Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

Remembering Verona 2006 – 2020  🦮

| Filed under Guide dogs pets and people Relationships

 

It’s January, a month of memories.  I look back upon those who have died and I also look forward to keeping them close to my heart through recalling the special times we’ve shared together. My Dad, Bob, and his being a neat freak and a talented carpenter and mechanic and lover of nature. I also recall my mother-in-law, Carol and  the way she loved my kids and feeling blessed I survived her erratic  driving and feeling relieved  I did not have to see  the close calls because I am blind. 😓😱 .

 

Although we lost both my Dad and Carol in successive January  dates, both on the sixteenth of the month, I want to also celebrate the life of another family member, my first guide dog.

 

In  January 2009 I met and trained with my first guide dog, Verona and this post is being written and shared to honor her life. I am fortunate to be part of the Guiding Eyes graduate community and because of it I take part in  occasional grief and bereavement  Zoom meetings.  We share how much our dogs mean to us, the bond  of trust and love and how much they mean to us even after they die. I always feel better after one of these meetings because I spent the time with other handlers who understand the lifetime bond developed with these incredible dogs and the indelible  imprint they have upon our hearts.

 

Here is one of my favorite stories about Verona, a sweet sixty lb. black lab. My husband, Jerry, took over her care and handling once I retired her and submitted my application for a successor dog. She was seven years old and  full of energy but she developed  cysts in her eyes and it began effecting her ability to guide me. One day Jerry took her upstate     during turkey hunting season. She was a great field dog and not a bit gun shy. He set up the blind, telling Verona to lay down. He soon shot the turkey and  got out of the blind, saying “Let’s go get it!” and Verona ran out of the blind and ran for the turkey,  grabbing it’s neck.  He asked her to let go and she did but  kept trying to grab it. After he called me and told me the story, I laughed and   between giggles, said, “Well,  you told her to go get it and she’s a lab, what did you expect?”

 

Verona lived a great life, succumbing to old age in February 2020 at age 14.  I could not have had a better first guide dog and  since  walking our first  route together I haven’t  looked back. Thanks, sweet girl for being able to give me back my independence.

If you want to read more about our adventures, pick up my memoir,

Follow Your Dog a Story of Love and Trust .

 

close up of Black lab with snow sprinkled on her nose and head. She is looking at the camera with large, brown inquisitive eyes.

close up of Black lab with snow on her face

💗 What to Love about a Human’s Best Friend 💗 🦴 🐕 

| Filed under blogging Guide dogs pets and people

 

After raising two kids and doing the parent thing with the pediatrician for all those years, I thought my husband might like helping out with our pets once in a while. I am proud to say Jerry has become a wonderful pet parent and takes our pet dog, May to all her appointments. We adopted her  in  2020 and love her sweet and sassy personality. She is smart,  protective but not territorial, and solves problems  quickly and efficiently, just like a good German Shepard should. While she has a bit of Rottweiler , as proven by a DNA test, she’s  got  a GSD body type  and traits  and the only part missing is pointy ears. She has derpy ones that flop over and stick out perpendicular to her head.  Do not let this fool you.

 

At first we house trained her, which took a few months. She was already crate trained.  It took a while for her bladder to mature.  She learned how to unlock the metal safety gate, you know the child-safety ones with the lock cover and the sliding , recessed latch?

 

My yellow lab guide dog, Bailey and May love one another, play together and love to share space, which is good. She also  loves our cats. She does poke and play with them but  taps down the chasing and while this took some time,  the darned cats like to be chased, so we gave up trying to stop it. A few swats  from  the kitty pins and she learned to respect them. When we brought in a kitten, May’s  mothering instincts blossomed, surprising us. She raised it, groomed it and  now they all sleep together. April, my daughter,  who convinced us to adopt May and who has been  a huge part of caring for May, has been able to help  with most of her doggie dislikes, like the ear drops. April is great at relaxing May for  a two or three  toenail trim. But it does take a few days because May won’t tolerate more than one foot at a time. The groomer  must hate it when she comes in for a spa day.

But these aversions  are within the normal spectrum for a pet, right? Let me go on to what is challenging . sometimes she reverts into a demon, thus her alternate name, Mazikeen. Anyway, her Shepard came out, she is such a drama queen. First, to tell us her ear hurt she jumped onto the bed, flopped between us and kept us awake by whining and shaking her head all night . Then she hurt her ear more by scratching it and when we tried to look at it she screamed like we were cutting it off.  So, off to the Vet to take a look at the ear. Then, Jerry gave her the anti-puke pill because she gets car sick in the truck. Well it didn’t work but we have a blanket  for that and an extra seat cover just in case. Then, they can’t take her temp anally because she turns into a whirling dervish in the exam room so they have to do it under her leg. That went okay, so did the ear inspection. But when they wanted to take a blood draw to check  basics from taking the allergy pills, they could not do it. She became a manic mess and sprayed blood all over them from jerking away. Three times, even with cheese whiz and three people to help distract her.  So next time we have to  fast her in the morning, run her until she is exhausted because a tired dog is a good dog in the exam room,  give her the anti puke pill two hours prior and maybe Jerry can avoid a mess in the truck   and the vet tech can get some blood. Oh, they want a urine sample. Well, that is not going to happen, She won’t let anyone sneak up and put a pan under her ass.

 

All this is frustrating and I am thankful it is Jerry and April facing the challenges with May. Oh, yes, I almost forgot to mention she punishes herself by running into the dog crate and facing the wall after we discover a chewed slipper or something she’d taken off the kitchen counter, like an oven mitt.   How could you not love this dog or be amused when she does this?  Talk about operant conditioning, lol.

 

The best thing about May is  the way she lowers her head  and leans into you or lap asking for affection, exposing her neck as if to say I trust you so much I want you to scratch me where I can’t reach. What could be more endearing than this?

 

May  on the dog bed with her bones and toys

May the dog on her dog bed with her toysMay the dog on her bed with her bones

 

A Poem for Country Living

| Filed under blogging nonfiction pets and people Poem

Transformation

By Ann Chiappetta

 

My City Dogs become Porch mongrels

Laying  beside the mason jar of sun tea

The basso drone of a honey bee

The snap of a Jay’s call

The aroma of a grill

A whisking breeze   bestows relief

 

It is a call to prayer

 

Soon  we  will rise

Shake free of the   delightful

porch-dog torpor

trade  the carefree for the city

But for now  we are  country hounds.

2022

 

view of field from back of vacation house, mountain can be seen  from a distance through the trees.

 

 

 

Stepping In It 💩

| Filed under Guide dogs Poem

I thought I’d share a slice of life with our best friends.

Poo on a shoe

By Ann Chiappetta

 

 

The day began in good faith and plan

Rising at six a.m.

Busy with brewing dark roast

coffee aroma disguising the odiferous

Tang of poo

Deposited   along my route to the office

Unknowingly I cam across it

And tracked the goop hither and yon

And blithely carried on

 

It was the second time that did it

My sneaker stepped in the middle

Of the big pile with a   squelch

And  , slip and slide

Then the smell arrived.

 

Dog shit on my best Merrills

And stuck in this muck

What was I going to do?

I, of course yelled down the hall for my husband

And as we coordinated the clean-up

With gagging and nose plugs

He said,

“Honey, why did it have to be you?”

Dedicated to the family dogs, Bailey and May

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ann M. Chiappetta, M.S.

Making Meaningful ConnectionsThrough Media

914.393.6605 USA

Anniecms64@gmail.com

All things Annie: www.annchiappetta.com

 

 

Animal Encounter

| Filed under nonfiction recovering the self writing

Years ago, before I lost most of my vision, our family often visited our favorite nearby zoo. I recall one time in particular, the interaction with a cheetah made a lasting impression.
Read more
from: https://www.recoveringself.com/animals/cheetah.

How to assemble a Coffee Table

| Filed under Guide dogs Relationships

Place unassembled box flat on floor. Chase off dog who decides to lay down on it.
Open box; chase off dog trying to play with Styrofoam.
Empty box, and let cat play in box while dog lays down on the top of unassembled tabletop on floor.
Begin to read instructions while dog two enters room to investigate.
While making progress on assembling table, cat plays with paper instructions and tries running away with the paper. Dogs decide to kick back and watch human struggle with cat who has now taken screws causing human to curse and look for missing screws.
Finally, after accounting for all hardware scattered by cat, add legs to table bottom while avoiding cat trying to jump onto unfinished table.
Ignore dog one still laying down on as yet unfinished tabletop.
Ignore partner typing this all for others to read.
Wish for the day: furniture that comes already assembled.

Kitten Training 101

| Filed under Relationships

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Noodle the kitten is developing into a well socialized domesticated feline. April, our daughter, took the time finding just the right kitten. He is mellow, confident, and is advancing in his training. The photos show Noodle in a harness and leash and sitting in a grocery cart. Before anyone cries out that this is not a service animal, allow me to say it was a quick and necessary exposure for him and he passed with flying colors, taking it all in and staying in place.

Noodle rides in the car in his harness, walks willingly into a cat carrier, (most of the time, lol) and has no fear of our dogs. Why is Noodle being trained like this? Our goal is to provide him with experiences so if one day he accompanies April on a plane or train, or when she moves or Noodle has to stay with us for some reason, Noodle will be calm and unstressed. He even is being trained to play fetch and is walking on his leash. Let’s say he is the kind of cat who might believe he belongs with dogs.

May dog is his cuddle buddy and Bailey has learned to tolerate Noodle and not play bow and bark at him. As for Papa, he is still giving the kitten the feline stink eye but lets the kitten eat from his bowl and get close without becoming evil kitty. The difference between Noodle and Papa is that Papa was traumatized as a kitten and Noodle wasn’t. This allows him to be more open to new and unusual experiences.
What’s the saying? Cats rule and dogs drool?
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Bubble Wrap from May the Dog Diaries

| Filed under Relationships Writing Life

close up of May dog

May dog face close-up

My office opens into the living room. I hear much of what happens from my position, including when things are not what they seem. Today, unbeknownst to me, may decided to investigate the empty box on the couch. I was oblivious, typing away at some project or another. I heard bubble wrap popping sounds, then May hauling ass into the metal crate. Hmm, I thought, I wonder what mischief she’s gotten into now? I got up and grabbed the I.D. cane and used it to sweep around and found the errant bubble wrap. When I picked it up it was wet with dog slobber and had holes in it. I started laughing, picturing May trying to chew it and getting quite a surprise, hence the popping sounds and her jumping into the crate like she got a bit of a shock. Silly dog!

Home is Where the Bark is

| Filed under Guide dogs Relationships

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.
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