Originally posted on May 8, 2012
As well as forever changing the rhythm of my life, Kiva has also made me reconsider
and change the way I travel. My normal travel tactics tend to be ones of whimsy;
once I learned the basic layout of Minneapolis I delighted in getting lost in unfamiliar
places and working myself out of them, finding interesting sites along the way. It
was a challenge for me, and a way to pass long afternoons when I’m not working or
otherwise occupied.
Kiva puts a bit of a wrench in my lackadaisical free-footedness. She is a serious,
alert worker and learns quickly, which is all I can ask for. The other side of this
means that, because of her quick mind, she consequently learns all of my bad habits
as well as my good ones. The first day of our return to the Twin Cities, I took her
to my co-op about four blocks from my apartment. It is a fairly straight route and
easy to work with Kiva. The co-op itself, however, has an entrance and an exit door,
and I am in the habit of dilly-dallying around both of them until I figure out which
one is which. Sometimes, I get impatient and hard-headed (“these silly little entering
and exiting rules don’t apply to me, I’ll just bust through whichever door I please”),
and I do just that. With Kiva I can’t. As I discovered, if she and I go barreling
through the exit doors, there’s a good chance they will rebel and whap her in the
face. (Don’t ask how I discovered this, just trust me.) However, she seems altogether
undeterred by the fact that I may or may not have caused her exit door bodily harm,
and every time we have gone to the co-op since, she tries to take me to the exit
doors. I’ve tried showing her the entrance doors and coaxing her with the likes of
food, tummy scratches, and the promise of an eventual specially designed dog tag
from Tiffany, but no, only the exit doors will do for her. I can only blame myself.
I taught her the wrong thing, and it stuck.
Consequently, I am much more careful about developing and teaching routes to Kiva.
I still use my cane in certain circumstances. For instance, if I’m teaching her to
find a specific door (to a coffee shop, the library, etc), I will “work” her (ask
her to guide me) until I reach the block where the door is located. Then, I use my
cane and “heel” her (hold only the leash, not the harness, and walk with her at my
left side), until I locate the door with my cane. When I’ve found it, I act as though
it was all her idea, give her lots of praise, and repeat the exercise a few more
times until she seems to understand or grows bored. (Though with my Oscar-worthy
performance, I don’t see how she could possibly be the latter.)
There is definitely something to be said for this new, precise way of traveling.
It helps me think about where I’m going. It forces me to be more assertive with people
over the phone in asking for directions. (For years, I have struggled with the concept
of asking for “too much” assistance, despite my supposed belief in interdependence.)
Spontaneity may come once Kiva and I spend more time together, but now I am happy
with the new directions my traveling life is going.
Kiva also moves quickly. I can cover distances in half the time it would take me
as a cane traveler. She makes me notice things; when she is bouncy and alert, I may
observe the tingle of the air against my cheeks, the scent of wet grass and lilacs
and car exhaust, the sound and rhythm of my feet mixed with the click of Kiva’s.
I’m definitely not slowing down, but I’m noticing things more. I’m more engaged with
the part of the environment that is not tactile, which is new for me and which I
like very much.
I’m sure I will have many more traveling observations (and Kiva observations) to
come. Count on it, and plan your reading (or not reading) accordingly.

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