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Life with a Guide: Six Months On

Life with a Guide: Six Months On

Can you believe six months has already past since I first wrote about getting my Guide Dog, Lacey? Well I certainly can’t. Even though it feels like Lacey has been part of our family for as long as I can remember, the past few months have flown.

Image: Giving Lacey directions walking down a street.
Image: Giving Lacey directions walking down a street.

So where are we at now? Right now Lacey is sleeping on her bed, snoring quite loudly. She is a stickler for routine, especially at bed time, and we encountered some problems with this about three months in; Lacey would get up in the middle of the night and roam the house, sometimes doing a piddle near the front door. I was oblivious as she quietly snuck up the stairs although sometimes I did catch her and caught onto what was going on after my family would tell me she had come to them for a middle of the night visit. I ended up working out it was because I wasn’t sticking to her bed time routine to a T. I couldn’t expect her just to follow me to bed and stay put all night, I had to be sure we toileted right before bed and then usher her down the stairs to bed, telling her it was ‘bed time’ and tell her to go to her bed, where should would sit, then lay. I then give her a kiss and make sure she has her pillow (yes princess sleeps on a pillow) and her favourite toy is tucked under her arm. If she doesn’t want to go to bed, she will avoid walking in the direction of our bedroom, trying to turn in the opposite direction to another room or trying to go upstairs instead of downstairs. She’s a sneaky thing!

Another issue we have encountered are bindis. We have a lot of grass where I live and sometimes there are no footpaths. Once again, I was oblivious to the fact the grass was infested with bindis, but I would notice Lacey walking funny. I couldn’t figure out what was going on then someone pointed out it was the bindis. I tried to persist and make her walk, but she would stop dead in her tracks if we came to grass. One time she even did a leap over the grass (it was extremely elegant) while I tripped over as she pulled me. Whoever saw would have no doubt had a chuckle at the sight. I had no idea what to do so I phoned Guide Dogs NSW/ACT for help. They sent a trainer out and we got Lacey some booties to protect her paws. Surprisingly, she isn’t too bad with them. When I put them on the house she pretends to be a statue, but once I put the harness on she knows she has to work.  She now doesn’t hesitate to walk over the grass and I think she knows they serve a purpose so isn’t too fussed over them. I personally think she looks adorable and want to get her a whole range of shoes too match my collection.

Image: Lacey standing awkwardly in her booties.
Image: Lacey standing awkwardly in her booties.

I will admit I am still getting used to having a Guide Dog,even though it’s been six months. It took a while to to adapt to having her and to accept where I was at on my vision journey. Even though I have been losing my sight for six years, I still wake up some days and feel flabbergasted as to how I ended up in this situation. Some days I still whinge to my family that I wish I could see. I feel guilty for having these feelings because I have been given a beautiful dog who is there to help me and guide me through life. It is still a huge change and I know I can’t be hard on myself and it will take time for me to get used to having Lacey and to for us to feel 100% confident in each other.

Image: Lacey on her 'bed' at the gym.
Image: Lacey on her ‘bed’ at the gym.

We have these critical moments where Lacey shows me how much I do need her, and how fantastic she is at her job. For instance, when we took a different path up to the shops. Lacey was super excited as she loves it when I throw in a challenge; her ears perk up and I can feel her strutting underneath the harness. As we crossed the road, we landed on the other side in a small cul-de-sac that is parallel to the main street and only used for residents cars. The crossing spot leads directly into the centre of the road of this cul-de-sac. As a theme of this post seems to be, I was yet again oblivious but noticed Lacey’s little head looking from left to right in my peripheral vision. She usually does this when we are coming up to a corner, street or anywhere there are turning options. I hadn’t given her any commands because I didn’t realise where we were walking. So she starts to guide me to the right and I’m thinking what is she doing? She’s lined me up with the curb so we can follow it to the end and back onto a footpath. She kept me off the road and out of danger. Once  I’d realised what she had done, I got so emotional and had to stop and bend down to smother her with praise, kisses and cuddles.

Image: Lacey posing.
Image: Lacey posing.

I feel so lucky to have Lacey. It’s such a difficult feeling to express when you have an animal who also has the ability to be a part of you that no longer works properly. The love I feel toward her is boundless.

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