Monday, September 1

Dog day

Greetings. Today is typically called "dog day" by many people and guide dog schools, since it's the day that you get your dog. The day itself, such as Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday, can vary among different schools, but the dog day concept remains the same. But, before I get to what kind of dog I have, let me mention a few things about this morning.

We had another town juno walk this morning, this time not using any commands with the trainer and more for the trainer to observe more of the walking speed an dpull from the harness. We also did some talking. At that time, he said he had a Lab and a couple of shepherds in mind for me. He demonstrated that the Lab was better about stopping and starting and guiding around obsticles, but all the dogs would handle the environment I work in very well. I mean the training center environment with canes everywhere, people always coming and going, and other things. He said that everything about the environment I work in says to not put a shepherd in it, however there are some that do well and are of the right temperament, of calm and laid back and not likely to be aggressive toward people.

I was the first to go out on the juno walk, so it was fun comparing notes with the other people in my small group, and hearing and sharing what we talked about with the trainer. We got back to the school about 9:40, and we were told to occupy ourselves until noon when we would have lunch. At the time, that was hard to imagine just how I would pass the 2 plus hours before lunch, but it passed easily. Meanwhile, the trainers were having their own little meeting with each other and the training supervisor to make sure all the matches were made right. We later learned that somewhere between 10 and 1, all 20 dogs would be bathed to be sparkling ready for us to meet later.

Lunch was an exciting time with anxious students and lots of comments that this would be our last quiet meal, since Monday's dinner would be the first meal that we can bring our dogs to. We were told that we should be in our rooms by 1:15 and wait for the trainer to come tell us to meet them in a nearby lounge.

When my time came, I took my leash and went down to the lounge and sat in a chair to wait for the trainer and new dog to come back. A few minutes later, they did. My trainer then told me the dog's name (which I'll leave you in suspense about for now), and then described it to me. I got a female German Shepherd that looks something like this: she has tan on her head, legs, chest, and hind quarters; a sable strip going down her back; a salt and pepper spot on her neck, and black markings and black circles around her eyes. I'm told that she looks just like a Shepherd should look.

We went back to my room and I had some time to get to know her. She comes up past my knees, where my first guide, Tony, just came to my knees. I think that she's about 25 inches at the shoulder. A short time later, we went out on the Leisure Path, which is a third of a mile loop that goes close to the front of the property. This was more for the dog to burn off energy, however we were allowed to put them in harness and work them on the path. This is also because there's not much to the path, aside from a few turns and a couple of steps here and there, so there's not much for the dog to have to worry about when guiding. Or, as some may say, there's not much challenge for them on the path. I was told to not expect much regarding guiding, in other words, don't expect her to guide real well, since this path isn't much of a challenge for her. Later we'll take the path for exercise I'm sure, but now it's mainly for her to burn off some cooped up energy in my bedroom. Tomorrow we'll go out on a real walk in town where she'll be doing more formal guiding. Not hard guiding since much of it will be in a long straight line, but more guiding than she did today. And, we can't use our dogs for guiding inside the house, or the building, until Wendesday's dinner.

Over all, I like my dog. The parts I'm not sure of are more on my part since I haven't worked a dog in harness in 9 years. Most people seem to have a shorter break in between their dogs, like a month or two, or less. It looks like things are working out so far for her and me. She's already done a few things that the trainers have been amazed at, such as putting a paw twice on my chest this afternoon. The trainer said that this means she's comfortable with me. She's also very calm, which I'm told is because she's picking up on my calmness. Even now as I write this, she's lying quietly under the desk. She pops up every so often from restlessness or because she might smell another dog or person, but she's mainly just hanging out.

Tomorrow we'll have the first couple of walks in town when guiding, and I'm looking forward to those, to see how her guiding is. Not much else to report on. Until then.


  1. Congratulations on your new dog! I didn't know shephards would give their person paws. I thought that was a lab or cross behavior. May you and Nameless have many years of happy partnership together.

  2. Darragh9:42 AM

    Wain, Would you mind if I re-posted your guide dog related entries on my blog? I particularly like reading about others experiences training with a guide dog but I'm particularly interested in yours as the school your attending does things much differently than we do in Ireland. I think others who read my blog would also be interested. Pluss, it would be a good connection to your blog.

  3. Dara, certainly you can post my blog on yours. I think it would be interesting for those across the pond to read about how guiding is done in a United States school, much less the school that was the pioneer of guide dog work in America,.