I’ve got a few things going on which I will share in another post. But I wanted to share a fun moment with my guide dog, Bailey. The pictures are of the mask with the logo of Guiding Eyes for the Blind taken by an Aira agent. It was less than five minutes of fun, but it keeps me smiling even though the smile is hidden by the mask. Enjoy!
Our daughter, April, moved out six months ago. We are now empty nesters, at least most of the time. Wouldn’t you know it, April and her partner, Danny, decided to practice parenting by adopting a kitten. His name is Noodle because he loves to eat ramen noodles.
He’s now about eight weeks old and is black with a little white patch on his chest. He’s at that funny stage where he runs sideways and gets scared after he gets up on something, cries until he’s rescued. Adorable.
Right now, as I write this, he is stalking us around the Livingroom, shooting out from under the furniture and popping at our ankles or doggy noses, no claws, thank goodness. Papa is not sold on the little black demon, mewing his distress. He is getting used to Noodle, though, coming up and sniffing him. May wants to mother the kitten, sometimes a little too much and Bailey is just a huge doofus who doesn’t know his own strength of curiosity. We caught him trying to nibble a tiny paw, so he is on the watch list.
Noodle loves boxes and the laser pointer is the only way to get him out from under the bed when we want to catch him. We are careful with it, as the dogs also love the laser pointer.
I think with time Papa and Noodle will get along. We are not forcing interactions and taking it slowly. He’s a lucky little kitty and he is already well socialized, likes to ride in cars, goes willingly into a carrier, and has come to trust our dogs.
By Ann Chiappetta
Ebony kitten stalks its prey
Amid discovery of
each day. Fearless hunter dives
tags the target, then
hides to find another.
Sometimes one of the dogs does something that is funny and openly undignified., at least that is how we humans view it. We love them for living in the moment and finding opportunity to fulfill their doggy drive for affection, comfort, and sustenance. Below is a photo of yellow lab Bailey foregoing his training, and his timing is perfect.
PD: Bailey sitting on the bed behind Annie, who is also sitting on the bed eating a yogurt. Bailey’s head is on her shoulder, staring fixedly at the yogurt.
By Ann Chiappetta
November 24, 2006 – May 31, 2020
Guiding Eyes 2V406
Beloved pet and retired guide dog, black Labrador retriever, Verona, died today of natural causes and expired peacefully with compassion and care with the assistance of a veterinarian, surrounded by her loved ones.
Known as Happy Pants to the Guiding Eyes staff instructors during training, Verona has forever touched the lives of her puppy raiser family, her handler and family and countless others.
Verona worked as a guide dog and as a therapy dog for trauma patients. After retiring from being a guide dog, she helped children read through a program for the Good Dog Foundation.
Verona’s favorite pastime was watching the waterfowl on Greenwood Lake and walking in the woods. She loved cats and other small animals.
We will miss her soft, velvet ears, gentle kisses, and good nature. Thank-you, sweet girl for being the best canine ambassador, for helping Jerry hunt the turkey and keep him company upstate. Most of all, thank-you for helping me learn to fly.
Over the Rainbow Bridge
There is a place of rainbow dreams, of lush green grass, and silver streams. It brings me comfort to know you’re there, playfully romping without a care. Always happy, the freedom to roam, peaceful, joyful in your new home. You never criticize, you never judge, you were always there for me to love. Though you live on in my heart I know, it’s just so hard to let you go! I know someday we’ll meet again, you’ll run to greet me, my best friend. Together forever we’ll finally be, over the rainbow, just you and me…
Jerry could not find the Cholula hot sauce, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholula_Hot_Sauce#Brand_name, the main brand we use in our home for spicing up dishes. It wasn’t in the cabinet, the basket on the counter, or in the fridge. Using his powers of thinking like May the Dog, he armed himself with the flashlight of discovery and excavated under the bed in April’s old room, finding the intact glass bottle. Now, the mystery unfolds even further, folks. Why did May take the hot sauce off the counter and where is the decorative wooden sphere that fits over the screw top of the bottle?
I don’t usually post poems here because submission guidelines for other magazines will not accept an author’s work either previously printed or posted online. But I just have to share this one. Thanks for reading and please share it with others who love to read and write poetry.
The inspiration for this poem is self-advocacy; I’ve learned that standing up to bureaucratic requirements, what I call nonsense, often wears down the complainant resulting in the complainant dropping a case. It also re-traumatizes the person each time the person must respond to filing deadlines, written statements and affidavits, as the person must, to an extent, relive the experience to be witness to it.
This poem attempts to express the resolve and power of circumstances one must choose to endure when planning to grab the rope of advocacy and pull back, often against a much bigger and stronger opponent.
By Ann Chiappetta
Hard packed sand softens
With each step, like thoughts
Yielding Cool and unbidden under foot
Sun Descending, I walk from east to west
Sea water surges
Scours away thought-foot prints
Hope and resolve walk beside me
I persevere, unable to alter the course.
Though the dunes rise to the left and waves
Grab and pull My limbs on the right
I stay the course.
Tears taste like the tide
and like the wet ambition of the fisherman’s net
ego escapes, pours back into the sea.
Catherine de Medici’s Fork
By Ann Chiappetta
To pluck tidbits from a trencher
soils delicate hands
even a lady’s dagger, while beautiful
cannot hold softened morsels
a spoon compels one to slurp — or drip
How excited was I
to find bordering neighbors
I returned with this implement
A gift from a Venetian prince.
a slim handle with four tines
to spike and transfer a tidbit
From table to fair lips
Graceful and delicate
Behold, unsoiled fingertips.
It’s International Guide Dog Day, a day set aside to recognize the work that our loving and loyal canine companions do for us every day. Each year International Guide Dog Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday of April.
It takes a village to raise a puppy and help it gain the necessary skills to become a guide dog. Every year staff and volunteers from training organizations around the world breed, raise and train guide dogs and partner them with blind handlers. Our dogs are our heroes, and today is a way to let others know just how much we appreciate them.
Now that we have raised some paws and wagged a few tails to celebrate, we also want to share what it is like to be blind and out in public with a guide dog. During this year of worldwide crisis GDUES wants to share a few tips about how you can help people who are blind maintain social distancing.
When you see a guide dog team, please don’t pet, feed, call or distract the dog. Speak to the handler. It is important for the public to know that guide dogs don’t know about physical distancing. Our dogs are trained to move around obstacles, not to stop six feet away from a door, or in line at the supermarket or pharmacy. It’s important to understand a blind person using a white cane or a guide dog cannot always accurately measure distances or see lines on the floor.
Since we might not hear you come out of the store as we go in, a quick “Hello,” would help. Or, “Hi, you are at the end of the line.: or “Hi, you can Move up a few steps,”. When passing a guide dog handler outside, saying hello will help us keep required physical distancing by hearing where you are in relation to us.
We want to follow the same health and safety precautions as everyone else, however, we might require a little more information than normal. We are all in this together.
The mission of GDUES is to advocate for and support guide dog teams living and working in New York State. Learn more by going to www.gdues.org
Who is Bailey? My guide dog, of course, a goofy and sometimes dignified seven-year-old male yellow lab bred and trained from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. He’s the right dog even though his cream-colored fur infiltrates almost every fabric, even the bathroom towels.
Here are some of the things he is done since we met in March 2015: Helped me be a better handler, a faster walker, a more patient person.
Here are some things I believe I have helped him achieve: better manners, tolerance to cats, and doing better with food scavenging.
Today he is 7 years old and it is significant because I know he will be my working dog for another 2 years; his projected retirement age is 9. Until then, Bailey and I will travel a little more once the covid19 pandemic has subsided.
Finally, I want to convey to folks reading this why handlers like me go on about our dogs, why a working dog deserves respect and the best care possible. I personally believe every pet deserves the best care possible, no matter the species but working dogs, especially guide dogs even more so.
I hope I am not overstating the obvious. Every time we go out and walk a route, I feel blessed, free of some invisible restraint. Bailey knows his job and his desire to perform is infectious. He picks up a new route or task quickly once he knows a treat will mark it.
There was one time I thought he wouldn’t walk onto the lift platform beside the jet. The jetway was being used and I could not walk down the stairs. When the flight attendant said I would need to ride down from the plane to the tarmac, I panicked, not knowing if Bailey had ever been on an open-air lift. He took me on, sat and cocked his head as if to say, wow, this is different, waited for the lift to complete the ride, and guided me off like he’d done it just yesterday.
He only showed fear once. We were at an old-time farm and the chickens and rooster were in the street. He refused to walk past, in fact, tried to turn around and go back the way we came.
Happy birthday to Bailey, ever-curious, affectionate, and full of big-boy sweetness.