Thursday, September 4


Greetings. Well, the first week's nearly over and things are over all going well. I didn't put anything up yesterday frankly because I was too tired. It was a tiring day for many students. I heard someone say that yesterday was one of the first full training days for everyone. Anyway, to recap, we worked our dogs along the Maple Avenue route and started experiencing traffic checks, which basically means that cars would pull in front of the dog and it would have to stop. If the dog doesn't stop, then the instructor driving the car may do something like slap the car's door to get the dog's attention. My dog performed very well, both in the traffic "checks" from yesterday and today. I'm told that a "check" means a block, like checking someone in hockey. The checks now are pretty easy, with a car coming into a driveway, however they will get progressively harder as training goes on.

Today's route took us on a larger rectangle from Tuesday and Wednesday and into more pedestrian traffic and potential distractions for the dogs. Mine performed very well in these as well. Where she might have started to slow or pause, I encouraged her by saing, "Hop up," and we kept going. There were two different dogs with other instructors at two different places in the route, and my guide didn't even look over at them. When we went by, my instructor said to the trainer, "You're going to have to do better than that."

Over all, my dog is doing well. We've got some things to work on, such as making sure she stops at all the down curbs and at least pauses at the up curbs, and making sure that she clears obsticles with sufficient space for me. but, my instructor told me that we would work more on those tomorrow. We will walk the same route two more times tomorrow, once in the morning and once in the afternoon before Saturday's "solo" route. Solo meaning I will have to do the route on my own. We've been told that this isn't a test or assessment on our abilities to memorize the route or a pass/fail thing. Rather, it's an indication to the instructor of what we as a dog/human team need to work on, and things to specifically work on with the dogs.

As far as weekend training goes, there's just the Saturday morning training session and then that's it for the weekend, aside from the usual meal/park times. "Park" being when the dog goes out to make their deposits, if you know what I mean. Anyway, the rest of the time is ours, which is great. We're not allowed to leave the campus or take our dogs to the optional church opportunity Sunday morning, but we have the rest of the weekend free. There's various debates about not leaving the campus. I can see both sides, where they don't want the dog to get overly stressed while they're in the transition period, or run into a problem with an inexperienced owner. However, the student also needs to have the chance to work their dog in an environment outside the school and practice some of those basic skills. Anyway, whatever the reason, that's their current policy. I'm strangely able to occupy myself during down times in training. I say strangely because I thought that I would not have much to do during those times. I was wrong. Aside from the variety of entertainment options they have here, such as the Sirious satellite radios, TV's in the various lounges, stereos, books, movies, pianos in several rooms, and so forth; there's also getting to know other blind people from all over the country, and even a few from Canada. Add to that, at least on Saturday, the ability to take walks whenever we want on the leisure path. My dog and I walked the path back on Monday, more to relieve energy from the dog, however after Saturday, we'll be able to go there whenever. It's not very challenging for the dogs, but it's a good walk for the humans. Plus, that path is very peaceful and you can let the worries of the week go when walking it, or when sitting in the gazebo. Anyway, between the socializing, listening to Sirious, training, and some small amount of reading, not to mention the blogging and computer use, I've kept myself pretty busy. We'll see how the weekend works out.

I've heard that this is a pretty significant weekend for the dogs since they're in transition from the old master to the new one. One person has even explained it that the dogs are feeling like they're in limbo, somewhere between the old and the new masters. Even though church is an option for humans, we can't take our dogs with us. The first time I was here back in 1995, I had to leave my dog when we were given the option of going to church. I'm sure I enjoyed the service, but I was told later that Tony cried and whimpered the whole time I was gone. In fact, a fellow student told me that she had to close her door since it was distracting her dog's obedience session. I'm not going to do that to the new dog. My current instructor has said that it's okay and even encouraged to leave the dog for a few minutes to go down the hall or upstairs, but anything longer than an hour or two is not a good idea in his opinion, because the dog is still adjusting and needs the support and companionship from the new owner.

Sunday begins the official NFL season. There's a game on tonight which kicks everythingoff, but most games are on Sunday. That's personally what I'm looking forward to, and being able to flip between games on the Sirious radio. Even though I've written previously on here about not wanting to give up local radio, I'm seriously rethinking that, and just might switch to Sirious satellite radio. Aside from the NFL and other special programming, they've got a wide variety of music and every genre covered. I can understand why people say that you hear things on satellite that you never hear on regular radio; it's true. Plus, as I've discovered, just because it's satellite doesn't mean that the stations don't have DJ's. Some may not but many do.

That's about all for now. I've got two weeks left, leaving on September 18. I'm kind of sad that I won't be here for the full 4 weeks, like new students. However, I'm sure that when the time comes, I'll be ready to go home and get back to my "normal" life, whatever that is. I'm also trying to enjoy my time here and savour every moment since it is so short. Until tomorrow.

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