Flashback Friday: Fancy Footwear

Remember This post? I just finished NaNoWriMo 2022. Turns out that juggling an expanding private practice, a blog, a writing challenge, dog rehabilitation, a holiday, and a head cold was a bit more than I could handle. I had to let something go.

But, 50,800 words of fiction later, I’m back! No, I wasn’t working on the next Shallic Sea or first Modern Magic book. This is a new project. But I’m still on track with MM’s projected publication in 2025. The next Shallic Sea book is somewhat less on track for its 2024 release, but I’m not prepared to admit defeat at this time.

One of the great benefits of participating in a challenge like NaNoWriMo is that it tends to force some serious introspection. This year I learned a lot about how I prioritize tasks, and how I would prefer to prioritize them. I’ll write more about that in a later post, I just felt like sharing because I’m excited about possibly having discovered what’s kept me from developing a truly regular writing habit.

And now, let’s rewind a few years and visit 19-year-old Anneliese and Prada again!

Original Post Date: 06/10/2009

Today Brian and Shannon took Prada and myself to some quiet, easy residential streets with very few distractions so we could practice with our newly issued dog booties.

Dog guides aren’t exactly tenderfoots; they walk on pavement a lot, as well as stairs and escalators and all kinds of carpet and flooring. But even the most rugged creature can have their paw pads damaged by 105-degree pavement, or salts used to melt snow, or jagged pieces of ice. That’s why TSE issues sets of booties to their graduates. Prada’s were a classy red, but that was poor consolation to her!

We who are used to wearing shoes and socks all the time can’t imagine how disconcerting it must be to suddenly lose direct contact with the ground. But as a blind person who enters the world hands-first, I know that wearing gloves is something I prefer to avoid. It cuts me off from my physical environment in a way wearing a blindfold does to most people.

I can empathize with Prada’s plight, but that doesn’t mean I won’t readily inflict this safety measure on her as needed.

Prada, a long-haired German Shepherd dog, sits on pavement next to a cement pillar and in front of a brick building. She wears a leather leash, and four red booties, and a very disgruntled expression.

Naturally, the dogs protest. They try to pull the boots off, scrape them off on walks. They walk oddly, trying to adjust to the strangeness of their new proprioception. Prada’s gait felt like that of a newly-shod horse, paws lifted high and balance shifting rapidly from unsteady pace to pace.

THe dogs are acclimated to the boots before the lesson with their future human partners, of course, but with a new handler comes an opportunity to slough them off. And the student needs a chance to see how the boots change the dog’s pace and pull.

Prada tried various tricks to convince me she couldn’t walk in the boots, and other protests, but eventually settled into an almost-normal walk.We didn’t lose a single boot on our walk, and Prada didn’t do more than a couple of cursory protests. Shannon said that my corrections had improved enough that they had helped Prada adjust to the boots.

Where I live now, hot pavement is more of a problem than snow and ice. But I travel to places where colder temperatures are a risk factor, too. I’ve also used boots, one at a time, to protect an injured paw from obsessive licking or chewing so it could heal.

I never thought about how many uses there might be for dog boots. Volcanic rock on hiking trails, for instance, are a part of my life, and just the sort of terrain where boots come in handy!

Anneliese and Galadriel, wearing hiking clothes, sit on a low stone wall with a jagged ridge of obsidian rising behind them into a clear sky. Prada, clad in harness, leash, and booties, sits with a long-suffering expression in front of them.

To make up for my long absence, here’s a Link to a podcast interview I did with host and author NJ Merritt on Strip Back the Pages. That should tide you over until your favorite blindfluencer comes back next week with tips for adding great alt text to your photos.

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