Let’s Talk About Blind Dogs!

By Chelsey Zumpano

welcome back everyone! Today’s post is an interview with a dog trainer! I found Erin on Tiktok, (@Deafandblind_DogTraining), where she shows videos of her blind/deaf dog Darla.

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMe4J5PrG/

1. How did you get started training blind dogs?I fell in love with a deaf dog at a daycare I worked at in Oregon. His parents were involved in the rescue group Deaf Dogs of Oregon and I was able to help volunteer with them at events. I eventually became a foster and training partner for them. When I had my first deaf and blind dog foster, that was it, I was completely in love and started learning how to be able to communicate with him. He was with me for the first 8 months of his life and he changed the way I saw dog training forever. 

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMe4ErkVK/

2. What is Darla’s story?After moving back home to Pennsylvania last year I knew that I wanted my own disabled dog. I posted on the “Double Merle” facebook group that I was a dog trainer looking for a blind and or deaf dog to raise. Darla is the product of a merle to merle breeding. Her breeder had an accidental litter and felt horrible about it. She wanted to make sure Darla went to the right home. After seeing my post and after a series of questions and interviews she chose my partner and I. Darla is a year old australian shepherd who is completely blind and partially deaf since birth. Right now we use SOME verbal cues but mostly touch cues to communicate with her. She really is like any other dog. Of course we have to take safety precautions and she does have some elevated anxiety in some situations but things such as anxiety medications, her thundershirt and the right equipment have really helped her grow through her adolescent phase quite gracefully.

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMe4EAVh6/

3. What is the number one thing you want people to know about blind dogs?That they really are like any other dog. Honestly we have to focus more that she is a Australian Shepherd more than the fact that she is blind. Genetic components such as herding are still there. Even though she’s blind she somehow still used to find our ankles haha! I also would highly recommend the right equipment. such Harnesses that say “I AM BLIND” are really helpful to educate strangers to not rush up to your dog. Lastly if your dog is deaf and blind it is very important to encourage independence and self entertainment so that they are not constantly searching for you. Auto-check ins when outside of the home and ways to help them not startle are extremely important as well!

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMe4Exa4H/

4. Do dogs have the same eye conditions as humans?This is a great question and more that I want to take time to educate myself more on if that’s okay with you! Overall I do know that dogs can have a long list of eye conditions so much so that sometimes it is easier to just remove the eyes. I do not know though if these conditions are the same as some human ones.

5. How do you make your house accessible for the dogs?Honestly you want to literally baby-proof your home. All of the tips I give to clients are exactly what you do to prep for a baby/toddler. You want to block off stairs, decks, wood stoves, put cords away and make sure chemicals are locked up safely. A blind dog will map out their surroundings pretty quickly but you want to set them up for success beforehand. Things such as pool noodles at the end of the bed, different textured mats before a door frame, and using scent with potty training are all additional tools that I have found to be incredibly helpful. I also advise clients to not move their furniture often and if they do just help guide their dog around for them to map out the new area. 

6. What are the ways that you have made training accessible?I want to make sure that people know anyone can train a blind dog. It seems so daunting to adopt a blind dog but it does not have to be. The biggest thing that I like to share on social media is that I am just like everyone else who adopts a blind and or deaf dog in the fact that we are all figuring this out together. There really is not a lot of information out there about these dogs. To get at least some information out there I like to record and post my training sessions for people to see on my TikTok and Instagram. I also offer free Facebook Live events where I answer questions, host a Facebook Page called Speak! Training Support with the Down To Earth Doglady. 

7. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to get a blind dog? My biggest piece of advice is to remember that your dog is so much more than their blindness. Do not coddle or baby your blind dog. Do not feel bad for them or cater too much to them. Treat, train, love and nurture your dog like you would any other. Guide them through life but do not hinder their exploration. These dogs are absolutely amazing and should be celebrated for their bravery and courageousness.  

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMe4EM9E7/

8. What’s your favorite thing that you have trained Darla?
I absolutely love this question, thank you for asking it. My favorite thing that I am currently working on with Darla is cooperative care. I want to make sure that when she needs to receive veterinary care she feels comfortable and safe. We are working on being able to administer a vaccine, eye drops and cleaning her ears while she holds a chin rest (not all at the same time haha). She loves to participate and I have never worked on skills like this with a dog before, I find it so rewarding. These skills are also helping me work on settling techniques because she does startle at times.

Other things that I am proud of are conditioning her to feel comfortable in a canoe, wearing goggles, hiking, camping and over all rewarding her adventurous spirit and not holding her back from it.

9. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to be a dog trainer?That this can be a tough industry and it can take a long time to find your passion inside of it. I have been working with dogs since I was 19 years old and have been professionally training dogs for the past eight years. It has taken me a very long time to find a part of the dog training industry that I felt this passionate about. Sometimes even finding that spark can happen so randomly. All it took for me was fostering my first deaf dog 4 years ago. To sum it up, take your time, find your niche and don’t pressure yourself to be the best of the best right away.

Lastly, I do not think I could see myself having any other job than this, I absolutely love being a dog trainer. But that is because I genuinely love teaching and meeting people as well. With this job you have to work with people just as much as you do with dogs. That means that it comes with meeting all types of people and picking up on how they learn best. I will say that some of my clients have truly changed my life and are half the reason I love my job so much. Biggest tip: you do have to be good with people as much as you have to be good with dogs!

10. What are some more resources to learn about blind dogs?
Amazing resources are Kellars Cause YouTube channel, Deb Bauer’s book “Through a Dark Silence” , Deaf Dogs ROCK! has Blind dog info, Facebook groups such as Blind and Deaf dog Training and Blind dogs. I hope these are helpful! It means alot that you reached out!

This was a very important interview for me because I think animals with disabilities are just like humans with disabilities! They can help people realize that they are not alone! 

Remember if you would like to be interviewed please email me: VIBlindResources@gmail.com 

What is my next project!

by Chelsey Zumpano

My Orbit Reader 20 is working again! I’m super happy that I found a charger that worked with it! It’s a charger to something else, but I’m still having problems with it! Like right now it just randomly shut off as I was typing this! Anyway let’s get on with today’s post!

Today I want to talk about the fact that it’s the last day of national novel writing month and I’m going to move onto a new project for December! The first project is that I am going to be doing vlogmiss this year so that means I will be uploading a Christmas themed video for every day in the month of December! I’m also going to be doing the elf on the shelf so you guys will get to meet my elf on my Instagram tomorrow! Please let me know what you’d like to see for my videos and for elf.

I hope everyone enjoyed all my posts for national novel writing month and if you have any suggestions for challenges you’d like me to see me do for other months of the year, please let me know down in the comments!

I got my drawing mojo back!

by Chelsey Zumpano

I’m super excited that I got my drawing mojo back! I haven’t drawn much sense Hazel was a small pup! I just haven’t had the motivation or creativity to draw. I use to paint or draw a lot; I took art all through out high school, I even took AP Art. I loved art and still do. Art isn’t a coping mechanism, (not like reading or writing is), I tend to draw or paint something of the opposite of how I’m feeling.

I love coming up with seens to paint. Sometimes I feel like I have to plan out what I’m making before I do it and try to just do little doodles. SOMETIMES I get so frustrated trying to get the image out of my head on to paper and that’s when I have to stop and come back to it later. I’m the hardest on myself when it comes to my creations.

Recently I’ve started using sharpies to draw because my vision has changed. I can still probaely still use pencil, but I can draw with more detail with sharpies. I want to experiment with different art tools and mmediums, So please if you have any recommendations, please let me know down in the comments.

Now here are some of my doodles!

Image description: doodles of a butterfly, two dogs, bunny, and cat.Image description: two people kissing under a pink waterfall with a pink dog off to the right.

What I’m thankful for!

By Chelsey Zumpano

I hope everyone had a happy and safe thanksgiving if you don’t celebrate or if you didn’t have a good day: try to think of some things that you’re thankful for!

• my family are healthy

• Hazel did not try to steal the turkey

• we played Monopoly

• going on walks with Hazel and my family

• Lucy and Hazel will cuddle sometimes

• I made it to over 100 posts on this blog

•  I learned how to make green bean casserole

•  cuddles with Audrey

• texting my friends

• I have 169 subscribers on YouTube

• cuddles with Pixie

I had a nice Thanksgiving: we just relaxed and played Monopoly. We also had some yummy food. Let me know some things that you’re thankful for down in the comments. 

Preparing for Thanksgiving!

By Chelsey Zumpano

Well since tomorrow’s Thanksgiving we’re getting everything ready for the next day! Tonight me and my mom made two batches of keto biscuits. They tasted really yummy because you know I just had to have a taste test. Tomorrow I’m going to make mashed potatoes and we have chocolate pie to have. All the usual things we are having turkey, ham, and stuffing,.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see you in tomorrow’s post!

I made it to 100 blog posts! // A product review!

By  Chelsey Zumpano

Yesterday I made it to 100 blog post! I’m so excited and super proud that I made it this far!

Today I want to talk about this really cool product I have: it’s a candle melter! It’s not like the melter that you put the candle wax in and it melts it down. It’s like a hot plate and you just put your candle on top of it and it heated up. I love it because I don’t like having candles because I have cats and I don’t want them to knock it over. This way it’s a lot safer and I don’t have to worry about fires. All I have to do is just turn the little switch on on the cord and listen to the click and then it’s on and the same for when you turn off it just makes a click.

If you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see next for Nanowrimo, please let me know in the comments or send me an email to: viblindresources@gmail.com

Some of my favorite movies!

By Chelsey Zumpano

(I’m really tired and don’t have the energy to go to edit this right now because my orbit reader 20 is still not working and I have a headache. I will edit this in the morning).

I like movies, but I don’t compare to books. I figured I just do a list of my favorite movies anyway. It’s odd because my taste in books is way different my taste in movies! Like I watch all of the Nicholas Sparks movie book adaptations, but I don’t really like reading the actual books. I have nothing against Nicholas sparks writing, but Romance books just don’t hold my interest as much as the movies do.

  • I can’t think of the movie’s name right now, but it’s about this boy who is in love with this girl from high school and the movie starts out with them at graduation. She lost her brother from cancer during high school and wasn’t really like living that much. I remember that her name was Jane Butterfield. The dad didn’t really approve of the two dating. They fall in love over the summer and it’s really beautiful. There’s obviously more to the plot, but I don’t wanna spoil it too much.
  • Snow dogs
  • Eight below
  • All the marvel movies
  • A dogs way home
  • A dog’s purpose
  • Fantastic beasts
  • The new beauty and the beast
  • All the Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations
  • 5 feet apart
  • Beautiful creatures
  • The little mermaid
  • Alex Strangelove
  • Aqua marine
  • The breakfast club

I need to become a minimalist!

By Chelsey Zumpano

I discover that I need to become a minimalist! Especially when it comes to my clothes! I was going through my closet the other day and trying to re-organize everything And my mom and I were talking because I pretty much don’t wear half my clothes! She said I should become a minimalist and I agree I’m the type of person when I find an outfit I really like I’ll wear over and over again. (I do this a lot especially with my shoes).

So I narrowed it down to things I kept for sentimental reasons, my favorite outfits, and things I could keep until I could buy a similar item. It didn’t take that long to organize and put everything back in its place. I can find things much easier now!

If you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see next for Nanowrimo, please let me know in the comments or send me an email to: viblindresources@gmail.com

Makes stores more accessible! #blind

By Chelsey Zumpano

I was talking to my mom earlier today and she had an interesting thought: Bathroom should be in the same spot in every store, (like boys on the left and girls on the right). I absolutely agree with this and to make things even Simpler stores like target and Walmart should be the same in each store! Like for instants if the toys are on aisle six in Walmart that’s where should they should be in every Walmart! If the milk is on aisle four in target it should be in all

the targets! It would make shopping by myself so much easier!

I might make a video on this topic if anyone is interested please let me know that in the comments? I’m sorry this is such a short post, but I will try to make a longer one tomorrow.

 

If you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see next for Nanowrimo, please let me know in the comments or send me an email to: viblindresources@gmail.com

I got my eye dilated!

By Chelsey Zumpano

Hey everyone today I am not going to have a blog post because I got my eyes dilated and I can’t look at my phone and I just want to relax and cuddle with my dogs! I will have update for you all tomorrow!



If you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see next for Nanowrimo, please let me know in the comments or send me an email to: viblindresources@gmail.com