It was a beautiful, sunny spring day here in the Big Moldy. The temperatures had finally risen to acceptable levels. By "Acceptable" I mean 70° F. It was a perfect dog park day. On Friday, I had requested an SSP for today in the hopes of a day just like this one.
Before I go any further, I should probably explain what an SSP does. An SSP, or Intervenor as they are called in Canada, is someone who works with a person who is deaf blind. The SSP communicates and describes items in the environment to the deafblind person in which ever method the deafblind person chooses, e.g. ASL, print on palm (POP), spoken English through an amplification system, etc. My SSP does things like, go to the grocery store with me and sign the store sale paper, and prices to me, and inform me of the different items available. Sometimes my SSP goes to vet appointments with me, and help read and fill out forms, describe what the vet is doing during an exam, and let me know if any aggressive or problematic dogs enter the waiting area before we see the vet..
Today was dog park day, and it was all about fun! The person who is my regular SSP is hearing. She is attending a local interpreter training program to become a certified American Sign Language interpreter. She couldn't come today as she was busy so I got a different SSP. The one I had today was Deaf, but sighted, and thankfully a dog lover! :)
I decided to take Bristol and Laveau. I made dog treats, loaded up my bag with towels, water for the dogs and people, and the all important tennis ball! Laveau is queen of the tennis ball and next to working, fetching the ball is her favorite activity and she would do it all day if she could.
We have an "Official Dog Park" but it's kind of far from my house. Instead we go to the levee along the Mississippi river which has been the kind of unofficial dog park for years, now.
We parked in the lot, unloaded the dogs and removed leashes. My SSP was a great describer of things and immediately told me that Laveau took off like a shot to visit with other dogs. Bristol, who is 13 and who takes life a bit more slowly, walked with us over the railroad tracks, across the bike path and up the levee to the top. by the time we reached the path on the top of the levee, we had thrown the tennis ball for Laveau at least! five times and she was in the process of getting her ya ya's out in grand style.
It is hard to use ASL tactually and walk at the same time. :) We would walk, then stop to talk and throw the ball, then walk some more, and rinse, repeat!
We saw some pretty brown, black and white Pitties, a big chocolate brown Mastiff, a rust Doberman, and some kind of skinny houndy-looking dog I couldn't identify and which my SSP didn't see to describe as he was throwing the ball for Laveau yet again. We walked the levee and went down to the other side where the dogs took a dip in the river. Then we walked through the woods, and back to the top of the levee. My SSP was really great at describing the scenery and other dogs.
We met some Labs on the way back, and someone was riding a big brown horse on the bike path which runs parallel to the levee.
We toweled off the dogs, loaded back up in the car, and headed home where the dogs got frozen knuckle bones and I had a nap! All that tennis-ball-throwing wore me out!