The Morning Mile of Confidence
By Patty L. Fletcher
August 28, 2021
“Alexa, what time is it?”
“The time is 7:58 AM. Enjoy the sunshine.” answered my Amazon® Echo as I readied Myself and Blue for our morning walk. I knew the weather was to be unbearably hot later in the day so wanted to get some guide work and exercise in before the mouth of Hell opened to blow its scorching breath into our faces.
“Alexa, what’s the current temperature?” I asked whilst harnessing my pup.
“It’s 70 degrees.” Came the somehow friendly robotic reply.
“Alexa, what’s our current humidity?” I asked with dread.
“The current humidity in Kingsport Tennessee is 96 percent.”
“Oh! Gees! Blue, we’re gonna sweat.” I declared but Blue who stood head up, muscles quivering in anticipation wouldn’t be denied his walk.
Though it was a straight shot, if we walked first to the corner of Redwood and Borden and then up to Redwood at the corner where it crossed North Eastman Rd. from our house, we’d accomplish an entire mile. Considering I’d been barely able to manage 3/4THS of a mile at a time during training at The Seeing Eye® being able to do this walk without coming home huffing and puffing gave me an immense feeling of pride. It also allowed Blue and me to get some good obstacle and dog distraction work in a relatively safe environment which honed his skill and increased our confidence.
Normally, I’d have already had us out. During the week, I liked to have us out and back before 8 in the morning but since it was Saturday and people tended to sleep in, I’d decided to wait so the neighborhood dogs would be out in their fences raising their alarms as we passed.
“Why would you purposefully put yourselves in the path of dog distractions?” You ask. Simply put, I want Blue to get to the point where we can walk passed a pack of barking dogs and not so much as slow his pace or turn his head. This comes in quite handy if we happen to find ourselves where there are dogs living alongside an intersection we’re crossing. I want him watching the traffic when I give him the command to cross not a bunch of unruly dogs.
Stepping out of the gate, I turned Blue in the direction of North Eastman Road. I changed up which way we’d go every other day or so, to keep Blue on his toes. Since he’d indicated the other way as we’d started out, I knew it had definitely been time. After lining us up and giving the forward command I gave Blue his head and let him wind up and go. It’s very important for him to work off excess energy on days when we had no errands.
Coming upon our first chunk of broken sidewalk it pleased me to feel Blue slow but not stopping as he took me around and back onto smooth ground. When we’d first started doing ‘The Morning Mile’ he’d practically stopped us in our tracks to show me the broken spot and wait for me to give him a suggestive command. I wanted to allow him to do the majority of the thinking when it came to guiding me around obstacles. Should we come upon something I had no picture in my head of He needed to be able to safely navigate without much assistance from me.
“Good Boy!” I praised as he navigated a similar broken chunk a little further along. As we went by, I could hear dogs barking in the house and hoped they’d be out when we came back passed on our way to the other end of the street.
Arriving at the corner where we could cross North Eastman, I had Blue sit saying, “Good boy Blue! Great job!” Then, I put him through a round of sit, down and rest obedience before turning us back the way we’d come.
Heading back down the street, I heard the dogs I’d hoped would be out raising sand as we approached. Knowing there was both a broken chunk of sidewalk and shallow drop-off on the other side as well as the dog distraction for him to navigate at this point, though a bit nerve racking, other than stating quite firmly, “Blue Leave It! Hup Up!” I gave him his head. Would he charge full speed ahead throwing all caution to the wind to chat with the three dogs shouting their hellos? Would he go to our left to avoid both the dogs and the broken walk thus needing to navigate the shallow drop-off? I must say, his choice simultaneously surprised and pleased me. Rather than do any of what I’d expected, he drifted slightly to our right skimming alongside the fence containing the rowdy dogs and without so much as turning his head in their direction carefully guided me around the broken chunk of walk and then, giving a mighty sneeze and wag of his tail sped back up leading me quickly along our way.
“Good boy!” I sang out with glee. “Good boy Blue! That-a-boy!”
At that moment nothing would’ve given me greater pleasure than to have had our trainer see that bit of work. We’d just had some of the best success since our returning home three weeks ago and to say I was super proud would be an enormous understatement.
Arriving at the other corner, after having an enthusiastic praise party then doing another quick round of obedience we headed for home.
Now, Blue is snoozing behind my chair. The heat I’d known would come is upon us so other than quick trips out to relieve later this afternoon we’ll be doing no more outside work today.
For information about The Seeing Eye® visit: https://www.seeingeye.org
ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
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.
Broken and Healed
How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life
Pathway to Freedom, Book Cover figure
A garden with rocks and pebbles are surrounded by grass and trees. A bench sits below a tree with a silhouette of a dog sitting on the grass in front of it. An ethereal glow of gold and green shines through the middle of the picture with the title of the book written in fantasy style lettering in a darker shade of gold with black shadowing.
Pathway to Freedom, Book Cover
In this, the first book in her memoir trilogy, Pathway to Freedom – Broken and Healed: Book One – How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life Second Edition, Patty shares how her decision to gain complete independence with the help of ‘The Seeing Eye Guide Dog’ school in Morris Town, New Jersey, reveals to her a glimpse into worlds she had never before known existed.
Once home from ‘The Seeing Eye’ she soon begins to realize all is not right in her world.
Watch your step as you journey down the pathway with Patty and Campbell, for there are many obstacles along the way. There are triumphs and tribulations, tears and fears, but through it all that forever guide by her side, King Campbell works tirelessly to keep her safe from harm.
For this and all her other work visit: https://www.amazon.com/Patty-L.-Fletcher/e/B00Q9I7RWG