Thursday, September 11

Solos, pictures, and more

Greetings. Well, yesterday we had our final solo route. My dog and I did very well, aside from the first block or two. In the beginning, she was doing a lot of sniffing. I didn't find out till further down the block that she was actually looking for a spot to make a deposit. I didn't even realize she was making the deposit until my instructor jogged up to me and asked if I had a baggie with me, which thankfully I did. While he cleaned up the mess, I jokingly said to him, "Well, crap happens." The rest of the route went well. My dog led me around all obsticles and we did great crossings at the corners. We even got a traffic check from what I can remember.

Yesterday afternoon we started the freelance portion of training, which is meant to mirror conditions you will face at home. Freelance is not concerned as much with routes, but rather with behaviors or tasks on those routes, such as working on better street crossings or weaving through aisles in a store. yesterday we worked on these things exactly, going to a Wallgreens store and weaving through the aisles. This morning we went to a building with a revolving door and worked more on street crossings. We also went into a Century 21 store and worked on escelators. My dog was a little wary of stepping on these moving things, but we handled it okay. She handled herself well inside the store again, only running me into one rack of clothes. We also checked out a statue in a nearby park of Morris frank, the first Seeing Eye dog user in the United States and one of the key people who helped pave the way for guide dogs in this country. There's a statue of him from the waste up, life size and in detailed color, working his German Shepherd guide Buddy. Apparently the statue is so life like that from a distance, it look slike he's about to cross the street. My instructor has even told us of drivers in cars that have called out to the statue telling him that he can cross the street, before they realized that it was a statue that is.

This afternoon we took a bus to the nearby town of Madison, and then rode the train back to Morristown and walked back to our ban. This was a neat experience and another one where my dog performed very well. I'm not sure that some of the passengers were crazy about 4 blind students with their dogs getting on the already crowded bus, but apparently they warmed up to us and eventually accepted us. One gentleman even asked me, since we had several German Shepherds in our group, "Are German Shepherds the best Seeing Eye dogs?" to which I answered, "Depends on who you ask; some people say so, and some disagree." Since there was a space beneath my seat, I slid my dog under the seat and out of the way so that only her head and two front paws were sticking out. She seemed quite content with this arrangement. The bus was one of the more comfortable ones I've been on, and one which I wish I could send to Austin.

yesterday morning after our trips and park, we had our pictures taken. One group picture was taken of each 4 student and one instructor class, and then individual pictures were taken of each pair of students and their dogs. The dogs were on a platform and were asked to sit while the shots were taken. The pictures of the student standing by their dogs on the platform are the ones that will be put on each student's Seeing Eye ID card, along with other basic information about the dog and access rights. One more picture was taken with each dog by itself. It's my understanding that these pictures are sent to the puppy raisers with the dog's name, so they can see how their dog turned out. All of this was done with the dogs wearing their harnesses.

Speaking of harnesses, this morning we met in small groups with one of the semi-trainers, or someone who has trained before but may not do so much now, and he helped us put together our new harnesses that we've been oiling for the past 2 days. Upon permission from our instructors, we've been able to start using the new harnesses this afternoon to start breaking them in.

Swausage: Yes, another swausage, er sausage, incident. This time it was when walking back to the van this afternoon. My instructor cued me and told me what he was going to do. he said that a van was coming up with the female northeastern accented instructor driving, and that he was going to make some signs to her. he made the cut throat sign, for "I'm really serious about this; don't mess around with me." Then he pointed to my knee, and he told me previously to start bending over slightly or limping in pain. I must say here that after walking a long ways to and from the bus and train stops, the pain part wasn't that hard to fake. Anyway, the female instructor must have given him a questioning look and he nodded. She pulls the van over and on a pre-arranged signal of him tapping me on the shoulder, I suddenly say, "Swausages!!" She jumped out of the van and responded with something along the lines of, "You, you, you ... !" We all got a good laugh out of that.

I had an appointment this afternoon with one of the Seeing eye vets to go over my dog's health. This was something that I didn't get to do back in 1995, since back then, the state of the art canine health facility was not built or opened yet. However, it is now, So around 4, myself and another student were driven the short distance and taken into the facility to wait for our bet appointment. My dog has good over all health. She has had some minor incidents in her past, but those are all taken care of now and there's no need to worry about them popping up again. I received a hard copy of her health records, the microchip information, and some other things. She received the microchip implant shot, where identifying information associated with a long numerical number was put on a chip and injected into her neck. This is just another safeguard if she ever turns up in a clenic or shelter and needs to be identified. Plus, the chip they're using is an international chip. Which means that with the exception of a very few countries, I can travel with my dog to anywhere in the world. And, this is the same chip that is used in much of the world. If the place in question is not using this chip, she can still be identified. I also received a tag with said information, such as her ID number and the chip database people's number on it, for those that may want quicker access to the information.

In the remaining week or so, there's the trip to New York city on Tuesday, a night trip where I go out with an instructor and see how my dog works at night, and other things. I'm even going to try and take my dog to some stables and expose her to horses since I go horseback riding on a regular basis in Austin. Plus all the other things that happen when in training here. These updates have been coming every other day, which means the next may not be till sometime Saturday. thanks for all your comments and keep them coming. It's neat getting comments and emails from people around the country and world, and even from a puppy raiser, on various things discussed here. I have heard from a few people that have said that they had trouble using the comments section of this blog. if you have trouble, go to my personal site, which is listed in the Sites to Watch section toward the bottom of this page, and find the Feedback Form link on the page that comes up. There you can submit the form and it comes directly to me. Until next time, happy tails.

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