Thought Wheel

Ann Chiappetta

Guiding Eyes Graduate Council 2014

| Filed under Guide dogs writing

Verona and I  on a bench outside

Verona and I on a bench outside

2014 Graduate Council

2014 Graduate Council – group shot


Graduate Council Retreat 2014


It is with a bitter sweet heart that I write this post. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t mope around over the fact that I have cycled off the Guiding Eyes Graduate Council. I’ve done my term and stepping down to allow others to benefit from a position in the council isn’t what I’m sad about. I’m sad because the song is over and the dance hall has turned up the lights and I’ve got to return to the tasks I had put aside while working on the council. It’s always sad and a bit disjointed when change occurs, when the routine and expectations diverge. I’ll be working with Guiding Eyes, just in another capacity – the path ahead is still full of wonderful and enriching opportunities, for sure.


But before I do that, I want to say that the folks, who were chosen to serve on the Graduate Council, or the GC, are all talented, dedicated and willing to promote our School, Canine Development Center, our programs, and our splendid dogs and the people who provide everything for them so we can live and work more independently. I’ve met such caring, loving, and genuine people in the council and at Guiding Eyes. It is a community, an extended family, a safe and gratifying place to come to and I can’t say enough about it.


Okay, so what, exactly, did the GC teach me? Or, more aptly, what did I take away from the three years I served?  I learned I am an effective leader, I can stand tall, tell my story and that it matters to others. I learned that my affection for the human canine bond runs deep, as deep as the love I hold for my husband and children. I learned that I can go anywhere I choose because of the enhanced mobility provided by my dog guide.


The GC gave me the opportunity to spread my wings and explore what I feel most passionate about; moving on also means  moving onto other roles that will assist the efforts of Guiding Eyes and the overall perception of disability and blindness. Making a difference is motivating, gratifying and meaningful. This is the most vital lesson for me.


Some of the highlights of the two-day retreat were compiled in no order, so here goes nothing:

  • The fried chicken and mac & cheese dinner the first night – OMG!
  • Reuniting with old friends and making new ones.
  • The Assistance Dogs International award given to the Canine Development Center’s guru and resident expert in the canine genome , Jane Russenberger
  • Meeting the two 8 week old black lab puppies, Wendy and Wilkie.
  • Being provided with a chance to interact and provide input and dialogue with the new CEO, Tom Panec.
  • Hanging out with the training staff, getting equipment checks, training and veterinary updates, and take home goodies.
  • Sharing thoughts with Sue Dishart and the development department and knowing our thoughts are heard and that our suggestions are valued and help shape decisions on the branding and promotion of Guiding Eyes.
  • Getting an hour in the community Planet Dog run, thanks to the training staff. What a hoot!I’ll close this post by imparting my most heart felt thanks for being chosen to serve, as well as wishing the new GC officers and members a successful and meaningful term on the Graduate Council.
by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Dog and God

| Filed under Guide dogs

Evangelized, Again

I was going to my favorite deli to get a chicken wrap and a man starts walking with me.

He asked if he could speak to me and I said yes, as long as he doesn’t distract my dog while she’s working. He agreed, and then spoke,

“Do you believe in the gift of the Lord?”


Here we go again; the do-gooder wants to heal the blind person. This isn’t the first time an evangelizer has taken it upon themselves to pray over me or on my behalf to call down the Holy Ghost to heal my affliction.  I smiled and we walked down the block together. I figure, if this man has courage enough to walk with a complete stranger and evangelize, then I can go along with it. I didn’t say to him that I believe that all gods are one. That kind of unorthodox thinking can be confusing. I strolled along and just listened to his professions of faith and didn’t feel as if he pitied me. On the contrary, I just went with it.

We recited a prayer, I said a hearty AMEN. Then, he says, “I pray that today you will be healed and your blindness lifted.”

I stopped at the curb, my dog guide doing her job and ignoring him. I touched his arm and said,

“My friend, God gave me something better than my vision; he gave me the ability to see without my eyes.”

He was quiet for a moment, then quickly said goodbye. I was relieved he didn’t say any more about waking up to a miracle and being able to see. Sure, I hope for it each and every day but I sure don’t let it interfere with my life. I am a successful person. I am loved and I show love. I know that my fellow human beings respect my desire to just be me.  My disability is, at times, a barrier. Most of the time, though, it’s just another minor thing to deal with in life. Most folks respect that and work with me to offer help and support.  This man will hopefully remember our encounter and not think of blind folks as  less than, or needing their affliction healed to be whole and loved.


It was a nice day and I was still looking forward to that chicken wrap.

I tapped the edge of the curb with my toe and told Verona, “Forward,”” and we proceeded across the street to the deli.

Now that I am reflecting and writing about this, I realize that I was referring not just to the accumulated personal insight and counseling skills I’ve achieved, along with good fortune and success, but also to Verona, who guided me expertly down that busy block while some stranger strode beside us. God=DOG



by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

Second try: Post NoPoWriMo

| Filed under Poem

Post NaPoWriMo


April was National Poetry Writing Month, hence the acronym above; it was tough and I feel successful about it even though I didn’t write 30 poems in 30 days. I feel good about it because I wrote two haiku poems and one poem free verse style of which I am particularly proud.  I’ll re-post them below. Let me know what you think either by replying to my blog post or by emailing me:


First, the haiku. There is one line of traditional thinking that states that haiku should never be titled, that it takes away from the juxtaposition of the impact of the words themselves. There is another, more modern line of thinking that says the poet can title haiku.  I’ll compromise and sum each up in a one word title.




Bird songs of sun light

Welcome sounds delight the soul

Awaken the mind




No chill in the breeze

Rejoice in the birth of spring

How soon we forget


I also posted the next poem and dedicated to Vietnam Veterans. This poem took a week to write and tweak, so I could say that even though I didn’t write any new material each day in April, I did allow the Muse to take me on another creative journey that culminated in the poem below.


Lost Something along the Way

By Ann Chiappetta


Youth yearns for action

The best soldiers eighteen to twenty one

Because that’s the way to make ‘em.


Things were different back then

Molded and forsaken,

Sent to serve


Jetted to another continent

Touching down in a humid foreign hell

Splotches of Olive drab upon shades of green

Toe tags and body bags

Shades of sorrow buried

With ordinance and trash


Dangerous to feel, so don’t


No safety — well maybe

Caught in a reprieve of minutes,

in beer cans and tokes

Brotherhood in chaos


Metal birds carry them

Innocence drained

With the fluids

flowing out onto the deck plates

In the teeth of fear

Feed the guns, starve the soul


Welcome to Vietnam says the pilot


Heat, terror and cold fire

Burn indelibly

Birthing specialties

Like alcoholism, addiction

mental illness

Homecoming meant shunning


Welcoming darkness


Ending it all


They were once

The boys of summer who could smile

Love and trust

And who

Lost something along the way.



Dedicated to Vietnam combat veterans



by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0