International Guide Dog Day

Junebug and Margeaux. Margeaux has her arm around Junebug, who is in harness, and is giving her a kiss.

Junebug and Margeaux. Margeaux has her arm around Junebug, who is in harness, and is giving her a kiss.

Turn up the music and let’s celebrate. Today is International Guide Dog Day!

When I was growing up and being raised by my guide dog puppy raisers, I had no idea just how cool being a guide dog really would be. Now that I am one, I can tell you that it’s a PAWesome job.

Check out this video of some guide dog awesomeness in action. My mom recorded this back in 2013. It’s really cool she wanted to record an example of my work, and she sure got to. What this video captures is an example of one of the many things I was trained to do at Guide Dogs for the Blind, my alumni. I was taught to slow down, come to a stop, and slightly angle my body in front of my mom’s legs. This is to alert my mom that there is an object in our way.

Pretty PAWesome isn’t it?

Junebug and Fee-Fi-Fo-Frog, her stuffed frong toy.

Junebug and Fee-Fi-Fo-Frog, her stuffed frog toy.

In past posts I have shared about the importance of balancing work with play. It’s very important, because a guide dog’s work can be intense. When I’m off-duty I enjoy playing with all my toys. I recently acquired a new squeaky toy that I’ve been playing keep away with. I will be honest; I’m really good at this game and my mom, not so much. I win just about every time and shh… don’t tell her, sometimes I let her win. 😛

This is another glimpse into my many adventures as a guide dog.

Junebug, in harness, wearing a pink and sparkly cowgirl hat.

Junebug, in harness, wearing a pink and sparkly cowgirl hat.

I’d like to tip my cowgirl hat to all the PAWesome guide dogs and their parents out there (like my mom and me, wags!) pups in training, retired, and to all who’ve passed. Also, a huge woof-out to everyone from guide dog puppy raisers, donors, trainers, vets, kennel staff, volunteers, and etc. who help a guide dog on the path to her or his career. Thank you for all you do. And guide dogs, thank you for your service.

❤ Wags,

Junebug

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Junebug Stops at the Grocery

Junebug guiding Margeaux down the grocery store isle. | © 2015

My friends, the other day, at the Trader Joe’s (grocery), I prevented a mass collision of all kinds of dramatic sorts.

Let me explain.

Junebug, stopping for the grocery carts. | © 2015

This past Sunday morning I was guiding my mom into the store. At the same time, a clerk was pushing in a line of stacked back-to-back carts. My mom was oblivious to them. I however, was not. I remembered my training from Guide Dogs for the Blind. I came to a sudden stop when I concluded there would not be enough time for me to guide my mom further forward without us being run down.

My coming to a sudden stop was a que to my mom that we had an obstacle of some kind in our way. She saw with her peripheral vision (her central vision is impaired) a red line and heard the sound of the carts. Mom realized what I had just done for her— that this Bug came to her rescue once again, wags.

The clerk stopped at the same time I did. He was thoroughly impressed with my guide dog skills.

Are you impressed, too?

Junebug guiding Margeaux at the grocery store. | © 2015

After that, I went on to guide my mom to shop for her groceries. We were shopping with a store clerk. My moms visual impairment prevents her from being able to see to read print. I do a lot of things for my mom, but I leave the reading up to her human  assistants. I guided  mom to the stores customer service desk where she requested help shopping. The clerk helped her by reading to her the prices of items, ingredients, and etc.

I listened to my mom as I guided her through the store and she gave me directions to “follow,” “Junebug, left,” and “Junebug, right.” I guided her around poles and other peoples carts. The cool thing is with me as her transportation, unless she sees these things in her peripheral vision, she doesn’t even know they are there. You got it, I guide her right around them. Safely, of course. How cool is that? My mom says it makes for a smooth ride, wags.

My favorite isle at the grocery, paws down, is the dog food/treat/toy isle. I always make a premeditated effort to take a trip down this section.

Lastly I guided my mom to the checkout counter. She used her knowledge of the stores layout and her ears to direct me to the general area. She then gave me the command to “find the checkout.” And, I found it for her, wags!

My mom said she is so grateful and thankful for the extra independence having me as her guide gives her.

This Bug has skills. If I’m guiding and it’s not safe to continue, I’ll stop in the name of love. Admittedly, part of that might be a little self-preservation. 😉

When we got home, mom put up the groceries and proceeded to give me a great big tummy rub. They are the BEST, ever. While she was rubbing my tummy, I couldn’t keep my tail from wagging (see video). I was a proud Bug.

Junebug holds her new stuffing free bunny toy in her mouth.| © 2015

Oh oh oh, and guess what? That evening, my mom bought me a new toy. She bought me a stuffing free bunny rabbit. It’s soft, crinkly, and squeaks. I LOVE it!

Here’s the truth. The truth is, I love my mom. We are one PAWsome team. I love doing a good job and I am proud to be a guide dog for the blind.

Wags,
Junebug

* Note from my mom, Margeaux: Thank you for following my guide dog, Junebug’s adventures. I am an advocate, motivational speaker and artist. I also happen to be partially blind/visually impaired. Please feel free to visit my site margeauxgray.com  If interested in contacting me and or booking me (and Junebug of course, too!) for your event, please click here and fill out the contact form. I will reply to your email in which I’ll attach a speakers request form and an honorarium and travel guidelines document.

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Junebug and the Little Red Tricycle

The little red tricycle by it’s self on the side walk. A second photo of Junebug sitting and posing beside it. © 2014

Happy New Year my friends! Yesterday was a beautiful (albeit cold) winter day here in Kentucky. The sun was shining which always makes me extra waggly. It was a cool 25° F (feels like 19° F) which is about -4º C (feels like -7º C) outside. The frigid weather did not keep me from working.

Yesterday morning I guided mom to an appointment. After that, I guided her on a walk. I had the good fast pace that she likes going and then I came to an abrupt stop. I was telling her to explore because there was an obstacle on the sidewalk. You know what I did? I kept her from walking into or tripping over a child’s tricycle (see photo), wags. I was so very proud of myself and mom was so very proud of me. She praised me and gave me kisses on my forehead. You see that’s something she quite possibly could trip and hurt herself over — that is however, if she did not have me or was walking without a white cane or assistance. I was trained by my alumni, Guide Dogs for the Blind how to handle situations like that one. I was trained how to alert my handler (my mom) when an obstacle on our path is in the way. After mom finished praising me, she had a light bulb moment — she thought what a great opportunity it would be to record such an encounter and to share with all of you. She thought it would be an educational moment, to give you a little glimpse into what a Guide Dog like myself can do for the blind and visually impaired. Then she realized, it was also a great reminder to be appreciative of what we may perceive as “the little things in life.” Are they really small? For my mom, what some may see as a little red tricycle on the sidewalk is a reminder of how grateful and blessed she is to have me as her Guide Dog. For  her I am a freedom. So, do you know what she did? She made a video! She had me back up and rework the scene as she recorded it on her phone. And, then I came home and wrote this blog post. How PAWesome is that?

Junebug enjoying her Kong Extreme toy filled with a few pieces of frozen banana and peanut butter. © 2014

Junebog and her Kong  ExtremeJunebog and her Kong  ExtremeTrader Joe's Peanut Butter Junebug enjoying her Kong Extreme toy filled with a few pieces of frozen banana and Trader Joe’s unsalted peanut butter. © 2014

You know what also is PAWesome? When I guided her back home, she rewarded me with a woofderful Kong Company Extreme toy filled with a few pieces of frozen banana and Trader Joe’s creamy unsalted peanut butter (from unbleached peanuts). Wags wags wags, it was so delicious. Mom said it was also well deserved. She said I’ve done another whole year of doing an excellent job of guiding her. She handed me the Kong Extreme filled treat and said, “Cheers, to you Junebug!”

Alright, are you ready to watch the video? Don’t be disappointed if you’re blind or visually impaired. Mom made a point to describe what was happening. If you are hearing impaired, there are subtitles. So, without further ado, I present to you my first video published on my new YouTube channel:

Enjoy and let me know what you think. If you like what you see, keep following my blog and invite your family and friends to do so as well. I’m a social Bug — so be sure to follow me on social media. Have a Happy New Year!

Wags,

Junebug

* Note from my mom, Margeaux: Thank you for watching this video. I am an advocate, motivational speaker and artist. I also happen to be partially blind/visually impaired. Please feel free to visit my site margeauxgray.com. If interested in contacting me and or booking me (and Junebug of course, too!) for your event, please click here and fill out the contact form.

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