I want to start by thanking all of you for your comments, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or via this blog. I am so glad that I have been able to write consistently about this experience. It has been very, very good for me and I am so thrilled that people are learning more about what it takes to go through this training.
An earlier comment asked me to explain more about the process of going up or down an escalator. First, I lower the harness handle and hold the leash, heeling the dog next to me. I put my foot on the beginning of the escalator, holding my right hand out so that I can touch the rail. If the direction of the slide of said rail is coming toward me, then I’m about to go the wrong way on the escalator. If it’s going away from me, I step up or down, telling my dog ‘let’s go’ as I heel them aboard. I personally like to have Treble slightly behind me for this. I slide my hand forward and when I feel the incline of the escalator rail level out, I step down and say ‘let’s go’ once again.
My first dog, Lexus, had been trained on escalators but when I went to get on to one, he plopped down and refused to move forward. So there I was, getting further away from him. I tossed the leash back up to the top so that I wouldn’t drag him down and then had to hurry back up the stairs to get him. That was quite a harrowing experience, but he sat at the top and was like ‘hey that was fun!’
Today’s obedience challenge included a black lab on the loose, wanting to play. I gave treble a series of instructions that she needed to follow, which she did quite nicely. She really loves dogs and I’m getting so much better at reading her cues and finding what works well for us.
After breakfast, we headed to Yorktown to work on a route that we repeated later on tonight. Dogs have great vision and it’s great to know that while I hate traveling on foot at night, I can do so with Treble. The route was relatively easy and we also got some practice walking through a parking lot.
When we returned, we had a traffic check exercise to prepare us for the real thing on Saturday, and really, any time that we are working with our dogs. These dogs are trained to do several things, depending on the specific circumstance when it comes to cars. They can either stop, slow down, or they will back up. It depends on what the car is doing at the time. Today, we simulated this experience with shopping carts that were pushed toward us as we were walking. On Saturday, instructors will be driving cars and doing traffic checks so that we know how our dog will react and trust them to follow them in such a harrowing moment. If I am crossing a street and a car pulls out in front of me, Treble will react. These dogs have been trained extensively in this.
Unfortunately, especially now, distracted driving or drivers who just don’t seem to care about anyone’s right of way except for their own can make for dangerous interactions for guide dog teams and other pedestrians. It is extremely frustrating and terrible.
After lunch, we prepared for picture day. We took a class picture and I want you to imagine getting twelve people plus instructors in the proper pose for pictures, while expecting the dogs to remain sitting nicely. squeak toys were used to keep the dogs focused on the camera. Treble wanted that squeaker so badly!
After pictures, I played Seed ships for a while, took a nap, and listened to some music.
Our lecture tonight was on obesity in dogs, and I will try not to get on to my soap box. People would often stop me during my travels to tell me that my previous dog looked under weight. Each dog in the class has a target weight that they need to maintain. I am very rigid about my dog only eating dog food or occasional treats or carrots. Please, puppy, eat every baby carrot because God knows I won’t. If they gain excessive weight, it can put undo stress on their organs, their skeletal system, and be a detriment to them. Many dog owners have it in their mind that excess food equals love and this simply is not the case. Excess food for dogs likely means that they are begging at the table when you don’t want them to be, or struggling to do the very basic of tasks without being miserable. However, I cannot change the minds of people who are set in their ways of doing this, so I just worry about what I can control. The general public can be quite insistent, though, and people will try to feed guide dogs without even asking the owner. That is another rant that I’m far too tired to commit to this evening.
Our night route went very well. Treble worked hard and I had to slow her down just a little. I am so glad that she has such drive and confidence.
I appreciate your comments and your questions. Tomorrow will be the vet lecture, which I am sure will be quite lively.
Breakfast: pancakes and bacon
Lunch: kale salad with apples, pecans, chicken, and feta cheese. Maybe it was walnuts. Maybe I do not have a sophisticated pallet if I don’t know the difference.
Dinner: sausage and peppers over rice and a vegetable medley and apple pie