Paws on the Street Part Fourteen – Baby Steps with Baby Blue
By Patty L. Fletcher
I could spend lots of time telling you a bunch of boring stuff about all the business plans I have for 2022. I could bemoan the fact that I am not traveling to see my daughter, son in law and grands until the first of the year. Instead, I’d rather tell you of a successful time Blue and I had out and about not long ago as we enjoyed a late fall day.
Sometimes the late fall and early winter months can make it tricky for guide dog handlers to become and remain active enough to give their dogs ample work here in Northeast Tennessee. But when I saw the weather was forecast to be partly sunny with highs in the low 50s, I leapt at the chance to get out.
Recently, I’d taken Blue to my vet’s office to have his eyes checked. We’re continuing to have clearance issues on our right side and so after getting a clean bill of health which everyone had expected would be so, I decided it was high time to eliminate the issue.
“Blue, old boy, if there’s nothing wrong with those big, beautiful eyes of yours, then it’s time for you to grow up and pay attention to your job.”
“Sneeze, shake, stomp.” was his reply.
“Grumble if you must, but let’s get on down to that bus stop and go for a ride.”
Blue, being happy to go anywhere, bounced his way to the bus stop without one missed step and would’ve gotten five stars for his performance had he not gotten overly excited and blown the curb upon arrival at the bench.
“Pfui!” I corrected, giving a slight tug on the leash.
“Come, heel.” I stated firmly as I brought him round to sit at my left foot.
Tapping the curb with my cane I said, “Good boy. This is a good dog.” Then, for good measure I gave him a little snuggle. For Blue a snuggle is better than a treat. In fact, to Blue, a snuggle and ear rub are the best things on earth.
When the bus arrived, having already spoken to dispatch and advised the driver to remain on the bus I called, “OK. Blue Forward. “giving the ramp, which hadn’t needed lowered due to the closeness of the curb a slight tap as we walked up.
Blue, seeing exactly what I wanted, leapt aboard and sat patiently as I came up alongside him.
“Good boy.” I enthused as we made our way to our seat. “That’s a great dog.” I praised as we settled in for the ride.
“Where are you all headed?” The driver asked.
“Nowhere particular today. Our goal is to transfer from one bus to another and back successfully. Since we had trouble transferring from 3 back to this bus to go home the other day, we’ll ride to the station, transfer to bus 3 and ride it back around to the transfer point to catch this bus back home.”
Once at the station the driver asked, “Do you want the ramp?”
“Yes, it’s easier to use here. Go ahead and drop it and have the driver of bus 3 drop theirs as well. Then have her tap the ramp so I can make sure to have us going in the right direction.”
The drivers did as I asked and soon Blue and I had transferred from one bus to the other without much issue. When blue tried veering away from the center of the ramp, I tapped it with my cane saying, “Hup Up. Blue. Good dog.” And just like that he scampered up and led me straight to the seat.
Soon we’d ridden round and were ready to transfer back. Once again, the two busses lined up across from one another and again with just a little extra direction from me, blue was leading me straight up and onto the ramp without missing a beat.
Though he was still just a tad bit skittish I saw a vast improvement in his skill and rather than moving about once we were riding, he laid quietly at my feet which to my mind was as important as the transferring itself.
Once back to our apartment complex stop the driver asked, “Do you want me to pull up at the stop or at the end of the driveway?”
“Just let us off at the driveway and we’ll go straight up to the apartment from there.”
Soon we were home, and I was putting the key into the lock cheering, “Good boy Blue. YAY! A Successful trip.”
When I let him out of his harness, he did loop to loops around the apartment grabbing up his toys and squeaking them happily as he ran.
Prince Edward meowed a huge happy “Hello! Glad you’re back!” And I made a mad dash for the coffeepot.
Now, Blue’s snoozing in his crate, Prince Edward is laying in the sun, my helper is here cleaning up the detritus of our lives and all is right with our world.
Next time we’re out we’re going to rework our transfers again, but we will also be stopping by our favorite deli for baked goods along our way.
Until next time, this is Chief Blue Seeing Eye® Dog, Prince Edward A.K.A. Sweet Eddy and their service human saying…
“Happy holidays, may Harmony find You and Blessid Be.”
About Patty L. Fletcher
Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport Tennessee where she works full time as a Writer with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled. She is Also a Social Media Marketing Assistant.
To learn more visit: https://pattysworlds.com/