Monday, August 31, 2015

We got this

There are so many amazing things a guide dog does each day.  This morning I asked Georgie - are you ready to go for a walk upon which she began to do her happy dance.  She seems to know that for an exercise walk I am going to announce it and then finish getting ready and so this is her time to just dance around and celebrate going for a walk.  She grabs a bone from her toy box and puts it in her mouth while I gather our supplies in to my favorite pouch (Thank you, Mimi!).

As we harnessed up to go on our walk this morning, I bent down and gave her a kiss and told her I was so proud of her :).  We walked out and as we turned down I could tell my neighbors had their sprinklers on which covered the sidewalk.  As we got closer, I knew Georgie had a choice.  She could walk us quickly through on the sidewalk -- which would be an okay option  or she could walk around it which was also a good option.

As we got closer to it, she stopped and I told her Good Girl.  Either way she was stopping to let me know - there was a challenge ahead.  Then I said You got this, Georgie.  It was my way of telling her - I totally trust you to make the best decision.  I'm here to follow you.  She chose to walk out to the curb follow the street down and then she turned back on to the curb stopped and then to the sidewalk when we were out of the way of the sprinklers and back to our line of travel on the sidewalk.  I bent down and gave her a good girl kiss and a treat.  Then, I said Georgie I'm so proud of you - you nailed that!

As a runner, I love the message of 'you got this."  So many times I have heard people cheering -- Becky, you got this!  To me, it represents ... Cheering each other on, Believing in you, I trust that you can find a way, etc, etc.  Thanks, Georgie Girl for letting me trust you.  We got this!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

1997. Guide Dog Decision.

Ready to go with Georgie - on our adventures of the day!
Picture description - Georgie's four paws on the edge of the stars of our front porch,  Becky in her Boston Marathon Running Shoes.  

As the weather cools down and kids go back to school, I reflect back to the beginning of the school year of 1997.  We were living in Centerville, (in a neighborhood with incredible neighbors and friends we love :).  This neighborhood was amazing for its location as well: close to busing, school, shopping, church, bank, even the orthodontist.  This location made the daily routines as a visually impaired mom much more convenient.  However, there reached a point where my vision had declined further and I was cautiously leaving that front porch.  It was time to take the next step.
    
Natalie and Kendall had just started seventh and fifth grade.  Steve had recently taken up running.  We were enjoying tandem biking.  I had just completed my master's degree and was working at the Moran Eye Center.  I had completed the training at the blind center and appreciated so much the freedom that a white cane had given me in the past few years.  We were an active family and I didn't want vision loss to slow me down.  After visiting with a friend who had a guide dog, I was ready to explore this option. I called Guide Dogs for the Blind to learn more.  I was greeted with warmth, encouragement and guidance as they answered my many questions.  After the application process, our family was excited for the home interview and the thought of a guide dog to enhance my freedom and independence.     

On a July morning in 1997 an instructor from Guide Dogs for the Blind arrived at our home.  Steve and I greeted her and sat down in the living room to begin the home interview process.  Natalie and Kendall were in the kitchen having breakfast.  They were excited about this interview, too and soon came into the living room.  This left Missy, the pug, in the kitchen with a waffle -- too tempting!  Soon, Missy came running into the living room with a waffle in her mouth and jumped up on the couch!  At this point, I knew I had a lot to learn about training with a guide dog and perhaps in the process Missy, our pug, would also improve her behavior :)

I was thrilled to be accepted to to go class and receive the amazing gift of a guide dog.  Excitement and some anxiousness was in the air as we prepared for my leaving for four weeks. I knew this would be a life-changing adventure.  As I reflect back on the decisions in the journey of vision loss, receiving a guide dog at this time in my life was one of the best!  

Eighteen years later I remember that first walk as if it was yesterday.   September 17, 1997;  I picked up the harness with guidance from amazing instructors at Guide Dogs for the Blind and said, Pantera forward.  Off we went - walking at a nice pace with a smile quickly coming to my face!    

When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly. -- Patrick Overton

We were flying down the street.  I had not ever been able to walk that quickly and feel so safe. As I walked confidently down the street, oh, the places we would go began to fill my mind.  I began to visualize the freedom and independence I was feeling and transferring that to ... chaperoning a school field trip, back to the mall shopping, enjoying going for a walk, commuting to work, travelling,  etc, etc ... the doors opened and expanded on that day.  I had four weeks with lots to learn about working with my guide dog and mostly about me. Yes, even some tips to pass on to our cute little pug, Missy.  During this time I fell in love with the first of three beautiful yellow labs that would bless me and my families lives.  
  
My family came for graduation to find a much more confident wife and mother - ready to take on the adventures of the day!  

Since that September morning 18 years ago, I have had three amazing beautiful guide dogs - each have a very special place in my heart.  I have not only had safe travels but life lessons and gifts from each of them.  
      
Thank you Guide Dogs for the Blind and all involved who make these beautiful life-changing partnerships possible.  Each of these guides come with a special, beautiful puppy raising partnership which inspires me as an amazing gift of love and service.  
As the air turns a little crisper and fall is in the air, I reflect in gratitude all who supported this young wife and mom to bravely get on that plane to go to Oregon.  
Fall 1997 just after coming home with Pantera. 
Meg, Becky and Pantera in Oregon for Meg's wedding
Becky and Cricket along the Legacy Trail
Becky and Georgie in front of our house.  



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday, Georgina!

Dear Georgie,

I had to stop and count the months ... it seems like we've been together longer than 17 months and want to just keep you as a happy three year old!!  Celebrating you ... your love, your joy, your enthusiasm for each day, your willingness to drop even your favorite bone when I say let's go!  Its been an amazing journey with you and have loved all I've learned from you:

Smile, Greet each day with enthusiasm, Tune in to other people's needs and offer them a part of your self (Georgie runs and gets a bone to anyone she feels needs it), Sometimes it just helps to sit and someone's feet and let them know you care, Remember key landmarks -- like Rocky Mountain Chocolate -- you'll probably want to come back to them even if your handler tries to say not today :).  Just bring your love again and again.  Greet like you have not seen them forever.

Some great, wisdom!  Love you, Georgie Girl.

Much love,

Becky

Each of my guides have been such an amazing blessing in my life and fit perfectly in that stage of my life.  As I approach almost 18 years since my first guide dog, Pantera.  I am so grateful.  As I walked briskly down the sidewalk with George this morning to mail a letter I thought of how many doors have opened up since walking briskly for that first walk with Pantera.  Suddenly, I began thinking of other ways I could walk briskly and confidently into life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Happy Birthday, Libby

Feeling grateful for Georgie's puppy raiser and dear friend, Libby.  Have a wonderful day!!  We love you!!  So funny - it took several attempts to even get Georgie to keep a party hat on for a short time.  She kept thinking it was a fun game that you shook your head to get the party hat off and then ran around in a circle.  Love her joy and energy!  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Day Brightener

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around -- Leo Buscaglia.

Saturday morning we opened our door to this sweet little anon surprise on our doorstep.   So sweet!!
I am not sure if it was someone that knew we had this extra little challenge right now ... wearing a boot for the next four weeks.  Georgie is doing fantastic.  She has figured out we are walking a little slower right now.  She had a nice run in the park yesterday with Kendall which helped.
What has been your day brightener?  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

News Clips

Some of the news clips that we have been a part of in the past few years.  Thank you to all who have cheered us on in our journey.  It means so much!!

Ann Taylor Journey - ADA

NYC Marathon

Mother of Achievment - with Natalie and Kendall

Tethered in the Gospel - Article in the Church News

Friday Friends Spotlight - Boston Marathon

Wasatch Woman of the Year - 2011

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Another perspective

Most mornings before work Georgie and I take a walk around the neighborhood with our turn around point at the park - where I tell her 'find the trash'. After we have found the trash (our target) we turn around and walk back. It is a nice little walk. Recently, as we got close to the park I told her find the trash. She walked to where it normally is and I put out my foot to touch the trash -- not there. At first, I was a little frustrated .. who moved the trash!? Then, I told her again, find the trash and realized this may be a good opportunity for her to use her initiative and look for the trash. She walked around for a minute and found the trash next to another pillar. Good girl!! It was a little reminder on how being open to change can create new opportunities for learning :).