February 2000

I went in for my second guide-dog in February 2000. This diary for February 2000 is being completed in March after returning from Guiding Eyes. I originally intended to write this on a day-to-day basis while in class, but stopped after losing Emerald after the first day of class.

General Routine At Guiding Eyes

This section summarizes the daily routine at Guiding Eyes --subsequent sections describe what we did on each particular day.

Our day starts at 6:00am with a wake-up call from the instructors over the intercom asking us to park, feed, water and park our dogs. I typically get out of bed around 5:45am or so, brush my teeth, and start putting on my jeans and boots by the time the wake-up call arrives. At 6:00am sharp, I take Bubbles off the tie-down chain and take her out on leash --he back door of the dorm room opens out into the space where we relieve the dogs. I have Bubbles stay while I open the door, and then take her out making sure the door doesn't hit her as it shuts. She typically relieves herself immediately, and I bring her back in at once. Once back in the room, I put her back on her tie down chain, put the leash in the closet, and walk down the hallway to pick up her food. She waits eagerly for the food and gobbles it up in about a minute; she then drinks some water. Soon as she is done drinking her water, I put the dishes in the sink, pick up her leash from the closet and take her off the tie-down. I take her out the back door once again and let her relieve herself. Once she started relieving herself on command, all this would be done before 6:10am.

I put Bubbles back on her tie-down and go take my usual long shower. I am done and dressed by between 6:30 and 6:40am --on some days I used the time before breakfast to go down to the computer room with my laptop (and Bubbles on leash) to read email.

Breakfast starts at 7:30 --and is called over the intercom. I go up to breakfast with Bubbles --except on some days during the final week of class when we left our dogs in room for some meals so they got used to being without us. Breakfast is probably the best meal at Guiding-Eyes --all the meals are good though extremely bland. I typically have some toast and eggs along with juice and coffee --pancakes or waffles if available. Breakfast ends at 8:00am; as we finish breakfast and walk out of the dining room, the instructors watch us as we approach the stairs to make sure the dogs stop correctly. During the two weeks there, Bubbles consistently stopped for the down-step --the only trouble used to be that she would be more interested in running over to see her dear friend Caroline rather than go towards the steps.

Breakfast over, we gather in the Campbell lounge downstairs for doing obedience. We do obedience exercises one at a time initially; later we do it in pairs, and towards the end do do obedience exercises with all 12 students standing in a circle around the lounge.

Obedience over, we get ready for going out for the day. Most of the training happens in White Plains; GEB is in the process of refurbishing its lounge in White Plains, and in the interim they are once again using a classroom in St. Matthews Church in White Plains. (10 years ago, we went to the same place on one day for working on escalators). The drive to White Plains takes about 35 minutes; we load up in two vans for the trip. The vans are 11seater Dodge vehicles; Caroline and Chrissie each drive a van, with the class supervisor in one van and and Instructors Assistant (IA) in the other an navigating. There are three rows of seats in the van --each capable of seating three; we typically sit 2 per seat so there is room for all the dogs on the floor. The dogs are kept sitting during this drive so they get used to sitting in vehicles; this is because when taking buses and trains, it is not safe for the dog to be lying down. The dog's instinct is of course to lie down, so we typically end up having to bring them back up to a sit several times during the drive.

We typically get in to White Plains by 9:30 or so; the instructors pull up in front of the Church at the side door on Waller. Having parked, Chrissie and Caroline help us unload and work our way up to the classroom in the church where we wait.

The church has a goofy floor layout with many odd doors and stairs --we orient ourselves to the portions of the place we need to use on our first day in White Plains (the day of the Juno walks).

We all end up in the classroom by about 9:45 or so --we have tables set up where we can sit while we wait. The surroundings are a bit cramped --but nothing to complain about --we have a coffee machine there to get coffee or hot chocolate --along with cold milk and juice while we wait.

The instructors then start working the students after we first hear an overview of the day from the class supervisor Rick Connell.

The morning trips get done by about 12:30 or so; the kitchen staff from Guiding Eyes drive over by noon with packed lunches. We have lunch in the class room, and continue to wait for our afternoon walk.

The afternoon trips are all typically done by around 3:15pm at the latest; the instructors then load us back into the vans --and we leave White Plains by 3:30pm at the latest.

We drive back to the school --getting in by 4:00pm --just in time to feed, water and park the dogs.

Bubbles is typically done eating and relieving herself by about 4:10pm; I use the time before dinner to make any work-related phone calls and time permitting take her over to the grooming room and brush her.

Dinner is at 5:00pm and is called over the intercom; we go up to dinner with our dogs with the instructors watching. I typically get done with dinner by around 5:40pm or so --and go down to the lounge to wait for the 6:00pm evening lecture where Caroline typically summarizes what we will be working on the next day.

Evening lecture gets done by 6:45 to 7:00pm on most days --earlier sometimes. I typically used the remaining time until 7:30pm to either watch CNN in the lounge or to groom Bubbles if I hadn't managed to do so before dinner. At 7:30pm the instructors call us out to park our dogs --the day officially ends at this point and we now have a couple of hours free before we go to sleep. I take Bubbles on leash to the computer room where the only analogue phone line in the building is located, and read my email on my laptop. Bubbles lies at my feet most days --though she wants to play more than lie down. I get done with email by 8:15pm or so, and return to my room to eve the computer there. I then go over to the lounge and watch CNN for a little while --typically sitting on the floor with Bubbles head on my lap. I try and stay awake till 9:00pm or so --we need to park the dog once before we go to bed and 9:00pm is the earliest we may do so. I park Bubbles around 9:10pm, put her on her tie down and go to bed.

Tuesday, February 8, 2000

Got dropped off at Guiding Eyes by Rafah Hosn from IBM Watson. We drove up to the entrance on Granite Springs and went in through the dining room and down to the lobby. Met Lyn Robertson (who trained Aster) on the way in. The class supervisor Rick Connell showed me to my room --he remembered me from 10 years ago. I've been assigned room 8 --this is the room I had 10 years ago. I have a roommate --Matt Corello --who has already chosen the left side of the room (that I had 10 years ago) --so I chose the right side. I spent some time unpacking before joining everyone else in the Campbell lounge where we all introduced out-selves. There are 13 of us in class (one student was to leave a day later making it 12 for the rest of the class).

The instructor for the class is Caroline Sandler and the second instructor is Christina (Chrissie) Anderson.

Wednesday, February 9, 2000

This is the day of Juno walks. We did Juno obedience with the instructors, and then drove out to White Plains where I did a Juno walk with both instructors Caroline and Chrissie.

During our walks I outlined my mobility needs and described my normal work pattern. I have asked for a dog with a strong pull and one who will be able to work in many different environments. Caroline mentions that she can think of one dog who is extremely intelligent but at present a bit of a handful to control; she asks me if I think I can handle that. I answer yes. She also mentions that she can think of another dog who is just as good but also a bit more mature and settled and asks for my preference amongst the two; I say given the choice I would pick the more mature one, pointing out that though Aster pulled hard, she was almost 3 and therefore well settled when I got her.

Thursday February 10, 2000

The instructors met last night to discuss the dogs each one of us would be getting. They have already made the decision but we find out only in the afternoon. This morning, we did one final set of Juno walks around the Guiding Eyes campus; as we walk back into the Campbell lounge, Caroline says she is comfortable with the match she has made.

We spent the morning with guide-dogs that are still in training; each of us was given a dog for about half an hour. We settled the dogs down in the Campbell lounge, took them up to the dining room and had them sit at table, and finally came back down to the lobby where we put the dogs under our chairs. I had a frisky male black Lab called Mack followed by another dog whose name I cannot now remember.

Got Emerald Labrador at around 14:00 EST on Thursday, February 10, 2000. We went into the coffee room to meet our dogs, and then gathered four at a time in the Campbell lounge to settle them down. We I went to my room with Emerald once she settled down.

Emerald looks healthy and happy, and I spent a couple of hours in the room with her before feeding and watering her for the first time. She is a dark yellow Labrador. She clearly missed the trainers and whined pitifully every time she heard them walk by; but she settled down a bit after having her dinner, and later that evening even lay quietly beside me while I worked on my laptop in the computer room.

I finally manage to connect to the IBM network after many problems.

Friday February 11, 2000

Emerald tried her every best to get rid of her slip collar and tie-down chain during the night, and finally admitted defeat and went to sleep. Today was the first time I walked her in harness; her pull feels strong like Aster's; --but she feels a little taller than Aster, and consequently her walk feels just a little different. Weather outside is gross --it's cold and rainy we will walk the again this afternoon. She has had water and relieved herself after coming back from the first walk and is lolling on the floor as I type. We went for a second trip into Yorktown in the afternoon and walked down the same relatively wide sidewalk; few clearances --only challenge was walking past a large store on the right.

Evening, February 11, 2000

While petting Emerald on the very first day I had found a small lump on her right front foresaw that reminded me of the tumors that Aster had had towards the end. This one was a very very small lump and that evening when I showed it to Caroline, she said it was probably just a small whort --but that they would have the vet look at it just to play safe. The vet, Dr. Sandler showed up the evening of Friday, February 11, and took a look at the lump and we then walked over to the clinic so he could take a cell sample. This was around 5:00 in the evening --just before we all went to dinner; at this point we still did not think this lump was anything serious.

The news when I returned from dinner with Emerald was not good --under the slide, the samples they had taken from the lump indicated that it might be a mass tumor --and determining if it was malignant would require it to be first removed --involving surgery. The surgery would of course in the very least prevent Emerald from being in class; in the very worst case the tumor might indeed prove malignant. Given all this, the school decided to replace Emerald with another dog --especially given that I had had her only for a day at that point.

Enter Hubble Labrador

Emerald was replaced with Hubbell -- bubbly yellow Labrador who bounced around the room all evening. Once the decision to swap out Emerald had been made, Hubbell (who had been left behind the previous day in the kennel to await the next class ) one of the instructor assistants bathed and dried Hubbel to get her ready. I handed over Emerald to Dr. Sandler and around 6:45pm and went over to my room where Caroline was waiting with Hubbell. The rest of the class was learning to groom their dogs in the Campbell lounge; I remained in my room and got to know Hubbell. As I walked into my room, Hubbewll raced around the room a few times and I finally manage to catch her as she zipped by on one of her circuits of the room. She promptly leapt up and licked my face at which point Caroline left us and went back to the other students.

Unlike Emerald, Hubbell is a light-colored yellow Labrador --but she feels just as soft and smooth as Aster did. She is a strong dog --though slightly slimmer around the waist than Emerald. She looks like a happy dog --and has her tail up and wagging all the time --in this regard she reminds me a lot more of Aster. She is also a handful to control --and spent all evening walking up my chest and licking my face.

It turned out that Hubbell was in fact the other dog that Caroline had mentioned to me during our Juno walks.

Saturday, February 12, 2000

This was not an easy day. Hubbell --whom I've decided to rename Bubble over time was bubbling with energy all day long. In addition I had gotten very little sleep the previous night due to my room ate coming in late at night. Since Hubbell had just come out of the kennel the previous evening (unlike the other dogs that had been out at this point for over 48 hours) she was far less settled. All the other dogs had already been out in harness on two simple walks in YorkTown the previous day --and this day we were in White Plains where most of the real training work happens.

All in all things eventually did work out well. Bubbles was good in harness --and pulled mightily --and cleared well; the only negative was that during the morning trip she ended up stopping to take a dump while working --which except on the first day would have been considered a problem. On our walk in the afternoon she appeared far more settled and cleared obstacles very well. On the other hand, she is still a handful to control on leash --and is extremely playful.


Walk from church along Car heart to the down curb on MeMaranack, make a left and cross Carheart to a small shopping area.

Sunday, February 13, 2000

Sunday, February 13, was technically an off-day. We did obedience exercises in the morning --at which Bubbles was a handful --we then let the dogs play and she had a good time.

We each took turns at going into the Campbell lounge with our dog to let them play. Caroline and Chrissie were with us throughout. I put a long-line (30 foot cotton leash) on Hubbell, and then threw a chew toy for her. She raced off after it and ran round and round the room with joy. The purpose of the play exercise was to have us call the dog back while playing --rather than as a command-- and have them come back. The advantage of the long-line is that you can reel your dog in if she does not come back. Hubbell enjoyed her game thoroughly and came racing back to me when I called her --she even let go of the toy when I grabbed it and asked her to leave it. She played this game about 10 times in all before finally dropping the toy on the floor. I took her back to my room and gave her water, though she refused to relieve herself once again. Bubbles is still having trouble settling into a regular schedule when she relieves herself; still worry some for now. Other than this, she is proving to be a good frisky Labrador and feels wonderful to the touch.

Monday, February 14, 2000


White Plains. Exit church on Carheart and walk to the down curb on MeMaranack. Make sure that you dont round the corner. Hubbell blew it the first time and almost tried to walk me into a pole. She then approached the curb correctly.

Turn right and walk up MeMaranack to the down curb on Maple --this is light controlled with a 7 second turning arrow. Cross Maple and walk up to East Post. Cross East Post and walk half-way up the block before coming back.

Hubbell did well on the street crossing, her crossings looked quite straight. She is stopping well for the down curb but has a tendency to zip up the up-curb unless checked.

We did this trip twice this day, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. There is a lot of waiting around, since the instructors are working us in singles; i.e. each instructor takes out a student at a time.

Hubbell still not relieving herself in the park area, but holding it. She pulled to the side while working in harness and went when allowed to go.

Tuesday, February 15 2000,

We work the same route as Monday in doubles. I am paired with Bobby and Witman. Hubbell still has parking trouble. Finally relieves herself by pulling to the side during the afternoon trip.

She did her crossings and curb approaches well, and looked a little more relaxed once she had relieved herself.

I finally resolved my sleeping troubles. I spoke to my room mate and gave him the option of either coming in for the night before 11:00pm or finding himself another room. He said he had come in the previous night at 11:00pm --I said that that was fine, and if he would do so every day he could stay. Later that morning he found himself another roommate --one of the other students was in a room by himself. So after this day, I was in room 8 by myself --this was a great blessing since I could now sleep well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2000

This is the day of the solo walk --we do the same trip as the previous two days but in doubles with no instructor immediately behind. The instructors try to hide themselves along the walk and stay close behind us at the street crossings.

My solo walk went fine -- Hubbell stopped well for each down-curb and did her crossings well. However, she failed to stop half-way up the block after crossing East Post --but instead blazed ahead and stopped at the next down curb. I turned back and signalled her to look for the door --she took me into a shop that turned out to be a hair-dressers saloon.

On the way back, I ended up almost paying an uncalled visit to a diner. The sidewalk had a little spur leading to the diner; Hubbell headed off down that spur and I picked it up too late. I had to reorient myself by listening to the traffic on the street --which in itself was easy; however things were made more interesting by a passer-by who thought me completely lost and wanted to take me wherever I wanted to go. Hubbell of course was bubbling away in the meantime trying to make friends with the passer-by; I managed to entangle myself and completed the walk with no trouble.

In the afternoon, we work a slightly longer route --walking on the opposite side of MeMaranack Avenue and went to a 7-11 store.

Hubbell held it all day long; when we came back to the school, I parked her immediately --and with no other dogs there, she went immediately. We decide to park her henceforth before other dogs show up.

Thursday, February 2000

Success in parking Hubbell. The daily routine is that we get a wake up call at 6:00am when we first take our dogs out, bring them back in to feed and water them, and finally park them one more time. I took Hubbell out at exactly 3 minutes to 6:00am i.e. before the other dogs emerged; she went immediately. I immediately brought her back into the room before she could start playing, and got her her food and water; by the time she ate and drank the other dogs had all finally gone back into their rooms to await their food. I brought Hubbell out once again and she went immediately -I quickly took her back into the room. For the rest of the class I kept to this schedule; once she figured out why she was being taken out, and once other distractions such as the possibility of playing with other dogs had been eliminated, she took no more than a couple of minutes each day.

We do a longer route in White Plains. Hubbell is veering slightly to the left while crossing. I pointed out to Caroline that I had a slight left-bias in the way I walked --she said that if that was the case Hubbell would adjust to it over time and pull straight rather than veering.

We see a car crash in the afternoon. Thursday night our first snow storm arrives.

Friday February 18, 2000

Snowing outside. We lucked out --we dont work outdoors in White Plains today. We go to the Jefferson Valley mall in Yorktown before the mall opens, and work on stairs and escalators . Hubbell does escalators without any trouble; however she blows the stairs and fails to stop on the up-step. We rework the steps and she looks bored.

We come back to GEB for lunch, and then have vet exams followed by the vet lecture. Hubbell is 73lb --I had guessed 74. Friday evening would have been our night trip, but this gets canceled and moved to Monday night because of the weather.

Saturday, February 19, 2000

Ground is covered in snow. We remain at GEB and do country walks --by first driving a block away from the school. I think these are the only two walks I did with Chrissie during class. Hubbell pulls mightily and tries her best at taking my left arm off --fortunately she fails. She looked very distracted, and pretty much ignored our attempts at land-marking spots and have her go to it. We decided not to force the issue since it was more important for me to learn how to show her a landmark --rather than her learning some landmark on a street in Yorktown that I would never walk on.

We also started working the dogs in harness to dinner. Hubbell is again very distracted and consistently fails to stop on the up-step --she seems to do better going down.

We got a 90 minute lecture on therapeutic dog massage in the evening -this was outstanding. Bubbles enjoyed her massage thoroughly and was stretching and snoring 15 minutes into the massage. We had not learnt this last time around and though I petted Aster a lot, I did not know how to give her a massage.

Sunday February 20, 2000

This is again an off-day --we do obedience and then play with our dogs in the Campbell lounge. This time Chrissie and Caroline are not in the room with us. Hubbell had a good time playing with her chew toy and we stopped when she lost it under the couch.

We work in harness to dinner and Hubbell once again blows the up-step --I'm now beginning to get worried. I think back to all the things we learns in class with Aster 10 years ago and get a small panic attack when I realize that I only have another week at GEB this time around. I go back to the calendar for 10 years ago, and find that in fact we are on the same schedule as 10 years ago --this makes me a little less panicky.

Monday, February 21, 2000

White Plains for a long walk in the morning; pictures in the afternoon, and night trip to Starbucks in the evening. Long and tiring day. Hubbell is finally beginning to work well, now that she is relieving herself at regular times, she is more relaxed and appears to concentrate better when she wants to.

We have traffic check lecture in the evening. The main point is that the responsibility of when to cross is mine; once I decide to cross and Hubbell has started pulling, I should go with her. The guide-dogs are all trained to watch for bad drivers who cut in front of you etc. they will either backup, stop or walk around depending on the situation. Of course, this does not mean one tries to cross without listening for the traffic.

Tuesday February 22, 2000

Traffic checks in peakskil. We walk the route in the morning, and get traffic checks from Rick Connell in the afternoon. Sidewalks are gross --large snow banks at each intersection. Hubbell did a beautiful job on the traffic checks.

We have our Manhattan lecture at 4:30 and go to the Lions Club dinner at an Italian restaurant at 7:00. Hubbell stayed peacefully under the table though I did have to keep a close check on her leash. She would pop up every time someone clapped.

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Hard to believe --this is our last day in White Plains. We were all getting tired of the cramped surroundings at the church but it went by quickly. Ten years ago, we came to the same place, but only once during class. We work a long route in the morning; in the afternoon, we drive over to another intersection where there is a traffice island and work back. Good trips --Hubbell is finally beginning to show off what she can do --and she's impressive. I was especially impressed by how she handled crossing to an island and then going off at an angle to an offset curb; I was even more impressed when Caroline pointed out that Hubbell had never been to that intersection before.

Thursday February 24, 2000

We go to Manhattan --couldn't have picked a better day. Took the train in to Grand Central in the morning, rode the subway for two stops before getting off at Lexington and 57th, and walked 40 blocks to reach the lunch restaurant --an Irish pub-- on 3rd and 94th. Hubbell was outstanding --in all the crowd she blew one person clearance. She is now beginning to work well and even when pulling hard and moving fast is beginning to do something aster did very well, namely slowing down a fraction as we reach a tight spot before swerving appropriately to clear the obstacle.

We did souvenir and vet supplies shoping in the afternoon and got our going home lecture in the evening. I get another anxiety attack about how the first week back home with Hubbell will work out. Things are likely to be difficult in the first few days because I wont be able to work her in harness for the first day. Also, I dont know my way around the new apartment complex at all; so all in all it will be a hard few days.

Friday, February 25, 2000

We go to a pet store in the morning; I buy Hubbell a nylabone to play with so she has something she remembers when we get home.

We get dropped off at the mall in the afternoon and walk around on our own for about an hour. I work out a good sweat with Hubbell by wandering around Sears. Hubbell and I also pay an unexpected visit to the movie theater inside the mall.

Saturday, February 26, 2000

We do obedience in the morning and get our going home packets. Graduation is this afternoon and we get an overview of the program.

Graduation goes well, Hubbell's puppy raiser is there with her twins. She has driven all the way from Virginia to see Hubbell graduate; I have a good time exchanging Hubbell stories and pictures with them. I take Laurie Rosenblat and her twin daughters to dinner at Grandmas and come back by 7:00. I've already done one round of packing, and finally finish up packing --off for CA tomorrow.

Sunday, February 27, 2000

Return to CA.I got dropped off by Kerry --one of the IAs; Caroline had to leave early in the morning to drop off other students. Bubbles and I say goodbye to Caroline at 13:00pm and leave Guiding Eyes with Kerry --we get to JFK by 14:15. We are at the gate in time, and Kerry helps me get on board and settle Bubbles down. Bubbles looks scared and nervous --her tail is stuck between her legs, the narrow aisles spooked her. But she settled down in about 10 minutes. By the time we took off, she was lying with her head on my feet; later the stewardesses came over to pet her and she was wagging her tail as enthusiastically as ever. Trip was long and tiring --we landed at SFO by 7:15pm but took another 15 minutes to De plane.

Moorthy and Raghu pick me up and help me settle down with Hubbell --they leave around 10:30pm.

Email: T. V. Raman
Last modified: Sat Mar 4 09:06:41 2000