Freesia takes on crazy

Freesia

My life has been crazy lately. Hey Girl and I got to be on TV, and not only that, it was on my birthday. I always new I had the face for the camera. They don’t even need to worry about getting my good side because all my sides are great. I think that’s why they took so many pictures of me. All I kept telling myself was, ‘Wags and puppy eyes Freesia; wags and puppy eyes.’

That day made me tired because I had to be on 3 different TV’s, plus I still had to take Gabriella to class. They sang happy birthday to me in Solfege, and again with human English words in music therapy. I felt special. Hey Girl even gave me a treat and some peanut butter.

I just love peanut butter. Hey Girl is so lucky I don’t have thumbs, because if I did, it’d be bye bye peanut butter sandwiches for her.

I also recently got gum stuck to my paw. It felt so gross when I walked, and Gabriella didn’t even notice until we got home. There was so much, and it was not a good fashion statement at all, so that was embarrassing. Hey girl picked some off and I let her, but after a while, it started to not feel good so I growled a little and walked away. After that, she put peanut butter on my gum paw. But I don’t know why she did this, she just told me it would help. It was mean because I didn’t know she put it on my foot, but I could smell it all around me. I wanted to find and eat it so bad, so I started running in circles. No matter where I went, I just kept smelling the peanut butter. Hey girl tapped my foot a few times, but I just thought she was going to hurt my paw again, so I walked away. Finally I got tired of chasing myself, went  on my bed, and realized the smell was coming from my paw. It was the best!

It’s been so cold lately. I’m not used to this kind of weather and I don’t like it at all. My friends keep talking about something called snow, but something tells me I don’t want to know what that is, unless it’s food. I love food! But if it’s something that makes my hair wet, like rain, I won’t be happy.

I like being happy. My favorite thing is when Gabriella, some of my friends and I go into the dorm hallway to play. They close the door at the end and I get to run. I run up and down the hall for a long time because it’s so much fun. Other people probably think I’m crazy for running fast all over the place, but they mostly just think I’m cute, because I am. And when it’s all over, and me and my people are tired, I lay down and sleep, because it’s hard work to be a guide dog named Freesia.

I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant?

I never really thought of myself as the mom type. I like kids well enough, but only because they belong to other people. I can always give them back when I’m done. I don’t like awkward baby talk, and I find it weird when moms talk for there babies when people compliment them.

“Oh, your baby is so cute!”

“Say, ‘I know I am’”

I’m sorry, but your baby is 5 months old, so the odds of them saying, “I know I am,” are very small.

Oh wait, did you think I was pregnant?

I’m not. But I feel like I have a baby. Sorry to anyone I may have disappointed.

I got Freesia, my guide dog, with the knowledge that she would keep me safe. That I would feed her, and love her, and play with her, but I did not know this would feel like having a baby.

At least once a day, I get the same 3 questions.

“Boy or girl?”

“How old?”

“What’s her name?”

girl

2

Freesia

I’ve answered these questions so many times that I’m on autopilot. Once someone asked what my name was, and I responded, “She’s a girl and her name’s Freesia.”

Just this week, I started talking for Freesia. Someone says, “Bye Freesia,” and I say, “Say byeee.”

In my defense, it feels rude to ignore someone when they say bye, and obviously Freesia’s not going to do it herself… I am an embarrassment. I talk to her constantly. I’m becoming everything I make fun of, and it needs to stop.

I didn’t know I was pregnant, and it’s probably because I wasn’t.

Freesia Takes on Recruitment

IMG_1379Recruitment week.

I’m tired. My tail is tired from wagging so much, my tongue is tired from licking all those people, and I stayed up passed my bedtime almost every night this week. I don’t know if I liked it or not. Sometimes I was really really bored, and I just wanted to go home and sleep in my bed. Other times I was so excited. I got so many pets, and I got to taste a lot of different hands and faces. Yummy!

Recruiting new sisters is so rough. Get it? Because you silly humans think that us dogs say rough. If only you knew.

Anyway, it was hard. I could really use a glass of wine and a new bone right now. Something tells me I won’t be getting that wine anytime soon though. Maybe if I give one of my sisters puppy dog eyes. Gets them every time. For some reason it doesn’t work on Gabriella; I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Hey Girl and some sisters dressed me up for bid day today. Clothes are dumb and I can’t figure out why humans wear them. And I know I’m cute, but I’m a guide dog, not a model. Gabriella is so lucky I love her. Sometimes I can’t quite remember why. Just kidding…

Dear sisters of Phi Mu,

Thank you for letting me recruit with you. I did great so you’re welcome! No need to thank me. I worked my tail off.

Haha, get it! I’m hilarious.

But as I was saying, I need no recognition for my awesomeness, as I already recognize it myself. You women are pretty amazing too. 3 wags for Phi Mu! I love you all, even the ones who are allergic to me. Keep practicing love, honor, and truth. And I’ll practice love, honor, and woof.

I am killing it today!

Your favorite and beautiful sister,

Freesia

Freesia Goes to College

Move in day

Move in day

I know, I’ve been MIA for the passed few weeks. Life has been a little crazy and I had no idea what to write about. Thankfully, my girl Freesia has offered to help me out and write a post.

Freesia:

WOW! College is the best thing ever. It’s basically a place full of humans who all want to pet me! My human pets me all the time, but it’s just not the same as being pet by a brand new friend. Sometimes my human-I think her name is Gabriella, or maybe it’s Hey Girl,-won’t let friends pet me and it makes me sad. I have to work when my harness is on, and when people start petting me, I sometimes forget to remember that I’m working; I think that makes Hey Girl sad.

I love working. one time, my human didn’t work me for a week because it was very rainy. I don’t like getting wet, and I don’t think Gabriella likes the rain much either. Not working for a few days made me feel pretty bummed though.She works me every day in college. there are a lot of days when I have to work for a long time, and I start to get super tired, and I just want to go home and play.

I like playing too. It’s hard to play in my room because it’s a lot smaller than my old house. I love when my human takes me outside to play with other humans. Sometimes one of my human friends throws my toy and says, “Go get it Freesia.”

I don’t understand this game. Why do they want me to go get the toy? You threw it; go get it yourself. But whatever. I try to help them find it by walking to where it landed, but it is not my job to pick it up. If they want it back so badly, they can get it themselves. They better get it because that’s my toy, and I’m not about to lose it. Once the humans stop throwing my belongings, I like to run around, because running  is my favorite game. I like to check on Gabriella every time I finish a lap. I wouldn’t want her to leave without telling me.

I don’t get to play all day like normal dogs. That’s because I am special. Other dogs come up to me when I’m working, but I tell them I’m busy. Well… sometimes they REALLY want to play, and I get a little distracted.

I also get a little distracted by food. I’m pretty sneaky. Sometimes I pick up food and eat it before Hey Girl even gets a chance to say, “Freesia! Drop it!” But she must be pretty sneaky too, because mostly she catches me before I can eat things.

I have to go for now because I’m incredibly tired. Today was extremely hot and I’m trying to enjoy the indoors. I would wag my tail in farewell, but I’m just so exhausted. If you come close enough though, I may lick your hand, in case there’s something good on it.

My {Not So} Strange Addiction

2015-06-15 11.49.14

My name is Gabriella Drago, and I am addicted to my guide dog.
Last weekend,  I had to leave Freesia behind. I went to a wedding and left her with my mom. The whole time I felt like a part of me was missing. I know that there will occasionally be times when I will have to leave Freesia alone, but it’s difficult for me to think about. She has become a part of me. When we work together, she is my eyes. When she is in harness, but not working to guide me, she is still my eyes for when I need them. I’ve only been with her for 6 weeks, yet now, being without her makes me feel open, alone, incomplete. It sounds crazy. After a while, it started to feel more normal being without her, the way my life used to be, but it didn’t feel quite right.
Almost equally as hard, is when, on occasion, my friends will “subtly” express their discontent with my bringing Freesia with us. A small part of me understands where they are coming from. Bringing a dog can be a lot of work, almost like having a baby. Never is the shedding a problem, just the fact that Freesia requires a portion of my attention. I think there is also an unspoken level of jealousy. Where once I relied solely on my friends for guidance, I now, more often than not, rely on Freesia. Despite this understanding, a larger part of me is frustrated and upset. My dog is a part of me; we are a package deal. She is my security, my eyes, my independence. However, I will admit that it is not reasonable to expect my friends to understand what they cannot experience. Understanding will come for them eventually. If you are one who does not understand this connection, that is completely okay. Imagine that someone has asked you to go out for a day with a blindfold on, how comfortable would you feel? Instead of relying on yourself to see where you are going, you would have to rely on a variety of people to guide you and help you. Although Freesia and I are separate, we are a team; and unlike the constant changing of people that I once had to rely on, she, alone,  is my constant, and I hope that I am hers.

Applying For A Guide Dog

Gabriella_GuideDog

A lot of people have asked me what it was like to apply for a guide dog. The process goes a little something like this:

Applying for a guide dog was extremely nerve-racking for me. The first part of the application process was easy: name, date of birth, email address, amount of sight, cause of blindness, travel environment. The second part wasn’t too terribly scary either. It was just a phone interview. They asked me to elaborate on where I travel and how frequently, and what my home/work/school environment was like. Are there lighted intersections? How many? Are there a lot of residential street crossings? How many miles do you walk per day?Although those parts were not too difficult, I still felt so much relief when I made it to the next step.

This next step was the one that kept me up at night. It was a home visit. For this part, a representative from the school came to observe my travel skills, my environment, and even my personality. I wasn’t nervous because I had little confidence in my abilities. I was nervous because there was going to be someone following me and watching my every move. I get very self conscious when people watch me. It makes me nervous, and then I make mistakes that I wouldn’t typically make.

When the day finally came for the representative to observe me, I was unbelievably nervous and panicked. I felt like it was an audition for a musical or something. I think I was more nervous for this than I was my college auditions. He arrived at my dorm building, as the interview was taking place at school. After talking for a while, the person from the school finally said, “Okay Gabriella, where would you like to take me today?” So many thoughts went through my mind in that moment. I knew the answer earlier. Why can’t I think of it? What will best represent my travel skills? What if I give him the wrong answer? Stop it! There’s no wrong answer. Its not a test. What if it is a test? I remember! “How about the library? There’s a lighted intersection.” And we were off.

We conversed as we walked, and my nerves calmed a little. I could do this. Of course things still went wrong. I crossed a street very crookedly. I crossed that street every day and never had a problem. But I did not cross it correctly that day. He was very understanding though. I backtracked and redid the crossing. Everything else went quite well.

After I showed him my route, we did something called a Juno walk. A juno walk is when an instructor holds the part of the harness that would typically be on the guide dog, while a student holds the other end. It’s purpose is to simulate what it would be like to work with a guide dog. Don’t worry, no one pretends to be a dog, thank goodness. I actually was a little embarrassed by it. He took my cane and we proceeded to walk, each holding our respective harness ends. I had to act as if I were with a real dog. This was so that I could experience what it was like to command, direct and praise a guide dog. Saying things such as, “Forward!”

“Left!” “Right!” And, “Good boy!” I can only imagine what students thought when they passed us.

Finally, the juno walk was over. We talked a while about when the best time would be for me to come in to training. He then told me that he would be recommending me for training some time after school let out for summer. I did not know how nervous I was until that moment. I felt so much relief that I had made it. There was one more part of the application process, but I was not worried. The next part required me to submit forms from my doctors to confirm that I was healthy. After that, my application would go to a final committee, that would decide my fate.

And finally, about eight weeks later, I found out that I was accepted. I will leave on May 17, and return on June first with my new partner. I couldn’t be more excited if I met Ellen DeGeneres… well probably.

I will leave you with this question: Do you think that you could have a dog with you at all times and resist the temptation to pet it and hug it? That is exactly what I will have to do. But don’t worry, when my guide dog is not working, it gets to be a dog, and then I can pet it and play with