As always, after I’ve taken a trip, I take forever to blog about it. This one was almost a year and a half ago. But I felt like writing it down because if this garbage Coronavirus hadn’t come along, I would have likely been back there this week. Back in March of 2019, when life was normal, I visited Tansy’s raisers at the end of a conference that was in their area. It was a really great trip, filled with amazing memories, just like our first visit. These people know how to pack a trip full of adventures.
Tansy’s raisers were very sweet and came to get me at the hotel where I was staying. Tansy didn’t go nuts for them just then, probably because she was exhausted and overstimulated, but she definitely was happy. But when we got to her puppyhood home, she let it all out. She started grunting at them, just like she does to Brad. Yup, these are definitely her favourite people.
On our way home, Tansy’s raisers were concerned about their new dog, the one they got after Sasha died, and how he would respond to Tansy. They were planning that if he got too aggressive or obnoxious, they would board him somewhere while we were there. I was really hoping that wouldn’t be necessary, and it wasn’t. Their new dog was a shmeency little thing, but I know those can be the worst. But after the dogs introduced themselves, he settled right down. I was so happy.
I always like to figure out what each dog’s tags sound like so I can tell them apart, but I could never hear this wee one moving around. Eventually, he decided to sleep on my lap and I figured out why. His tags were inside a little knitted pouch. It seems the metal in them had given him a ring of grey crap around his neck, so she put his tags in a pouch. Ok, mystery solved! Also darn it, the little sneak can go all stealth on me.
I was pretty confident that Tansy looked good, but there’s always that fear that someone who raised her wouldn’t agree. But they were thrilled with how good she looked. That made me happy.
I didn’t stress about her vacation home craziness. I just accepted that she might steal a tomato or two, and she might choose to sleep next to her raisers. Most of the time, she slept near me, but there was one time when she decided to sleep in the teeny new dog’s bed. There’s a picture of that, but sadly I don’t have it. If I ever get it, it’s going in here. At least this time, I was able to keep her leash and harness with me, so that helped reduce the stress.
So what did we get up to? A whole bunch, and it was so much fun. We went to a comedy show called Canuc as Fuck. I think they were worried that this one could go bad, but it didn’t. We all had a really good laugh.
Then the next night we went to a concert. It kind of felt like I was at church because the performers kept singing pieces that sounded like hymns. When the intermission hit, it was clear that this wasn’t what Tansy’s raisers found super enjoyable, so we left. I’ve never walked out in the middle of a concert before.
She took me shopping. If it weren’t for the need to cram everything into a suitcase, who knows what I might have brought home. The next day we went to a Pilates class. While I was doing it, the moves didn’t feel like hard work, but after I was done, my muscles were screaming! I don’t know how many times Steve heard me say “Aaa my core!”
Of course we had lots of walks each day: some in parks, some on crazy trails that felt like some kind of agility challenge, some in the infamous Trump golf course. The dogs were never bored. Every time we went for a walk, Tansy could hardly contain her excitement and she would start puffing madly. I swear she’s not out of shape. She’s just happy as heck.
I don’t know what it is, but both times I’ve gone to see them, at some point, I have tripped and fallen on one of the walks. I don’t know whether I’m focusing more on trying to make sure I’m staying up with them, or worrying about us making a mistake and so I do, but both times, I have fallen to the earth at least once. It’s weird because I rarely ever fall here. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve gone for a spill. Oh, there was that one time I slipped in the middle of the road, but that was the ice’s fault.
We learned so much about each other. I learned about their kids, their younger selves, their jobs and their friends. I got to meet a guy who used to puppysit the Shmans. He could hardly believe that she grew into a guide dog. I almost met another friend of hers, but she wasn’t up to it. I think she knew Tansy when Tansy was a wee puppy.
Tansy’s raisers learned a bunch about blindness, Braille, how I use a computer, and that I have a wicked good memory. They wanted me to do my presentation that I had done for the conference. I told them that it would probably be kind of techy and weird without slides, but they wanted it anyway. It grew into a great big conversation. They seemed to enjoy it.
I brought them a Google Home Mini. I wasn’t sure how it would go over. I was kind of worried that it wouldn’t understand her voice because she has a heavy accent. I also wasn’t sure how he would feel about it since I know he has strong opinions about surveillance and stuff. But I also imagined them getting it to play music or asking it what the weather was in Kitchener, so I thought it was worth a shot. If they hated it, I could take it back and give it to someone else and find something cooler for them.
I was not wrong in their possible difficulties with it, but I think they enjoyed it more than they didn’t like it. I laughed when he asked it if it was a CIA spy, and it actually had an answer for him. Of course it did. It shook him up later on, after he was talking about it being a listening device, and then we got in his car and he discovered his own phone has been listening to him this whole time. Also, she did get it to play music while she cooked, and seemed to enjoy it.
It’s cute to watch them try and use technology. They really want to, but they don’t know what it all means. The first night I was there, they went to get me the wifi password which was written on the bottom of the router, but they jostled the modem and made cables come out. So the “phone” hole “was the same size as the “DSL” hole”, so he put the DSL cord in the phone jack and aaaa! The internet is broken! So the guy started rifling through a drawer of old modems, and trying to figure out what he had to change. I kept insisting it’s something simple. Meanwhile his wife was begging him to “Fix it!” In desperation he said “There’s a guy with an AT and T van! I’ll go get him!” Before I could tell him to stop, he was out the door in hot pursuit of Mr. AT and T.
While he was gone, I opened up my phone’s browser and read the message that the DSL connection was gone. When he dejectedly came back in saying he couldn’t find him, I asked him what the name of the hole was that he put the cord in. “Phone,” he said. I asked if there was another hole that looked the same, and if so, what was its name. “DSL,” he said. I said “Let’s slide the cord into the DSL hole and see what happens.” Of course it worked. “I fixed it!” He yelled triumphantly. I’m really glad he didn’t catch Mr. AT and T!
Movies sure have changed a lot, and because of use of less verbal cues, described video is becoming more and more necessary. We watched two very different movies, and both had very highly-visual parts. They often had to read to me, which was hard for them because it would move so fast. I even asked if there was a video description option, but they couldn’t find it. The first was a movie called Searching, which was about this kid having a double life that was discovered through chat messages. I wasn’t surprised that that was visual because it was all chat messages and emails and internet searches and stuff. But the second movie, Operation Finale, was just as bad! People really and truly are speaking less and less, and it’s getting harder and harder to draw information just from regulare conversation.
It still makes me sad that at the end of the trip, the damn airport made me get stressy and snappy and they had to see that. The poor woman was desperately trying to help me, but the airport had removed the ability for someone to escort another passenger to their gate if they needed assistance. Since we didn’t plan on needing airport assistance, we didn’t request any, and 15 other people also needed assistance. This made her panic, and try really hard to speak for me, which put me on edge because I don’t want to be spoken for. The more she got in their face, the less they seemed to want to help, and I finally had to tell her that she may have had the best intentions, but her attempts to help were making things worse. I think that hurt, and that made me feel like the biggest jerk on the planet. I think I smoothed that over, but it makes me sad that we had to part in a less than pleasant way. Airports bring out the snarl in me.
I am so sad that two attempts to get to see them this year have been thwarted by this stupid virus. I don’t know if Tansy will get to see them one final time, but at least we had two good trips.