Sunday, September 21

Neighborhood and routine

Greetings. Instead of putting up several posts on different days, I thought I'd try and wrap everything up in this post.

I took the dog out for a first walk on Thursday evening. We were told by the night instructor to have the dog do an easy route, one that doesn't involve busy traffic patterns and one where they are helped to easily succeed. This I suppose is also designed to introduce the neighborhood and other environments to the dogs, as well as burn off some excess energy. Anyway, for my route, I directed my dog down to the bus transfer center that's not too far from my apartment, and we even practiced going up to several busses to see what their numbers were. I'd encourage her to put her front paws on the threshold of the door and then I'd ask anyone nearby what the bus number was. She did fine with the first two busses, but the third bus she all but leaped aboard, and then when I still stood on the outside, she turned around to look at me as if to ask, "Well? ..."

Friday I took her to a doctor's appointment in the morning and then to my work in the afternoon for a short time. What I've really been impressed so far with her has been herh willingness to point things out to me. She will stop or pause in walking, turn her head or body toward something (like a door or an aisle in a store), as if to ask, "Do you want to go here?" Or, even to say, "See, ..." Many of the things she has pointed out have been things that she's seen for the first time, such as all the doors and openings down the main hall of my workplace as soon as you walk in the front door. In fact, she pointed out the front door to me several times when we didn't need it. However, when it was time to go, she almost passed it. I had to remind her where it was and it was as if she said, "Oh, now you want to go there."

One of the things for me in my job, since I work at a rehabilitation center, is being able to navigate around the grater number of cane users. We had our first test of this Friday afternoon at work. I was careful to pick the times when we would be in the hallways so that there wouldn't be a lot of cane users there at once. I don't want to overwhelm the dog on her first few days. Anyway, we did pass by a couple students using canes and my dog navigated around them perfectly. She paused or swerved right, stopped to let them pass, then she started walking again and moving to the middle of the hall. I was very pleased with her. in fact, so pleased that I praised her by saing, "Good girl." At that very moment, there just happened to be one of the students on my left, a woman, who upon hearing me praise the dog and not knowing who I was talking to, she replied with, "Huh?"

One of the things that interested me in the Shepherd breed was something that another German Shepherd guide dog user at work told me, that her dog will often see a potential obsticle, such as a cane user, 40 feet down the hall and instantly sstart working out how to deal with that obsticle. I don't know how far in advance my dog was working out the problem, but by the time we got close to a student with a cane, she had already worked out the solution and was avoiding them. However, getting around two students with canes is one thing; getting around half a dozen or more in a small space is another. We'll see how things go tomorrow when we "officially" go back to work, but so far, they're looking good.

Several people in my office commented how relaxed and calm the dog was when she was laying under my desk. And indeed she was calm. I wanted to do some measuring and see how it would work with her laying under the desk in my cubicle and when she laid under a table in a nearby classroom. She did fine, after she got under the table. The classroom in question has several movable keyboard trays beneath the table and my dog was a little wary about going under the trays. Once I got her under the table though, she was fine and seemed content to lie there.

I took her to apet store yesterday to buy dog food and some other supplies. My driver went off to do some shopping of her own and she left me with a shopper's assistant from the store. As we began walking through the store, my dog was somewhat distracted by all the different smells and things. I had to verbally correct her several times and finally had to give her a mild leash correction to get her attention back on guiding. The shopper's assistant, not understanding, said, "He's just curious." To which I replied with, "Well, he may be curious, but he's also working and can't be distracted." Side note: why do people automatically assume a dog is male? I'm sure this is something that will come up for me on a regular basis, not that it bothers me in the least. If someone wants to think my dog's male, then fine. I've got no problem with that. It's just interesting how that's the first assumption, after, "What a pretty doggie," that comes up. Anyway, once I got "her" calmed down and focused, she did fine in the store. Later my driver made the observation that it's asking a lot to get a dog to ignore all of the sights and smells that a pet store has to offer, which I agreed. Actually, my dog still sniffed plenty after I showed her that she had to pay attention. It's just that she sniffed in a controled manner, while quietly sitting when we waited several times on the assistant to come back with different information about products. That won't be our last trip to the pet store, but it's good to see that she's doing so well.

I took her out again yesterday afternoon for a short walk in our neighborhood, which gave us another chance to work on overhanging tree limbs in one particular spot. I kind of have to pick my battles here since she is a sensative dog. So I might not say anything if a treelimb brushes past my head, but if I get a face full of leaves or if a limb hits near an eye, which has happened, I'm going to poitn it out to her. There were a couple of incidents like that yesterday, and she successfully navigated around them on the second tries. One time she tried to turn around and go back or she would try to go to the street, but I knew that there was enough clearance on the sidewalk for her, so I kept her from doing these things and encouraged her to work the problem out. After she did, she got some good pats and praises.

She did great in church this morning too. I was also pleased because no one came up and petted her. That was one thing that I had a hard time in dealing with when I used my first guide, a yellow Lab. But when driving home, the couple I go with each week commented that people seemed to know that they shouldn't interact with the dog, even the kids. Of course, it might also be because she's a German Shepherd and not a Lab, but I'll take that as well, :)

That's about all for now. Thanks to all that have been reading this blog and commenting to me, whether it be in person or through email or blog comments. I'll keep the label "dog blog" to use for other stories or incidents of the new dog, but the updates will not be daily like they have been. This blog will gradually go back to the personal, tech related, blindness news story format that it was before, but with one more layer added to all that, of the new dog and our travels and experiences. Thanks for reading and see you soon.

1 comment:

  1. AnnaLisa and Leader Dog Sundance5:37 PM

    Hi Wayne,

    I have so enjoyed reading this. Thanks so much for sharing so many details of your experience getting your new girl. She sound like such a sweetheart and so intelligent too, and it seems you two are off to a great start. I laughed and cried with you, and your words brought back so many memories of when I got my girl 3 and a half years ago. I didn't go to Seeing Eye, but the experiences are much the same no matter what school you go to. I do hope you will keep updating us on how things go. I'm sure it won't be long till you two are working like a well-oiled machine.

    Give your beautiful pointy-eared girl some hugs and pats from me, and my golden girl sends wags and kisses to you both.