Saturday, September 27

Dog observations

Greetings. As we sit here in the last weekend of September, I can't help but think that 4 weeks ago, I was where between 12 and 24 students are now up in New Jersey, sitting in the common lounge, talking casually with each other, and wondering what kind of dogs they will get come Monday. Many times since then I have sat with my dog, both in New Jersey and here in Texas, stroking her and telling her that I loved her and wondering how I wound up with such a great animal.

I was hesitant to go to my apartment complex's office today, since I was wondering how my dog would do. I walked the route with her a few days ago, pointing out some key spots to her by having her sit and praising her. It's that time of the month, time to pay the next month's rent, and I wasn't sure if she remembered the route. I wondered how I would figure out where we were in the route just by relying on her? When you use a cane, you can easily explore your environment and you know more or less where you are. With a dog, it's a bit more abstract. Unless you really know the environment, things can get confusing. I pondered the possibility of paying the rent next week closer to the day it's due, but then decided that it would be hard to make it to the office after coming home, since the office closes at 6 during Daylight Savings Time.

I then put the harness on the dog, grabbed my telescoping cane, and headed out the door. I figured that if I really got turned around, I could whip out the cane and check things out. However, I needn't have worried. My dog did remember the route, very well in fact, and we turned at all the right places. Soon, she was starting to turn to the left. I began wondering why, but then remembered the age old phrase spoken by many an instructor, which goes, "Follow your dog." So I did, and I soon realized that we had walked up on the front porch covered area of the office. She got lots of praise then.

Okay, we had made the trip to the office; but, what about the trip back? We struck out and we were soon headed back in the direction of the apartment. She did want to make several turns in other directions. I allowed her these, a little, thinking that she was navigating around obsticles or cars. However I made a point of keeping the direction that we were initially going in. As we got closer, she started to go in between cars, looking for the ramp that heads up toward our apartment. After a couple of false tries, she turned right and we were soon walking up the ramp. I stopped her then and gave her more pats and praises. In a few more steps we were in front of the door to my apartment, where she got a big hug. After we had gotten settled inside and i had removed her harness, I gave her a treat. I told her that I wouldn't do this every time we came back from a route, but that I was doing it this time to show my apreciation for her work.

Just when you think you have things figured out, or when you start worrying about your guide, they do things that remind you why you got a guide dog in the first place, such as my trip to and from the office this afternoon. In case anyone's starting guide dog training this weekend or within the next few weeks or months, my best wishes to you and your new guides. May they be everything you want them to be, and more.

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