photo description: Joy speaking on stage at GDB Legacy Luncheon with Roja by her side.

photo description: Joy speaking on stage at GDB Legacy Luncheon with Roja by her side. [Photo credit: Morry Angell, Guide Dogs for the Blind]

Just when I thought Joy was finished with all her little surprises (i.e. relocating me from Santa Barbara to Chicago, dressing me in lion costumes, and parading my stellar guide work skills all over schools), she pulled out the big one: a stage.  Yep, an actual stage with a bunch of humans staring at me (more than usual, that is).

The bonus?  It was back where I was born. In fact, we even stayed in a room that looked just like the one I first met Joy in, back in training (if I weren’t at the top of my game, I would have been nervous she was exchanging me!  But nope, she needs me too much. Yep, I’m THAT good….)

Anywho, I settled right back into our room and even humored Joy by doing my business on the cement like old times.

Right before the whole stage thing, Joy took me to this fancy lunch.  Not only did it smell good under those tables, but there were tons of other dogs— some with harnesses like mine and other small dogs with vests like I used to wear.  They were SOOOOO cute!  All I wanted to do was play with them, but Joy was being quite the killjoy and kept trying to get me to just sit there.  I mean, it was one thing when we were up on that big stage (I stayed right at the very furthest edge of the stage, just to keep my old pal from training, Mick on his toes, as he was emceeing the whole thing. Mick, buddy, I know you’d stage dive for me if I started to fall…you’re the only one who can pronounce my name with the proper dramatic roll of the “r”….), but quite another thing when the little puppies are right next to us!

After the speech, people clapped a lot.  Even though Joy was the one speaking, I knew the applause were for her furry sidekick.  Then Joy talked and talked and talked with a bunch of people while I tried to get some puppy play time in whenever she was too distracted to do anything about it.

After everyone left, we walked around the city while a lady with a camera followed us around.  She took us to this flower stand, and I thought surely Joy was buying me my very own bouquet, but as soon as I started to sniff (okay, fine and maybe a lil’ nibble. Can you blame a dog for tryin’?), Joy yanked the flowers away.  That lady’s got some nerve.

Once we got on that plane home, I curled up and slept like one of those pups in a vest.

Back on the homefront in SoCal (oh, did I mention Joy’s other recent stunt?  Moving me from my cozy new Chicago home with the large, yummy sticks and cold, fun snow all the way back to the area I played in with my 2 raisers growing up?  Go figure!)

One thing about Joy is that she doesn’t really slow down, so it was right back to work after the big move, which meant more new routes for us.  Parks, pools, classes, stores, libraries, art fairs, and even a church last week (some church where they sit and stand a lot…up, down, up ,down, up, down, and so on.  Can you just stick with one, humans?)

This whole month has been strange.  Joy takes me on more walks, and it’s warm like I remember, but there’s no yard to run around in anymore.  There’s not tons of kids over after school either.  I’m not even sure Joy’s kids even go to school anymore.  They take a few classes but mostly do school stuff at home. Joy looks like she loves being with the girls so much, and they do a lot of neat things (today they made soap!)  They run around with me in the middle of the day, which I love since Joy can be kind of boring when they’re not around.  It’s like the kids make her more fun

We do this one “tug of war” circus show, in which Joy pulls one end of a long colored thing with rings while I pull the other.  She hums circus music, and Ii really ham it up, growling and spinning and making everyone laugh

But when the girls are upstairs, I catch Joy crying a lot, which isn’t really like her, especially in the middle of the day.  I try to make her feel better by staying close to her and giving her some of my famous Roja hugs.  It makes me think that being human must be hard.

I’m glad I’m a dog.  I eat and sleep and play and work and relax in the sun and try to enjoy each day.  If Joy could just manage to be more like me, not thinking so much about yesterday or tomorrow, I think she’d have an easier time.  But I can only do so much for her.  After all, I do physically guide her al over Orange County (not to mention all over the country lately!)  Some things she’ll just need to figure out on her own, and I think it may take some time.

Okay friends, Joy’s chattiness is obviously rubbing off on me, and I have some bones to chew.  Adios!

Joy Thomas-2

photo description: Roja leading Joy across a busy street via crosswalk in San Francisco. [Photo credit: Morry Angell, Guide Dogs for the Blind]

Joy Thomas-4

Roja photo description: Roja leading Joy down a busy, tree-lined street. [Photo credit: Morry Angell, Guide Dogs for the Blind]

Joy Thomas-5

photo description: Roja leading Joy down a sidewalk through a park. [Photo credit: Morry Angell, Guide Dogs for the Blind]

Joy Thomas-6

photo description: Joy laughing with Roja at a flower stand in the city. [Photo credit: Morry Angell, Guide Dogs for the Blind]







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24 thoughts on “New Dog on the Block

  1. You look so beautiful. I’m so happy for you and your family and the “new”life you get to explore with the help of Roja. Wish we could have gotten together before you left. BUT – we actually live closer NOW! Love your blog.

    • Thanks Patty! Yes, we are closer! Feel like a road trip to SoCal? We have a loft with your name on it! You were in Haiti when we drove through AZ in April, I believe, but we’ll be back through there again soon, I’m sure!

  2. Oh Roja, what a great post! I’m so glad you’re there for Joy as a faithful and loving companion, helping her get used to all of life’s changes – you’re a pro at it! Hugs to you both!

  3. Roja! Joy is so lucky to have you! You seem to really be enjoying all your new adventures. Keep up the good work! 😉

  4. I really enjoyed your post. My guide dog named Charlie was also from GDB. I just love Mick, lol. I think we all kind of make his hair grey. I do hope you take time for you. That being said, I want to share that I just did a speech (charge to the graduation class), and I think Charlie and myself probably gave all the sighted people on stage a heart attack with how close we were to the edge. I wasn’t worried because I knew Charlie had my back. I am going to be continuing to seek my psychology degree in the fall. I say this because I sense that you have not been taking stellar care of yourself lately. ..In order for you to care for Roja perfectly, you have to take care of yourself mentally. I don’t say this to judge, because I have been through some trying things myself, but I say this from experience. You are the only one that can make YOU happy. Time will heal what is broken, just make sure you make time to be happy..
    My Prayers are with you..and your sweet Roja..

    • Thanks Chris! I think it’s just the grief of moving (I lived in the same hometown for 36 years and had my girls there, so not an easy move!), and taking time to cry is part of the grieving process, and yes, it will take time. Thanks for your prayers and the reminder to take care of myself in order to care well for Roja! 🙂 And ha, love that you guys were at the edge of the stage too! Mick is awesome!

  5. Joy
    Thanks for your beautiful writing? Roja is a true friend…accepting all your joys and sorrows. You are loved. Hugs. Kevin Kuhn

  6. Thanks for the pupdate, Roja, wink. Keep working hard for Joy and give her and the fam lots of hugs. Transitions can be just as hard as they are exciting.

    • thanks Chris! I was literally just thinking about you since I’m homeschooling! Wishing we lived closer so I could soak up your wisdom! 🙂

  7. Oh Roja! I love reading about life from your perspective. So excited to spend time with you in SLC and Portland and Leavenworth and San Fran and the OC!!!


    • Say what??? Oh boy, what does Joy have planned? I’m going to go take a nap and pretend I didn’t just read about FOUR upcoming trips…slow down lady!

  8. Roja, you have such a good outlook for life. Please continue to keep Joy safe for her and for her family. Her tears are to be expected and so human to read about them. It could’t have been easy for all the people who didn’t get to make the move with her! The stage must have been a cool place to practice you balancing skills, anyone with your ‘keep mu human safe’ skills! you rock!

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