Thursday, May 24, 2018

Gentle Leader: A Guide Dog Story

Working with a guide dog takes a lot of work on both sides. I have become a little lazy with Leif, my black male Labrador. He has taken every opportunity to become his own boss rather than my partner in the team. I let him do that I admit guilt.

Leif a black labrador retriever looks into the camera as he sits in a light airy room.
Leif, Six Year old Black Lab

On Sunday we had a visit from Guide Dogs for the Blind. As graduates we can choose a telephone chat or a visit. Since it has been three years since our last in person visit and I know a lot of the problems were coming from me. Well I thought, get in the experts and knock myself back in shape to redress the balance in the team.

The visit went well. Analysis showed my surrender of the gentle leader in recent months had given Leif an edge.

What is a gentle leader? 

A Gentle leader is a light head collar for the dog, instead of attaching the leash to his neck the gentle leader allows the leash to attach under the muzzle so you as the handler know where in space your dogs nose is at all times. Useful if your dog is a sniffer like my Leif.

Well yesterday, I decided to go to the gamestore just about half a mile away. I harnessed Leif, put on his gentle leader and walked down to the store. I have to admit, Leif worked like a dream. No stops to sniff. No hearing the sudden crunch of jaws as he picked up some morsel of junk food from the sidewalk. He plodded along by my side, stopping right on the button at crossings. He took every treat politely and with gracious licks of my hand. A dream walk.

We even had to walk around a half dozen open doors in the strip mall where the game store is located. A reward was given for each.

When we got into the gamestore, we were greeted by one of the young women who works there. I felt a tug on the leash. Leif had seized the opportunity. An audience. Better a captive audience. His muzzle was now buried into the carpetted floor His head rubbing from side to side as I tried to lift his nose. He whinned a little and put all his weight against his shoulders pushing his face along the floor.

"Is he ok?" the young woman asked.

"Oh Yes!" I said. "He's protesting at his head collar. He was fine until he saw that he had an audience. He'll be fine. Just wants to show how cruel I am."

"I know you are not cruel with him." She said. "What can we do for you?"

I went on to buy my shopping list of items. As we chatted Leif began to ease up on his rolling and whimpers. Until we had finished and started to make our way to the door. Leif did a final dive into the carpet. With no-one taking any notice. He got up shook himself with a snort and lead  me all the way home.

On the walk home he was his usual plodding self. Conciencious and deliberate with his kerbside drill. I treated him often.

It just shows these dogs are intelligent. They reall7y know how to train us hummans.

Do you have a guide dog story to share? Tell us in the comments below.




Monday, May 21, 2018

Why I Think Light Seekers Trading Card Game is a Good Game for the Visually Impaired

Recently I was introduced to the Light Seekers Trading Card Game at my local gamestore.

Being visually impaired it is often difficult to find new games to play with friends and family. We are bored by chess, checkers, the same old game of Trivial Pursuit. So the other week I heard of Light Seekers TCG. and gave it a try.

Light seekers trading card game in progress, playmat and cards I use an electronic magnifier to see written portions of cards.
Light Seekers Trading Card Game

At first it may seem impossible for a blind person to play. The cards have writing on them that describes the way the card can be used. There are cards to attack, cards to defend, cards with heroes and cards that you use to adapt abilities.

Being the person I am. Not willing to let a mere card game beat me. I decided to see if I could compete on a moderately level playing field with members of my local gamestore league.

The answer is a resounding YES!

I have played in a couple of varieties of tournements now. A Draft where you draw cards from packs at the game table and a construction game where you build your deck before the game and play against several other players over an afternoon.

I have achieved about 45% wins. OK so I lose more time than I win but I have only been playing the game for about a month now, and I am also visually impaired.

The thing that I thinks helps me with the game is that players read their cards out loud for their opponent. Wow a card game that comes in with built in audio description.  I know exactly what the other players have played. I am also able to use a good magnifier to be able to read my cards. That helps, but maybe in a family game a blind person could have their hand described by a non-playing member of the family.

Light Seekers is fun. Basically you have a Hero card which comes with a certain health score. The aim is for each playrr to take turns and the first to reduce their opponents score to zero wins. This is achieved by playing  a series of attack, defense and combination cards that heal a hero or inflict damage on them.

Games can be pretty quick, it can all be over in five minutes or two opponents can slog out an hour long epic battle.

As you go deeper into the game you collect cards, build new decks to add strengths and employ various strategies. There are six starter decks available, each has a specific strength and you discover weaknesses as you play. One faction is good at healing, another good at throwing out damage yet another good at building items that either heal their hero or destroy opponents.

I have played a mountain deck in my  first tournament. Mountain can be good at dealing out damage but for me the cards did not come out well as I searched in vain for just the right card to let me deliver the killer blow. But the games were fun and now I am on the lookout for the opportunity to build up my strength in those weak spots, which I discovered this weekend.

With just one month to go until my gamestores  next tournament I have time to hit the booster packs to loo for that killer card.