My daughter Ella is 16 months old; where did that time go? It feels like yesterday I was holding her in my arms for the first time. She is very mobile now and practically into everything! She doesn’t like the word “no” when she opens drawers and pulls out her clothes. Ella loves to chase our cat, and gets very excited when she sees her. It’s “At” for cat! “At” doesn’t appreciate her tail being pulled, but she doesn’t exactly get out-of-the-way to avoid Ella either. My days are spent wrangling my little girl, intermittently singing Row Row Row Your Boat and the ABC’s.
A New Home For Yannie
I hadn’t planned for it while I was pregnant; nor could I have foreseen my motherhood mobility difficulties. After having Ella, I soon realized my guide dog, Yannie, could not effectively lead me with my daughter. Yannie was too easily distracted, even lunging for a cat that had crossed our path. With Ella strapped to my chest, it became painfully apparent Yannie was unable to adjust to such a dramatic life change in her career as my guide. I wrestled to make the best decision for both my Yannie, Ella and myself.
I felt an immense amount of personal guilt as I weighed my options. No matter how hard I tried I could not make it work walking Yannie and Ella independently. When Yannie and I had been matched in 2010, no one could have predicted this is where we would end up almost six years later. She was simply not the right dog for this situation. But how could any of us had known that when we were being matched all those years ago? With the safety of my entire family to contend with, a conference with the guide dog school lead me to decide to retire Yannie outside of my home.
It’s been a huge adjustment. Yannie has a good life; she lives in a rural setting surrounded by dairy farms. There is also bird aviary nearby that she thoroughly enjoys. Yannie gets toast with Marmite for breakfast and a ginger-nut for afternoon tea. She is being cared for by a wonderful family who loves her very much and has the ability to walk and spend time with her everyday.
Lacking Independence With Ella
Even without Yannie, I am still lacking my independence. I rely on my cane when I venture outdoors, but I am still having difficulty taking Ella out alone. I practiced my cane skills on a route the other day while someone else pushed Ella in her stroller. I couldn’t enjoy the walk. I couldn’t even relax because I was concentrating so intently on what I was supposed to be doing. I was so out of practice and so discouraged. I might as well have been doing the route entirely one my own with that stupid cane! I felt utterly alone. The only walks I enjoy anymore are the ones where I am standing right next to the stroller, being lead by someone else who’s chugging along pushing Ella on her walk. No cane. Less stress. But still no independent mommy moments.
A New Guide
For the foreseeable future, I will continue brushing up on my cane skills. I’ll be applying for a new guide dog next year that will hopefully adapt better to my new parenting role. Until then, I will continue focusing on my daughter, Ella, enjoying every single second of her precious childhood.