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Monday, February 28, 2011

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Well guys, the reason I didn't post a fact yesterday and I'm so late in posting one today is because...all the websites started to say the same thing. I couldn't find a new fact that I could easily understand and put up on the blog. So, I'm going to leave it to you guys. :)

For those of you who have RP and you realise that I haven't mentioned something please feel free to leave a comment and I'll post it. If you don't have RP but have noticed that I missed something, you too feel free to comment.

So ends February and we move into March. A new month...a new list of things to do. Who knows what this month will have in store for my two pups and for me? I don't, and yet I feel better about going into this new month. So, hope you've all enjoyed my research into RP and have learned something.

Probably won't be posting for a while unless I hear news of Freya or Rocco.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I thought that along with today's RP fact I would add some pictures of Rocco that Lynn sent me. He's still just as handsome as ever!
Rocco at a farm show
Rocco asleep with Toledo in the office
Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #26
Even though there is no real relation to contracting RP and the person's sex, seeing as the X-related inheritance only shows itself in men, it might be that a few more men than women have ben diagnosed with RP.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A New Adventure Coming Soon

I finally heard back from the woman with whom I was in contact with from GDB UK. Ok, technically I heard back form her in October, but my mobile apparently doesn't like to alert me to the fact that someone had left a message. There still is no sign that there was a message left back in October, but I trust that she did call and my phone was just being annoyingly finicky.

Anyway, I'm still not in a position to puppy raise, or become a puppy walker (that's what they call Raisers here.) But, I'm tired of not being part of GDB back home and I want some structure in my life. I've been feeling restless and I figure if I have to walk somewhere everyday it will help with this restless feeling I've been having. (I'm probably going to become a gym member as well, but that's a different story.) Seeing as I can't be a Puppy Walker right now, I opted to become part of the Fundraising Team. It's not ideal, but it means I'll start volunteering with the organization and meeting people and puppy walkers in my area. It'll be good for me.

We also talked about the kind of accommodation I would need for the puppy. She said ground floor, but I think I might be able to get away if I said I would carry the puppy down until it hit about 4-5 months old. I do need a private garden for the pups relief area...that'll be fun to find. I was originally looking for a place with my friend Lisa, but she's still not sure if she's allergic to dogs. She got blood work done about a month ago and they've apparently lost her results so she's had to go back and get more blood drawn. I feel slightly guilty, but I know she would have done it anyway. I might start looking for a place anyway that meets the criteria and if she's allergic to dogs then I just won't raise or I'll have to find another flat mate. We'll see what happens, but at least now I know exactly what I need to look for in a flat.

Wish me Luck!

February:Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Facts #24-25

RP is thought of as a rod-cone dystrophy where the genetic defect causes cell death. Predominantly, the cell death occurs in the rod photoreceptors. Though it is less common the gene defect can affect the RPE and the cone photoreceptors.

Worldwide, about 1 in 5000 people have RP. (source for these two)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February:Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #23

So, I've already told you that RP is a hereditary disease and I listed the different ways the gene can be passed from generation to generation. I found some percentages on the different ways of inheritance. 20-25% of patients get it through autosomal dominant, 15-20% get it through autosomal recessive, 5-10% is X related, and the remaining 45-50% have no known relatives with the mutation. (source)

With this said I now have a question. Why is RP considered a hereditary thing when a majority of patients diagnosed with it have no known relative with the faulty gene? So, I have a question for those of you who read my blog and have been diagnosed with RP or a different kind of degenerative disease. Is your degenerative disease hereditary or are you part of the 50% who have no known traces of it in your family?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February:Retinitis Pigmentosa

So, I was asked by Elijah who is raising CCI Dembre if I was learning about different causes of blindness in school. The answer to that Elijah is not right now. Someday, that might be a lot of fun. Right now though I'm just doing a study on RP because February is RP awareness month.

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #22

We already know that there are different gene mutations that can cause RP, but the disease can evolve differently in patients that have the exact same gene mutation. (source)

Monday, February 21, 2011

February:Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #21

Hey! Did you know that RP is a misnomer? A misnomer is something that is named inappropriately. There was, if you will, an error when naming this disease. Why is RP a misnomer? Well, because the word "retinitis" emplies that there is swelling or an inflamatory response, which has not been shown to be a predominent feature in this disease. (source) Cool huh?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

13 Things at 13 Months

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #20

For those who have RP and have become legally blind a Guide Dog might interest them in assisting with their mobility.

Why have I chosen this obvious fact for today? Because it is Rocco's 13 Month Day! What does this mean in the life of a Guide Dog Puppy in Training? Well, this means that he has 2-3 (on average) months left in the raiser home and this should be the point where any big problems are resolved. Like with Freya, everything really took a back seat to her distractions at this age. We still worked on other things like obedience, but really, our main focus was distraction. For Rocco, from the short time I had him over the winter holiday, I would say working on easing up on the leash when I want to walk slow and doing "about face" turns (these are turns away from the handler). Even as a pup he didn't do these turns nearly as smoothly as the one where I turn into him. But overall, he's the bestest puppy out there and he's definitely going to make a great Guide!

13 Things About Rocco that Will Make Him a Great Guide and Companion

1. He loves you. I know that sounds obvious for a Lab. I mean, of course he loves people. They FEED him. But there's something about his reflective eyes that just tell you that he loves you deeper than food.
2. His eyes. As far as I know there is nothing wrong with them (though I do know this knowledge could change). His eyes will definitely help him in his life as a Guide.
3. He wants to please. You could tell when he was little and wasn't getting it exactly right that he really, really wanted to because I would be happy. Even over winter holiday when I was teaching Rosie "close" he sat there wondering why he wasn't getting treats because he was being very well behaved.
4. He knows when you're down and knows exactly how to cheer you up. I had a few times when I was pretty sad (the day I found out that Princeton rejected me comes to mind) when I didn't think anything could cheer me up so I sat on the floor doing homework (I'm much more comfy on the floor) and he came up to me, sat down, leaned over to lick me on the face, then flopped onto his back for a belly rub. It made me smile.
5. He a snuggler. For some people this might not be the best of traits, but for most, they love a dog that will sit at their feet to remind them there's always someone in their corner.
6. He pulled me around a lamp post once. I just think this means he always knows what he's suppose to do.
7. He absolutely loves to work. He loves going out there and strutting his stuff. There are times I think he does it just for the attention of adoring 5 and 6-year-olds, but still, he loves it.
8. He adapts fairly well. There are a few things where he gets a little annoyed about if they aren't the same, but all in all, he's very adaptive to schedules.
9. The boy isn't scared of anything. He takes it all in strides.
10. He's a big goof ball. I think every Guide needs some goofiness in them otherwise they'd be all work and no play and that makes for a very dull afternoon.
11. While he is a big goof, he knows when it's time to be serious and work.
12. He can navigate big crowds like a pro.
13. He's interesting in the world and everything around him, but only enough to care. Not enough to distract him from his duties. He's a wonderful boy because he likes the world around him.

I can't believe that he's already 13 months old. I can't wait to see how he progresses through the rest of his training.

One Year Today

So, Today won't necessarily be a hard day for me, but it is a special day. Today is the one year anniversary of when Freya left for Doggie College. I still remember everything about that day and the memory of placing her in her very own kennel run will always have a special place in my heart. I'm still ridiculously proud of that girl. After I placed her in the kennel it was no longer my choice or even the trainers' choice. It was all her and she chose to become a Guide. It's hard to believe it's been a year since my first turn in date. I honestly hope there are many more to come.

Keep up the wonderful work Freya!!!!

A quick charcoal sketch I did of Freya at...8 months I think. We were working on her statue thing. It's not the best as I've messed up the legs and eyes, but I still like the complete joy she took, and still takes, in working.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

February:Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #19

If you go to your optometrist with concerns of your sight you may be referred to a specialised eye doctor (ophthalmologist) for further testing. The testing process varies from person to person and case to case. There are a few tests that can be performed in order to determine whether or not you have RP. An examination of the retina is always carried out. This examination happens after the doctor give you eye drops that will dilate your eyes (I've had this done once as a routine thing and I hated it) so that (s)he can get a better, clearer view of the back of your eye. Once your eyes are dilated you're sensitive to light and your vision is blurry (or in my case, blurrier) and take FOREVER to wear off. You can also have pictures of your retina taken with a special camera. These come in handy for future visits especially if you've been diagnosed with RP because they can help tract the progression of the disease. A visual field test can also be conducted (I get one every time I see my optometrist and as far as my knowledge goes I'm still able to see most of the dots of light). There is also the colour vision test. Most of us have had these. It's where you get little cards with dots of colours and a specific colour is in the shape of a number and you're asked to identify the number. (source)

(Note: Did you know that I have trouble identifying the number when it's the red and green card? I also have trouble telling different colours of dark blues and purples apart unless I focus on them. I can tell Lavender from Sky Blue but the blue used for uniforms and dark purple all look black to me unless I really, really look at them. I was rather upset when I was the only one at camp who couldn't tell that was a "17" in the middle of the card).

Friday, February 18, 2011

February:Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #18

About 400,000 Americans have been diagnosed with RP or other related retinal diseases. (source)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Alright, so I've had a busy couple of days and haven't posted a fact for 2 days. So, as always, you will be getting today's fact along with the 2 I missed. :) I also realise that I haven't been citing where I have been getting my facts just in case people are interested and want to learn more. Just to be clear though, none of the facts came from my own brain but from other people's studies.

Retinitis Pigmentosa Facts #15-17

RP is generally an isolated problem that deals only with the retina. However, in some cases RP is linked to hearing loss as well. Patients with this generally have what is called "Usher Syndrome".

There is no known cure for RP and no known treatment that will stop the vision loss. (source for these first two facts)

RP generally effects 1 out of 4,000 people. (source)

Monday, February 14, 2011

February:Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #14

(In honour of Valentine's Day) In none of my research so far have I found any evidence to suggest that those with RP cannot find a date for Valentine's Day. In fact, they might even be able to come up with a few funny pick up lines. "Hey, have I seen you here before? Oh, I suppose I haven't huh? Must have been in my dreams." (I am aware this is just as cheesy as a normal pick up line, but if someone who was blind said this to me I would giggle.)

I'm aware this isn't a true fact, but I thought it would be fun. :) Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

I totally forgot to put my fact up yesterday so you're getting two today.

Retinitis Pigemntosa Fact #12&13

I've already said that night blindness is a common first symptom of RP. The way that this can become apparent is that some people might noticed that it takes a long time for their eyes to adjust when going from a well lit area to a dimly lit area.

We've also established that tunnel vision occurs as the peripheral vision narrows and is the most common form of RP. There is, however, a form of RP where the vision loss starts at the centre and moves its way out (macular dystrophy). This interferes with things like reading and writing and other detailed work that other with RP are still able to do. (It is also the form of RP that I would want the least)

Friday, February 11, 2011

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #11

Symptoms generally start showing themselves between the ages of 10 and 30 (I know it's a broad age range, but that's the truth). In same cases, though, symptoms can start much earlier or later.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #10

We've talked about how RP is an inherited disease and how it is caused by a faulty gene that is not telling the retina how to generate more cells properly. We have also established that there are many different faulty genes that can cause RP. Well, Retinitis Pigmentosa is actually the word used to describe a group of inherited eye problems that affect the retina. The reason that RP is used for a group of diseases is because there are so many different faulty genes that cause it and so many different ways of progressing through life.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Please Welcome...

I would like everyone to welcome...




They are the newest members of PWAP. As for the Name Game, no one successfully guessed the litter letters, the breeds, or the names...but I'm going to see if there's a way for me to still hand out a prize. I'm thinking on it, but if it turns out that I can't do it thank you to everyone who guessed. :)

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #9

We've already established that RP is an inherited problem. It can be inherited 3 different ways; autosomal dominant inheritance, autosomal resessive inheritance, or X-linked inheritance (I'm a poor person to explain exactly what an autosomal is. I did great in human biology, but I'm bad at explaining it in technical terms. So, brush up on your human biology if you aren't sure what I mean by these three phrases). In same cases though, there is no known relative who also has RP. The gene was passed, but symptoms were never developed in previous generations.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Puppy Name Guessses

So, today's the big day! Well...alright, it's still yesterday in California. It's the 9th here though. That's why I waited until after sleep time for me to post these; because I was tired and it's still way before the time of the puppies' arrival. Anyway, I have a lot of guesses, but if one of you guessed the name on the blog here then the prize will of course go to you.

As you can see, at least on the first picture, I successfully guessed that we would be receiving a male yellow lab and a female black lab. The names are written underneath the picture and the ones in BOLD are my favourites and the ones that are underlined are ones that I now know are in use.

My "S" Names
Suilean, Sherlock, Shylock, Slider, Sully, Suliven, Sylvester, Sammy, Socrates, Sailor, Sudney, Sable, Santa, Scotland, Scotty, Saber, Semla, Sanjay, Sancho, Samuri, Scout, Sawyer, Squib, Saturday, Sonny, Serge, Seven, Steve, Stephen, Stevie, Seth, Seamus, Sebastian, Shane, Sherwood, Sheldon, Sid, Sigmund, Shiloh, Smithy, Solar, Sinclair, Solomon, Samwise, Stanford, Spencer, Sparrow, Strom, Skylar
My "T" Names

Tally, Tibby, Tibetha, Tesla, Teslow, Tamera, Tiara, Tweety, Taylor, Tipper, Teal, Tesco, Texas, Trisha, Trixie, Tak, Thanks, Tibble, Tommy, Tallulah, Tallis, Tracey, Tammy, Tangela, Tea, Tennessee, Teressa, Terri, Tina, Topaz, Torah, Tranquility, True, Tuesday, Twilight, Tia, Tilly, Toni, Tonya, Tawni, Taelor, Taffy, Taja, Tala, Talia, Tammie, Tenaya, Tansy, Tasha, Tempest, TaraLyn, Thora, Tiffany, Toilichte, Twinkle, Toshiba

I'm very excited to "see" these new puppies. If you haven't seen it yet, please check out the PWAP facebook fan page. All you have to do is type Pwap: Puppies with a Plan into the search bar at the top and it should come up or click on the link I have provided you. Please "Like" it so that you can see all the going ons of our group.

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #8

I've already said that RP is caused by a mutated gene, well, there are many types of genes that can be mutated to cause RP. In 1989, a mutation for the gene rhodopsin was discovered. Rhodopsin is essential in visual transduction cascade which enables vision in low light situations. Since 1989, over 100 other mutations for this gene have been identified and make up about 15% of all types of Retinal Degeneration.

Post Card from Freya

Hello All!

Well, the fam and I have been here in South Korea for a little over a week now...more like a week and a half. We're settling in nicely to a daily routine, but M--- and I are still a bit of a novelty item here. We haven't seen another Guide Dog team around the whole time we've been here. When we go walking down the street people point and say things that I don't fully understand...I'm still learning the new language. You will see, however, that we've changed the sign on my harness to match our new home. It's now in Korean which I think is awfully cool! You will also notice that I am wearing my booties. Now, I tolerate them well enough, but I sure don't like the things. But, M--- and R--- say that I have to wear them because it's below freezing here every day and they don't want my pads to get hurt. They also say it's far more muddy than back in Alabama, so they help keep me clean as well. But, hey, sometimes a girl just wants to roll in the mud. It's something that Mommy never understood either. Whenever I would roll in the mud she could give me a bath. *sigh* Humans. Sometimes I just don't understand you.

Now, I've said that we are a bit of a spectacle here. That's definitely true where taxis are concerned. M--- and I were trying to get a taxi the other day and not just one but TWO taxis refused to let us in because I'm a "dog". They wouldn't even let M--- open the door. That was a bit of culture shock let me tell you. We finally found a taxi, but it was a black taxi. Those are the "luxury" taxis and it did cost us a bit more to get to where we were going.

Other than the taxi thing and having to wear my booties EVERYWHERE I'm really having fun with the fam in our new home.

Lick and Love!

PS: R--- takes sooo many pictures of M--- and me that I have a hard time choosing. So, sorry for the influx of pictures.

The booties again!

Like the new sign?
Here we are heading into work. Jeez! You'd think they'd make these things Doggie friendly.

Monday, February 7, 2011

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #7
An indicator that a person has RP is black "bone-spicule" pigmentation of the retinal pigment epithelium, or, the cell layer that nourishes retinal visual cells. (Thank you Wikipedia for having information at my finger tips. That being said, yes I took it from there, and no, I'm not too sure that it's actually true but the academically credited websites said the same thing only with bigger words).

Here you see a healthy retina.

And here is what it looks like with Retinitis Pigmentosa

Tomorrow: A postcard from Freya and my guesses for the new puppies.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #5
People with Retinitis Pigmentosa lose the peripheral vision gradually. This is commonly known as "tunnel vision".

Saturday, February 5, 2011

February: Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis Pigmentosa Fact #5

RP is passed from parent to child through mutated genes. In this case, the mutated or faulty gene causes the retinal cells to stop working and, eventually, die.

PS guys, You only have a few more days to get your guesses in for the new puppies.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Month of Febraury

This month has a whole lot of meaning for me in the GDB world. First off, 3 years ago we lost my dog Brandy to what we believe was a mix of a brain tumour and diabetes. On the surface it was very sad and traumatic for me, but it gave way to something new; my involvement with Guide Dogs for the Blind. Had Brandy not passed away I would never have wanted another puppy, my father would never have had to tell me that he wasn't going to get a new puppy so soon before I left for College, and I never would have looked up Guide Dogs for the Blind. I miss Brandy to this day whenever I'm sad or am ill because Brandy seemed to know just what to do to make me feel better. But, I believe she was reborn into my first Guide Dog Puppy.

That brings us to reason number the second as to why February is a big month for me. Freya reminds me a lot of Brandy. She has the same intelligence and human like qualities that few dogs exhibit. There's a part of me that believes that Brandy was reborn in the form of Freya. Brandy was born the 10th of October and Freya the 11th of October. Coincidence? I think not. The 20th of February is not only Rocco's 13 Month Day, but the year anniversary of Freya leaving for "Doggie College".

There are a lot of coincidences in my 3 years with Guide Dogs for the Blind. The birthdays of Brandy and Freya is one of them. Others: Freya's partner became "legally blind" in October of '08, the same month Freya was born. He was admitted into the Guide Dog programme on February 2010, the same month Freya went back into formal training. Both of our fathers' names is "Don". I waited 6 months for Freya after the date I was suppose to get a puppy was pushed back 3 separate times (which isn't really a coincidence but I think it means I was meant for Freya). January 20th is when I found out that Freya would not be leaving me in January, the same day Rocco was born. February allows me to think and ponder on all these coincidences because this is when it all started 3 years ago.

February also happens to be RP, or Retinitis Pigmentosa, awareness month. In honour of this I am going to be posted a different fact about RP every day this month. Seeing as I forgot that this is what I wanted to do back on the 1st, you'll be getting 4 facts today.

Retinitis Pigmentosa Facts #1-#4

1. RP is a hereditary disease.
2. Night blindness is the most common first symptom.
3. Most people with RP do not ever lose their vision entirely.
4. It is a type of retinal dystrophy.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

9 More Days

Alright guys! If you haven't posted on my Name Game for our two new puppies now is the time to do it! They arrive on the 9th of February so that means that you have, including today, 9 days to get your 5 names in (10 in total if you guess for both puppies) to me. I'll make it easier for you so that you don't have to go back to earlier posts to guess, but you can post right here on this post.

5 names for a Black Lab Female, Litter Letter "T"
5 names for a Yellow Lab Male, Litter Letter, "S"
Good Luck and Have Fun!