Thursday, May 19, 2016

Four Years and One Day

I just glanced at the calendar and realized that our Dashiversary passed by unceremoniously this year. The past three years I have made a grandiose Facebook announcement and last year I wrote about it on this blog. Actually, it was the last post I wrote until this one. Oops!

It's interesting and surprising to me that yesterday went by without any fanfare. I thought of it when I first woke up but then got on with the day and it never occurred to me again. But don't get me wrong! Not one single day goes by that I am not so grateful for Dash or absolutely still in awe that he is mine. My prince. It feels as fresh as the first few weeks together but at the same time, as though he has always been by my side.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Three Years

It's nearly impossible for me to believe that three years ago today Dash and I graduated as a team from Canine Companions for Independence. Three years gone by and I still get butterflies on occasion when I think about how special Dash is, how perfect he is for me, and how blessed I am to call him my service dog.
We celebrated this year's Dashiversary by going to this year's May graduation ceremony at Canine Companions for Independence, just as we did last year. Though I was feeling slightly under the weather from a virus I came down with a few days earlier, it was still a wonderful day. We cheered on three dogs from the Northern Ohio Volunteer Group who graduated, we comforted a few puppy raiser friends who were turning their pups in for Advanced Training, we socialized with other graduates and volunteers, and we had a special reunion with my cousin Becky. I hadn't seen her in at least 20 years, but leave it to Canine Companions for Independence to do the unimaginable!

Becky has been volunteering for Canine Companions for Independence for over 20 years and in February turned in her first puppy, Poet the Great. We unfortunately couldn't meet up at that time but she returned for May's graduation to professionally photograph it. I am so glad she did because it gave us a chance to sit down and get to know each other! She's a beautiful lady inside and out and I hope not a graduation goes by that we don't get to see each other.  What an unexpected gift that i would never have gotten without Dash!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Less-Words Wednesday: A Dream Come True: Fond Farewell

You would think we would take it easy on our final day in Arizona, but knowing our flight wasn't until 10pm (yuck!), we checked off the last two things on our must-do list!

Julie and Jan rose early to do one of their favorite things - ride horses! Uncle Dave met up with them to take pictures but was coerced into riding along! Pretty impressive, riding in shorts! (Also, do we all agree that my sister could be a model?!)

All week long we had been talking about an accessible desert trail that was nearby. I was so glad we got a chance to experience it! I was also way too excited about the doggy drinking fountain! So clever!

One last meal on the back patio before we headed to the airport.
Dash wouldn't smile for the picture - he was too sad about leaving!

It's been over a month since our trip and I'm still in disbelief that it actually happened. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more, and I had the perfect company. I'm hoping this is the first of a great many Big Adventures for Dash and me!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Dream Come True: Our Name in Lights

After Monday's road trip it should have been a challenge to get out of bed on Tuesday, but with a Cleveland Indian's Spring Training game on the agenda I woke before my alarm went off!

Baseball has long been literally the only sport I follow, and getting to a spring training game has been on my bucket list for many years. When Steve and Helen proposed this crazy Arizonian adventure, seeing the Tribe play (ahem, beat!) the Cubs was a big selling point!

Of course the plan was to get to the stadium in plenty of time to get some autographs, but anyone who knows me (or my bloodline) knows that's kind of laughable! But we did get there in time for the first pitch - give me some credit!

It was such a treat to be in an intimate stadium, taking in the classic sights, sounds, and smells of a true summer pastime and to do it with so many of my favorite people! We (Uncle Dave and Aunt Karin, mom, Aunt Jan, Julie and I) met up with Steve and Helen, Allyn and Bob, and Bob and Candy. Bob has a Canine Companions for Independence service dog named Piazi, who is actually Pluto's brother!
Mom and Aunt Jan

Jules and me
In typical Arizona style, there was not a cloud in the sky and the temperatures were in the mid to high eighties - perfect for me but a bit hot for Dash and his other black-dog friends! Don't worry though, we managed to find the one (tiny) tree in the park and pretend it provided more shade than it actually did!

Dash, Piazi, Pluto, and Tundra - black dogs unite!
After a while of socializing under the tree, I felt drawn back to the game - and it's a good thing I followed my instincts! Little did I know but Uncle Dave and Aunt Karin were about to give us the surprise of a lifetime - our names on the big screen! I was in SHOCK!
And lest you worry about my fair complexion and Dash's temperature... 
And if this day were a cake, it didn't just have icing but also a gnash filling! Not only did the Tribe beat the Cubs 10-6, but when we got home from the game there was a framed photo of the jumbotron shoutout and a ball, signed by the whole team. See?! Being late pays off! :-)

Our day at the game was even better than I could have imagined. I almost always go to the Cleveland Home Opener, but it sold out extremely quickly this year. Normally, I would have been really disappointed about this, but having gone to a Spring Training game definitely took the edge off - and was measurably warmer! I'm hoping to make this a new yearly tradition for sure!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Dream Come True: Narrow Doorways and Wide-Open Spaces

The next two days provided a great juxtaposition of the tightest of spaces and the greatest of vistas I've ever experienced in my thirty-some years.

On Sunday we set our sights on Taliesin West, which was Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and continues to be his School of Architecture. Interestingly enough, the students attend half the year in Arizona and the other half in Wisconsin, which is where he spent his summers.

Case in point: This cactus is happily
growing out of the wall!
I had only been to one other FLW building before, which was the Unity Temple in Illinois, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm glad I didn't expect to see something similar to the Unity Temple, because I learned at Taliesin West that FLW felt strongly that his works should reflect and even include the environment in which they were built. Obviously the landscape of Arizona differs from that of Illinois!

Although our tour guide could have used a course in disability-related etiquette (don't get me started!), I was pleased that - as was the case at Unity Temple - the structures were fairly accessible, albeit tight!
FLW felt that if one had to duck to pass through a doorway,
the room would feel deceivingly spacious and grand. 
Funnily enough, one of the most memorable rooms on the tour was FLW's office, which included two partitioned beds.  Apparently he had a sleeping disorder, so tended to take midday rests. If students or clients found him resting on the foremost bed, they were permitted to wake him; but if he was on the far bed, he was to be left undisturbed!
Dash says he's not picky - either bed would be just fine!

After Sunday's somewhat low-key day, we were ready for a day-trip! On Monday we hit the road to meet Steve, Helen, and Helen's mom Allyn in Sedona!

The drive North was breathtaking, out of the desert area to a mountainous area. (Fun fact: Did you know that Arizona has more mountains that any other state?!) Even though we were meeting our friends at a certain time, we couldn't help but stop at a scenic overlook and I am beyond glad we did!

Dash was trying to teach this javelina statue some manners.
Did not expect to meet Smokey the Bear, but so glad we did!

Once we thanked Smokey for his services, we were back on the road to meet our friends at the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Unfortunately my pictures from inside this chapel do not do it justice, but it was a beautiful and sacred place, without a doubt. And outside the chapel provided another great photo opportunity!

From the chapel we moved on to grab a very late lunch in Sedona. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant with sub-par food but excellent company. It was a great time to chat, catch up and get to know Allyn. After lunch we did a little shopping before headings home for the evening.
Pluto, Tundra (puppy Allyn is raising for CCI), and Dash
with a creepy stuffed bear wearing a green wig.
Some things are just beyond explanation!
And no adventure would be complete without a nearly unbelievable story...

On our way to Sedona we came upon an RV traveling the same way we were. Upon my mom's request, Julie passed it, leading to squeals of delight from my mom. Would you believe it was one of my mom's good friends who is road tripping around the country all summer with her husband, Ben?! We gave them a call and agreed to visit at their campsite on our way home from Sedona.

Needless to say, by the time we got home we were absolutely exhausted! We crashed into our beds, knowing that Tuesday would be another exciting day in Arizona .... Goodyear, Arizona, to be exact!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Dream Come True: The Dog Days of ... March?!

I was never as thankful for the two-hour time change than I was on Saturday morning: Our alarms went off at 7:00 but for us it felt like 9:00. Really, even if we hadn't had that benefit, getting up early that day wouldn't have been too hard with the knowledge we were headed to DogFest Walk 'n Roll Phoenix! DogFest is a community dog walk that supports the mission of Canine Companions for Independence.

 DogFest events occur all around the country (Click here to see if there is one coming up near you!) but Dash and I have only ever attended the Cleveland event. We were very excited to participate in another city's big day of celebration of Canine Companions for Independence!

We were also excited because it was a chance for Julie and I to reunite with our cousin Andee (and meet her husband and son) for the first time in at least 20 years! It was so great to meet as adults and really get to know each other.

Shortly after we arrived our attention was drawn to the pavilion, where there was a service dog demonstration going on. I am Facebook friends with the woman giving the demo, and she did a great job representing Canine Companions for Independence and showing off how her dog helps her.
Buddy and her dog, Andy
Once the presentation finished, people began to gather for the "walk" part of the Walk 'n Roll event, which was a pleasant stroll through the square, lined with blooming roses and sparkling fountains. (That's a sentence a Clevelander never has the pleasure of saying in March!)

After the walk we knew we had a few activities we just couldn't pass up! To begin with, I finally caved and let Dash get his first tattoo... and he coerced his doggie cousins to get one, too!

Then we admired the antics of the frisbee-catching dogs. Dash was in awe of how high they could jump!

Watching those dogs gave Dash the itch for a new challenge so we headed over to the agility course, where he and Julie totally rocked it!
I had a feeling Dash would enjoy the course because his puppy raisers told me they had exposed him to it and he really loved the tunnel, even as a puppy! Don't tell Dash but one of the gifts we got for Christmas was an agility course to set up in the yard this summer. Can't wait for that!
Only in Arizona do cowboys roam
the street strumming guitars!

By the time we felt we had conquered DogFest we were all quite hungry! We found a yummy restaurant with an outdoor patio where Andee's pet dogs were welcome and settled in to revive ourselves. I had the most surreal moment as we waited for our food, realizing i was sitting on a patio, completely comfortable, gazing at a cloudless blue sky and palm trees, listening to a Jack Johnson song (the summeriest music of all time) ... and it was MARCH SEVENTH. It was like a dream!

Post lunch, we strolled around the town and did a little shopping. 
Cowboy boots? When in Rome...
 By the end of the day we were all sun-baked and exhausted, but so glad we got to go to the Phoenix DogFest! My only regret was not getting any pictures with Steve, Helen, and Pluto who were the ones that invited us in the first place. I guess we were just too busy having fun!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Dream Come True: Is this real life?

Little did I know at the time of my previous post that our trip would be such a whirlwind of fun and adventure (and time change!) that I would not have the energy or words to post daily, as I had planned. But better late than never...

We were greeted by my sweet Aunt Karin upon arrival at her and my uncle's house in Scottsdale. We immediately felt right at home, including Dash, who made a beeline for the sun-covered patio.
Another example that Dash and I are a perfect match: We both adore sunbathing! 

After a tour of their incredible house, we spent that first evening eating a delicious meal and talking over all the many things we hoped to do during our week in Arizona. I actually went to bed feeling slightly overwhelmed by all of the things we could possibly do, but could never have time to get in!

Friday morning I woke up to this view and wondered if I was dreaming:

I continued to be in awe as I cast my UGG boots and sweater aside in exchange for TOMS and a t-shirt, and began our first real day of vacation!

After a fun visit from Steve, Helen, and Pluto, we headed off to the Desert Botanical Garden. We were in luck, because the desert was just beginning to bloom - as if it wasn't incredible enough to begin with!

Us Ohioans were all astonished by the varying specimen of cacti - some of them looked as if they belonged underwater, some looked so soft and cuddly that it was hard to resist touching them (but we certainly did resist!), and some looked downright lethal! 

And as he does everywhere he goes, Dash was quick to make a new friend:
Do you see him there? A little ground squirrel was perched on the ledge, just as fascinated with Dash as Dash was with him. I think it thought it was having an Androcles and the Lion moment, and was offering Dash freedom from his leash!

After wandering in the desert for a while, we worked up a powerful hunger ... and need to shop! Thankfully the on-site restaurant is conveniently located on the other side of the gift shop!

Once we got home we retired to our rooms for the night, knowing that Saturday would arrive bright and early with one of the most exciting things on our calendar for the week! Stay tuned...