Corner
Living and Working with Guide Dogs
By Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
Previously printed in Consumer Vision, April 2018 (c)
Hello readers, it is finally Spring and thanks to daylight savings time, my dogs are confused about what time the kibble feast begins. Thankfully, dogs are experts at adapting and I think another week and all will be well.

Speaking of time, I often wonder how dogs interpret time. Is it set by only feeding times or do dogs possess a highly developed body clock? We humans take our time cues from a highly advanced episodic time framework, which is one of the most unique characteristics of being human. Experts say that dogs have also developed a similar type of episodic time framework. Another cool fact is a dog’s unique circadian rhythm; humans tend to sleep in longer periods and mostly at night. Dogs, on the other paw, tend to sleep in shorter, more frequent periods during the day and at night. How cool is that?
Experts say a dog keeping track of the time is also behaviorally focused, like knowing the kibble feast will begin soon after the sun is up and the birds begin chirping. My dogs know after the 7 a.m. bus passes by, it’s time to eat and they become restless. This is an example of pattern recognition, and the canine is an expert when interpreting patterns and making associations. For instance, we pick up the leash and the dog goes to the door, connecting the object to the result, getting to go for a walk.

Patterning is a very useful tool for any working dog team. Guide dogs learn routes and destinations along the routes. One of the best tasks is being able to target the hotel room door or knowing just where the coffee shop is. I taught my dog a route from the office to the bank, and to the sandwich shop and back to the office. Once a dog learns a route and it is used frequently, one phrase will get you there.

I think animals have a deeper connection to time and we could learn a thing or two about being reliable and punctual, especially when it involves tasty tidbits.
The article I referenced is; https://www.petcentric.com/articles/training-and-behavior/can-dogs-tell-time/

Ann Chiappetta, M.S. is an independent author and consultant. Her books, UPWELLING: POEMS and FOLLOW YOUR DOG A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST can be purchased in both eBook and Print from www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/. Ann’s personal website is www.annchiappetta.com
Follow ann’s blog: www.thought-wheel.com
Face Book: Annie Chiappetta/Twitter: Anniedungarees/Linkdyn: Ann chiappetta Iona College/Instagram: annie_bird_c

My bio

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rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>el=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Ann M. Chiappetta MS

Is a celebrated Author, poet and consultant. During the past 20 years, her stories and articles have been featured in both hard copy and electronic journals and magazines such as Breath and Shadow and Dialogue Magazine. Ann’s award winning poems have been printed in numerous small press poetry reviews and she contributes regularly to special interest newsletters. Ann’s poetry has been featured on podcasts and other audio presentations, to listen go to http://www.annchiappetta.com

A 2015 Spirit of Independence advocacy award winner, Ann possesses expert knowledge in a variety of topics including blindness and vision loss, service animals, and military culture. Her informative and engaging presentations include topics blending social awareness and education. The subjects of her presentations range from speaking to children, to seniors and to veterans on themes ranging from creative writing to disability awareness.

Ann’s books, “Upwelling: Poems” and “Follow Your Dog a Story of Love and Trust” can be purchased from all eBook and print-on-demand booksellers http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/ .

Subscribe to her blog by going to www.thought-wheel.com/

Three Years Together

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Uncategorized Writing Life

Bailey and I met in March 2015. The first day he held my wrist in his mouth as if to say, I am so excited I just need to hold onto you. I would gently stroke him on the head and he would let go, opting for a butt rub instead. The next day, as I bent to put the harness over his head, he got in some face licks, too. I was instantly attracted to his energy, his work ethic and the fact that he did not snore. My retired dog snores like a human, so thank goodness for small blessings.

Bailey keeps me grounded when I am faced with a burst of vertigo, a symptom brought on since the final decline into blindness. His goofiness makes me smile, like when he brings me two dog toys in his mouth at the same time. He challenges me, like when he decides not to listen to any commands when a new dog greets him. Not even a dog treat distracts him when he wants to say hello if he isn’t working. Yet, when he is guiding me, my hand on the harness, he somehow pulls it off and we move on past the dog distraction.

He is a licker. Instead of a harness sign saying, “Do Not Pet Me, I Am Working” I want one that declares, Warning: licking Zone,”. I’m not sure it will keep away the unsuspecting victims, though.

He doesn’t become intimidated when faced with an 18-wheeler pausing at a street crossing to let us cross. He doesn’t notice the developmentally disabled man pacing us, trying to pet him. He doesn’t even twitch a paw on the paratransit bus when another passenger calls his name and stays on the floor, ignoring them.

He’s almost five years old and has matured into a beautiful and noble creature, standing straight and tall, weighing in at 73 lbs.; cream colored fur, a little darker around the eyes, on the ears and the tip of his tail. I think the best part of being a guide dog handler is how well we get to know our dogs and the benefit of allowing them to bond with us.

Thanks to his puppy raiser, Pat, he loves to have his face touched, his ears rubbed, and loves his kennel. This part could go on forever, as a raiser does so much when the pup is growing up.

Here’s to our third year together, Bubba, thanks for being by my side, for accepting me despite all my faults and helping me understand the meaning of canine

This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative. Annie and Bailey the yellow lab guide dog

unconditional regard.

News and Notes

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Hello Readers,
It’s February, the month dedicated to love and inklings of spring. Here in New York, we have been experiencing yo-yo weather and I am ready for the warmer weather. Bailey and Verona, my Labradors, would love it to snow a few more times just for fun, though. Silly dogs!

I have a few announcements this time around – first is the ACB Radio Mainstream podcast on February 21 at 10:30 p.m. eastern. I talk to the host, Brian McCallen about being a writer and coping with blindness. You can subscribe to the podcast for other interviews and informational segments.
Here is the listing: Ann Chiappetta – Wednesday February 21st 10:30PM Eastern/7:30PM Pacific (and replays every two hours throughout the next day)

To listen to “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 712-775-4808, 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 info related to the show, go to: https://speakingoutfortheblind.weebly.com/list-of- episodes-and-show-news/for-more-information-episode-160-ann-chiappetta

For all you local folks, I am hosting a book signing on March 15, 2018 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Westchester Disabled on The Move in Yonkers, New York. Printed, signed copies of FOLLOW YOUR DOG A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST are $10 each, and UPWELLING: POEMS are $8, cash only. Call 914-393-6605 if you have any questions. Directions are on WDOMI’s website,
www.wdom.org

I’d love to give a multi-book discount to organizations, programs, and schools, so email me at [email protected] to find out more.

Thanks for reading, here is a little haiku for you:
What does your dog do?
Alight upon the sun beams?
Yes, each day we fly

Be well,
Annie, Bailey, and Verona

Reaching Out

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I recently sold 37 copies of my new book, Follow Your Dog a Story of Love and Trust www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta in January. I am proud of this accomplishment because although the number is modest, I am an Indy writer managing my writing career without a publicist or agent to push sales on my behalf. My colleagues, friends, family and social media contacts have helped me, too – something I thought would be impossible just a few years ago.

The most difficult barrier is time. I work full-time, so whatever promotions I engage in must be squeezed in judiciously; weekends are crammed with secretarial duties like stuffing envelopes, ordering promotional materials, scheduling guest appearances and podcasts or radio interview’s, , and catching up on email. Phew! Often, the household duties fall to the wayside or are completed between these other tasks. ‘Tis the life I choose to live.

If an interviewer asked what is the most difficult part of being an Indy author who is promoting her books, I’d reply it’s about asking others to help me do it. What I mean is, being bold enough to make a cold call to a book seller, artist’s guild or friend and ask for help with a recommendation or book review. The risk of being rejected or told no, sorry, I can’t help you is the one fear I work through while selling my book.

If the interviewer asked what is the most fulfilling part of being an Indy author, I would say the people’s responses, of course. It is about touching a reader, connecting the emotions and resonating with them through the written word that keeps me going and fills me with joy.

Thank you, readers, for keeping me going.

Thank You Verona

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I got on the bus last week and took out my cell to pass the time. I opened Face Book and fingered through my status and read that it has been 9 years since I met Verona. I shared the milestone like a good little FB user but the nostalgia stayed with me all day. I wasn’t able to reach out and pet her to say thanks for a wonderful first guide dog experience. It was like not saying “I love you,” to my human family upon leaving for a day’s work.

There are so many reasons for writing this post, from appreciating the people involved in bringing Verona and I together to those who helped me make the decision to retire her and supporting our family so we could keep her and let her live out her retirement with regal dignity.

It’s a little overkill, perhaps, to keep writing about this dog, but, hey, I write about relationships and the most meaningful ones have been with dogs, so, you know, write what you know, right?

Verona continues to provide unconditional love dressed in ebony, a constantly wagging tail, and a gentle nature. She is the only dog in our lives that has generated a fan club and a long list of possible retirement homes when folks heard she was hanging up the harness. All the paratransit bus drivers talked about her, how intelligent she looked, that she “has smart eyes,”. We are featured in the para transit taxi program brochure; when she retired, the local newspaper wrote an article about how much the veterans would miss her. She saw her trainer the other day and actually jumped up to lick her face, prancing around like she was two years old. It is in these moments for which I feel grateful. I am appreciative of the dedication and expert attention to her training and breeding. Our family has benefitted from such a phenomenal dog, she is a true Labrador retriever and the kind of guide dog who became an ambassador because of her character. This is why I write about her so much, have written a book, two poems and dozens of articles about her. She is exceptional. It is this piece of canine personality which grabs our attention and stays with us. It is this type, this definition that sticks to our hearts like Velcro and owns a part of our hearts making us grieve when the animal passes.

People talk about soul mates, and a great guide dog match is similar. Some folks refer to it as a spirit dog, or a heart dog. I felt her unique energy the first time we met and don’t ever want to forget it. The energy still keeps me grounded, gives me confidence.

Here’s to you, Verona, sweet girl, whose ability to trust me and to have been able to take us places and lead us into adventures is the most powerful partnerships I’ve known. Happy ninth anniversary. I love you.

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The Authenticity Gnome

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I picked out another fossilized pine needle from my sock; it was so dry I thought it was a tooth pick. How did it get in my shoe, then poke through my sock and the my tender tootsie? I believe it is the curse of the authenticity gnome. Yes, the bug-eyed eccentric mini-man is related to the elusive cousin, the elf on the shelf and looks similar to its country cousin, the garden gnome. It takes the needles from the old Christmas trees and sprinkles them into the radiator, the closet, and the bowl of water left for the dogs. This nefarious little creature also infuses the needles with a special energy that pushes them out from under the vacuum and broom.

You see, it does these things to keep us from deciding to opt for a fake tree, what is now called a fiber optic tree. It works like this: when a human is picking the old pine needles from the clogged vacuum, the human thinks, I should really buy a fake tree so I don’t have to do this anymore. Then the human looks off into the distance, recalling the many holidays, the smell of fresh balsam and gifts given that brought smiles and thanks and as the human sets down the unclogged vacuum, the thought of the facsimile tree is wiped from the human’s frontal lobe by a magical flick of a stubby authenticity gnome finger. Classic reverse psychology and it works. I wonder if they get kick backs from the tree farms.

A Kiss From Arrow

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The photo depicts Arrow kissing my face.
What could be more comforting than puppy kisses? This is what I thought as I held yellow lab pup Arrow. She wagged her tail the whole time I held her and she tickled my cheek with her warm tongue. Every time I get the chance to hold a puppy, I think, is this pup going to grow up to be a guide dog? A detection dog? A search and rescue dog? The only fact I can rely upon for a pup like Arrow is this: no matter where it goes, it will be loved and cared for and given a rewarding life, whether it guides or is given a place in a forever This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative.home. Thanks to Guiding Eyes, A pup like Arrow will learn to develop its innate traits so it can grow to become a well-rounded and confident dog.

As someone who has marveled at and given much thought on the psychological growth of puppies, knowing a purpose bred pup like Arrow is nurtured and encouraged to embrace its true potential is amazing; every pup has a gleam of potential and when graduation time comes and I hear their name I send up a huge thanks to those who have contributed to make it happen.

May you and your loved ones share a happy and peaceful holiday season and Merry Christmas from all of us here at Castle 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

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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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