Sunday, December 29, 2013

Year End

Here we are. The last week-end of 2013.

I am very hopeful for the future, my online book store is doing well, I have some public appearances planned for Leif and I; we are publicly paying back Guide Dogs with talks for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Speakers Bureau.  I have also done pretty well in 2013 investing  and there is lots of exciting anniversaries coming up in 2014, including my tenth wedding anniversary in June.

Looking back, I will remember 2013 as the year I waited for a Guide Dog. It was well worth the wait to meet some great people and one amazing and funny black Labrador named Leif.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Leif Says Hello and Asks Santa for his Presents.

This time of year is full of excitement at work, a great treat for the children of our library district was a visit from "Father Christmas".
Even Leif himself got to star in the show, starring alongside Snoopy the Beagle from Peanuts. O.K. Snoopy was his cartoon self on our library backdrop. The backdrop of a winter scene of Snoopy slleping on his kennel beside a Christmas tree was made by aids and children at a local school. It was great and added something extra special to the Christmas feeling.
Father Christmas had Leif beside him, as one child asked  "Why the dog? Where are the reindeer?" The reindeer were of course resting at home preparing for their busy night on the 24th. Leif was there to assist Santa and make notes for the good list, striking off any bad behavior from the naughty list for any child who said he was cute.
Leif's gift request included, tug toys, kibble, treats, lots of belly rubs and of course more food.
Leif loved meeting all the children. Taking all of the fuss in his stride, not bad for a twenty-two month old. For Santa, well it was a relief to end the day, hot and stuffy under all that hair and fleece.
The most memorable thing for me though will be the small boy, about five years old who was so fascinated with Santa that he kept tapping him on the end of the nose with a huge onange balloon made into a sword. All the time he was telling Santa how good he had been all year, his balloon sword was going tap, tap, tap on the end of Santa's nose.  LOL

Monday, December 16, 2013

What does Your Guide Dog do When He's Not Working?

guide dog, leif the guide dog, rests during his downtime on a warm winter day

Leif, my Black Labrador
rests in the late December morning sun.

I have been asked several times over the last few weeks if Leif is always at work, working as my guide dog would not really fill many hours of Leif's day.

My answer is. No, he gets to be a dog too. Often he plays, tug rope is a bit favorite as is chewing his Nylabone Chew bone.

But a big bonus for Leif is living in a house with a yard, in Central California the yard means that he can go out and play or walk in private. Then living in Central California means even warm sunny days in the middle of December. A what does this top rank Guide Dog love more than food and tugging ropes. Yes you have probably guessed it, the warm sun on his black shining coat as he snoozes the day away.

You have to love this dog. LOL

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Doctor Visits Will Never Be the Same Again

Leif the Guide Dog
Going to the doctor used to be so, well, shall we say under-whelming.
I would go, sign in, see a nurse or assistant then a doctor for a minute or two then make a new appointment and leave.
Now going to the doctor's with Leif brings about a whole new experience.
As we walk into the doctors waiting room, there are often gasps  "A dog is in the room!" Other patients often stop me to compliment me on this handsome dog. Receptionists stand on chairs to look over the counter to see Leif, often standing like a sad school boy, his head up against the counter as if he is being wickedly punished for some misdemeanor.
Often in recent weeks just getting in to see the doctor has meant a whole retinue of Leif fans among nurses and medical assistants, patting him on the head or even offering an occasional tummy rub, to the most handsome guide dog in the building.
Doctors are not immune to the Leif effect either, those big brown eyes solefully looking pitifully up at them leave them cooing and patting him under the chin.
Going to the doctor is definitely coming to be a big event in our lives.  I am glad to say everyone seems to fall in love with this slight, handsome black lab.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"I Want a Doggy With a Handle!"

Leif in Harness
and Ready for Work.
In the past I have often quited small children and their comments in my presence on blindness.
One thing to guarantee the attention of any young child is a good looking dog in an unexpected place. The other week-end my wife and I were doing some Christmas shopping and we stopped for lunch in a Mimi's Restaurant. We were preparing to leave and I called Leif from under the table where he had been laying throughout lunch.
At the next table was a young couple with their daughter, whom I would say was about three years old. She squealed with excitement. "Ooooh! Doggy."
I smiled over to them and nodded and the little girl's mother told her that Leif was a working dog. My wife asked if the little girl wanted to say Hello to Leif, as her mother brought her over.
Leif sat quietly as the little girl stroked his head andgiggled at his soft floppy ears.
After a few moments the little girl full of excitement, ran back to their table to tell her father of the exciting news. Meeting a guide dog.
Then with great delivery she finished her story of meeting Leif with the cry. "Daddy. I want a doggy with a handle."

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ceasing Avastin Injections Now Means Eye Surgery

In July 2013, my retinologist and I agreed that the Avastin injections every four weeks no longer proved useful in maintaining any vision in my left eye.

At the time we just agreed to cease the monthly injections and see what happened.

In the intervening four months blood vessels have proliferated across my left retina, causing some discomfort and adding complications to the Central Retinal Verin Oclusion (CRVO ) condition.

One of the advantages of the Avastin was to limit the growth of new blood vessels within they eye. Now that the drug is no longer present my body has reacted rapidly to re-supply the damaged retina with a new blood supply. Unfortunately these areas of retina are now dead and the blood vessels are poorly formed and risk further clots.

They must be removed.

My retinologist decided that she will perform laser surgery to excise the new blood vessels on the 10th December.

The process is simple. Several thousand laser shots are made across the back of the eye, these burn off the blood vessels destroying them immediately. The procedure is performed under a local anaestetic, which reduces some of the pain.

I had the procedure over several months in England when my right eye was lost to a clot in 2001-2.

There is no recovery of sight, they eye is after all technically dead, it is merely to prevent further problems such as glaucoma and possible blood clot threats so close to the brain.

Not the best news to get on Thanksgiving week. But At least I have been here before.