09 June 2011

A Fabulous Day: Work and Weather

Today was great. I felt good from the moment I climbed out of bed. This is a rarity in my world.It was a day to take advantage of. It was cloudy with promise of clearing. The clearing came early as a change from the normal pattern here- leaving behind a glorious day!

Thane got pretty jazzed when he realized we were going to town. A Border Collie just needs to work- especially one with as much drive as Thane has. I was over-dressed per my norm (its hard to get out of the winter layering routine). We took the long walk to the bus. I only had to talk to Thane once about his speed and harness pull. Days like this I cherish. The walk from the max to the store was beautiful and peaceful. I love that walk following the windy sidewalk path amidst the trees and rolling hills of the Intel campus.

I knew just around the bend though was the spot which will forever remind me about the fragility of life.  It will remind me of how awesome Thane was when I needed it. Today though, those were not the thoughts rolling through my head. Today I was thinking about how wonderful a cadence Thane had as we strolled over the hilly sidewalk pathways together. I was thinking about how special things like this are because they are things shared only between Thane and myself; something his predecessor could never have done with his lameness. I was thinking about the good memories I was forming when all of a sudden Thane blocked me.

No worries, just a person who had the belief that a wheelchair could stop on a dime while he blocked our access. Its situations like this though that make me realize just how wonderful it is to have Thane at my side. With a cane, I would never have the luxury of any thoughts beyond the actual navigation of the course I needed to follow. Travelling by cane is stressful, ineffective, and certainly not a mode of travel I ever enjoyed- not with Met and certainly not in the interim between Met and Thane or thereafter.

I returned to my thoughts of Thane and what we have accomplished together for a short duration until Thane let me know we had arrived. Once inside my thoughts went to the items I needed to purchase. I decided to take a new approach with Thane in the store. Thane has pretty much memorized the aisles and locations in aisles where I pick things up. This can be awesome in allowing me to shop a bit more independently, but it also has its drawbacks when I only want a few things or want to skip some aisles entirely. Thane still wants me to go to those spots! ARG!

Today I decided to tell Thane exactly what I wanted next. I often tell him the product names but only after I collect them. What help is it to know where one is headed AFTER the fact? giggle Before I began to use the approach however, Thane had me headed to the granola. It was OK as I needed it. I noticed he was not walking on nails as I talked to him. This was interesting. I have noticed when I forget the Taurine he does this more so, but its also a behavior that the Ophthalmologist equates with retinal changes so its something I've pondered a bit lately since Taurine is also known to provide retinal support.

Placing the granola in the basket, I told Thane, I need beans next. He headed to the end of the aisle, paused for a few people walking by with carts before heading down to the bean aisle with no further direction from me. BOY was this a good idea or what? A staff member was there working on shelving and placing sales notifications on the shelves. He told me my beans were on sale! This was a really grand sale. I was planning to get some but when I heard about this sale- lets just say we cleaned up.

From there we continued on- buffalo for Thane, milk, produce- potatoes to try instead of pasta, my berries were on sale and just came in so were very fresh. It was awesome. This whole walk through the store to gather our food needs and not one comment was needed to *Stay on your feet* which is my signal for Thane to get off his nails and walk normally. The hardest spots are usually the main front aisle and checkouts where floors are often buffed and more slippery but still even in this area, Thane stayed on his feet wonderfully! I was really feeling those excitement goosebumps.

Though it took a while to figure out how exactly I was going to get all this food home, I managed to get organized while Thane patiently waited for me to finish up.

I prefer the back, non-electric door to the front electric doors at this store. The front entrance area is so cluttered with carts, plants, prepared food sales on some days, outside eating tables- well you can only imagine how hard it would be in a power wheelchair with a guide dog trying to navigate there.

We have a system down- we pay for our food and then navigate back into the store to the back door where we can exit without lots of obstacles for a water break in quiet. This is a spot that I can even remove my mask if I am quick about it for my own drink of water and drying of the mask. It makes the trip back to the max-heading for home so much easier as well as keeping Thane off too much grass which is one of his prime seasonal allergens.

There are some curb cuts that have been grated with cross hatches in a weird way. For some reason they are not hard for Thane on the up curb direction, but we have struggled with these curbs from the get-go. Some of these cross hatches are actually on the high curb edge though as opposed to the curb cut. There've been a couple tricky landings as a result. I began working with these through some great insights from my good friend Rox'E at The Doghouse Let the Fur Fly blog. Today, Thane did fantastic! In his approach to get me into the curbcut itself though, he had to follow it up split second by traffic checking me because well--- some people don't know the meaning of a STOP sign. Its not a roll through sign- really it is not! snicker

Though we had been there with plenty of time to spare, the first max collected its ambulatory passengers and took off without us. There is no way he can claim he did not see us. This is not the first time and Thane was hot. I was not happy. Someone pointed out that there was a Trimet utility truck across the tracks so we went and had a talk with him. He tried to call the supervisor but could not get him on the line. I called as soon as I was rested when we came home. Since it only happens at that one stop and only with the new trains, I felt it was time to pull on Trimet's ear a bit to figure out WHY this keeps happening.

The next max went much better thankfully since I was carrying milk and meat (in a cool bag with ice packs but its an hours trip usually extended by the missed train). I prefer a different stop for the bus where only our bus comes to that stop. It is less toxic since fewer people use it, but it also makes it easier for Thane- not having to pop up and alert for every bus. Today though was just too hot for Thane without a way to do icepacks yet. We took the transit center stop and played the pop up, pop down game until the bus that came was ours.

The only part of our day, that was not really great work came when we got off the bus. No matter what I did, I could not get Thane into a slow stance. I tried all the arsenols I have in my bag of tricks except his head halter. I could not believe we did so great all day and the last 150 yards had to be done in a head halter, but thems the breaks. I don't know what the reason was, but once in the head halter, he worked like a champ again. I know there are two parts to this team and the problem may not have just been Thane. Sometimes you just have to manage until you can figure out the *whys*.

I look at this day as a victory day in so many ways that I'm not going to let the last 150 yards be a downer for us. This was a fabulous day that I want to keep alive in my mind.

I am beat, he is beat- but summer is here! Isn't it WONDERFUL!

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