Thought Wheel

Ann Chiappetta

A Mixed Doggie Bag

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem writing Writing Life

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about being out in public with a guide dog. After writing my book , I have to fill up the repertoire, having used most of the material for Follow Your Dog a Story of Love and Trust and in 2016, following the release of Upwelling: Poems. Not sure about other book writers but I felt quite depleted after publishing each book. I did not write much and found I wanted to read more, write less. I honored this urge and have read about five books since releasing Follow Your Dog in October. But I digress.
Onto the dog story …

It was a mixed bag last week, and I will try to show you why in this post.
I was scheduled for a routine ultrasound test. Bailey and I find the door to the waiting room, and I poke my head and ask if this is the right place. The building does not have braille or raised print on any of the doors so I have to ask. A few folks say yes and we enter. I step inside and hear, “She’s got a dog, I’m scared of dogs,” and then I hear, “She’s not coming in here, is she?”

A quick wave of anxiety rises, then I tell it to go away, that I should not be intimidated by what this person says. I should be used to it by now, but after almost ten years of working a guide dog, it still triggers some anxiety.

I ask where the counter is and direct Bailey forward, he stops. I determine there is not enough room for both of us to walk between the chairs, so I begin to shuffle past the patients sitting there, tucking in their feet to let us pass.

I tell Bailey to lay down while I fill out and sign paperwork and hear the same person say, “They shouldn’t let dogs in these places, people have allergies, you know,”. Thankfully no one responds.
To make matters worse, the receptionist treats me like I am a plague victim. She barely touches my hand to help me get to the line to sign my name. I ask her to direct me to a place so my dog won’t be stepped on, as I notice the chairs are very close together. She misdirects me twice, and tries to push me over to the chair instead. I lose my patience, saying, “The chair is not in front of me, the chair is to my right,” She retreats behind the counter, and I can feel her relief of not having to help me anymore.
as it happens, the safest place for Bailey to lie down is the farthest from the radiology room door. I have to walk back around the entire line of people to get to the technician when my name is called. Thankfully, she is helpful and actually loves dogs, allowing Bailey to lie wherever he feels comfortable once I am settled.

I end up waiting after the test for the return trip and pass the time in the waiting area. Bailey takes me back to our chair. Before leaving, I risk a trip to the bathroom. I direct Bailey and because the room is so full, I can tell where the turn to the bathroom is and trail my hand on the wall to keep oriented. Unfortunately, I don’t know that there is a line of chairs against the wall leading to the bathroom door and almost pass my hand across the face of a man sitting there; I apologize as soon as I realize what my fingers touched and urge Bailey on to the bathroom. The reluctant receptionist appears as if by magic, saying, “The bathroom is really small, I don’t think you will fit.” She tries to block me but I just smile and say I think we can fit. I let Bailey go in first, and I go in, then she helps me close the door, as if I am unable to figure it out for myself. I exit the bathroom without incident, Giving Bailey the command to the outer door and we are clear of an uneventful test and I sigh with relief that we have survived that receptionist. Yuck.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

The Authenticity Gnome

| Filed under Relationships writing

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

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships writing Writing Life

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

December Engagements Whoopee!

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem writing Writing Life

Hi folks,
I am so excited to announce the official launch and first book signing event for FOLLOW YOUR DOG A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST. The signing will take place before and after the graduation ceremony at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. The date is Saturday, December 9 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. and the address is 611 Granite Springs Road, Yorktown Heights. 10598. Go to for directions. Why not come on by and pick up a copy and while you’re there, take the kennel tour or stay for the graduation ceremony, you won’t be disappointed.

If you can’t make the book signing, there is still more than enough time to order it for the holidays from Amazon, just go here:
I hope we meet you there – Bailey would love for you to take his pawtograph.
Please read on for other opportunities to hear about the book.
On December 7 at 6 p.m. Central time, I will be a guest on the Disability and Progress radio show being broadcast from Twin Cities Minnesota. The Disability and Progress show information is KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis 106.7 FM ST. Paul and the website is

If you can’t tune in, on December 11 at 7 p.m. eastern time, I will be the guest author on a telephone conference broadcast called Branco Broadcast, go to for the call-in information. If you miss the shows, no worries, listening links will be added to the interview page of my author’s website

Thanks for reading and here’s to a blessed and happy holiday season.

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0