Sunday, August 31

Day 2

Greetings. Not a very exciting title, but hopefully inspiration will come better for me in future days. Well, today has been long but interesting. Lots to talk about.

This morning, we went into town for a "juno" walk. For those that don't know, "juno" is the word used for a pretend dog. It's common to hear the teacher say that they're going to play the juno role, or that they're "Juno." When being Juno, the teacher holds one side of a harness and gives you the other side, and sometimes even a leash to hold onto. They act just like a dog, in the guiding sense, and they stop at all the curbs just like a "real" guide dog would. Anyway, we each took our turn with the trainer and went on the juno walk. This was more for the trainer to get a feel for our walking styles, pace, and our pull on the harness. When I started out, there were some chimes playing in a nearby belltower. The day was nice, a good temperature in the seventies probably, and not too hot. There was a slight breeze. Weather wise, I think I'm going to like being here. Anyway, the juno walk also gives you a chance to talk with the trainer about any preferences you have regarding what kind of dog you want or would like to have, as well as common working conditions and living arrangements you normally have, such as house or apartment, etc. That was fun, but not as fun as what happened this afternoon.

About 2:30, the other students in my small group met our trainer in one of the lounges and then we were told that we would be getting several dogs to work with. The purpose of this is to see how you react with a dog and how you handle a dog. No harnesses are used. You're given the dog and you clip your leash onto the dog's collar. At some point, some people switched dogs to give them another experience. I got a Lab/Golden cross first, and then later a medium to large size German Shepherd. I liked the cross. The hair was short like a Lab, but it also had some Golden characteristics as well, such as the color. Unfortunately, I didn't find out the colors of the dogs I worked with.

The teacher then took each of us one at a time and walked with us down to the dining room and had us put the dogs down at our feet. Then he left to get the next person. I walked with the German Shepherd down to the dining room. I liked the way the cross just lay down and seemed cool with things, looking around at things and people, but simply lie there up in the lounge. The Sheperd though tended to lay quietly, then every so often, she popped up to see what was going on. Or, I would reach down to pat her and tell her that she was doing a good job, and that contact caused her to start to raise up. I should mention as well that when you brought your dog down to the dining room, that's all while other dogs and students were there as well. So there was a bit of chaos when a new dog came in and someone would pop up to see the new arrival. Or, when your dog being the new comer tried to greet the other dogs. It might sound funny to read and think about, but when you've got a 60-80 pound dog attached at the end of a leash, it's not such a laughing matter.

My instructor says that he's still deciding between two or three dog candidates for me, and we'll talk about that tomorrow on the next juno walk in the morning. We get our dogs tomorrow afternoon after lunch, probably around 2. That will be interesting as well. I've been recording many of the sessions we've had with the instructor and today with the dogs. More for my own memory than anything. I want to take every opportunity to make a record of these events and my time here, both to share but also to remember later. In addition, because I can. The last time I was here back in 1995, we didn't have access to the web, or these fancy digital recorders.

One other thing: when we get our dogs, we will have to walk around the house (or building, which they call a house), with our dogs attached to the leash but not the harness. We're not allowed to work our dogs until Wednesday night when we go to dinner. In this leash dog arrangement, we can't use our canes. We've been encouraged to explorer, get lost, and figure things out for the layout of everything here as much as possible before we get our dogs. Things are making sense to me now, but at first they weren't as much. I've been to the main parts of the building that I think I'll go to most often and some others. Given my decreased speed when I travel without my cane, I'm having a hard time imagining how I will travel with a dog attached to me. For clarification, when the dog's on leash, they're not guiding. So this will be without any guiding going on from the dog. Should be interesting. We will get to use our dogs for guiding when we work in town on Tuesday and Wednesday.

That's about all for this entry. Next time we talk, I'll probably have my new dog down at my feet. Until then.

3 comments:

  1. Jamie Sibson7:22 PM

    Wayne, It sounds like things are going well. Glad to hear the weather is nice. I've never worked a sheppard before. I have heard that they can be more hard headed. Have a great day tomorrow.

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  2. I remember demo dogs well. *smile* Lab/golden crosses are the best in my opinion, but I'm very bias as Julia is a lab/golden cross. Interesting that you took your dog to the dining room. We didn't do that when we had demo dogs.

    Hope your day goes well today and your dog is a wonderful match for you. I'm anxiously waiting to hear all about it.

    Have a good day, and give that new dog a pat from me.

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  3. Anonymous11:06 AM

    Hello my name is Kenny, I have a dog and I like the fact that I can tell the guide to fine a door or fine the ramp and he will do just that. I do no how to use the cane very well how ever even thow I travel very fast with the cane, I travel even faster with a guide dog. I have noticed that my walking speed has increased wile I have been using a guide dog. I am allot more comfortable and also I get to my destination quicker then I would wile using a cane. I would hope that you will walk faster with a guide dog then with a cane because you will be able to just walk instead of feeling your way around with the cane. It should also give you more confidence walking with a dog. The greatest complement you can get from the sited world is that they come up to you and say I had no idea that your dog is a service dog. I actually have received a complement in deary queen. I Keep up my cane skills just incase the dog gets sick or something else happens to the guide. Hopefully threw time and effort you will come to think of your guide dog as a companion and not just another tool like the cane.

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