Thought Wheel

Ann Chiappetta


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Verona and I have been a team for a little over four years now and she still surprises me with her ability to problem solve and keep us safe, both admirable traits in a guide dog. It’s hard to convey the way we walk and work together. It’s like riding horseback – if you haven’t ever done it, you just don’t know what it feels like. So, I will try, through the written word, to provide a piece of it.


Okay, as we walk down the city street, I can feel her pace through the harness handle. It bobs gently in my hand. As she swerves to avoid a sunken part of the sidewalk, she pushes me to the right, then back to the center of the side walk. When she stops at the curb, the braking runs up the handle and stops me.


We wait for the light to change. I say forward, she doesn’t move. I say it again, she doesn’t move. I know there is something afoot, as she is refusing to go forward, obviously perceiving something potentially dangerous to me. I wait and listen. Someone pushes past and steps down into the street. I hear the unmistakable rocking, metal clunk of a loose steel plate. I look down at it, just to my right, and it’s where I would step down into the street. I praise her, realizing if I stepped there, I could have fallen, twisted an ankle, or worse.  She seems to say, mom, sometimes you are so dense. Then she repositions us and when I say forward, she pulls me left and we step around the plate into the street. Now, she had to make some decisions, to take me off the ramp access, where the plate was and a little out of the cross walk to keep me safe.


That’s a typical day with a Guiding Eyes dog and this is why I write about it. Real life experiences from a working team helps folks appreciate and understand the intricacies of guide work. My hope is that by offering these pieces of insight into a working team, our Guiding Eyes family will grow along with each and every volunteer and donation.

I am very grateful for my dog, her ability to take charge, and the way in which she does it – with a serious but calm manner, her tail wagging as she walks.



by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0


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Taxi Service Update and other stuff

Well, here’s an update on my denial of service by the taxi company who contracts with our County’s Para transit program. After hearing that I was being passed over by some of the drivers, the director of the Office for the Disabled in Westchester County set up a meeting to iron out the “misunderstanding”. When I arrived, he was sincerely apologetic and said that if the company didn’t buck it up that they would be in serious trouble and the contract could be broken based on the behavior of the drivers. He said he would back me up and I had time to think it over. When the taxi company’s owner came in, I had made up my mind to give him one more chance but not until I had my say about how insulted I felt and how humiliating the experiences were. I took him to task over not being given the driver’s name or operator’s number. He hedged saying that the name was hard to spell. I let him know that I thought this was wrong, that no matter how much he wishes to protect his interests that not giving me this information are illegal and I could make it messy. He got humbled a bit and told me he would personally take care of the problem, said I was right, it was unacceptable to be treated that way and wrapped up by telling me that I have five free trips for the future.


I left feeling as if he was sincere and I am glad to report the last two trips were fine. Let’s hope it stays that way.


Next on the list is the update on the licensing exam I am to take. I did my part, registering for the test as instructed and when I didn’t hear from the testing facility, I called to set up a date in June. Well, according to the person in the accommodations line, they have no record of the accommodations I described.  I was asked to give them 24-48 hours to “research” this oversight. Hmmm. Sounds like there continues to be a snag somewhere and next week I’ll have to go back to the beginning to find out where to start making phone calls, etc.

What a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense. I’m just so disgusted and have no confidence that this snag will be resolved quickly.  I feel really betrayed, placated into thinking that this was going to be resolved so easily. What a maroon I am, huh? I was led to believe that I meant something to these folks, that I mattered. What a fool I am. Where’s a high powered attorney when you need one?




by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0