Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Monday, May 16, 2005


New Seeing Eye dog

In a message to friends and family on May 13, 2005, Mike May wrote:

”I got my first dog Totie in 1973, Rickie in 1983, Utah in 1985, Josh in 1993 and "Miguel" today. Can you believe they gave me a dog-named Miguel? I am still figuring out if the dog speaks Spanish or not. Three Shepherds and a Golden Retriever.

Miguel is a Golden and Lab cross. His fur is soft like a Golden but shorter. He is blond on most of his body and more rusty colored on his back and head.

The Seeing Eye knows me pretty well after 4 dogs over 30 years. They know I like a strong pulling fast dog that can rise to all occasions. Before the final decision is made, the trainer takes the student, me, on a walk. He holds the harness like the dog and I hold the handle. As soon as we finished a near sprint around the grounds, he said rather breathlessly, you just confirmed which dog is right for you.

Day 1: At this early stage, Miguel just wants his trainer but he is putting up with me rather graciously. The trainer said Miguel was the same with him at first too so the transfer of affection will take a few days at least.

I am in Morristown NJ for a week and then another trainer will meet me in Davis to work for a second week.

After 2 and a half years since Josh died, I decided to get another dog because I still rely on a cane 90% of the time for the path in front of me and that missing 10% can be dangerous. I have learned not to trust my vision when it comes to curbs, obstacles and overhangs. Therefore, if I am going to rely on a cane, why not rely on a dog instead? Dogs have been part of my life forever and I miss the companionship an excitement of sharing the mobility experience with a dog. It is so amazing how a dog can work if you apply yourself to the challenge and work together. They assure me that Miguel and Michael are a team that will grow together. It doesn't hurt if he is a good family dog a chick magnet as well as an awesome worker.

Day 2: For the 4th night on the road, I got only a few hours of sleep. On this first night with Miguel, every time I would roll over, he would pop up and lick me, not something I am used to at home. I didn't know if this signal meant he needed to go or if he was simply bored. We aren't supposed to take them out until the official "park" time, 6:30 AM on Sunday so we dragged through the night.

Miguel's trainer has Sunday off so I had another trainer work with us on the trip to town this morning. This made a huge difference because Miguel wasn't looking for his trainer; he just put his head down and focused on his work. Unbelievable worker! He really loves guiding. He was doing normal new-guide things like not hesitating at the up-curb and getting distracted by squirrels but I experienced his drive and it as much or more than any of my previous guides. Lots to learn but I now see the potential and the loyalty one doesn't normally associate with a lab or Golden. I do hope we get some sleep.


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