Roja's puppy raisers, Jack and Linda, have raised 38 puppies and gave me the gift of Roja.

Roja’s puppy raisers, Jack and Linda, co-raised Roja with the Swart family. Puppy raising is a selfless act, and I’m grateful to them for their care of Roja as a puppy.

Graduation from Guide Dogs for the Blind seems like eons ago, though the interactions with Roja’s amazing puppy raisers that day are still clearly etched in my mind. In fact, the entire day felt magical, from the after effects of the shock of my sisters surprising me  to eating mouth-watering Indian food with friends who drove 14 hours in one day to celebrate with me and Roja.

Roja relaxing on my lap while driving through Golden Gate Park Continue reading

The anticipation was almost more than I could bear. I had been planning the surprise for 4 months, and it seemed August 8th would never arrive. I nearly ruined the surprise on several occasions, and it began to feel like it could burst out of my mouth at any moment without warning. I told very few people about the surprise in hopes of containing it.

Finally, the date arrived, and my younger sister, Jillian, and I set out on our trip to unveil the big surprise. Continue reading

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I procrastinated getting a guide dog for about 2 years, turning down 3 different training dates offered to me after being accepted to the program, all because of fear.

My fears? (in order)

Poop. Allergies. Dog Hair. Drool.

None of these 4 excuses that I spent 730 days fixating on ended up being issues. Continue reading

joyandroja“What are you looking for in a guide dog?”

“Um, Well, a smallish sized dog who is calm and has a drier mouth, maybe a yellow lab although color isn’t as important. Oh, and I want a dog who is super fast.”

I could tell Roja met my criteria from day 1, even though bonding has continued to be challenging. I’m now in my second week of training, and I still find myself feeling jealous of other students and their constantly playful, cuddling dogs. Yes, Roja, gives “hugs” with her whole body and loves playing “tug” and occasionally rests her soft head on my lap, but these signs of affection are definitely on her terms, intermittently, when she feels like it!  She still moves away when I reach to pet her head, and I’m still learning what makes her tick. Continue reading