We left on the 5th to come up to Rochester NY to go to the Guide Dog Users Inc. conference. It took us two days to get here via train! We had to take the train because the airlines break Brad’s wheelchair when we fly.
Our first trip was from Charlotte, NC to Penn Station in NYC. It was a 14 hour trip! They had three smoke breaks, which is where they expect you to potty your service dog. The only problem is that these breaks are all on concrete platforms, and you’re not allowed (and don’t have time!) to leave train side. So that meant that poor Hestia had to hold it for 14 hours! Man, what a champ she was! She was great on the train!
The only problem happened in the second half of the train trip when the AC went out in our car! It got into the 80s in our car, we were dying of heat! Everyone that was mobile switched to other cars. But since it would take a good 15 min minimum to have Brad switch cars, we and the other mobility impaired people were stuck in the hot car. They opened the doors to the cars on either end (which were air conditioned) and tinkered with the AC so that it was tolerable for the rest of our trip, though still very warm.
When we got to Penn Station, we somehow exited in a dark alley that was filled with homeless people. I was carrying a pillow and my suitcase and was having a lot of trouble. Suddenly I started getting a lot of cat calls! “Hey pretty lady, want some help?” said in a very lewd voice. Brad had zoomed ahead of me and I was all alone on the block with a tiny dog and no way to get away quickly. It was super scary! I caught up with Brad at an intersection and he offered to carry my pillow which made managing my suitcase a lot easier.
We finally got to our hotel, but along the way there had been zero grass or even dirt for Hestia to pee in! Hestia was holding it like a champ, but I knew she had to go. I found a giant planter with a tree in it, and put her in it. She peed for a few minutes it seemed like! Wow, she is such a good girl! I know, I ‘m not supposed to put my dog in planters to have her use the bathroom, but what else was I supposed to do?!
The next morning we woke up early and walked 15 min to our favorite NYC store, the Pressed Juicery. They sell awesome juice blends, and even have what is called a “freeze” which is juice in the form of like an ice cream (soft serve)! We met our friends Hannah with her Labradoodle Sasha there! It was SO good to see them again, Hannah is super duper nice, and Sasha is one of the most perfect dogs ever.
Unfortunately the Pressed Juicery was not accessible, with a giant step out front. Hannah and I went in and ordered our stuff, and then I asked the employee to step outside to get Brad’s order. She kept asking me couldn’t I get it, so eventually I did. Poor Brad, he just wanted to be waited on like anyone else, but instead I had to play go between. Brad and I stocked up on juices for our trip while we were there 🙂
We headed over to a park to sit down, chat, and eat our freezes. Boy where they yummy! Hannah and I got pineapple freezes with coconut, blueberries, and strawberries. Brad got a strawberry freeze with almonds, blueberries, and strawberries. While we were in the park, we talked and laughed a LOT! We also got some truly awesome photos.
Far too soon, it was time for us to get back and to the train station to catch our train up to Rochester. This train ride was pretty uneventful, though Hestia really rocked it this time. It was only 8 hours. But while I was asleep, a pittie came on the train and Hestia didn’t react to it! I totally did NOT have her under my control while I was sleeping (except for her training), and she just was chill! Brad was so proud and told me about it when I woke up.
We got into Rochester last night, and this morning the fun started. The GDUI conference is a subset of the American Council of the Blind conference, so there are like thousands of blind people here at the conference. Canes and guide dogs everywhere!
Hestia is rock starring it yet again. I have her down on the ground most of the time, and she has been walking right by the guides, ignoring them. They don’t ignore her, though! They are all very interested in her, with many dogs coming over and sniffing her butt and head. The elevators are the worst! People waiting, coming in and out, it is just mayhem. No one knows what floor they are on, if the elevators are going up or down, and since no one can see that Brad is in a wheelchair, if I don’t rush in and hold the door and tell people he needs room, he misses the elevator. Once that happened to three elevators in a row!
While most people that meet Hestia love her, there are a few who just seem, well, not that receptive. We hope they will come to our session and have their minds changed! In the meantime, we are trying to talk with as many people as possible to spread the word about psychiatric and other types of service dogs!
After lunch (pulled pork on gluten free bread!) we headed to the first session, which was for first time attendees and their guides to talk about how to set ourselves up for success. They had a door prize, and Hestia won a silver box with several collar tags in it! One is in the shape of a crown, and is now attached to her vest.
I was so proud of Miss Hestia that I broke out some new treats for her. Unfortunately, this backfired. After the session, when we got outside, she threw up. Poor girl. I felt so bad.
Now we are relaxing in our room, and she seems a lot better. I will keep everyone posted! In the meantime, below are some of the pictures Brad and I took off our trip so far! Here is a link to all the pictures Brad has taken/posted so far: