Yesterday was the day I began my journey with my first guide dog Ida!
I put the picture of my gorgeous pup on Instagram at the weekend and got a beautiful response from lots and lots of people, so thank you to everyone who liked or commented!
I wrote a post recently about guide dogs, you can check it out here! 🙂
I Arrived at the hotel at 11:20 with thanks to a volunteer guide dogs’ driver called Jake.
I waited in the reception, where I met Adam, the other person on class. Before long our rooms were ready, we started unpacking, getting a custom to the very spacious room and had orientation around the hotel. This is not only to make you as a visually impaired person feel comfortable getting around the hotel, but necessary for knowing where you are, so you can give these instructions/commands to your dog.
A relaxed lunch and a run through of the week ensued before the real fun began…
My trainer, Mikyla, went to collect the 2 dogs, giving us enough time to get nervously excited for their arrival!
When Ida arrived, I ignored her. When she settled and Mikyla let her off the lead, she was allowed to run around. I stayed quiet and watched her investigate.
This is good practice for allowing your Guide Dog to become accustomed to the new environment: not to be overexcited or overstimulated by you, and most importantly it gives them a chance to explore the new sites and sounds around them which they have not encountered before.
It was cute watching her flit between exploring the hotel room, to her bone, and saying hello to me.
As there are two of us in class, the trainer takes it in turns to spend time with you working with a guide dog, everything from obedience training to going to the toilet.
I was then left alone with Ida and the trainer spent time with Adam and his new guide dog.
This was a chance for Ida and I to bond.
Ida wasn’t much interested in me, she was more sad that her friends were across the hall and she wasn’t getting to spend time with them!
A guide dog always has a good bond with their trainer, and this can make them anxious when The trainer leaves them in a strange place, with a strange person: that would be me.
So whining Occurred.
We were warned by Mikyla that separation anxiety could happen, you just have to be patient with the dog and tell them well done when they come to you or stop whining.
We had some cuddles and play, but things vastly improved when I put her gentle lead on, and later feeding her…
Ida loves wearing her gentle lead so much, she shoves her nose in it without prompting… She does this cute little wriggle to shimmy it up her face which then in turn makes her face go to the ground so you have to coax her back up to finish putting on the rest of the lead. This part clips towards the back of the head and the lead rests gently behind her ears… The lead is designed specifically to lay on top of the pressure points at her ears, when they are stimulated it releases in dauphins, making the dog happy and excited to be wearing it.
We started off with some general obedience walking up and down the corridor. A Guide Dog on a gentle lead is very different to a dog in harness.
A Guide Dog on harness knows that she is working and is guiding you. When the dog is wearing a gentle lead this is you walking alongside the dog and keep them from being distracted.
I learned a number of ways to keep her attention and obedience.
I gave her her dinner, under the supervision of Mikyla. Ida decided that she was too hungry to wait for me to give her the signal to eat. Luckily my trainer intervened, and gave me some tips on what to do if it happens again.
What a little guzzle chops she is! 😉
I took her to the toilet, then it was time for us to go eat dinner… She was very much well-behaved, impressively so considering her four-legged friend was sitting opposite her!
Overall, I would say it has been a good first day, The more time she and I spend working together, the more she understands my quirks, and I hers, And the progress we are beginning to make.
I can’t wait to see what The next two weeks will bring! 🙂
Things I learnt:
•Come put on: another way of saying forward when off harness.
•Off: to stop the dog jumping, licking, essentially discouraging that behavior.
•Wait: Makes her stop and wait until she gets the command to continue (come).
•Steady: saying this very slowly gets the dog to slowdown.
•Down: gets the dog to lie down.
•write up: gets the dog to move closer to the object.
•Leave it: encouraging the dog to not let her scratch or be distracted by something.
•Spending: means to go to the toilet.
•Saying busy encourages her to go to the toilet
•Benching: using the dogs lead to tie to the chair leg or similar object, making sure she cant move from under the table.
I hope you enjoyed reading my first day with my gorgeous girl! I also hope you learn something new 🙂
See you for the next update! 🙂
Much love, sassy x